One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cookbook Review: RAWvolution by Matt Amsden

I’m celebrating the bounty of fresh seasonal vegetables available at my CSA this summer by eating raw foods whenever possible. The spring and summer months are the best times to start dabbling in raw foods as a lot of the foods used commonly in raw preparation are in season this time of year. So for the next two months expect loads of reviews on great Raw “Cook”books, blogs, and recipes.

My main issue with raw food preparation is the time it takes to prepare dishes and the materials that it takes to create the dishes. I don’t have a dehydrator and a lot of raw food chef’s use one so this cuts out a good majority of recipes for me. I’ve also noticed that raw food books, although beautiful and full of food photos, tend to be on the more expensive side. So for each raw food book I review I’ll be sure to give you the price and whether or not you’ll need a dehydrator to make it through the book.

First up is RAWvolution by Matt Amsden. RAWvolution is a pretty sizeable investment at $32.50 but a lot of the recipes can be made without a dehydrator so that’s a promising step and I was able to make some substitutions here and there when something did call for a raw “bread”.

My CSA has Zucchini’s the size of a small dog right now so I had to make the No-bean Hummus from RAWvolution. It’s made with zucchini, tahini, lemon juice, oil, garlic and a little salt and cumin. It took just minutes to put together and tasted amazing. I served it up with some fresh carrots and Jicama strips. Next up I decided to put my mandoline to work and make Cheese Pierogies made of cashew cheese with a Jicama shell. It was easy as putting the cheese ingredients into my Vita-Mix, and slicing thin rounds of Jicama with my mandoline. I was surprised that no dehydrator was needed for this recipe but it was just perfect without being warmed. I just left it out at room temperature for about 15 minutes and it was perfect! The filling is rich and creamy and the shell is just slightly sweet. Dishes like Cheese Pierogies are what I love about raw foods – I would have never, in a million years, thought to put this combination of foods together and yet it works so perfectly and is incredibly filling. My hands down favorite recipe from this book is the Mock Tuna Salad. Once the sunflower seeds, which are used as the “tuna," were soaked it only took me a few minutes to put the dish together. I had a tuna sandwich on Ezekiel Bread (not raw but close enough for a girl with no dehydrator), and I also made a lettuce wrap out of it. There’s also a variation to make a mock chicken salad that is equally scrumptious. The Asian Vegetable Nori Rolls were a good standard raw roll recipe. Whenever I go to a raw foods restaurant this seems to be a staple item. Likely because it’s relatively easy to make, you can pack a lot of vegetables into a small package and the rolls are portable. When the semester starts back this is definitely going to be packed in my lunch. Finally, to round out my top 5 recipes in RAWvolution I absolutely loved loved loved the Zucchini Pasta Alfredo. I did have to go on Amazon and find a Spirooli slicer that makes noodles out of all sorts of fruits and veggies as well as a variety of different shapes that any normal kitchen tool could never tackle. It was well worth the investment, I think the slicer only cost me $20, and the taste of the Alfredo sauce was richer than Bill Gates and if you have the time to allow the pasta to sit at room temperature for a couple hours the noodles take on the texture of traditional cooked pasta and the sauce warms a bit. Some honorable mentions were the Soft Taco with Fresh Tomato Salsa, Pineapple Heart, Creamy Cabbage Coleslaw and Apple-Ginger Dressing.

Matt Amsden does like to use Thai coconut meat and Thai coconut water a lot in his recipes which can be hard to find in some areas, definitely a skill to open, and very expensive (especially in the quantities he prefers to use). That, for me, was the main drawback of this book. Thankfully there were a bevy of great recipes that didn’t call for Thai Coconut and for some that just called for the Coconut Water I either bought coconut water or just substituted purified water in its place.

My Top 5 favorite recipes from RAWvolution:
No-Bean Hummus
Cheese Pierogies
Mock Tuna Salad
Asian Vegetable Nori Rolls
Zucchini Pasta Alfredo

1 comment:

  1. Sounds really good! I wish my library had a copy...

    And don't you just love anything called a pierogi? Mmm.


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