About two years ago, I first heard of 'raw food' and have been curious since then. When I saw Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish in the store, I had to bring it home and hopefully satisfy my yearnings. Right off, I have to tell you that I wasn't disappointed and that Chef Doug exceeded my expectations in every area. I found that each dish was a flavour adventure and that there is no reason for eating boring, flavourless foods when there are innovative chefs like Doug who are willing to share their well devised recipes.
A the beginning of the book is an introduction to raw foods including a section about eating raw in frigid weather. (spiciness does help). After a discussion of cooking techniques and kitchen tools, Dough launches in to the recipes.
I will admit, that I had a hard time getting past the breakfast and smoothies sections. The "Sweet Green Drink" with kale, spinach and romaine could be part of my lunch every day and I'd never get tired of it.
As with all the recipes, there are substitutions suggested where appropriate. This worked well with the smoothies as it made it easy to add in a fruit or vegetable that was available for one that was too pricey when I was shopping.
What surprised me, is that most of the smoothies start with a base of a cup of almond milk. Previously I would have used juice, but the almond milk, or other nut/seed milk, makes for a creamier and more whole bodied drink.
The breakfast porridge were a nice change of manufactured cold cereals and a lot more filling. They do take a bit of time to prepare, but not much longer than a pot of steel cut oatmeal.
My family did have a hard time accepting that soup didn't come to the table steaming hot. I tried two soups, and both were very easy to make in the blender. Pre-chopping or shredding the vegetables helps to make for a creamier soup. I have a good quality Waring blender and it worked well, though a larger volume jug would be better. Using raw butternut squash in soup took a little getting used to, but once it was blended, I was able to overlook that. Next time, I would use a little less curry powder in the "Butternut Squash and Mango Soup". The soup wasn't actually cold, as the speed of the blender tends to generate a certain amount of heat.
If you can think of a traditional spread or dip, Doug has included a vegan, raw version. Hemp Avocado Mayonnaise, Cashew Spinach Dip, and several meatless pates. The "Pumpkin Seed Chimichurri Dip" was full of flavour with a slightly grainy texture, (made in the food processor). I had a hard time getting the dish away from hubby. Most recipes have a side bar that contains tips of techniques such as how to soak pumpkin seeds. Also included are nutritional information about that particular recipe ie: why pumpkin seeds are so good for your body.
Yes, you can make a filling main dish based on vegetables. Seeds and nuts pureed in the sauce adds the protein that gives that lasting 'full' feeling. Even though hubby was skeptical, he enjoyed both main dishes that I prepared. The parsnip fettuccine had me totally fooled into thinking it was traditional pasta. Marinating it in olive oil and lemon juice softened it and the colour fooled my brain as to what it really was.
The "Spicy Pad Thai" sauce was made with hemp seeds and a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Served with the spiral cut zucchini it was perfectly spicy, but spooned over traditional ravioli, it was a bit too spicy. I made a half serving as I didn't think my family would be willing to give it a taste test, but they surprised me and ladeled it on.
No cookbook review would be complete without me delving into the dessert section. I decided to keep it simple and try the "Chocolate Walnut Brownies". Three simple ingredients: walnuts, cocoa powder and agave ( I used carob and honey). They are chewy and full of flavour and would suit the sweet tooth cravings of any diner. There are desserts in the book that are suitable for a fancy celebration: Chocolate Avocado Torte, Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cheesecake (all gluten and dairy free) to name just a few.
I have already marked several more recipes for tasting and a few of these for repeat.
Thanks to Chef Doug for answering my enquiries as to buckwheat grouts. They are a whole grout that has not been toasted. Doug can be found on his Facebook Page and lives and cooks in Toronto, Ontario Canada.