Raw-curious — but don't know where to start? Pick up a copy of "Going Raw: Everything You Need to Start Your Own Raw Food Diet & Lifestyle Revolution at Home." This book is the best I've found that explains all things raw and simplifies a raw lifestyle to a doable level for a raw newbie — while also offering up delicious-looking recipes with tantalizing, full-color photos to inspire and awe the already-converted.
Written by L.A. resident Judita Wignall, "Going Raw" begins by covering all the basics, starting with what raw is (and the fuzzy definitions people quibble over) and why raw food can be beneficial. Then she goes on to basic raw kitchen techniques — from picking out a high-speed blender to using a mandoline to sprouting grains.
Then it's on to the recipes! All the raw basics like green smoothies, juices, and kale salads are covered — as well as more complicated fare like Coconut-Curry Samosas with Plum Chutney and Spinach-Walnut Pesto and Pignolia Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms! Judita includes raw versions of many comfort food favorites, including Spaghetti Bolognese and Vegetarian Homestyle Chili. And you won't have to give up your favorite desserts to go raw with this book either. Just opt for dehydrator-crafted Mexican Spiced Brownies, Ice Box Chocolate Chip Cookies, and White Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake instead — a la mode with raw Maple-Pecan Ice Cream!
I gave away my dehydrator and don't have an ice cream maker, so I haven't been able to try those desserts. I did, however, make myself a cool Asian Noodle "Stir-Fry" — rawlicious! The tamari-ginger-sesame oil sauce — with a kick of red pepper — made a perfect savory marinade for the juicy shitake mushrooms, fresh organic veggies, and soaked arame. I loved this foolproof recipe, which really included all the steps a newbie might not know to do — like soak the kelp noodles in lemon water first to soften them up and get rid of that "squeaky" texture — a tip I could have used in the past.
I plan to try more of Judita's recipes soon. What I really loved about this book, though, was the down-to-earth practicalness of it. Her tips to make enough salad dressing, hummus, nut milk, and a couple snacks every weekend to last the whole week makes a lot of sense. She advises making flax crackers, raw granola, and raw chocolate in big batches to last a whole month — instead of becoming a slave to the dehydrator.
Judita tells her own raw story, which basically started as an attempt to clear up her skin. Apparently, after a month of going all raw, she lost 15 pounds. After two months, her skin cleared up. Now, after four years of eating raw, she says her tastebuds crave a very simple diet — green juice and fruit before noon, a green smoothie for lunch, a small raw snack in the afternoon, then a green salad or soup for dinner.
That sounds like a rather austere diet to me, but it seems to work for her — and certainly makes eating raw sounds a lot easier. Making a Classic Veggie Pizza by sprouting kamut, mixing it with other ingredients to dehydrate into a raw pizza crust, then blending up pizza sauce, soaking nuts to blend into nut cheese, marinating mushrooms, and cutting up toppings to dehydrate the final creation for three hours before sitting down to dinner seems like a raw deal — but perhaps not if it's only for special occasions.
Judita is quick to point out that a 100-percent raw diet is not right for everyone. In fact, some of her recipes aren't all raw. The stir fry I made, for example, makes liberal use of toasted sesame seed oil. She emphasizes small raw goals — and setting just one goal at a time to ensure long-term success.
So if you've wanted to incorporate more raw food into your life, grab a copy of "Going Raw" to get started. The softcover book costs $24.99 -- and comes with a bonus DVD demo-ing simple raw techniques like spiralizing veggies and blending up nut milk. Want to try a couple recipes before parting with your cash? Judita has shared her recipe for Mexican Spiced Brownies on her own blog, and Vital Juice has Judita's recipe for Orange-Chocolate Mousse Parfait.