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

Product Details

POM Iced Coffee

October 27, 2009 in drink, ingredient, product, review


Does the idea of mixing pomegranate juice with iced coffee make your eyes bug out like the cute little lamby slippers above?

POM has done this craaazy thing with their POM iced coffees.

.. (click for more) ..

Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular

October 5, 2009 in review

(This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Samsung Home Appliances)

[This contest is now CLOSED. Please click here to see who the winner was.]

At the end of this post I will share with you how you can win a $200 gift certificate from BestBuy! You will see that you’ve got 8 chances to win that $200 Best Buy card. Keep in mind, the giveaway is for the gift card and not appliances.


See that photo above? That is the biggest fanciest thing in my kitchen and my new favorite toy.

When asked if I would consider reviewing it my answer was simple, “Why, yes, yes I would like to review that crazy fantastic appliance.”

Please click through to the review of this range and microwave at this page -> Samsung Range and Microwave Spectacular

Tassajara Vegetarian Whole Wheat Lasagna

September 24, 2009 in cookbook, cooking, ingredient, recipe, review, vegetable


Some time ago I reviewed a cookbook called “Tassajara Cookbook: Lunches, Picnics, and Appetizers” by Karla Oliveira where I covered Tassajara, a magical mountain retreat for the San Francisco Zen Center.

Today’s review covers the related book Tassajara Dinners & Desserts by Dale and Melissa Kent, a beautiful and delicious cookbook that shares simple go-to vegetarian meals used at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Retreat to nourish the monks, trainees and students who live in this amazing place.


The photography is just fantastic, inviting you to dive into this book to learn how to make these tasty dinners. The front cover holds nothing back, just take a look at it!


Foreword by Senior Dharma Teacher Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts


  • What is it like to do active cooking meditation
  • How the zen kitchen works


  • Ginger Hummus
  • Grandma Chu’s Sweet & Sour Marinated Asparagus

Vegetable Side Dishes

  • Pungent Cucumber Salad with Black Sesame ad Ginger
  • Moroxican Spiced Potatoes

Vegetable Entrees

  • James Creek Farm Ratatouille
  • Tagine with Apricots, Olives, and Artichoke Hearts

Baked Entrees

  • Baked Muffaletta Crepes
  • Annie’s Frittata with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sage

Beans & Legumes

  • Butch’s Black Eyed Peas
  • Chickpea Stew with Collard Greens and Indian Spices


  • Dragon’s Head Tofu
  • Mole Verde with Tofu

Grains & Pastas

  • Mushroom Squash Risotto
  • Mint-Cilantro Udon with Fresh Ginger and Meyer Lemon


  • Lemon Sponge Custard with Raspberry Sauce
  • Ricotta Chevre with Ginger Berry Compote

Basic Techniques

  • Vegetable Stock and Variations
  • Basic Ingredients and Sauces

Tassajara Dinners & Desserts: Tofu Lasagna

For this review I chose to make the a vegetarian lasagna with a change to the book’s recipe. Instead of just using a store bought past (fresh or dried) I used some homemade lasagna I made from organic sprouted whole wheat I had made (see this post for information on making your own sprouted whole wheat flour “Making Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour” and this post on how to make lasagna pasta out of it “Homemade Sprouted Whole Wheat Pasta“). I also used homemade goat cheese (chevre) from our own goats in our backyard (Making chevre cheese from our home-milked goat milk) and organic chard I grew in our garden and egg from our chickens (Humble Garden).

Tofu Lasagna with Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, and Chard


  • 1 pound dried pasta or 1.5 pounds fresh pasta
  • Sauce:
  • 1.5 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minded
  • 1 tablespoon dried italian herb seasoning (I used fresh oregano and basil from garden)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cups crumbled tofu
  • 4-5 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • Filling:
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 pound mushrooms, washed and quartered
  • 1 pound goat cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups grated Provolone, Mozzarella, Fontina, or Gruyere



Saute onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat until soft and a bit brown. Add garlic and herbs without stirring. Turn up heat to brown and then add wine to deglaze (scrape up fond – stuck bits). Add tofu and cook with much stirring until liquid almost gone. Brown the tofu a bit, coat with all other sauce parts. Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes.


Wash greens, remove stems, set the stems aside. Cop stems into tiny bits. Blanch greens and stem bits in boiling water (or steam them) until cooked through. Shock in icy water (this “sets” the chlorophylls so that the chard will be a bright green) and then drain. Chop roughly and then dry completely.

Bake the mushrooms in a 425 F oven or sear them on the stovetop. Set aside with the greens.

Mix the goat cheese, egg, parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Prepare the lasagna pasta as per instructions.

Oil a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, ladle some sauce on the bottom, add first layer of pasta. Spread 1/4th of the filling over the pasta and cover with some sauce. Layer on some tofu, goat cheese, greens, mushrooms as well as mozzarella (if using). Put down the next layer of pasta and repeat as before, 3 more times. The whole thing should end with a layer of pasta at the top and some more sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and even, possibly bechamel sauce. (I didnt put the bechamel sauce, seemed a bit much to me).

Bake at 350 F for 30 – 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and top is toasty brown.

Our Take on this dish:
Everyone from the toddler on up completely enjoyed this dish. Remember that sprouted wheat yields a bit sweeter product (because the sprouting process started some of the starches on their enzymatic journey) and that any whole wheat pasta product will have a different sort of mouth feel than your usual “white bread” sort of “enriched” pasta product. In this case, the pasta had a lot of presence in this dish, lending an almost “meaty” sort of sensation, which was a plus to those family members who like to have meat at every meal!

My Take on this cookbook:

The book is simply beautiful, the recipes are diverse and quite inspiring for all sorts of eaters: vegetarians to omnivores! I can only say good things about this cookbook, it has been a pleasure to review and oogle over. I suggest giving it a try!

Tassajara Dinners & Desserts: Tofu Lasagna

Product Details:

  • Title: Tassajara Dinners & Desserts
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (January 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423605209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423605201
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds