I remember, very clearly, sitting in a cafe in New York City. February 2013. I was in town for Main Street Vegan Academy, fresh off a redeye with nearly zero sleep, hollow-eyed exhausted and so happy to be right there exactly where I was. Amped on adrenaline, espresso, and green juice, I fell into an easy rapport with my dining companion. We were playing catch-up – life, the universe, and everything – when Gena looked across the table at me and kind of smiled this secretive half smile, and confided: “So I sort of signed this book deal.”
I squealed of course (I blame the redeye) because Gena, and her blog Choosing Raw, are two of my favorite forces in the vegan community. We talked a bit about what she was hoping to do with the book, as we finished our brunch that day. And we talked about the project some more when we caught up with each other again a few months later, at Vida Vegan Con. But Gena waited a long time to announce it on her blog, and many many months went by, and I have to admit . . . I kind of forgot about it!
That is, until I got an email a few weeks ago, announcing the release.
You guys. I’m not going to lie: this book is fucking AMAZING. I know, I know. She’s my friend and you think I have to say that. But seriously, this book is A – MAZ – ING.
It brings together everything I love about Gena and the work she does over at Choosing Raw. It’s smart and sensible and thorough and thoughtful and practical and did I mention smart? And it’s gorgeous, full of vibrant photography (thank you to the incomparable Hannah Kaminsky for that). And it’s more than just a cookbook. Gena is a certified clinical nutritionist, and operating on many years of personal experience in the vegan and raw communities. Which is why the first 95 pages of the book are devoted to words and words alone – advice, nutritional information, raw food FAQs, health myths and misconceptions (my favorite part, everything from protein to soy, oil to supplements, and so much more), and a complete 21-day meal plan. For reals, this book isn’t messing around. It WILL become my standard new-to-vegan/new-to-raw recommendation.
But okay, enough of my gushing. You want to see the food, right?? Well, last weekend Jeremy and I spent an entire day eating directly from these pages, and taking many pictures along the way. Here’s what that day looked like:
Oh hello! Good morning!
Jeremy and I enjoyed our lazy morning coffee in the back yard, flipping through the pages of the cookbook, deciding exactly what deliciousness we’d be [un]cooking up that day. Not a bad way to start the morning, I’d say.
It was, in a word, divine (but I’m sure you can tell that just by looking at it!)
This was one of those weekend days that drifted along. No plans except to putter about the house, which is exactly what we did. I was in my pajamas until well after noon. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon cleaning my kitchen from top to bottom – and I mean *really* cleaning. Like, polishing up the cabinet faces, on hands and knees at the baseboard lip, taking everything off the shelves, that kind of cleaning. It felt great but unfortunately, that sort of day doesn’t make for many pictures.
Jeremy ventured out for a haircut, and to pick up a few odd ingredients at the market. And when he returned, it was lunch time. Creamy Basil and Ginger Noodles.
I must admit, I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe. For one, I have a love-hate relationship with kelp noodles that often leans more towards the “hate” side of things . . . but then, I had multiple bags of them just sitting there, taking up prime real estate in my fridge. And two, my brain has trouble putting “basil” and “ginger” together in a sauce.
However, I trust Gena, and so this strange flavor profile definitely intrigued me. Thus, Creamy Basil and Ginger Noodles it was.
These were so good! I sun-dried the kelp noodles after soaking them in a solution of water, salt, and apple cider vinegar (lemon juice works as well) to try and loosen them up. If you’ve never eaten kelp noodles before, they have this strange sort of “popping” texture which can be a bit off-putting (on the other hand Waits loves them, but then again he’s uncannily attracted to foods which have almost no calories, oof, so that makes sense). But after laying them out to dry in the sun (half an hour or so), I was beyond thrilled with how they turned out. For the first time ever, they were wonderfully relaxed and delightfully non-”poppy”. And of course the sauce turned out to be delicious and Jeremy and I devoured the entire batch.
Oh also, I’m me so I added white beans because PROTEIN.
Right after lunch I whipped up the dressing that we were going to eat with dinner, and if you think I’ve been raving too much already, then I’m sorry but it’s about to get worse. Much worse.
You guys. This dressing!
This dressing tastes like summer. Like tangy summer! Herby and savory and amazing with umami but also that lightness and freshness of flavorful herbs. We had it for dinner that night and I literally woke up craving it the next day. So do you know what I did? I ate salad for breakfast. And then I ate salad for lunch. And then I ate salad for dinner I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING THREE MEALS STRAIGHT.
This is my new favorite dressing, which is why I made a double batch of it again just today. And why I begged Gena to share the recipe with all of you! And you lucky ducks – she obliged:
Green Herb Dressing
Makes 1 1/4 Cups Dressing
1 cup packed fresh parsley
1⁄4 cup fresh dill
1⁄2 cup packed fresh basil
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄2 teaspoon Herbamare (a very delicious and healthy seasoned salt and herb mix) or sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 green onion, green part only, chopped
Blend all the ingredients, along with 1⁄2 cup of water, in a blender until smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Dressing will keep for 5 days.
I spent the afternoon and evening back and forth between kitchen and yard, tending to whatever needed tending. It was such a lovely day, lazy but always in motion, working while also relaxing. A podcast to keep me company, and easy, steady housework.
And then finally, it was dinnertime! All said and done, we had a butterleaf and tomato salad with the Green Herb Dressing, and Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls, paired with our favorite Spanish Rioja.
But we weren’t done yet! For dessert I’d made the Raw Key Lime Pie.
Jeremy said this was the best dessert – okay maybe the best thing – I’ve ever made. And since then it’s been approved by both wee Waits Rebhal, and Jeremy’s roommate.
This is good pie.
And thus concludes our day of eats, and this cookbook review. I do hope you’ve enjoyed both, and I hope you’ll check out Gena’s book, Choosing Raw. And if you’re not already doing so, for goodness sake go read her blog!
♥ ♥ ♥