The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw: A Review

December 6, 2009 in cookbook, Food Porn, raw, recipe, review, vegetable


[This was cross posted at my raw food blog Raw+Simple]

I had an opportunity to dive into the book, written by by Mark Reinfeld, Bo Rinaldi, and Jennifer Murray, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.

I had not previously read one of these Idiot’s Guides but I found that they use uncomplicated first person language that feels quite direct and the layout is actually a great one because there are useful summaries as you move through the content which leads to great knowledge pick-up and retention. There are little call out boxes with nice tips relevant to the recipe or topic on that page.

There is a VERY useful chart showing you times and temperatures for dehydrating a range of foods. As recommended by many raw food chefs, this book suggests starting the dehydrating run at 145 F and then turning it down to 105 F some 2 hours later. This might seem contrary to what you have heard, which is likely that you should NEVER raise the temperature on living foods above 115 F. What is happening in those first 2 hours at 145 F is that the rate of evaporation is higher because there is the most water at the beginning of the cycle. This evaporation COOLS the food so the food is not actually at 145 F, just the air blowing over it. This 2 step process is recommended to ensure that the food you have put so much work into does not begin to mold before it dries sufficiently.

There is so much fundamentally useful information in the first several parts that its hard to cover. I think there really is very little if anything they have failed to cover for the beginner and the experienced.

The chapters are well organized and include:


  • Part 1: Raw Foods Illuminated
  • Raw Benefits
  • Myth Busters
  • Going Green with Raw Cuisine
  • Ancient Foods, Superfoods, and the Future of Food
  • The Perfect Pantry
  • Tools of the Trade
  • Part 2: Raw Techniques
  • Preparation Basics
  • Soaking and Sprouting
  • Advanced Techiques
  • Part 3: Recipes on the light side
  • Appetizers and Spreads
  • Salads and Dressings
  • Sublime Sauces and Toppings
  • Sumptuous Soups
  • Nut Milks and Cheeses
  • Bountiful Beverages
  • Part 4: Hearty Fare
  • Unbeatable Breakfasts
  • Filling Wraps and Sandwiches
  • Pizzas, Crackers, and Breads
  • Delicious Main Dishes
  • Puddings, Pies, and Parfaits
  • Cakes, Cookies, and Energy Bars
  • Part 5: Raw Transitions
  • A Day in the Life
  • Fasts and Cleanses
  • Four Week Raw Success Program
  • Glossary
  • Further Resources

As usual in these reviews, I choose a recipe and test it as well as photograph it.

I chose the following mushroom recipe and I can tell you, I was quite happy I did. This is an explosively flavorful dish with a lovely contrast between the intense meaty mushroom and the fresh tartly marinated asparagus. It was a huge thumbs up from everyone in my family from the 2.5 yo to the old adults.

I also found the marinade so beguiling that I used it on other vegetables, loved it all.

Portobello Mushroom Steaks with Balsamic Asparagus (Page 226)


  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 teaspoons nama shoyu (raw soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 bunch asparagus (or enough for 4 servings
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • undisclosed amount of maple syrup (try 1/4 cup) – book left this out of the ingredients!


Must caps in quarters and place in a baking pan with gills facing down. Add the water and 1/4 cup nama shoyu and put into 145 F dehydrator for 30 minutes. Remove from dehydrator and pour off the marinade (save 1/2 cup).

In a separate bowl mix basil, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons nama shoyu, salt, black pepper. Push mushrooms into this marinade, coat evenly.

In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, stone ground mustard, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon nama shoyu.

Clean and trim asparagus, put into pan, add this balsamic marinade.

Put asparagus in pan into 145 F dehydrator for 1 hour, stir every 15 minutes.

After this hour, add remaining 1/2 cup balsamic marinade to bottom of mushroom pan and put it into the 145 F dehydrator with the asparagus for 45 to 60 minutes.

Remove from dehydrator and serve warm, if desired (its not bad at all cool). Recipe suggests sprinkling with the bell peppers but I didn’t for my photos.

Again, this recipe was amazing and I would recommend it completely, lots of amazing flavor.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw: A Review

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