Title: Ani's Raw Food Essentials
Author: Ani Phyo
323 pages; Colorful Hardcover $27.95 US,
€16.99, 35.50 CAN
Publisher: 2010 DeCapo Press, Lifelong Books, Cambridge, MA
Reviewed by: Chef John Vyhnanek, July, 2010

The review--- It's Alive! Eating raw food; is it a diet or lifestyle? It's promoted as the consumption of uncooked, unprocessed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. Raw foods are foods that contain enzymes, where as cooked foods do not. Raw foods also have enormously higher nutrient values than cooked foods since the molecular structure isn't changed during cooking.

I found Ani's Raw Food Essentials to be more than a cookbook. It's also a resource guide to an essential understanding of becoming a "Raw Fooder", someone who consumes a considerable amount of raw, not cooked foods almost exclusively but not all the time. The first two chapters set the stage for understanding the rest of the book and just what to expect if you choose this lifestyle. Chapters 3 to 11 then reveal a hundred or more recipes from a Strawberry Liquado to Coconut Bacon and Quinola Tabbouleh to Raspberry-Lemon Dream. Photographs are mostly grey-tone with a center section of color shots.

I tried Corn Chowder, Spinach Quiche and the Sesame Noodles. I have a well stocked pantry and only needed to buy a few items. If your pantry is small, it's best to read the recipes first and make a shopping list, then head to a "Natural Foods" Store to do your marketing. Please note that the common supermarket might not stock all the ingredients you need. The corn chowder was easy to make and had a really nice texture and taste. Everything went into a food processor and voiladone. The recipe says nothing about chilling the soup or serving bowls, but I recommend it! The Spinach Quiche was a bit of work because the crust needs to be made at least a day in advance and you will need an electric dehydrator to make it. I have one that I bought years ago for $135. The filling was easy to assemble but also needed 4 hours in the dehydrator, which made me wish I had tested a different recipe. It certainly was not a traditional quiche but then I was rewarded with its taste and texture. The Sesame Noodles were made with Kelp Noodles, which are a sea vegetable in the form of an easy to eat raw noodle. Made of only kelp, sodium alginate (sodium salt extracted from a brown seaweed), and water, Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, very low in carbohydrates and calories. They were like a cross of Chinese bean thread noodles and Vietnamese rice noodles, which are translucent and a bit chewy. The sauce was great and had the ginger, garlic and sesame flavors of a traditional Chinese restaurant dish!

I learned a lot by reading the book and trying the recipes and feel more knowledgeable about the subject. You can too, if you buy the book, so treat yourself and try a little bit of a lifestyle change for a while. You will benefit from better health and a new outlook on eating! Good Cooking likes this book!
Recipes tested---

Corn Chowder
Makes 4 Servings

This is a chunky soup made in your food processor. Corn is mixed with thyme and garlic to make a delicious chowder that's topped with Coconut Bacon bits and a dollop of Jalapeno-Lime Kream.
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups corn kernels (from about 4 ears of corn)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups water
1 recipe Coconut Bacon (page 76), diced
1 recipe Jalapeno-Lime Kream (page 134)

Place the garlic, thyme, and salt in a food processor, and process into small pieces. Add the corn, oil, and water and process into a chunky chowder. Divide among four serving bowls. Top each portion with diced Coconut Bacon and a dollop of Jalapeno-Lime Kream, and serve immediately.

Quiche---Yes, even quiche has a place in my book! These quiches are made by dehydrating your crust first, then filling with vegetables and cheeze, and dehydrating for a couple of hours before serving warm.

Quiche Crust
Makes 4 Servings, Filled

My quiche crust is made using the same batter from my Zucchini Bread recipe, pressed into a pie dish. It's then dehydrated 12 to 14 hours to firm up. 1 recipe Zucchini Bread batter (page 23) Scoop your batter into a standard pie dish about 9 inches in diameter. Spread evenly along bottom and sides with your fingers or a wet spoon. Place the pie dish in your Excalibur dehydrator and dry at 104 F for 12 to 14 hours.

It will fit in the Excalibur if you leave out one of the trays to make more head room. Alternatively, directly on the dehydrator's liner, you can shape flat disks with raised edges, similar to the shape of pizza crust or tart. You want the edges to be dry, but it's okay if the center isn't 100 percent dry before using. Use this crust as a base for the following fillings.

Spinach Quiche
Makes 4 Servings

Onions are marinated and added to a sunflower cheeze with spinach, to make a creamy puree. The mixture is scooped into your Quiche Crust and then dehydrated for a couple of hours to warm before serving.
1 recipe Quiche Crust (page 86), dehydrated as directed
1 cup sliced yellow onion
1 teaspoon Nama Shoyu or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 teaspoons garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups sunflower seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
1/2 to 3/4 cup filtered water, as needed
3 cups spinach, washed well and tightly packed

First, place the onion in a bowl with the Nama Shoyu, and marinate for at least 20 minutes to soften. Place the garlic and salt in a food processor, and process the garlic into small pieces. Add the sunflower seeds; process into small pieces. Add lemon juice and water, as needed, to produce a thick consistency similar to that of cottage cheese. Add the onions with its marinade and the spinach; pulse lightly to mix filling. Scoop into the Quiche Crust. Dehydrate for 2 to 4 hours at 104 F and serve warm.

Sesame Noodle
Makes 4 Servings

This recipe calls for cashew and walnut butter, to make it easy to get a supersmooth texture. You can always grind your nuts into a powder first, or use whole nuts with a bit more water, only as needed, to blend into a smooth, rich sauce.

This sauce is flavored with toasted sesame oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Toasted sesame oil creates an authentic Asian flavor, but you can use raw sesame oil instead if you want to keep it truly raw.

Sesame Sauce
Makes 1 Cup

1/4 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup walnut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
6 tablespoons filtered water


1/2 cup sliced and seeded red bell pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion (about 1 stalk)
1 cup sliced coconut meat
1 (12-ounce) package kelp noodles (or your favorite noodle)


1/4 run coarsely chopped Tamari Almonds (page 119) Place all sauce ingredients in a small Personal Blender and blend until smooth. (You can use a handheld blender as well.) Place the noodle ingredients in a mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce. To serve, distribute the tossed noodles among four plates. Top with the chopped almonds, and enjoy. The sauce will keep for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Noodles that have been tossed with the sauce will keep for a day or two in the fridge.