Everyone who knows me knows I LOVE FOOD!!! I love eating it, I love making it, I love sharing it, & now I am loving growing it. Food has always been central to my life thanks to the fact that I grew up Jewish. In my formative years, it was more about quantity (boxes of Wheat Thins, pints of ice cream, piles of pasta), but maturity has way tipped the scales toward quality, quality, quality, & toward reflecting on how my food choices affect the planet around me. Which means that these days I love to eat raw, & I’m vegan, but that doesn’t mean you have to be either to enjoy what I enjoy — if you need proof, just ask my myriad carnivorous friends, who always ask for seconds when I cook (or, um, non-cook) for them!

I collect cookbooks like some women collect shoes. Here are a few of my current favorites, in an order that is probably only comprehensible to me!

Raw “Cookbooks”

Rapid Raw (available at www.truelivinghealthproducts.com)

The keyword here is “rapid” — duh! This 45-page spiral-bound book is chockfull of the easiest, & yet still delicious, raw recipes I’ve come across. None require a dehydrator; you can leave your food processor or blender unplugged for most. My go-tos include: Curried Cauliflower Soup (see post), Mock Tuna Salad, Spring Rolls, & Black Forest Brownies.

I Am Grateful (available here on amazon.com)

The recipes in this book grew out of Cafe Gratitude, which was born in San Francisco — & now there are Cafe Gratitudes in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Los Angeles (which is much more convenient for me because my mom lives in L.A.). The recipes within are a step up from Rapid Raw in terms of complexity, but there are still plenty you can gratefully whip up without a dehydrator. I think this is the first raw “cookbook” I bought, & it is very well thumbed. My go-tos: Fabulous Fig Balsamic Dressing, Stuffed Avocado, Sun Burgers, Pad Thai, Pecan Pie (you will make them swoon at Thanksgiving).

Raw Food Real World (available here on amazon.com)

This was def my first “gourmet” raw food recipe book. Matthew Kenney & Sarma Melngailis were the owners of Pure Food & Wine, in New York City, which was serving couture quality raw food when the only thing the word “raw” conjured in most people’s minds alongside the word “entree” was still sushi. The pages are def drool-worthy, but I must confess to doing more drooling than “cooking” from the pages because most of the recipes are quite labor-intensive. That said,

Everyday Raw (available here on amazon.com)

Matthew Kenney’s post-Sarma offering, which my friend Jessica loaned to me over a year ago & I’m hoping she will forget all about. It is really only “everyday” in comparison to, say, Living Raw Food, Sarma’s post-Matthew offering. Although Matthew’s Mint Cacao Chip Ice Cream is simply the best recipe I’ve come across for raw ice cream & is a cinch to make (see my Addicted to Raw Curried Coconut Soup post for the e-z how-to on opening a coconut), which means there is always a container of it, or some variation on it, in my freezer ALL SUMMER LONG, most of the recipes do require planning & a little more labor than you might want to expend after a long day at the office. (Does anyone work in an office anymore?)  I go to this book as often as I can (ooooh, & I just found a new recipe I need to try), & here are some of my go-tos: O.K., you know about the ice cream. Then there’s: Chili-Lime Macadamia Nuts, Bar-B-Que Crisps (these crackers are, yeah, you guessed, it awesome; they do take time, but they also do last a while), Portobello Sausage, & Chocolate Hazelnut Tart (I use the crust recipe from the Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart in Raw Food Real World, in case you care).

Crazy Sexy Diet (available here on amazon.com)

Kris Carr. Need I say more? O.K., if you haven’t seen her movie, Crazy Sexy Cancer, download it right this minute & don’t come back until you’ve watched it. Kris’s story of transformation from illness to health would be inspiring all by its lonesome, but Kris didn’t stop there — she has become the biggest cheerleader for your own improved health & well-being as well. This book is a guide to living a more wholesome, more whole life, & we should all know by now that food is at the heart of what ails us as well as at the heart of what heals us. Kris gets down & dirty with your insides & goes inside the food-production industries, offers up a totally fun 21-day “adventure cleanse,” & has gotten some pretty famous chefs to offer up some recipes, most of which are raw. My go-tos: eeegads, I hate to admit it, cause I am not a proponent of tofu or of mayo, even the vegan kind,, but I totally dig the Tofu Eggless Salad, because it is a snap to make & totally hits the comfort-food nerve (plus, I discovered Wild Woodstock sprouted tofu, which is awesome). The Tunisian Kale Salad with Olives & Lemony Raw Tahini Dressing is also one I make over & over & over again.

The Raw Food Detox Diet (available here on amazon.com)

O.K., I lied. I am pretty sure that this is the first book about raw food I purchased. Just as the title says, Natalia Rose’s book is about making a lifestyle change & has a ton of info about how to transition from SAD (Standard American Diet) to raw, & why you might want to. There are enough recipes to get you on your way. Her Amazing Raw “Peanut” Sauce & Creamy Asian Salad Dressing are still go-tos for me.