Review and Recipes: Becoming Raw

[Zucchini Pasta Bolognese–hearty and delicious]

Dealing with all the exigencies of the anti candida diet (ACD) can really be a challenge.  After more than a year without sugars (sniff, boo hoo), most fruits (miss ya, mangoes!), gluten (you were overrated anyway), yeasts (nooch!  nooch!), fungi (bye, bye, portobello steaks) or anything else fermented (thank God you can get black olives cured in oil), I’ve often found that turning to raw foods is a fairly easy way to ensure compliance.

Apart from raw desserts (which tend to rely on dates and other fruits), it’s pretty simple to stick to the ACD guidelines by choosing from the living foods menu, as it already eliminates most sweeteners and most grains or grain products (and, let’s face it, most of us on the ACD probably got there by overdoing it on the sweets and grains).

As a result, I was particularly delighted that the folks at Book Publishing Company sent me a copy of the latest in the “Becoming” series of books by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets. I already own the other two books (Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan), so I knew I was in for a treat with this new tome as well. (The publisher provided a complimentary copy of the book for review. To view this blog’s entire disclosure policy, click here).

Like its predecessors, this newest volume is brimming with useful and often fascinating information, covering virtually every detail you’ll need to know if you’re contemplating a switch to a raw, plant-based diet. In her review, Alisa called the book (at 376 pages) a “dense read.”  And while it does, indeed, offer a plethora of statistics, charts, tables, definitions and other details, I must admit that this is just the kind of extensive and comprehensive information–all backed by solid scientific research–that I enjoy reading (and which fans have come to expect from this duo of nutritionists).  As a reference book, Becoming Raw provides a sturdy basis on which to transition to a raw vegan diet.

The introductory chapter, “Becoming Raw for Life,” addresses some of the typical questions and concerns associated with embracing a raw foods diet.  For instance, can one obtain enough protein on a raw regime?  What about cooked foods?  Right from the outset, the authors’ approach to the topic is open minded and eschews any too-rigid stance (they argue that cooked foods are not necessarily a bad thing, even though an entirely raw diet may be perfectly healthy for some people).

They also offer a comprehensive history of the raw foods movement from the pioneers to the current icons, including the many illnesses that see improvement on a raw diet.  From rheumatoid arthritis to cardiovascular disease, diabetes,  obesity and many more, a raw food diet appears to offer benefits in preventing and treating these conditions. The authors also present abundant information about plant chemicals and compounds (such as antioxidants) that can benefit health, as well as some of the problems with cooked food (such as acrylamide, a byproduct of heating most starchy foods).

[Green Giant juice: kale, romaine, cucumber, apple, celery, lemon, ginger]

The subsequent chapters about macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) could easily rival those in texts I studied while in nutrition school for their breadth and detailed explanations of how these nutrients function in the body, why we need them, and how much to ingest for optimal health.

The chapter on carbohydrates, for instance, provides a thorough definition of the glycemic index (GI), glycemic load, and an explanation of why some foods with a higher GI may nevertheless be a better choice for their ultimate effect on blood sugar levels (crucial for someone like moi who follows an ACD).  They point out, “watermelon has a glycemic index of 72, which is very high (higher than white bread or white sugar).”  On the other hand, “a 3.5 ounce (100 gram) serving of watermelon provides only 8 grams of carbohydrate. In order to get the blood glucose results predicted by the glycemic index, a person would need to eat about 6.25 servings, or 22 ounces (625 grams) of watermelon.”  Does this suggest, I wondered, that raw fruits would actually be acceptable on the ACD, even if they’re sweet?  For now, I’m sticking with the original diet, but this fact is definitely intriguing.

Finally, the authors devote an entire chapter to “The Great Enzyme Controversy,” addressing theories and research about whether or not enzymes in raw foods are essential and account for the health-promoting benefits of these foods.  (I won’t reveal their final conclusion, but will let you read the ultimate results on your own.)

Concluding true to its subtitle as an “essential guide,” the book wraps up with suggested menus and enough recipes in each category (juices, breakfast foods, soups, salads, main dishes, desserts) to get you started on your own raw regimen.  The two recipes I sampled (Green Giant Juice and Zucchini Linguine with Bolognese Sauce) were superb. For more recipes from the book, check Alisa’s review and Lisa’s series about the book, which begins here. 

Becoming Raw is an excellent resource that clarifies and demystifes the raw vegan diet.  As with their previous best selling books, Davis and Melina can help to direct you on a path toward a plant-based, raw lifestyle in a way that’s informed, intelligent, and health-promoting.

Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets.  Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD, with Rynn Berry. $24.95 US. 352 pages. Book Publishing Company, 2010.


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Comments

  1. That looks absolutely delicious. I can taste it, just from looking at the picture. I’ve been intrigued over the last few years with raw cooking (an oxymoron!). I’ll have to check out the book you recommended!

  2. I’ve read so many great things about this book so far. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Maybe I’ll add it to my list of books to try…

  3. Ricki,
    I’m so glad you are enjoying Becoming Raw – I love it! Thank you for linking to my month-long review. Like you, I found the wealth of information as amazing as the recipes. I think it would be an excellent resource for anyone – eating mostly raw or not. I found the daily meal plans a great eye-opener when it comes to creating a balanced diet of whole foods.

    xo
    Lisa

  4. I really loved to read that book. It took me a week but I learned a lot. Great review.

  5. Intrigueing . . . . nuts are a great source of protein but does a raw diet include beans? I’ve just worked my way around to including some of those everyday to help cut down on animal protein.

  6. Thank you for such a great and balanced review of this book. I’ve been curious about raw “cooking” for a couple of years now, but all the books I browse at the store seem so dogmatic, which always turns me off. And I’ve never found very many reliable raw recipe blogs either (aside from yours, of course, which is raw-ish).

    This may be something I’ll need to check out from my library!

  7. Very happy to have your input on this book. I naturally eat more raw foods during the summer, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to learn a bit more about raw nutrition and gather a few more recipes, too. I’ll have to check it out!

  8. This dish looks lovely – thank you for a great review (and ack, just realized I had not yet responded to your email – which was so full of good advice – must get on that!)

  9. Thanks for the thorough review of the book. We have been eating a lot more raw food lately with spiralized food being very popular at our house. The hemp topping is very intriguing. Thanks again for sharing! 😉

    Alicia

  10. Ellen,
    It’s well worth a read, just to learn about nutritional requirements in general. Even the HH loved this recipe and said he’d eat it again–huge praise from my carnivorous guy! 😉

    Vegyogini,
    I’d have to agree with the other assessments you’ve read–the book is so thorough and well written that it might just be the “essential” guide. I really enjoyed it.

    VeganLisa,
    I thought your series of posts was excellent and so informative–plus all those mouth-watering photos shouldn’t be missed! 🙂

    Mihl,
    I know what you mean. Even after studying nutrition in a formal setting, I still learned from the book. 🙂

    Mom,
    I believe that a raw diet includes sprouted legumes sprouted chickpea hummus seems to be common, as are sprouted mung beans). Even pea shoots (as in this salad) are considered sprouted legumes, so I guess they are not that unusual!

    Leah,
    Glad it was useful! I’m not a raw foodist (though I dabbled while in nutrition school), but I do try to eat 50% or more raw per day (usually greens or salad). The book is definitely not dogmatic, though it is packed with lots of data–you’ll want to browse and take it all in over a few days at least. And I thought the recipes were great. 😉

    Hannah,
    Some of the nutritional info was a real eye-opener, especially for someone like me who assumed she knew all about how to ingest enough nutrients! Well worth a look. 🙂

    Valerie,
    Glad you liked it. Emails? No worries–I think every one of us in the entire blogosphere is behind! 😉

    Vegan Epicurean,
    The hemp topping was lovely (and, I’m guessing, would be even better with the nutritional yeast). And I was glad to have an excuse to use my spiralizer again!

  11. Great review! I have to get this book, adding to my wish list now! 🙂

  12. I bought Becoming Raw before my last cleanse for inspiration, and really enjoyed the recipes that I tried. The zucchini dish looks really tasty!

  13. Very interesting. I should really look in to this book!

  14. sounds like an interesting book and I love your photo of this recipe but in the midst of winter I really want my food warm – though I imagine the idea of no extra heat even from a hot plate on a warm day would be wonderful

  15. Great, thorough and informative book review! And that pasta looks incredible. I think I really do need to purchase a spiralizer this year. (Or was it a Vitamix that I needed?) 🙂

  16. You were definitely more adventurous about it than me, but I just posted an adapted recipe from that book too! – http://www.godairyfree.org (techinically the recipe is on my blog). It is an excellent book. I admit to getting a bit bored through some of the heavy text, but learned quite a bit and it makes a great reference.

  17. This looks delish – and yes, I agree, eating raw is an easier way to ensure ACD friendly meals! I am surprised at how often I eat raw vegan meals without thinking about it! 🙂 xoxo Kim | http://www.affairsofliving.com

  18. This is such a beautiful raw linguine! My son loves to eat raw. 1st time we had raw lasagne a couple of years ago he was hooked, me too! I’ll have to check that book out.

  19. I think I would like this book. Like you I really enjoy all the evidence and facts and figures.

    i’ve tried to make zucchini pasta before and it didn’t come out well, kinda made me sick to my stomach. I’ve been afraid to try it again, but maybe I should cause it still looks great

  20. I’ve always been intrigued by the raw diet/lifestyle. You’ve made me want to know even more about it now! I’ll have to check that book out.

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