Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Living Raw Food, by Sarma Melngailis, is a collection of recipes from her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in New York, and boy do I want to have dinner there.

I could hardly put this book down. I read it pretty much cover to cover, savoring the pictures, nutritional facts and little stories preceding each recipe. Sarma's tone is conversational, down to earth and very reassuring for people like me who are just starting out with more complicated raw food dishes.

She is a professional chef trained at the New York French Culinary Institute and knows what she is doing. Sarma makes a great point that there are difficulties and challenges in conventional cooking, and says raw food preparation is actually no harder than traditional cooking, if not easier in many ways. I felt my intimidation regarding raw cuisine fade away to be quickly replaced by excitement.

Remember a while back I said I wasn't ready to buy a dehydrator? Well, the photos in this book are so enticing I want to make the recipes, and some require a dehydrator. So guess what? I bit the bullet and got one! There are many recipes that don't, but to fully use this book--and you will want to when you see the food--you need one. If you think about it, it's not much different from buying a mixer or some other piece of kitchen equipment.

I should say that I don't have ambitions to become a raw foodist (yet). Right now I probably eat about half raw, because I love the food. I'm also mindful of getting nutrients and just don't feel right if I don't eat green every day. As much as I love the plant kingdom, I want to expand my repertoire. Living Raw Food has really motivated me to take that next step.

There is learning curve, but that's actually part of the adventure. I am completely inspired by this book, I can't wait to dig into the recipes and explore the world of raw food on the next level.

There are plenty of recipes that don't require the dehydrator. Salads, juices, and smoothies for instance. The Cilantro-Pineapple Shake is wonderful. I'm happy to discover creamy smoothie recipes that don't center around bananas. Not that I don't like bananas, but you can get a little burnt out on the kale-banana-fruit combo (my standard). You'll find soups, sauces, appetizers, main dishes, ice cream, cake, cookies, bars, and cocktails featuring sake and biodynamic wine. It's a feast.

After finishing this book, I felt like giving Sarma a big hug and thanking her for inspiring me and giving me that last little push I needed to get started. I went to her website to check out her online store, oneluckyduck.com, and blog. There she generously and humorously talks about her struggles, but what is more apparent to me is what she's been able to accomplish. More power to her.

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