(Source: Hannah Kaminsky)
Gena Hamshaw launched her food blog, Choosing Raw, in 2009 at the start of her major diet evolution. After growing up in a Greek-American home with a regular menu of mixed food (and Haagen-Dazs), then trying a string of restrictive food regimens, her dieting trial and error led to a passion for nutrition education. Now Hamshaw is a nutritionist with tens of thousands of followers and a brand new book, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat ($13), debuting today.
The book is fantastic for beginners and healthy food veterans alike, featuring colorful photographs of her innovative recipes, easy-to-digest scientific research, and the building blocks of vegan and raw food preparation. We chatted with the author, who gave us a delicious recipe for raw carrot falafel and offered insight on eating raw. Her takeaways:
You don't need to have a 100-percent raw diet to see benefits. "That certainly has not been my experience, and in fact I feel much stronger and more grounded when I mix raw and cooked ingredients. I also think that people overemphasize the role of enzymes in raw food, and they tend to under-emphasize the qualities that I think make raw foods really special: the abundance of water-soluble vitamins, the hydration, the way that raw foods teach you to move away from processed ingredients."
Start with cooked, plant-based food first. "It can be a big leap from cooked steak to raw kale! If focusing on cooked vegan casseroles, pastas and other hearty dishes makes that transition easier, then by all means, move in that direction first."
(Source: Jeff Skeirik)
Focus on the food you're adding, not eliminating. "My favorite motto is 'add first, subtract later,' by which I simply mean that you should focus on the foods that you're adding to your diet: new vegetables, grains, legumes and a whole new array of recipe techniques. I actually became a much more inclusive cook when I went vegan and I think it's true for a lot of others as well."
Veganism doesn't have to be a sacrifice or a chore. "It's not all or nothing when it comes to health. Not good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. Healthy eating exists on a spectrum and I think it's far less healthy to stress out about perfection than it is to truly savor one's food. I love to eat nourishing ingredients but I also love to indulge."
Try one of Hamshaw's favorite foods, raw carrot falafel. It tastes like regular falafel minus the deep frying. These can be eaten with romaine leaves, in a pita, on salads or as is. Read on for the recipe, plus a tahini sauce to pair them with!
(Source: Da Capo Press)
Raw Carrot Falafel (makes four servings)
1 cup sesame seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1⁄2 cups carrot pulp from juicing or
1 1⁄2 cups finely grated carrot, squeezed firmly between paper towels to remove excess moisture
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons flax meal
1⁄4 cup fresh curly parsley
1. Grind the sesame seeds and sea salt in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Add the carrot pulp, garlic, lemon, cumin, if using, and flax, along with 1⁄3 cup of water. Process until the mixture is smooth.
3. Add the parsley to the processor and pulse to combine.
4. Shape the mixture into twelve small patties. Dehydrate at 115 ̊F for six hours, flipping once through.
Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes. Flip and cook for another ten minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Top with tangy tahini sauce, and serve.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, both dehydrated and baked falafel will keep for up to four days. They can also be frozen.
Tangy Tahini Sauce (makes one scant cup sauce)
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend and serve. Tahini dressing will keep for a week in the fridge and can also be served over salads, with raw veggies and warm grains.