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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review a book that shares information on how to prepare healthful raw meals in five minutes.

Alive in 5:
Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes

By Angela Elliot

Book Publishing Company, 2007
Paperback, $14.95

Angela Elliot's contagious joi de vive greets the reader of Alive in 5 in fewer than five minutes with her enthusiasm reaching out and inspiring the novice to embark on a raw food journey. Her personal journey marked with illness and chronic pain led her to seek all avenues of allopathic and holistic help to no avail. She attributes her dramatic health transformation to the raw foods that made her feel "alive, completely energized, and happy."

Because raw foods are eaten in their natural state, they offer many health benefits like losing weight and keeping it off, looking more radiant, overcoming depression, and becoming more creative and energetic.

Elliot's early years were spent in the kitchen marveling at the exquisite foods prepared by her mother, a gourmet French chef. During childhood she thought she, too, might follow her mother's profession, but, instead, her life guided her to the raw path where she now teaches classes, lectures, and writes about the diet that helps to heal and prevent illness. Alive in 5

Alive in 5 emphasizes the ease of living on raw foods. Elliot says, "…you will discover how easy it is to prepare living cuisine in about five minutes, with very little equipment and easy-to-find ingredients." While a number of raw food books feature complicated recipes and exotic ingredients, her book includes many dishes with familiar ingredients and simple directions that read, "Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth."

Elliot's recommended kitchen tools include a high-speed blender, like the Vita-Mix, a food processor, and good knives. Her helpful list of pantry items is like a mini glossary, while the helpful tips emphasize the convenience of always having soaked nuts on hand and something marinating or ripening.

The beverages section features a variety of fruit and nut milks made from soaked almonds, walnuts, hempseeds, coconuts, and pecans. Dipping into her supply of soaked nuts, she can serve recipes like Luscious Walnut Milk in five minutes. Her almost instant Pecan Milk made from water, pecans, agave nectar, vanilla flavor, and salt, reminds her of eggnog.

Uniquely creative, the Nut Yogurt with Fresh Berries employs probiotic powder as the friendly bacteria to make the yogurt that is blended, then refrigerated for two hours before serving with fresh berries.

Caesar's Delight is Elliot's raw version of the traditional Caesar Salad. Her dressing relies on raw olives, sweet onions, miso, and tahini to enliven the romaine and impress the lovers of the hallowed salad.

The blender is charged with delivering Crème a la Mushroom soup in five minutes. The dish draws its flavors from cremini mushrooms, almond milk, and almond butter and includes only eight ingredients.

Elliot's husband, a ranch dressing fanatic, inspired her to whip up her Cultured Ranch Dressing using her Nut Yogurt recipe as a base. She adds coconut water, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to achieve the ideal flavor.

One of the author's most successful recipes, Celestial Fettuccini Alfredo, is more than a five-minute prep, but does truly prove to be a pleaser. Picture zucchini squashes sliced into thin "noodles" and then topped with walnut-based Alfredo sauce. A tomato and herb bruschetta blankets the Alfredo sauce, and a final topping of pulse-chopped pine nut parmesan puts the finishing touch on the dish.

For dessert, Elliot whips up a few unique ice cream recipes like Tangerine Dream and Goji Berry Pops, a great summertime popsicle treat for the kids. Simple as pie, the Blueberry Pie puts the food processor to work preparing the nut and date-based crust as well as the two-ingredient blueberry and agave nectar filling.

While the cover displays an exquisite photo of Rawsome Italiano, a stunning salad Elliot recommends serving to a loved one, the book includes additional color photos of several appealing dishes. Graphically attractive, it contains an internal index at the beginning of each section. However, the book's only disappointment is the difficulty in finding specific recipes because the index lacks recipe titles.

With so many avoiding food preparation at home, Alive in 5 is a true inspiration to bring reluctant cooks back into the kitchen for a rawsome experience. Because of the multitude of easy recipes, accessible healthful ingredients, and helpful tips, Alive in 5 is an ideal book to introduce the raw food lifestyle.

Reviewed May 2007

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