[Don't miss the video interview with Gena, featured halfway down this page!]
Most blog readers have their favorite blogs for different subjects: you might seek out one blog for the best desserts; another for quick and easy, allergy-friendly recipes; one for thoughtful, in-depth commentary or pithy observations; or another because you are drawn to the personality of the blogger. In the case of Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw, however, many of us find all of those–and more–in Gena’s blog.
Because so many people already know and admire Gena, there’s been quite a bit of excitement surrounding her new book, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat. Gena’s writing is not only engaging, down-to-earth and inclusive; the woman herself is also whip-smart, warm and welcoming toward readers and colleagues, with an incisive sense of humor that punctuates her observations. I first met Gena a few years ago during a visit to her home town, New York, and as our friendship has continued and I’ve gotten to know her better, I can tell you that she is indeed just as forthright, funny, and compassionate as she seems. I have no doubt her book will open up a new world of healthful, mostly raw eating to a whole different audience that might never have otherwise considered it.
More than a cookbook, Choosing Raw is truly a reference and guidebook for living a healthier life that happens to include an abundance of raw foods. After sharing her own story in the book, Gena moves to the “Why” of eating this way (two major reasons: health and compassion); the “What” (covering vegan nutrition and an in-depth discussion of raw foods); the “How” (setting up your kitchen and stocking your pantry, how to transition easily to a vegan diet with more raw food, and a 21-day meal plan to get you started). Finally, the book moves to The Food–125 glorious recipes, with stunning photos from accomplished photographer (and blogger/cookbook author) Hannah Kaminsky.
Recipes are divided into various sections, offering vegan standards and core meal components, such as “15 Essentials” (milks, nut or seed pâté, basic kale salad, etc.); “5 Juices”; “10 Snacks”; “20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces and Spreads”; and “5 Meal-Size Salads (and Meal-Size Salad How-to)”. These are followed by sections introducing different “levels” of raw and cooked foods, from basic and introductory (Level One) to more daring and exotic (Level Three), with each level offering breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. The recipe section wraps up with “13 Desserts for Everyone.”
I’ve been working my way through the many bookmarked recipes in this beautiful tome and so far, every one has been a hit. Here’s what I’ve tried thus far (these were all shared on Instagram as I went along, so if you follow me there, you may have already had a sneak peek!):
[Hemp Power Balls from the snack section]
[No-Bake Sunflower Oat-Bars using pumpkinseeds and coconut nectar for my ACD variation. Another from the snack section.]
[A smiley face of Dilly Raw Vegan Sunflower "Tuna Salad" (also made with pumpkin seeds instead, since that's what I had on hand). From Level 3 lunches.]
[Chocolate Covered Raw Superfood Clusters, made in mini muffin cups, 'cause they're just cute that way. From the dessert section.]
Other recipes I’ve got bookmarked include Dinosaur Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad; Toasted Pumpkin Granola with Homemade Hemp Milk; Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble; Carrot, Avocado and Turmeric Soup; and Almond Pulp Porridge. Almost all the recipes fit perfectly into my own diet (with a few minor adjustments for the ACD). Truly, this is the way I already love to eat, so everything in the book looks appealing to me!
Do check out the book if you’re a fan of vegan and raw foods, or if you’re just curious about how you might incorporate more of these healthful meals into your own diet.
And for more insight into Gena and her views on raw and healthful eating, take a look at this Google Hangout I did with Gena earlier today. I had a blast chatting with her (though pardon the opening few seconds–techie newbie here!).
Finally, Gena was kind enough to share this recipe for Key Lime Pie from the book. Key Lime is one of the HH’s two favorite pies (the other being Coconut Cream), and this recipe delivered big time. The crust is barely sweet, while the filling is dense, creamy and a perfect combination of sweet and tangy.
Raw Key Lime Pie
From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.
Makes One 9-Inch Pie
1 large Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
1 1⁄2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours and drained
1⁄2 cup melted coconut oil
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar [I used agave]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon lime zest (optional)
1. To make the crust, add the cashews, coconut, pitted dates, and sea salt to your food processor, fitted with the “S” blade. Process until the ingredients are mixed and broken down well, and they stick together when you collect a small handful and squeeze.
2. Press the crust ingredients evenly into the bottom of on oiled, 9-inch springform pan.
3. Blend the filling ingredients together in a high-speed blender or food processor until silky smooth. Spread the filling over the crust and use a spatula or inverted knife to make the top very smooth.
4. Chill the pie in the freezer for an hour, then transfer it to the fridge and let it set for another 3 hours, or overnight. Cut into slices and serve.
Alternatively, you can make four tartlets in place of one pie.
Cover and store the pie in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 10. If you freeze the pie, defrost the slices in the fridge for several hours before serving.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 3 and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan.
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