Practically Raw

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Practially Raw by Amber Shea Crawley, Andrews McMeel 2014, $19.99 paperback, 227 pages

If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner,                 And take light claret instead of pale ale;                                        Look down with utter contempt upon butter,                                  And never touch bread till it’s toasted–or stale.                           H.S. Leigh, Carols of Cockaigne, 1869

The holidays are over and it’s the traditional time of year for detox. This book can help you on your return to virtuous eating, and perhaps even help you make it at least to February.

Crawley is a graduate of the Matthew Kenney Academy and her recipes tap into the abundance and flavor of a plant-based diet. As notes, this book works for omnivores leaning toward vegetarianism and for vegans leaning toward a raw diet. Crawley calls her book a judgment-free zone and calls her approach “sexy,” “flexible,” and a source of “enjoyment.”

And practically means just that. These are meant to be easy to prepare in a home kitchen–the only special equipment you may want to get is a dehydrator. But they are also practically raw in not being entirely raw. Most of the recipes have cooked versions that make an easy segue to a full raw lifestyle.

The benefits of a raw diet, by the way, include plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber and water, as well as fatty acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants–all essential for good health. It’s a diet that is easy on your digestion and gives you energy. Raw food can help you reach or maintain your ideal weight, and, according to Crawley, is easy to prepare.

So beyond the salads and gazpacho that spring immediately to mind? Crawley dives in with a selection of flavored kale chips and what she calls “the world’s most perfect food,” hummus, in varieties from classic chickpea to zucchini, cashew-macadamia, lemon-garlic, red pepper, and marinated mushroom.

You can serve it on pita if you’re still not committed to a fully raw kitchen, or you can try it with some of her “breads” made with various mixtures of almond flour, flaxseeds, brazil nuts, and buckwheat flour. And this is where the practical comes in; these are cooked option recipes and give you the flexibility to enjoy Graham Crackers, Tortilla Chips, and Rosemary-Garlic Bread.

Along with truly creative recipes for dishes like Caramel-Fudge Brownies (made with nuts and dates), Cantonese Veggie Stir-Fry (served with Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf), and Spaghetti Marinara (with zucchini standing in for pasta), Crawley sets you up with shopping tips (buy in bulk, eat seasonally), a nutrition guide (know you marconutrients), and guides to ingredients, techniques, and equipment.

So crunch the last of the candy canes and give raw a try.



About Appetite for Books

read, cook, eat, repeat
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