Raw or cooked ratatouille from Choosing Raw
Have you ever met someone who instantly impressed you with their remarkable knowledge and genuine charisma? That’s how I felt when I first met Gena Hamshaw. She’s the brilliant writer behind the blog Choosing Raw who constantly amazes me with her thought-provoking blog posts and now, her comprehensive new book of the same name.
This book is far more than just a cookbook. Using her familiar writing style that is both casual and professional, Gena first introduces us to her own story—growing up in a Greek American home, her experiences with an eating disorder and IBS, and through her discovery of the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and nutrient-dense raw foods. Her story is both captivating and candid, and you learn how she grew to become the experienced health advocate she is today.
This book covers it all—the why, what and how of adding more vegan and raw foods into your diet. She includes a thorough section on health and compassion, guiding us through the fundamentals of vegan nutrition (she’s a clinical nutritionist, so she knows her stuff), explaining what makes raw foods unique and demystifying the common myths and misconceptions surrounding plant-based diets.
Gena also goes over the essentials of grocery shopping, meal planning (she includes 21 days of adaptable, plant-based meal plans), tips on developing healthy, sustainable habits, and stocking your pantry and fridge.
If that isn’t enough, Gena follows up with an ample supply of recipes (125 to be exact), including essentials like nut milks, smoothies, juices, snacks, dressings and dips, plus a variety of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I love that the recipes are showcased by levels of raw, which take you from a foundation of cooked vegan recipes to more raw food dishes to help you transition to a plant-centric diet.
The recipes are by far the most approachable of any raw food book I’ve seen because, like me, Gena believes being a raw foodie doesn’t have to be bound by rules and expectations. I enjoy incorporating both cooked and raw foods into my own diet but find raw food techniques inspire me to use fresh vegetables in fun and creative ways. While some recipes in this book call for a dehydrator, Gena also gives cooking instructions too, so the choice is up to you. Many of the recipes, particularly in level 3, require no cooking at all, which is quite practical for this time of year when you don’t want to turn on the oven.
There were lots of recipes that caught my eye while first looking through this book but so far I’ve stuck mostly to level 3 recipes, which include more raw food techniques. I began by trying the almond pulp porridge, mocha maca chia pudding and raw ratatouille.
All three recipes were straightforward and easy to make. I particularly loved the porridge, which is a new way for me to use up all the almond pulp currently stashed in my freezer. The pudding, as well, was a fantastic morning wake-up call and the combination of malty maca, rich cacao powder, and intense espresso really gave me the boost I needed to keep going all day long.
The ratatouile, though, was by far my favourite. The variety of colourful, raw veggies and fresh herbs made for an excellent accompaniment to my bowl of greens. While there was both a dehydrator and oven option to this recipe, I found the few hours of marinating made it soft enough to not need any heating at all.
Because I loved this recipe so much, I was able to get permission to share the recipe with you!
Thank you, Gena, for sharing your knowledge and talent with the world, and for inviting me to be a part of your book celebrations!
Raw or cooked ratatouille
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly into coins
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons mined fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup, sliced into thin strips, sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup pine nuts, cooked or sprouted lentils, or chickpeas
- Combine all the ingredients except for th epine nuts in a large mixing bowl. Adjust the seasonings to taste (you can add more herbs if you like, or more lemon for a more tart taste).
- Let all the ingredients marinate for a few hours, so that the flavors marry. If you're serving it cool, simply stir in the pine nuts or legumes and plate. If you're heating it, use one of the options below, and stir in the pine nuts or legumes right before serving.
- OVEN OPTION: Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the vegetables in a small casserole dish and cook for 15 minutes. Give the vegetables a stir, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until they're soft throughout. DEHYDRATOR OPTION: Set your dehydrator to 140F. Spread the vegetables onto two Teflex-lined dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for an hour before serving them warm. If you keep the dish raw, it will last overnight in the fridge. If you cook or dehydrate it, it will last for up to 3 days.