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Coming across the book I am going to review- Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet was a meeting which occurred more than by pure chance. My daughter is a vegan and follows a raw food diet, and she had pointed out to me several video presentations on You Tube by the author in connection with her recipes for making nut milk.
I had tried making almond milk using these videos as a guide, and had been so delighted with the results that I decided to invest in her book which is easily available on Amazon for £8.30. The book was published in 2005 in America, and is also available second-hand from Amazon and from second-hand booksellers including Abe Books. The book forms part of a trio of publications made by Jennifer, which also includes a lovely book on desserts, and a DVD study video, which I can highly recommend, as it is a teaching guide which illustrates all the basic principles you need to master in order to make healthy raw food meals. The only thing about the DVD is that it is region 1 so you do need a dvd player which can play these.
Now I am not following a raw food diet plan at all. I have in recent months given up eating sugar, and this book really provides a selection of dishes which I can make now, which offer alternative dishes to those old favourites which I used to enjoy such as pies, cakes and pastas. The book contains recipes which are designed to feed one or two people, so the quantities I make are perfect as they feed me and my husband.
I can recommend this book to anyone who maybe feels like they have over indulged over Christmas, or who has a desire to eat more healthily. The emphasis of raw food meals is that they are bursting with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and the healthy fats in olive oil and avocadoes.
You don't need fancy equipment to make these recipes - just a food processor, blender and a good knife and chopping board, as well as a store of basic ingredients. What I particularly like about this book is that it really focuses on a few healthy ingredients and some very simple dishes. The utensils you will need are clearly detailed in the first chapter, and most people will have these in their kitchen already, so it isn't a recipe to spend lots of money on gadgets and fancy ingredients.
The next section of the book details the simple ingredient list that you need to begin making the recipes. The plan is that you stock up on nuts, seeds, oils, dried fruits, herbs and spices, and then all you need to do each week is to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. This has been very helpful in the past few weeks that I have been using the book, as with the snow and ice it has made food shopping much easier.
The book then moves on to explain all the basics of the techniques you need to understand in order to make the recipes, and these are simple to learn. The first involves soaking nuts or seeds in order to make nut milks, sauces, salad dressings or spreads. The book then explains how to chop ingredients, and many other aspects of food preparation, including how to do advance preparation, which for me has been the most useful aspect. Meals from this book can be prepared in advance, and stored in the fridge, either in a complete form or as aspects of a meal ready to throw together.
This isn't just a collection of raw food recipes, it is a study guide, which after following it will enable you to plan and eat fresh and delicious dishes for every meal and snack. It is very well laid out and illustrated in places. My only criticism is that I would love to have seen a photograph of every dish. The plates of food are so colourful I feel it would have enhanced the book, but you do have the option of buying the DVD or accessing the video presentations on YouTube by typing in Jennifer's name or her subject -Raw Food. She is actually a lovely person to watch so I highly recommend her videos, if you want to gain an insight into what the book has to offer.
The breakfast ideas are great with recipes for granola and smoothies. I actually love the granola, which uses soaked nuts and seeds flavoured with cinnamon, and is served with the nut milk. It is so easy to make in moments as you soak the nuts and seeds overnight and makes a filling breakfast.
I have made so many recipes from the book, but my favourites include a healthy pasta alternative which uses courgettes which you make into the pasta, and a delicious sauce which uses sundried tomatoes and olive oil. Walnut Not Meat Balls is another dish which also makes a lovely main meal, and use the same marinara tomato based sauce as the courgette pasta. In this way the dishes double up, so you can make larger amounts of sauce at the start of the week and then use them in different recipes.
The desserts are absolutely gorgeous, but my favourite has to be the chocolate mousse. I made this several times over the Christmas period and my family were amazed. It uses avocado and chocolate powder made with 100% cocoa, and is sweetened with agave syrup and dates. The result is a creamy mousse which is free from cream and eggs and is actually healthy! You can use the same basic ingredients to create a lemon or lime mousse too! Then there are the pies and tarts made with a raw crust using coconut and nuts sweetened with dates and filled with creamy fillings, but devoid of naughty creams and sugars! These are a prescription for indulgence!
Some of the salad dressings in the book are amazing and certainly make salad leaves a joy to eat. I actually grow all my own in the garden, so just being able to make a selection of dressings and have them ready in the fridge is ideal. There are also recipes for salads which you can make and again store in the fridge. Mediterranean Kale is one of my favourites in this section, as it is such a delicious salad made with pine nuts and red peppers.
I purchased some re-use labels from Lakeland which has enabled me to mark up sauces and dressings after placing them in the fridge, so that I can identify them when I am looking to make a meal from things I have prepared earlier.
Raw food is designed to be eaten cold, but you can warm up the main dishes and soups which I do as I enjoy hot meals in the winter.
When I purchased this book a few months ago I was at the beginning of my journey into eating more healthily and quitting my sugar habit. I needed to do this for my health as I have ME/CFS and blood sugar lows come with the condition, but are made worse if you down the doughnuts! This book has helped me to replace the things I love with alternatives, and I have used it in conjunction with another of my favourite books called Gluten Free Almond Flour Cooking by Elana Amsterdam. This book uses ground almonds instead of flour to create high protein alternatives to traditional baked products. I think the two books make excellent partners if you want to embark on a healthier diet, or simply want to find some new easy recipes.
I think Raw Food Made Easy is a good title for the publication as it is certainly very easy to follow, and you can learn in just a few weeks a collection of recipes which take you from sunrise to sunset. I would certainly advise you to make sure you have a good food processor, which you keep on the surface so it is ready for action, as it certainly will be needed if you start cooking from this book! I only have a basic one at the moment, but I think I will invest in a better model as I am using it several times a day now.
This book is absolutely fantastic and is a reference guide for easy cooking using simple and fresh ingredients. The bonus is my food shopping bill has actually dropped eating this way, and this is something I never expected! I have also lost a few pounds in weight too so that's a bonus!
If you do buy the book and embark on the recipes I should mention that I purchase the nuts and seeds on-line as it works out cheaper. I use goodness direct.co.uk or realfoods.co.uk. The latter are offering free delivery and are an excellent company based in Edinburgh. I buy the 100% cocoa powder from The Chocolate Trading Company who offer discounts and cash-back from sites such as www.topcashback.co.uk.
Jennifer also has a website at www.learnrawfood.com. She is a well known raw food chef from Chicago and offers courses too. It is also great to know that the book was published by a company who use recycled paper in order to protect the environment.
This book has helped me to finally ditch doughnuts for dates and it has actually been a lot of fun too!
This review has also been published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278.