At last, the brilliant and creative soul behind the Choosing Raw blog has published her first cookbook. Many of us have been a fan of Gena Hamshaw‘s work for years. It’s hard not to be. Gena delivers posts that educate and inspire us, not with recipes alone, but also with her life observations and food knowledge. She is a bright light in our plant-based world, always offering a balanced approach to raw and vegan food.
When I think of Gena, a few words come to mind: integrity, compassion, and knowledge. You feel it in every post she writes, and in Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, these qualities shine through in print. Gena shares so much within this book, from her wisdom of food nutrition to her passion of recipe creation, to her commitment to animal rights.
I received a copy of Choosing Raw last week, and know you will love its content. Not only visually appetizing with food photos, it is a lifestyle book, answering the why, what, and how of eating a raw and vegan diet. The book is broken down as follows:
- Preface: Kris Carr
- Introduction: My Story
- Part I: The Why
- Your Health
- Beyond The Plate
- Part II: The What
- Vegan Nutrition
- All About Raw Foods
- Frequently Asked Questions About Raw and Vegan Foods
- Myths and Misconceptions
- Part III: The How
- Setting Up
- Getting Started
- 21 Days in The Life
- Part IV: The Food
- The Recipes: 15 essentials, 5 Juices, 10 Snacks, 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads, 5 Meal-Size Salads
- Level 1: Tried and True: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Level 2: Something New: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Level 3: Brave New World: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- 13 Desserts for Everyone
Gena has cleverly partitioned the recipes into food preparation/cooking “levels”. This is one very special feature of her book, graduating home cooks from easier to more complex raw recipes. I also think her meal plans (21 Days in the Life) will be extremely useful for people new to raw and/or plant-based foods.
Of course, apart from the brilliant recipe planning Gena offers, her heart truly shines through in the introductory sections. This is especially true in her personal story, but also even evident in the FAQs and myths and misconceptions. Gena connects with us from a very personal level through every chapter.
Let’s talk about the recipes for a moment, though, because they are not to be underestimated. Gena is exceptionally creative, and the recipes range from fully raw to high raw and cooked dishes. There is spectacular food photography (by Hannah Kaminksy) for many of the recipes, capturing the vibrance of raw foods. I have highlighted many recipes that I want to try out, including: Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli, Green Lemonade, Creamy Maple Chipotle Dressing, Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble, Raw Pad Thai, Coconut Curry Kelp Noodles, Raw Peach Cobbler, and (last but not least!) Sweet Pea Hummus Tartines. Because #hummusisafoodgroup.
So many enticing recipes! This week I tried Gena’s Raw Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream and Nut or Seed Pate. These were both fully raw dishes, both incredibly easy to make. One of the myths of raw foods dishes is that they involve tedious or complicated food preparation. Not always true. These recipes were quick for me to make (I need that right now with 3 girls on summer vacay and a very active puppy), and were instantly gratifying!
First up, the Nut or Seed Pate. I enjoyed snacking on it straight up with crudite, but it looked super lovely as I was assembling a sandwich, so I pulled out my iPhone to snap some pics! This particular recipe is very flexible, you can use a combination of nuts or seeds. I chose to use a combo of raw almonds and raw pumpkin seeds, and it was delightful.
The same day I made Gena’s Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream. I mean, who am I to resist ice cream? My all time fave dessert, sweet, treat. Period. This particular recipe is one of the GORGEOUS featured food photos on the cover. It’s a cinch to make, does not require an ice cream maker, and is wonderfully refreshing and tasty. I reduced the fresh ginger a little so the girls would spoon in too, as they aren’t super fond of ginger. The flavor is bright, fresh, and still creamier and more luscious than a fruit sorbet.
Gena allowed me to share the recipe with you today. We had some fresh cherries and blueberries on hand the day I took a photo. After taking these photos, I thought this would be a very beautiful (and easy) Fourth of July dessert!
Raw, Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream (link to print/share)
This ice cream tastes entirely too delicious to be dairy free and made without an ice cream maker! Ginger and blueberries are a surprisingly harmonious combination, and the color of the finished ice cream is phenomenal. Garnish with fresh mint or a few extra blueberries before wowing your friends. Makes 4 Servings
1⁄2 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or more and drained
4 frozen bananas
2 heaping cups frozen blueberries
1 1⁄2 tablespoo
ns fresh, grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder if you’re using a food processor)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons almond or hemp milk (may not be needed for the food processor version)
If you’re using a high-speed blender:
Blend all the ingredients together in a highspeed blender. Use the tamper attachment to facilitate blending. Add a little more almond milk, if necessary, to facilitate blending.
If you’re using a food processor:Place the cashews in a food processor and process until they’re broken down. Add the bananas and let the motor run until they’ve turned into soft. When you have soft serve consistency, add the blueberries, powdered ginger, and lemon, and blend until totally smooth. Add the almond milk only if you need a thinner consistency; you may not. Serve.
Leftover ice cream can be transferred to a sealed storage container and frozen for up to a week, then reprocessed in the food processor just prior to serving.
From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.
I encourage you to add this genius work to your cookbook collection. Gena will welcome you into the world of raw foods, demonstrating that it can be very simple to include raw meals and snacks in your daily meal plans. It’s not about attaching to a label or being rigid with a dietary regimen. With her heartfelt approach to eating healthy, this is far more than a cookbook. It offers guides, meal plans, scientific support, and a lot of heart. No matter where you are with plant-based eating, we can all enjoy – and benefit from – Gena’s talent and insights in Choosing Raw.
Do you have a copy of Choosing Raw? If so, what recipes have caught your eye, or have already become favorites?