Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book review: Raw & Beyond

I recently read the book Raw & Beyond, a book by three raw food “gurus” that share their personal journeys with the raw food diet and how they came to the decision to reintroduce cooked foods into their diets. The three authors, Victoria Boutenko, Elaina Love, and Chad Sarno, each do their own introduction before sharing a variety of recipes that fit with their new idea of the ultimate diet for optimal health. The book is based on a couple key premises:
  1. Eat a whole foods diet with limited processed foods (including oils and agave, as they are technically processed)
  2. Ensure your diet is high in omega 3 fatty acids, and that the ratio of those omega 3’s to omega 6’s is between 1:1 and 1:4
  3. Aim for high raw rather than 100% raw. Sometimes cooked foods are what your body needs.

Things I really liked about this book:
  • The premise is great – a whole foods diet, eating more veggies, and eating more omega 3’s are all things I stand behind 100%. I also completely support including raw foods in your diet.
  • The recipes offer exciting, creative and delicious combinations of nutritious ingredients. Most people could use help eating more veggies – myself included – and these recipes definitely do the trick.
  • Helping people to realize that eating raw does not have to be an all-or-nothing endeavour. I don’t believe in doing anything 100%. Well, ok, most things I don’t believe in doing 100%. Being super strict with yourself and being disappointed in yourself are not the keys to happiness and the stress is causes is not the key to health. I have had a lot of people say to me “I want to be vegan but could never give up cheese” to which I always respond “so don’t. eat it less and eat meat less and that’s already doing a lot for your health and for the planet.”
  • I got a serious heart on for the list of foods with their breakdown of omega 3’s and 6’s – I’ve had a hell of a time finding this information elsewhere.

Things I didn’t like so much about this book:
  • Despite claiming to be causing a "controversy" with their avant-garde thinking (which, by the way, I thought tipped the scales a bit to the arrogant/pompous side), there are really no new ideas in this book. Whole foods diet with no processed foods, tons of veggies, and a daily raw food intake…pretty much the diet that every single class I’ve taken  over the past two years has touted. That being said, it’s a great way to eat and I support it 172%, I just didn't like that they were claiming to cause a controversy.
  • The reliance on anecdotal evidence and personal experiences. Actually, I am fine with both those things, but I didn’t like how they were often packaged as facts or how they were mass generalized to entire populations. I felt that that approach resulted in some information that was a bit misleading.
  • Based on what the authors had written, it seems a bit that they were living a somewhat unhealthy raw lifestyle and then generalized that experience to say all raw people would be in a similar boat and thus a 100% raw diet wasn’t sustainable. That made me feel the way I feel when people say “oh, you’re vegan…you must be protein and iron deficient because all you eat is potato chips.” *cringe*

Here is the recipe I am most excited about (and believe me, it was hard to choose):

Avocado nori rolls
2 sheets raw or toasted nori
1 large romaine leaf, cut in half down the length of the spine
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
½ pepper, julienned
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, julienned
1/2c raw sauerkraut
½ carrot, beet, or zucchini, shredded
1c alfalfa or fave green sprouts (I’ll be using sunflower, thank you)

Spicy miso paste (spread 1-2T on nori before stuffing and rolling)
4T unpasteurized, mellow white miso
1T sesame oil
1/4tsp cayenne

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