I am so excited!!
Today I get to talk all about one of my dear—and fabulous—friends, Gena [pronounced Jenna!]. You are probably familiar with Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw, but if not you’re in for a treat! Her very first cookbook, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat comes out July 1st, and today I’m giving it away!
For years now Gena has been a constant source of inspiration in my life. She has helped shape the way I now love to eat with her wealth of knowledge on our food system, health, and the environment. Gena focuses on simple, approachable vegan eating that can be a part of anyone’s daily routine. She’s always on the run and taking her breakfasts + lunches to go, so her recipes are truly no-fuss. Her writing is well thought out and always meaningful, and her recipes follow on the same note.
Not only will you find 125 recipes in this book, but that knowledge + love Gena is always dishing out on her blog fills the pages of her book. Beyond using this book in your kitchen it will also be used as a resource in learning more about general health, vegan nutrition, FAQ’s about vegan and raw foods [one of my favorite parts!], how to get started, a 21 day meal plan, and so much more.
She answers questions about which oils to cook with and why, facts about soy and why it has gotten a bad rap, the different types of fats, how animals are treated in today’s food world, gluten, protein, and…you get the idea. She basically takes all of your food related Google searches, compiles them into one organized resource, and then follows up with an ample supply of recipes. What could be better?
Gena’s recipes cover everything from the very basics in vegan and raw cooking [think dressings, sauces, milks, juice, etc.] to dinners fit for a crowd of veg-heads and meat eaters alike. And there’s obviously dessert!
Here are a few of the recipes I’m most looking forward to trying next:
- Nori Rolls with Ginger Almond Pate and Raw Veggies – this look SO easy and perfect for lunch on the go
- Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble
- Dino Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad – love vegan caesar salads
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
- Heat-Free Lentil and Walnut Tacos – summer tacos!!
- Mocha Maca Chia Pudding
- Banana Almond Coconut Raw-Nola – breakfast topping of my dreams
- Raw or Cooked Ratatouille
- Raw Key Lime Pie – yes, yes, yes
- Burnt-Sugar Coconut Ice Cream
While the focus of this book is on raw recipes, don’t let that intimidate you! Some of the recipes do call for a dehydrator but Gena gives the option and instructions for cooking/baking in the oven as well. Many of the recipes require no cooking at all!
Even though I am not a raw foodie, I do still incorporate many raw-foods into my diet on a daily basis. Having a well-rounded diet of cooked + raw foods is my favorite way to eat. Chances are you’re already eating quite a bit of raw food yourself with smoothies, salads, and plain fruit!
The recipes in this book are perfect for the coming months when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen to make your meals. The meatless meatball recipe below was a winner for me because it had both raw and cooked components. I love combining the two!
I thought it would be fun to ask Gena 10 quick questions so you could get to know her a little better. Here goes!
Which recipe in the book would you point people to if they're feeding a crowd of meat-eaters and vegans?
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas--so hearty and flavorful!
What are your current 5 favorite ingredients?
What's in your salad bowl these days?
Avocado is a constant. I've been loving roasted rutabaga in salads; it's sweet and filling, but a little lighter than sweet potato, which I tend to overuse. Roasted or shaved asparagus is wonderful in summer salads. And my current salad fixation is fresh herbs in salad: specifically, mint, chives, and basil. Yum.
What 5 ingredients are always in your fridge/pantry?
Frozen bananas in the freezer, dried chickpeas in my pantry, greens in the fridge, avocado on the kitchen counter, and lots and lots of chocolate in my cupboard!
You invite friends over for dinner at the last minute. Which entree + dessert [from the book] do you serve?
The Quick Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette is a snap to prepare, and people always enjoy it. I might pair it with an easy salad or my Carrot, Avocado, and Turmeric Soup. For dessert, banana soft serve. Simple is best!
Which recipe[s] took a million trials to perfect?
The raw lasagna was not an immediate success! Most of the raw food I make is pretty simple, but that one had a lot of moving parts, and I had to tinker with it quite a bit before it turned out the way I wanted it to.
Which recipe are you most proud of?
Oh gosh. You know, the Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds was an offbeat idea with a really offbeat topping. And I didn't know how either pumpkin or quinoa would work for a risotto(esque) dish. I was thrilled when testers loved it, so I feel proud. Also, I'm not a naturally talented dessert maker, so I was really proud of the fig bars; they're delicious.
What does your current breakfast look like?
Now that DC summer is in full force, it's a smoothie or Avocado Toast almost every single day. In cooler months, I also love oats, tofu scramble, and quinoa topped with hempseeds and blueberries.
What's your favorite animal?
Pigs! (Tough decision, though.)
Do you have a favorite vegan makeup line?
Yup. I love the whole 100% Pure line, skincare and makeup. Safe, non-toxic, and totally humane.
This recipe was very straightforward with easy to follow instructions. The meatballs rolled perfectly into balls and had no problems holding together at all [before or after baking]. I absolutely loved how the exterior crisped up after baking but the inside was tender. The texture wasn’t too heavy and the flavors were spot on. You could definitely mix in other fresh herbs you have on hand or even throw in some red pepper flakes for a bit of spice.
Huge bonus that these can be frozen! I’ll definitely be making a double batch next time!
printed with permission from:De Capo Press - Lifelong Books
recipe by: Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw – Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat
Zucchini Pasta with Quinoa Meatless Balls
gluten-free, vegan // yields 24-30 meatballs
- 4 small zucchini, spiralized or cut with a julienne peeler
- Organic, store-bought marinara sauce of choice or 1 batch Raw Marinara Sauce [page 135]
Quinoa Meatless Balls Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped button or baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped, sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water for 10 minutes or more, then drained
- 2 cups cooked quinoa [ashley’s note – use red quinoa for to achieve the dark color]
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano [or 1 teaspoon, dried]
- 1/2 cup cooked cannellini or navy beans
- sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
For the meatballs:
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are translucent [5 minutes]. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender, another 4 to 5 minutes or so.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes, quinoa, oregano, and beans to the pan. Stir until everything is warm and evenly mixed, about 2 minutes.
Transfer all the ingredients to a food processor. Pulse to combine, and then process until the ingredients are mostly uniform, about a minute.
Roll the ingredients into 1-inch balls. Let them sit for 30 minutes. While you wait, preheat the oven to 400* F and line a large baking sheet with parchment. Place the balls on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned.
Divide the zucchini amount four serving bowls. Top with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of marinara sauce, and a quarter of the meatballs.
Marinara sauce will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge and can be frozen. The quinoa meatballs can be frozen and will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Note: I used store-bought sauce but can’t wait to try the Raw Marinara! I also used red quinoa to give the meatballs to give them a traditional meatball color.
Huge congrats to Gena on her first cookbook. Great things are in your future, girl. There is no denying that! Thanks for letting me be a part of your book celebrations!