I was sent a copy of Terces Engelhart’s cookbook I Am Grateful: Recipes & Lifestyle of Café Gratitude to review. I’m not the only one reviewing a book today. There are over 100 bloggers today simultaneously reviewing books that meet a “green” criteria today. It’s part of Eco-Libris’ Green Books Campaign. The goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

What makes I Am Grateful green? In addition to its emphasis on whole, healthy foods, the book is published on 100% recycled paper.

The recipes in this cookbook are all raw, so I suppose you could call it an uncookbook. This is the first time I’ve taken a look at raw cuisine, and I’ve got to say it’s much more appealing than I would have imagined.

Terces Engelhart and her husband Matthew own and operate four Café Gratitudes on the West Coast where they serve up their raw dishes. Terces’ story, which she tells in the opening of the book, explains how she overcame a 20-year struggle with anorexia and bulimia to find the healing powers of gratitude and food. Even if raw food isn’t your thing, her inspirational story is reason enough to grab a copy of this book.

Here are a few things I learned about raw food from this book that I didn’t know.

  • Raw food isn’t just eating fruits and vegetables as is. I had imagined those who ate a raw food diet munched on raw fruits, vegetables, uncooked grains and nuts all day long.
  • I never imagined that something that looks as amazing as the Hazelnut Chocolate Cream pie pictured in the book (p. 137) would be considered raw food.
  • There are a whole host of ingredients out there that I’ve never heard of. Irish moss (a seaweed), succanat (dehydrated, unprocessed sugar can juice), and E3Live (a fresh, frozen blue-green algae) are just a few of them.
  • Raw doesn’t just mean uncooked. If a food ends up being heated by friction during processing – such as a nut butter that gets hot just from being mixed at a high speed – it’s not considered raw.
  • There is such a thing as raw pizza, soup, and rice, but you need to be open to something very different than what you are used to look at them as such.
I was also reminded of how much I have to be grateful for as I thumbed through the recipes in this book. It would be hard not to. Each recipe has two names – it’s food name and it’s gratitude name. So the Hazelnut Chocolate Cream pie that I mentioned is also named “I am bliss.” The cold processed coffee is named “I am courageous.” I would have to be courageous to give up my hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

Interspersed between the recipes are questions for reflection. Who really knows you? How could you lighten up? How do you connect to the divine? You could grab your cup of “I am courageous” and your journal and use this book for some fabulous journal prompts.

In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. All around the country, families and friends will be sitting down to share a meal and perhaps asking, “What are you grateful for?” This cookbook helps to remind us that this question should be answered daily, not just once a year.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.