Choosing Raw Book Review

23rd August 2014

I have been an avid reader of Gena Hamshaw’s Choosing Raw blog for some time now. If you aren’t already familiar with her site, take a moment to check out her inspirational efforts to deliver nutrition and support for people seeking to live healthier lives on a plant-based diet. She is a certified clinical nutritionist who speaks openly about her own history of eating disorders and recovery. She has a passion for vegan and raw food, and strives to bring more raw food into our diets while also maintaining that she believes the best vegan diet is one that includes both raw and cooked foods. I love what she does and that is why I am honored to have the opportunity to review and share her cookbook with others.

Choosing Raw Book Giveaway

Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is the perfect cookbook for anyone interested in eating more vegan and raw food. This cookbook follows her belief that raw food is a great component of eating well, especially when balanced with wholesome cooked foods. Inside Choosing Raw you will find a combination of cooked and raw recipes, all vegan, nutritionally rewarding and downright delicious.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gena, a woman whom I admire greatly for her strength, her knowledge and her passion for veganism; you can check out my interview here.

Choosing Raw Interview

Available in Kindle and Paperback print at

Gena does a brilliant job of bringing together simple ingredients to create wholesome and alluring recipes along with inspirational guidance along the path of healthier eating habits. In Choosing Raw, you will discover 125 of her delicious and easy-to-make vegan recipes (along with Hannah Kaminsky’s amazing photos) combined with a plethora of her clever responses to some of the biggest myths and misconceptions surrounding vegan and raw food. All of her recipes are vegan, some of them are raw and some of them are cooked.

Recipes are divided into 8 chapters:

1. 15 Essentials
2. 5 Juices
3. 10 Snacks
4. 5 Meal-Size Salads (and Meal-Size Salad How-To)
5. Level 1: Tried and True
6. Level 2: Something New
7. Level 3: Brave New World
8. 13 Desserts for Everyone

This summer we tried the ten recipes below from Choosing Raw:

Cucumber Cooler (Page 112; 5 Juices)
No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars (page 120; 10 Snacks)
Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette (page 127; 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads)
Raw Corn Salsa (page 138; 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces, and Spreads)
Eggplant Bacon (page 145; 5 Meal-Size Salads)
Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls (Page 161; Level 1: Tried and True)
Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette (page 166; Level 1: Tried and True)
Raw Gazpacho (Page 180; Level 2: Something New)
Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pâté and Raw Veggies (Page 180; Level 2: Something New)
Tangy Tahini Sauce (Page 188; Level 2: Something New)

We enjoyed all of her recipes, but especially loved the Cucumber Cooler, Raw Corn Salsa, Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls and No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars. They were all mouthwateringly delectable and made with the most natural of ingredients. I have permission to share two recipes from Choosing Raw, so I have decided to share my favorites: “Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls” And “Raw Corn Salsa.”

Cucumber Cooler

Page 112, 5 Juices

Cucumber Cooler

Cucumber Cooler

The Cucumber Cooler recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

Cucumber Cooler is a satisfyingly indulgent and guilt free green juice, refreshing on a warm day and perfect post-workout. Sweet and tart from the pineapple, tangy from the lime (skin intact for juicing) and especially refreshing with the addition of chilled coconut water. This has quickly become one of my reliable go-to juices that I have made several times already. I am all about coconut water, so I adore the fact that she uses coconut water in her juices. It’s something I like to incorporate in my juices as often as possible.

No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars

Page 120, 10 Snacks

No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars

The No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

Here’s a quick and ridiculously easy recipe for a healthier, more natural version of those granola bars you might recall getting in packed lunches as a kid. We had to add slightly more maple syrup than the recipe called for to get our mixture to hold together and we halved the recipe, making the perfect portion for two to snack on. We chose to use salted creamy peanut butter, which gave these a slight saltiness that I really enjoy. Just be careful because these are an addictive sweet & salty snack. We finished ours off far too quickly!

Raw Corn Salsa

Page 138, 20 Dips, Dressings, Sauces and Spreads

Raw Corn Salsa

The Raw Corn Salsa recipe is available here.

Perfect. That’s all you really need to know about this recipe. But don’t take my word for it, try it and find out for yourself. This insanely mouthwatering salsa is vibrant, fresh and packed full of Latin flavors that just belong together – Avocado, cilantro, green onion, tomato, raw corn and lime juice. We’ve made our share of corn salsas and corn relishes, but we had never used raw corn before.

Raw Corn Salsa

Gena introduced us to the wonders of a Raw Corn Salsa. I added a pinch more lime juice for some added bite and some dried chili flakes to introduce some heat the way we like it. We used the Raw Corn Salsa as a topping for gazpachos and salads as well as a dip for chips.

Eggplant Bacon

Page 145, 5-Meal Size Methods (And Meal-Size How-To)

The Eggplant Bacon recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

We had never attempted to make an Eggplant Bacon before and as it turned out we happened to have an extra eggplant in our kitchen so we decided to give this Eggplant Bacon recipe a try. The final product was slightly sweet and tangy and not smoky like you might expect. Depending on where the slices were on the pan and the thickness of the slice, these pieces of Eggplant Bacon varied from chewy to crunchy, but we liked having a bit of variety. They were delicious and the perfect topping for a salad or sandwich, also perfect for a sneaky little snack. Best of all, we didn’t need a dehydrator for these beauties!

Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls

Page 161, Level 1: Tried and True

Choosing Raw Asparagus Sushi Rolls

The Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls recipe is available here.

The combination of asparagus and avocado provide the crunch and cream to this roll while the quinoa holds up remarkably well inside the nori without falling apart like you might expect. This recipe made 5 sushi rolls, enough for 3-4 people. These were great leftover and since they held up so well in the fridge I could really see these being perfect for a packed lunch.

Choosing Raw Asparagus Sushi Rolls

In fact, I was surprised that these quinoa sushi rolls were even better than typical sushi leftover – whereas leftover sushi rice tends to get hard and dry in the fridge overnight, the quinoa sushi remained moist without getting soggy.

We enjoyed this one so much that we made it a second time with the addition of shiitake mushrooms and sweet soy sauce, miam miam!

Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pate and Raw Veggies

Page 182, Level 2: Something New

Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pate and Raw Veggies

The Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pate and Raw Veggies recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

I had never tried anything quite like this before and certainly never attempted to make a raw sushi filling, but this gingery carrot almond pate was a real treat. The pate itself is mildly sweet but held up with a solid ginger kick and comes out a remarkable color due to the turmeric in the recipe.

Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pate and Raw Veggies

The crunchy julienned jicama, cucumber and bell pepper help to add texture and flavor while managing to keep this sushi roll light and refreshing. There is no need for tamari or soy sauce with this sushi roll, the pate keeps these rolls moist and flavorful enough to eat on their own. Halving this recipe is enough for 2 people. I recommend only making as much as you can eat, when we tried to store our leftovers in the fridge they became too soggy and difficult to eat the next day.

Nori Rolls with Gingery Almond Pate and Raw Veggies

Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

Page 166, Level 1: Tried and True

Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

The Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

If you want a fresh, natural and sumptuous salad then look no further. This Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette is loaded full of fresh, light and flavorful ingredients – black beans, cucumber, red bell pepper, quinoa and a small amount of basil leaves. It was incredibly easy to make and enjoyable to eat!

Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

The Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette wasn’t spicy enough for us, so we topped our salad with some dried chili flakes to provide the heat to balance the sweetness from the agave and tartness from the fresh squeeze lime in the dressing.

Quick Quinoa & Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette

Raw Gazpacho

Page 180, Level 2: Something New

Raw Gazpacho with Raw Corn Salsa

The Raw Gazpacho recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

This Raw Gazpacho is light, refreshing and perfectly balanced by the Raw Corn Salsa. Serve as a Gazpacho Shooter topped with a drizzle of your finest olive oil and a spoonful of the Raw Corn Salsa for an amazing amouse-bouche or summery appetizer.

Raw Gazpacho with Raw Corn Salsa

Fortunately the full recipe fits in our 54-oz Vitamix (I was a bit hesitant about the quantity of the recipe). If you are using a standard blender (smaller than 54-oz), I recommend halving the recipe or working in batches.

Tangy Tahini Sauce

Page 188, Level 2: Something New

Tangy Tahini Sauce

The Tangy Tahini Sauce recipe is available at “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” (

Mildly tangy, lightly creamy and absurdly delicious. We added additional garlic to give this sauce a garlicky kick. Since the sauce is initially quite thin, if you intend on using it immediately I would recommend omitting a bit of the water from the recipe, otherwise, storing this sauce in the fridge for a few hours or overnight will help to thicken the sauce to the ideal consistency. Her Tangy Tahini Sauce was the perfect accompaniment to our dill rice & edamame served with Tunisian-style grilled vegetables (mechouia). Miam miam miam!

Along with all the recipes I tried, I also found her “Level 3: Brave New World” (the adventurous chapter) recipes, including Coconut Curry Kelp Noodles, Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce and Raw Corn Chowder, particularly tempting. I’ll also be making more of her juices and desserts, especially since I can’t resist a good Blueberry Cheesecake recipe (on VeganRicha)!

Choosing Raw has been one of the most powerful and inspirational vegan cookbooks I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. This cookbook will get you excited about eating whole foods, fresh produce and incorporating more raw ingredients into your diet. Choosing Raw reminded me of the importance of starting our foods from the purest and most natural foundations, and taught me just how easy and delicious vegan dishes can be with the most wholesome ingredients. With her expertise as a certified clinical nutritionist, Gena Hamshaw has written a well-researched guide to living healthier and happier on a foundation of whole foods with the incorporation of more raw ingredients to your diet.

Additional ‘Choosing Raw’ recipes available elsewhere:

In alphabetical Order

Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble
Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream
Classic Cheesy Kale Chips
Coconutty for Chocolate Chip Cookies
Curried Chickpea and Carrot Salad
Fig Bars
Green Herb Dressing
Heat-Free Lentil and Walnut Tacos
Hemp Seed Tabouli with Yellow Tomatoes and Mint
Raw Bircher Muesli
Raw Cashew Banana Yogurt
Raw Key Lime Pie
Raw or Cooked Ratatouille
Raw Carrot Falafels
Sunflower Seed Pate
Zucchini Pasta with Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salsa
Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatballs

US + Canada Giveaway

Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw is hosting a U.S. & Canada giveaway here at Vegan Miam and she will be sending a copy of her “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” book to three lucky Vegan Miam readers.

Use the Gleam widget below to enter for a chance to win a copy of her cookbook. If no widget appears, try refreshing the page or use this direct link. You can come back everyday for a bonus entry or tweet again. The closing date is 11:59 PM 31st August 2014.

"Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat" Book Giveaway

Contest Details

• This is a sponsored Giveaway provided by Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw. Open to US & Canada only.
• Giveaway ends 11:59 PM 31st August 2014. (Pacific Time / PST).
• 3 winners will be drawn randomly by using Gleam and will be notified via e-mail, unless otherwise stated. Winner must respond with current/correct address within forty-eight (48) hours or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be drawn.
• Each winner will receive a paperback copy of “Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” cookbook.
• Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by Choosing Raw. VEGAN MIAM is not responsible for any unsent, lost or stolen prize(s).

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