This month we feature three books that extol the virtues of raw food and living food preparation.
The Complete Book of Raw Food
Lori Baird, Editor
Julie Rodwell, Contributing Editor
Hatherleigh Press/A Healthy Living Book, 2003
To many people who cook practically everything they consume, the thought of following a raw food diet seems too strange, too new-age. Yet, raw cuisine, an ancient diet now considered the "new classic cuisine" by some raw chefs, offers a truly new dimension in food preparation and eating enjoyment.
Health benefits have played a major role in the raw food movement with a number of chefs in this volume detailing how they have overcome personal chronic health problems with this diet. Using nature's garden of raw foods, they have reversed illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, tonsillitis, arthritis, obesity, migraines, and a panoply of other common diseases.
A unique feature of the book is the enlightening Meet the Chefs section that offers a brief bio of each of the chefs. Reading their personal stories, we were able to better appreciate what drives their commitment to a lifestyle that may be challenging in a world where fast food, junk food, and unhealthy diets are in vogue.
Deciding which of the 350 raw recipes to choose for our meal was only a minor challenge--actually, we were in a proverbial candy store of earthly delights. We found most of the recipes easy to prepare and require nothing more than the standard equipment in the average household. Since we do own a dehydrator, we chose an entrée that puts our Excaliber to good use.
While kale is a stranger in the kitchen of the typical American family, we have adopted it readily and thoroughly enjoyed Abeba Wright's unique recipe for Kale Mixed Green Salad that required we massage the kale. We thought we had a close and intimate relationship with our food, but this was the first time we had ever stroked and kneaded our greens with each addition of nama shoyu, lemon juice, and olive oil. We must admit the process created a very tasty kale salad.
Our next course was a snap to prepare. Matt Amsden's recipe for Seaweed Chowder was an easy blender preparation that came together almost instantly, with only 20 minutes of presoaking the wakame. The flavors of lemon and garlic were foremost with the creamy satin texture and sweetness of the pine nuts giving the soup its pleasing body.
A little breather before our next course brought us into the Smoothies, Shakes, and Juices section. Dave Klein's Ginger Ale beckoned; however, we set that recipe aside for another day in order to enjoy his Morning Glory instead. We found a Middle Eastern market that still had pomegranates and pressed one in our citrus juicer along with oranges from our own backyard tree. We couldn't stop emitting those tiny little sounds that express the taste delight we experienced as we sipped our sweet fruity beverage.
We confess our fabulous entrée took a little advance planning. We chose Chad Sarno's Fajita Vegetables with Chili Pistachios and prepared the Chili Pistachios the day before, since it required 12 to 14 hours of dehydration. The result was a wonderfully satisfying balance of flavors and textures and plenty of leftovers for the next day.
Our delectable dessert was another plan-ahead treat, one that spent the night in our freezer. Rose Lee Calabro's Mud Pie with its fruit and nut crust and nutty fruit filling is a winner. Its attributes consist of a wealth of flavor, tempting good looks, and the ability to satisfy any sweet tooth on the planet.
Browsing through the multitude of recipes, any home chef could easily discover mouthwatering recipes for every standard course that appears in classic cookbooks. From salads and soups to breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrées, the recipes with their fresh herbs and dried seasonings reflect creativity and attention to visual presentation. Desserts offer a wide array of choices from appealing confections and bars to celebration cakes and pies.
One minor frustration we encountered, and only a very small one, was that the few color photos the book contained didn't appear next to or anywhere near their recipes, nor did the photo mention on what page to find the recipe.
Newbies and experienced raw chefs alike will appreciate the exceptional Appendix and Resources section that offers the reader an extensive array of sources for Services and Supplies. Additionally, it includes a helpful glossary, a detailed list of suggested reading, classes, the Meet Our Chefs section, a listing by state of raw restaurants, and a unique section entitled simply Resources that includes raw web sites and services.
Every raw food lover would appreciate having The Complete Book of Raw Food on the kitchen bookshelf. This compact collection is an ideal introduction to raw food cuisine and allows the home chef to become acquainted with the food styles of many chefs at once without having to purchase 50 different books.
By Charlie Trotter & Roxanne Klein
Ten Speed Press, 2003
When two internationally renowned chefs combine their unique talents and experience in one outstanding volume, the result is a stunning coffee-table size book with breathtaking full color food photographs and recipes that raise the bar of raw food cuisine into the domain of haute cuisine. Pro-chefs and home chefs alike will encounter a sumptuous feast from cover to cover.
Charlie Trotter, a premier chef known for the exquisite cuisine and service he features, literally thrives on re-creating himself to emerge again and again with innovative new visions in food preparation. His co-author, Roxanne Klein, and her husband, Michael, were regular customers at his restaurant, where they constantly challenged him, first requesting his vegetable tasting menus, then asking for vegan meals, and finally putting him to the test of preparing them a completely raw meal.
Roxanne Klein opened Roxanne's in Larkspur, California, a little over two years ago to stirs of excitement and amazement throughout the culinary world. Her organic, raw, vegan cuisine drew chefs from across the country curious to experience raw food that rivaled standard menus in uniqueness, flavor, and visual appeal. Numerous articles appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country creating such a flurry of business that customers had to wait a month for a reservation.
Raw combines Trotter's creative skills and years of experience in the restaurant business with Klein's innovative visions and prowess in a field of cuisine that is still in its infancy. Artistry is the cornerstone that binds both creative chefs, making the book an outstanding presentation with its dazzling photography and aesthetic food styling that features dramatic color and many close-up shots on all-white backgrounds. Exceptional graphic design went into the planning of this volume whose clay coated pages feel as elegant as the tastefully displayed foods themselves.
The combination of foods in each dish, sometimes with dramatic color contrast as depicted by the Heirloom Tomato Terrine and Salad, and sometimes with monochromatic themes shown in the photo of Salsify with Black Truffles and Porcini Mushrooms, is testimony to the amazing creativity of this pair
While there certainly are a number of recipes that a home chef may choose to prepare, such as the Cucumber Summer Rolls, Broccoflower Couscous with Curry Oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar, and several of the attractively garnished soups, many of the recipes are highly complex preparations. The numerous intricate steps, countless hours of soaking, and lengthy dehydrating may even give pause to experienced raw food chefs. Hard to find ingredients, some very costly, may also discourage the home chef from rolling up the sleeves and digging in.
Yet, the book is so irresistible it feels like a must-have for the color photos alone that offer a complete visual feast. The Stuffed Anaheim Chiles with Mole and Jicama and Baby Corn Salad is one example of a finely crafted dish that is beautifully photographed with detailed recipe instructions, but one that may rarely be recreated in a home kitchen because of its laborious intricacy.
The Appendices section proves to be a valuable asset and may be a plus that brings reluctant cooks into the kitchen. Readers will appreciate learning about typical equipment used in the raw kitchen and Basic Recipes for preparations used in many of the recipes. An extensive Glossary with brief descriptions of special ingredients aids the curious reader new to the raw cuisine.
One glance through the pages of Raw would evoke temptation so great, cookbook lovers may be rendered incapable of passing without purchasing. Diners who have experienced meals at Charlie Trotter's and Roxanne's will, no doubt, savor the dishes again and again as they browse through the pages and marvel at the exquisite preparations. Raw would, indeed, be a treasured item to gift someone special who adores food, whether raw or not, and appreciates impressive food artistry.
Life Food Recipe Book: Living on Life Force
By Annie Padden Jubb and David Jubb, Ph.D.
North Atlantic Books, 2003
Seekers of the fountain of youth and anti aging secrets may realize the fruits of their quest within the pages of this exceptional, well-conceived book that brings life force raw food into the spotlight. The enlightened authors present not only a cookbook but also a tome that offers significant information to assist humans in extending their lifespan with health and vigor.
In the brief 59 pages preceding the recipes, the reader gains insight into the natural world of life force food. The information is concise and well expressed, yet one is able to gather an abundance of knowledge with only a small expenditure of time.
The authors teach their raw lifestyle techniques through their writing, workshops, client coaching, and lecturing. Annie Jubb has owned and managed raw organic vegan restaurants on both coasts and in Hawaii and now oversees fasts and conducts health research. David Jubb is an exercise and behavior physiologist who now devotes his career to helping clients improve their health.
Just as Hippocrates recognized that food IS medicine, the Jubb's share his view as they extol the virtues of consuming uncooked foods for their valuable enzymes. The enzymes in plant foods retain the life force they receive from the sun even after they are harvested so the body may utilize those enzymes for digestion. The authors stress that cooked food is dead food that depletes the life force in the body, causing the body to use its own enzyme reserves.
The brief chapter Organically Grown Produce offers some surprising statistics that compare organically grown produce with foods grown with commercial chemical fertilizers. "The differences are astounding," say the authors. For instance, "organic oranges contain 30% more Vitamin C than non-organic even though they tend to be about half the size." Other comparisons consistently show how organically grown foods are superior in vitamin and mineral content.
Man has always attempted to improve on nature with hybridization and plant manipulation instead of valuing their heirloom nature. The result is a loss of valuable nutrients. The message stressed throughout the chapters is that foods be grown and eaten as nature intended. Those plant foods that have been hybridized, they explain, have a lower life force, are starchier, and contain sugars that enter the bloodstream faster than "wild foods" that have not been hybridized. Extensive hybridization and commercial farming has also created the loss of many plant varieties. Heirloom plants come from ancient seeds that have not been changed through hybridization.
The Lifefood Kitchen tells readers how to make their own high-alkaline charged water and describes the many tools and kitchen equipment helpful in raw food preparation. An extensive glossary does an outstanding job of explaining in detail the unique items commonly used in the recipes, such as rejuvelac, sea vegetables, and unpasteurized miso.
A wonderful feature throughout the recipe section is the recurring "Secret Teaching" tidbits that offer invaluable nutritional facts such as noting that cucumbers contain cell salts and are helpful in replenishing lost cell salts through physical activity that causes sweating.
Some of the recipes in the Soup section are enhanced when warmed, but only up to 118 degrees in order to retain the lifeforce enzymes. Most of the recipes are easily and quickly prepared in a blender, while a few require a juicer. The simply prepared Gazpacho with its combination of blended and chunky ingredients offers great temptation, especially to those who feel they have no time to cook.
The Salad section had several gems: Nutty Lentil Salad and the easy-to-prepare Dill Sauerkraut. Sea vegetable aficionados will discover five original salad preps that include hijiki, dulse, arame, kelp, and Pacific palm frond.
Heartier fare includes Spicy Ginger Shiitake, a delectable Vegetable Pate, perfect for rolling into a nori sheet, and a unique Aztec Quiche with a quinoa and sunflower seed crust.
Salads need never be dull with the many choices in the Dressing, Sauces, and Marinade section. Those who own a dehydrator will be able to savor Crispy Flax Crackers, a truly original nori roll called Sweet Curry Liscious, and some sweet treats like Almond Fig Cookies and Carob Mint Canolis.
The Fruit Meals and Dessert section is home to great choices for smoothies such as Cherry Nut Milk Smoothie along with a few breakfast originals like Fruit & Pollen Breakfast Bowl that includes apples, pears, raisins nuts and coconut. Fruit pies, fruit cobblers, and an exceptionally appealing recipe for Essene French Toast are included in this unique collection of original dishes.
Twenty-five intriguing beverages along with a brief section of menu suggestions complete the raw food recipes, but the book has still more treasures to offer. Those seeking formulas for Lotions, Potions, and Tinctures will find the chapter filled with remedies such as Longevity Tonic and Topical Fungal Treatment. Beauty secrets are found in formulas like Cucumber Facial, Carrot Mask, and Ginger Steam Facial.
An important chapter, Lifefood Nutritional Fasting, promotes resting the digestive system to eliminate bile stones in the bile bladder to improve one's health. This section suggests a 14-day lifefood nutritional fast with day-by-day details to guide the reader.
The last chapter, The ABC's of Lifefood Nutrition, is an excellent guide that points out many dangerous foods and synthetic medicines on the market today. The authors offer food suggestions to benefit the health of pet dogs and cats and present information on clean water, whole food vitamins and minerals, and important foods people should include in their diets.
The Jubb's provide a bibliography and a helpful complete index. A few recipes list unpasteurized cheeses in the ingredient list that may be objectionable to vegans, but these items could simply be substituted or omitted.
The LifeFood Recipe Book; Living on Life Force is a treasure of healthful living information and original recipes that reflect the natural living philosophy of the authors. For proponents of the raw food regimen as well as those just learning, there is much to appreciate in this volume which is an exceptional guide and reference tool. The numerous tidbits of wisdom that flow through the book as "Secret Teachings" are invaluable.