Book Review: Practically Raw
Over the weekend I devoured every page of the book (as I always do when I get a new one), and then I experimented with a few of the recipes. I made the Taco Salad Supreme, which was delicious and a nice twist on making some raw Mexican dishes like nachos or burrito style wraps which use the same ingredients, but this time building them into a hearty salad. I also made the Deconstructed Sushi Bowl, which followed the same kind of idea- instead of wrapping the ingredients into nori rolls, they were built into a delicious meal in a bowl. I tried Amber's Zesty Corn Tortilla Chips recipe for my weekly batch of corn chips in the dehydrator, and was even inspired to try making my first fermented Macadamia Nut Cheese, following her instructions, which was a fun experiment I've been meaning to try for ages. Next up I want to try turning the basic cheese into Balsamic Fig Pistachio Cheese which sounds soooo yummy!
The thing that I really like about this book is that the ingredients used for all the recipes are not complicated, and most raw or vegan kitchens would have the ingredients to prepare the majority of the recipes. If there is an ingredient you are missing, then that is okay, as you can refer to Amber's substitutions guide which follows each recipe. This is great for people who are just starting out with raw food prep and may not understand what each ingredient's purpose is in the recipe- providing suitable substitutions takes out the guess work. I also really like that Amber has included the nutritional information for each recipe, so if you are watching your protein or vitamin or calorie intake this makes it really simple to calculate where you are at after eating one of these prepared recipes.
Another aspect that sets this book apart from other raw cookbooks is that it also includes cooked options for a lot of the recipes. I think this is a fabulous idea, as it takes out a lot of the rigidity that seems to happen in the raw circles which I don't think is really necessary or useful for most people who want to experiment with eating raw and who want to eat healthier. Providing cooked options would also be great for raw foodies who have partners or family members who don't follow the raw food diet, as it would save time in having to prepare separate cooked meals. The cooked versions of these raw dishes would be really healthy and nutritious cooked variations. Also in relation to nutrition, Amber uses little symbols to indicate recipes that are lower fat for those who are concerned about the fat content in their raw diet. This all helps to really make this book a practical one.
The chapters in Practically Raw are also quite different to other raw recipe books, with Amber including a whole chapter dedicated to hummus, and another just to kale chips. I also enjoyed reading her breakfast and brunch chapter, even though most of the recipes are sweeter than what I usually would make for breakfast- but that is just me! The introductory chapter which outlines Amber's philosophies with raw food provides quite in-depth information about eating raw, which is great for those who are just learning the ropes or are curious in knowing more. She explains things in a simple and clear way and provides some useful tips and tricks as well as a nutrition guide to eating raw and a detailed pantry list.
Overall this cookbook is a great addition to my own raw library, and I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in raw foods as a good introductory book, that is as its name suggests- very practical. With over 230 pages of recipes, it is a good foundation point for those entering the raw world. It includes colour pictures, but not for every recipe (I'm always keen for pictures for everything!) and the quality of the pics on my copy seemed a bit over-saturated and with too much contrast. But the purpose of this book is not to be an arty cookbook but rather as one that is informational and usable and it certainly achieves that aim. Amber must be very proud of her efforts with this book, and I'm looking forward to trying more of the Practically Raw recipes soon.