I ordered this book after reading about it on Food: A Love Story. Mimi Kirk’s inspiring story is perfect for the new year, and her vibrant approach to life is motivating as well. Now that I have both a Vitamix and an Excalibur dehydrator, I was in a better place to test her recipes. We’ll be giving away one copy of Live Raw Around the World: International Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty on Friday January 31 in my monthly giveaway.
If you’ve never tasted raw foods, you might think this is simply a book of salads. Raw foodists believe in eating organic foods that have not been heated to a temperature higher than 115F/46C, which they maintain is critical for preserving key enzymes in the foods that are destroyed at higher temperatures. Foods can be served warm, either using the Vitamix to heat them (for raw soups for example) or the dehydrator. Sprouted seeds and grains are a big part of these recipes, and you will also find fermented foods in a raw diet.
How does it taste? Truly great raw food is amazing. I remember my first visit to Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco. Everything was gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, and plant-based. I literally cried when I saw that I could choose from their entire menu. Skillfully prepared raw food is rich, tasty, and beautiful.
The large format softcover book is in full color, packed with photos from Kirk’s travels as well as the food. The pale green backdrop on all the pages was not the best choice to set off food photographs, and they suffer a bit in comparison to the travel photographs.Many of the food photographs have a yellowish cast that may be a printing issue.
The book opens with eight short chapters that provide a primer on raw food (essential and very helpful), then moves into chapters on each of the featured cuisines: Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, India, and Thailand. Resources in the back provide more information on where to source ingredients.
Kirk is clearly skilled at eating and cooking raw, and her recipes inspired by the flavors of each cuisine are uber-creative, from Pad Thai to tiramisu. I did not make any desserts, as I wanted to challenge myself with the savory dishes. I was intrigued by the Spanish pizza, so started with that recipe. It took four days to make; raw food is not fast food.I sprouted the buckwheat for the crust, made the pesto, marinated and dehydrated the vegetables, and made the macadamia nut cheese. (So one recipe is really four recipes.) The directions are always not laid out in order, so at times it was confusing how to proceed. The pizza was very dense (in a good way), filling, and tasty. I will definitely make the cheese again.This was the green bean curry from the India section, which took thirty minutes to prep and three hours in the dehydrator. It was tasty but did not taste remotely like it was ready to be eaten after three hours. The onions were overpowering. I sauteed it in a pan later and it was delicious.These were the Indian pakoras with tamarind dipping sauce. They were tasty and my friend and I both loved the sauce, which I would make again.
What I liked about this book:
I wanted a go-to handbook on raw cuisine with unusual recipes to try, and this definitely fit the bill. It’s very inspiring to read about her life and how well she looks and feels, being in her 70s. I’ll definitely use it for sauces, salads, and desserts in the future. Huge range of recipes, creative flavors, and lots of options.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Dehydrated raw onions are still… raw onions. Some of the recipes were overpowered by that taste. Cooking raw in the winter just doesn’t feel right to my body, so I would be more inclined to eat this way in warmer weather. The recipes are time consuming and don’t indicate how long they take to make. A better layout for the recipe steps would have helped. Aspects of the design (mentioned above) detract from the food a bit.
Raw foodists looking for new recipes, people with dehydrators wondering what else they can make besides fruit leather, vegans interested in raw foods, people on cleanses, midlifers looking for health inspiration.
Here’s the book on Amazon if you want a closer look: