This is the second interview in my series of interviews with people with amazing accomplishments in the field of healthy nutrition and lifestyle. Whether we are vegan, omnivore, or follow another nutritious diets we can all learn from each other. What binds us is our desire to help our families and ourselves eat a little better today than we did yesterday.
Today I am going to share with you a new cookbook that found room on my shelf recently and that I am completely in love with: “Choosing raw – Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat” the first cookbook written by the lovely Gena Hamshaw. Gena is the face behind the popular blog Choosing Raw. Gena is currently preparing to move back to her hometown New York from Washington D.C. where she has lived for the last few years. Her cookbook is a great introduction for those of us that would like to include more raw foods in their diet and want to do it right. It is also a great resource for those of us who already have many raw foods in our diet as Gena’s cookbook abounds in delicious and interesting recipes waiting to be tried in our kitchens.
Gena has a balanced approach when it comes to including raw foods in her diet (hence the name of her cookbook). She believes that eating both cooked and raw foods is a great way to stay healthy. I completely agree with this way of eating, as it ensures we get a variety of nutrients that nourish our bodies. This way of eating also helps us cut down on processed foods, which in the long run is beneficial to our health.
I have been reading Gena’s website Choosing Raw for years as she writes warmly and candidly about raw and vegan foods, animals’ rights, eating disorders, yoga, and many other interesting topics. Gena’s personality shines through her writing and I check her blog on a regular basis as it is inspirational and rich in useful information.
I tried many recipes from Gena’s cookbook such as banana soft serve, zucchini pasta with quinoa meatless balls, and avocado black bean breakfast scramble. All were quickly devoured by my family.
Gena graciously offered to share with us her cashew banana yogurt recipe from her cookbook. My son sang the following words: “Mmmm, it’s yummy!”. My daughter ate it happily. My husband tried it and said “Wow, this is goooood” (swearing omitted). I mixed this cashew banana yogurt with my homemade granola and we all had a great nutritious breakfast.
I have been trying for a long time to find a dairy-free yogurt for my son. The ones that we can buy from the store have lots of additives that are not safe for us to eat. The ones that I tried to make at home prior Gena’s recipe did not turn out very well. But this one, the cashew banana yogurt, was a big hit with my son and this recipe is a keeper. If you are looking to change it up once in a while, you can replace the banana with other fruits that your child loves.
Cashew Banana Yogurt
From “Choosing Raw – making raw foods part of the way you eat” by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.
Greek yogurt is one of the last nonvegan foods I stopped eating, and it was one of my favorites. I’ve seen all sorts of super complex recipes for fermented, homemade yogurts, but this simple recipe is my go-to.
This yogurt calls for a probiotic powder. You don’t have to go out and purchase one to make it. If you take any kind of probiotic supplement, you can simply empty two to three capsules into the recipe and enjoy. If you don’t want to, or don’t have a probiotic powder at all, that’s fine. Just go ahead and enjoy the taste of this sweet, tangy treat.
Makes 4 small or 2 large servings
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or more, then drained
2 large bananas
1 1⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2⁄3 cup coconut water (1⁄2 cup if you’re using a food processor)
1 pinch sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon probiotic powder (optional; you can simply open up a few probiotic capsules for this!)
Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
Alternatively, place all the ingredients, except the coconut water, in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Turn the motor on and drizzle in the coconut water in a thin stream. Keep processing until the mixture is very smooth.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, the yogurt will keep for 2 days.
What I did:
- I used 5 children’s probiotic pills that made up ½ teaspoon of probiotic needed for the recipe.
- I soaked the cashews for 4 hours as my blender is not too powerful and I wanted the cashews to be soft enough for my blender. I put the yogurt in the fridge before serving. It has a tangy and sweet taste in the same time.
Here is Gena, telling us more about her cookbook and her approach to whole foods (raw and cooked).
- Gena, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who were you at the beginning, when you first started the “Choosing raw” website? When and why did you decide to focus on eating raw foods?
My blog grew out of an infatuation with raw food, which I discovered about a year and a half into my journey as a vegan. At the time, I was super excited about eating raw, but I felt that very few websites or resources made the lifestyle seem accessible. I wanted to prove that it was possible to eat raw food while on a budget, juggling a busy lifestyle, and also choosing not to go 100% with it (I eat much more cooked food than I used to, but even in my high raw phase, I still enjoyed a lot of cooked vegan fare).
Over time, the blog has also become a space where I discuss body image, animal rights, and eating disorder recovery.
- What was(were) your goal(s) in writing this cookbook?
They were very similar to the goals I bring to my life as a blogger! I wanted to present veganism and raw foods as fun, bountiful, satisfying, and relaxed. I wanted to prove to folks that you don’t have to choose between eating raw food and eating cooked food. I wanted to share some of the reasons why I find veganism to be a compelling lifestyle choice in this day and age (ethics, environment, etc.). And finally, I wanted to clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding raw and vegan diets.
In addition to all of these things–and perhaps most importantly!!–I wanted to share 125 of my favorite, most delicious recipes.
- What is one of your favorite dishes from your cookbook that you think would appeal to children too?
Oh, gosh! Well, any of the smoothies are kid friendly, I think, as is the famous banana soft serve recipe. Kids will also enjoy the blueberry ginger soft serve, the no bake sunflower oat bars, the coconutty for chocolate chip cookies, the raw fig bars, the macaroons–basically, any of the sweets 🙂 The zucchini and kale chips make for kid friendly snacks, and the enchiladas or quinoa salad with black beans and cilantro vinaigrette are good, family-friendly options.
- What is one of your favorite kid-friendly dishes from your website?
Probably banana soft serve (also in the book). You really can’t go wrong.
- Do you have any tips on helping parents make tasty meals and still stay on budget?
Be sure to shop for legumes, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in bulk; it’s a major budget saver! Always take advantage of sales and deals for pantry goods. Cook in bulk, and use your freezer. And while produce is undoubtedly costly, remember that plant proteins (grains, legumes, soy, hemp) are on average quite a bit more cost-effective than animal proteins. Plant based diets can be tremendously economical!
- Please finish this sentence: “One of my big life lessons was when…”
…I spent four years trying to get into med school, and then didn’t. It was absolutely crushing to have invested so much in a goal that then disintegrated in front of my eyes, but it taught me so much about resilience, about the value of failures, and about the necessity of keeping an open mind when it comes to one’s life goals.
- Sometimes life gets in the way and we eat less healthy for a while than we would like to. What do you do to get back on track?
I try really hard never to beat myself up about less-than-ideal food choices; I come from an eating disorder history, so food guilt is territory I avoid as best I can. If I feel as though I’ve been too indulgent, then I simply take a few days to eat simply: lots of fruit, salads, simple grains, beans. I hydrate really well, and get adequate rest. That’s it. I’m not one to ever do eliminations of any food (sweets, for instance). When I’ve been less healthy than I prefer to be, I’ll certainly simplify things, but I still try to enjoy everything in moderation.
- Besides making and photographing amazing recipes, what is the thing/activity that makes you happy and you could not live without?
Reading and yoga.
- What do the words “Choosing raw” mean to you?
To me, the words “choosing raw” don’t mean “choosing a 100% raw lifestyle.” They mean eating foods that are a little closer to the earth. They mean minimal food preparation. They mean dishes that are simple, nourishing, and whole. And they also suggest freedom and flexibility: you can approach raw foods as a choice, as a series of small decisions, rather than a total lifestyle transition.
If you would like to win this great cookbook, please see below the 3 ways to enter this giveaway.
This giveaway is open to anyone, no matter where you are. It is my absolute pleasure to gift this to you.
Receive up to 3 entries if you:
- Let me know in the comments section what your child’s favorite breakfast is.
- Subscribe to the Orgali blog by email. You can see the link to subscribe (green rectangle) on the right side on this page.
- Mention this giveaway on your Facebook page and let me know you did this in the comments section.
The giveaway closes on Friday August the 1st at 8:00 pm Mountain time. A winner will be chosen using a random number generator and announced on the blog on Friday August the 1st. I will contact the winner by email once I post the result.
The giveaway is now closed.
The winner of the Choosing Raw Cookbook is Yen. Congratulations Yen! I just emailed you to ask you for your address.