Eating Raw with Doug McNish + a Giveaway!

22 Apr

Parsnip carrot pesto fettucine

Several factors have prompted me to reconsider how I eat over the past couple of years. The first thing is simple enough: I’m getting older, and if I’m going to continue to eat bacon and foie gras from time to time, I know I need to focus on lighter and healthier meals when I’m not consuming rich foods. Also, I’ve slowly but surely gotten onboard with Jenny’s fascination with vegetarian cooking. And with my sister-in-law embarking on a career as a holistic nutritionist, I’m getting healthy eating info from yet another source.

So when I was sent a copy of Toronto chef Doug McNish’s first cookbook, Eat Raw, Eat Well, my curiosity was piqued. While I can probably count on one hand the number of raw food dishes that I’ve eaten, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the flavours in most of them (If you haven’t had the jicama fries from Belmonte Raw, for example, you’re missing out.)

Raw food, in a nutshell, is vegan in most cases, and focuses on maintaining as many of the nutrients as possible in the ingredients used. That means that most of the dishes are prepared without heat, and those that do use heat are not heated beyond roughly 105 degrees. Given those parameters, someone who has never eaten raw might be excused for thinking that raw food must be boring and limited in flavour. But as I pointed out above, that doesn’t have to be the case, and the 400 recipes in Doug McNish’s book prove that. There is a wide variety of recipes for smoothies, breakfast foods, soups, mains and desserts that incorporate vegetables, herbs, fruit, grains, legumes and nuts to create flavourful and multi-textured meals.

But there are clearly some limitations for those not fully invested in the raw food lifestyle. First, the heated dishes sound interesting, but require a food dehydrator (something my cramped kitchen isn’t equipped with). I can get my oven down as low as 170 F, but only a dehydrator can cook at a controlled 105 degrees, the temperature called for in most of these recipes.

The book also doesn’t include cooking times. The recipe we tried, below, was prep-heavy. And while the 25 minutes or so that I spent preparing “noodles” with a veggie peeler was fairly low-stress work, I’m not sure I would have felt the same way on a Tuesday evening as I did on a Sunday afternoon. With cooking times listed, it would be easier to gauge which recipes one should attempt with the time they have available.

Finally, there’s no nutritional value listed for the recipes in Eat Raw, Eat Well. We were concerned with the amount of protein in the dish we prepared, so we ate it alongside salmon.

That said, this book is definitely staying in my kitchen. I can see myself working more raw meals into my diet, and I do think that a lot of the recipes here would also make for amazing side dishes next to fish or egg dishes.

Want to win a copy of Eat Raw, Eat Well? We have one copy to give away to a reader of Communal Table. Just leave a comment below, letting us know why you want to win this book. We’ll pick a winner from all comments left by next Saturday, April 28, and post the winner’s name here as well as letting them know via email. Good luck!

UPDATE 4/30: Congrats to “Onadistantshore,” who won our draw for a copy of Eat Raw, Eat Well. Enjoy the book!

Carrot parsnip fettucine McNish raw

Doug McNish’s Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine (Makes 2 servings)

When Jenny and I made this, we decided to use just two garlic cloves instead of the three called for below, and in hindsight I think I’d use a bit less hemp seed oil than called for (maybe 2/3 of a cup). But we loved the fresh, vibrant flavour of the dish, and we’ll definitely make it again.

3 large carrots, peeled
3 large parsnips, peeled
1 tbsp (15ml) tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 1⁄2 tbsp (22 ml) fine sea salt, divided
3⁄4 cup (175 ml) cold-pressed hemp oil
1⁄2 cup (125 ml) raw shelled hemp seeds
3 cloves garlic
3 cups (750 ml) chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and parsnips into long, thin strips, dropping into a bowl as completed. Add olive oil, 1 tsp (5 ml) lemon juice and 1⁄4 tsp (1 ml) salt and toss until vegetables are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, until softened.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process hemp oil and seeds, garlic and remaining lemon juice and salt, until somewhat smooth but the hemp seeds retain some texture. Add cilantro and process until chopped and blended, stopping the motor once to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add pesto to fettuccine, toss well and serve.

Excerpted from Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish © 2012 Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

9 Responses to “Eating Raw with Doug McNish + a Giveaway!”

  1. rawveganincollege April 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    I want to win this book because the recipes would bring so much variety in my raw life!! 🙂 Thank you!

  2. ceatta April 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

    I have gone from vegetarian for 13 years, to vegan for 6 years. Now that veganism is becoming more mainstream, I have found myself eating more processed food as vegan items begin to stock the shelves…therefore, as a natural progression I am transitioning to more raw food because there is no chance of eating unhealthy or processed when you’re eating raw. I am looking for recipes and help along my journey.

  3. Miss. Zoe April 22, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I’ve eaten a mostly vegan diet my entire life and just recently went entirely vegan about two months ago, I’m constantly looking for new recipes although I still think winging it is the most fun! But cookbooks make such good “base” recipes!

  4. Renee G April 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    I’d love to read this because I’m curious about the eating raw culture. I love to cook and can’t imagine eating only raw foods, but I would like to incorporate some of the ideas and techniques in our everyday meal preparation.

  5. Monica April 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    I would love to have this cookbook. I am intrigued by raw meals and definitely feel like we would all be healthier by incorporating more raw foods into our diet. Please, oh please!

  6. onadistantshore April 23, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    I would love to win this book for further inspiration to continue eating incredibly beautiful, nourishing, and delicious food!!

  7. Seanna April 23, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    I would LOVE this book-as a holisitic nutritionist and Mom of three, I am always looking for new ways to inspire my children to eat well. They are 2, 1 and about to be born (this week!) and I believe in teaching a healthy education as early as possible. This book would help us do just that! Thank you!

  8. Tracey April 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I would like to win this book to encourage me to make healthier food choices and to help with menu planning when entertaining friends and family who eat vegan.

  9. Jody April 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I would like to win this book because I am trying to incorporate more raw food into my diet to benefit from eating whole, nutrient-rich and gluten-free ingredients.

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