Monday, February 1, 2010

Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen – A Review

In the past I haven’t written many formal cookbooks reviews because I think choosing a book is a very personal thing. However this book has inspired me so I wanted to share my thoughts.

Ani’s book has a look of things going for it that most other raw cookbooks lack. Primarily I love that it is accessible. Many of her recipes can be made with a nothing more than few things almost everyone owns, a cutting board, knife and food processor. I love that the recipes are all fairly quick (by raw food standards). Additionally Ani doesn’t rely on crazy ingredients that are only available in major metropolitan areas or through mail order. You could live in a small town in the Midwest and find most of the ingredients you need for these recipes (at least I think you could I haven’t lived in a small town in many years). This book succeeds in making raw food something this is possible for the average American. Way to go Ani!

Those of you that have been reading for a while know that I am trying to incorporate more raw food into our diet (per the recommendation of Dr. Joel Fuhrman). Generally that has amounted to fresh fruit and vegetable salads. Not exactly the type of food you can get too excited about over the long haul. I have purchased about a half dozen raw food books before I got this one. The other books are beautiful and tend to be more gourmet in regard to presentation. While I love that sort of thing I don’t want to spend two days making dinner. That just isn’t realistic for me on most days.

On Saturday I made my own version of Ani’s nut cheeze. Both the hubby and I loved the cheeze. I intentionally made it thick so that it would make a great veggie dip that would stick to the veggies. We have eaten the entire batch and I will be making another version later tonight. Not only is the cheese delicious but it was ready in 5 minutes. No need to soak the nuts in this recipe to get a nice cheesy texture. How happy was I? Very! You can expect to see more variations of this recipe in the future as I play around with it. The funny thing about this is when I was looking at the book to write this review I found that Ani recommends soaking nuts in another part of the book. Well, I didn’t and the recipe worked anyway. I will try the recipe again with soaked nuts when I have time, but for now I know it works with unsoaked nuts. That is what I get for only reading the recipes and not the narrative interspersed throughout the book. Oops!

I wanted to wait to review this book until I had a made a couple additional recipes from the book. Today we had the Sun Burgers on Sesame Sunflower Bread (pictured above). I followed the directions (mostly) so I won’t be posting the recipes. But, I was impressed with the results. The burgers contained 6 ingredients (plus salt and water) and the bread contained 5 ingredients (plus salt and water). I made the burgers and bread at the same time in the dehydrator. Both “cooked” for 4 hours. The hubby and I were pleased with the results. This is my first attempt at raw vegan “junk food” and it was a success. The burger was a little “granola” tasting but we liked it. My favorite part is that I could start these after lunch and they were finished by dinner. Most raw food books take much longer to make a meal. We had the burgers and were full before we could have our spinach salad. I am going to be playing around with this recipe now that I have a good foundation on which to build other burger variations.

The book is segmented as follows:

• Beverages
• Breakfast
• Salads and Dressings
• Soups and Sauces
• Accompaniments and Sides
• Cheezes and Pates
• Main Dishes
• Desserts
• Dog Food

As with all cookbooks I read all the recipes before deciding what to make. There were so many recipes that caught my eye I didn’t really know where to start. Since Ani has been batting 1000 with me I am going to be using this book a lot more this week. Some recipes from this book that are now on my short list include:

• Buckwheat Crispies – Raw Rice Crispy Substitute
• Ginger Cashew Mayo
• Lemon Fennel Soup
• Sun-Dried Tomato Marinara
• Almond Yogurt
• Brazil Nut and Broccoli Mash
• Indian Spiced Cashews
• Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus (Bean-Free)
• Save the Tuna Pate
• Pad Thai Noodles with Almond Kaffir Sauce
• Polenta with Mushroom Ragout – one of my favorite cooked dishes
• Blueberry Soup with Cashew Kream

As you can see from this list the recipes are varied and unique.

Not to sound like an infomercial for the book there is something that doesn’t work with the way I cook. Some of the recipes include a “generous” amount of oil. I don’t mind fat from nuts but I am working to eliminate oil form the diet (except when using turmeric). Oil is included in some, but definitely not the majority of the recipes. I think they should work fine for our taste buds without the oil. If not, there are plenty of recipes that don’t contain oil that we will still have plenty to choose from.

Overall, this is a great raw “cookbook”. If you are new to preparing raw food, as I am. This is great book to start with. The recipes are easy and quick enough to get you started down the raw road.

Before anyone asks, I purchased this book, it was not a review copy given to me.  I am very glad I purchased this raw book.


  1. Thanks for the review, I'm interested in learning more about raw food/ sounds like this book is a good place to start.

  2. Rose,

    I should have gotten this book first. It is much better for everyday raw cooking.


  3. What a wonderful review, Alicia! This book sounds so amazing and it seems that I can find many unique quick and easy recipes from it.

    Oh,the sun burgurs look really yummy and inviting. It sounds like a healthy and tasty junk food, YUM!

  4. Oraphan,

    The hubby and I were talking about the burgers after dinner. I think my first variation will be a mushroom and walnut version.

    This is a good raw book to start with. Ani makes raw food easy for everyone. I love that her recipes are quick and easy. I knew you would love that aspect. ;)


  5. i want the buckwheat crispies...i dont know what they are but i know i want them. and there is a section on dog food???? skim it a bit and tell me what you think, i have heard a lot about this book and im "friends" with annie on twitter. that burger looked great though, nice pictures again:)

    "Generally that has amounted to fresh fruit and vegetable salads. Not exactly the type of food you can get too excited about over the long haul"

    true new things are always fun

  6. and totally unrelated, what do you think about those non-stick silicone baking things. i am trying to limit plastic use but i dont know what "the word" is on those....and you usually

  7. Michelle,

    The buckwheat crispies recipe is simple, from what I remember. But it requires a dehydrator.

    I will reread the dog food section and get back to you on that.

    Since we are trying to reduce flour drastically I don't do much baking anymore. However, I do own many pieces of silicon bakeware and silicon mats for baking (silpat). If I read anything bad about it I will let you know. It does work well, in terms of releasing food. Parchment paper is made by impregnating paper with silicon.


  8. Glad to hear you like it. Funny, I had the opposite experience with her dessert book (I don't have the Raw Food Kitchen one)--full of ingredients I couldn't find or didn't have, and I DO live in a major metropolitan area! But I'm going to give your cheeze (and maybe even these burgers) a try before deciding on this book. :)

  9. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on it. I love to hear about other people's thoughts regarding cookbooks. Sometimes they seem like a great purchase, then after you dig into them, not so much.

  10. Ricki,

    Compared to the other raw books I have this one seems much more approachable. I didn't see a single ingredient used that I hadn't purchased before, which was very encouraging to me.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the dessert book. I had't heard that it used hard to find ingredients before. That is my biggest complaint regarding most raw books. Entertaining in the Raw is gorgeous, but I know some of the ingredients will be elusive.


    I agree completely. There have been many books I was very excited to bring home but as I read them more carefully then I was no longer thrilled. This one is going to get a good bit of use at our house. I am going to make something else from it, or inspired by it, today. ;)


  11. Raw Cooking is something I have never ventured into... Thanks for the review..

  12. RV,

    Raw cooking is fairly new to me as well. I have found most of the books to contain odd ingredients and too much time. In my opinion this is the best one I have found yet for a beginner (like me).


  13. I just recently purchased this book as well as her dessert book and I have been very impressed with the recipes I have made. I was actually thinking about making the sunburgers for tomorrow! I have made the Stawberry Cheezecake in her dessert book and it is wonderful (except I had to sweeting the filling a bit as she didn't sweeten it at all). I have been very impressed with her books and I too am very new to RAW foods.

  14. Julie Michelle,

    I have a quite a few raw books now and Ani's seem the most approachable. I agree with you that her recipes seem to work out well and other books are not quite as predictably good. Thanks for the review of the cheesecake. I have been thinking about that one for our next celebration dinner.



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