Crazy Sexy Kitchen

by Gena on January 9, 2013

Rodgers and Hammerstein. Lerner and Loewe. Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s always wonderful when two talented people come together to create something beautiful and uplifting. This is as true in the world of culinary arts as it is in the world of musicals and operettas. So it was with great excitement that I first learned that Kris Carr and Chad Sarno—two individuals whose work I admire tremendously—were going to collaborate on a cookbook. Now that I’ve had a chance to flip through the pages of Crazy Sexy Kitchen and experience the food firsthand, I’m happy to say that it’s as inspiring as I always knew it would be.

The subtitle of this book is “150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution.” I love the idea of vegan food as being “plant empowered.” So often, people perceive veganism as a noble sacrifice. I can’t tell you how often someone says to me (with a look of bewilderment) “wow, I really admire you for doing that. I could never.” The fact is that I’m no more disciplined or noble than anyone else. I’ve given things up to be vegan, and it hasn’t always been easy, but on balance I’d say that my life is so much richer because I chose to make the switch. I eat a wider variety of foods, many of them more exotic and interesting than the foods I ate before. I’ve expanded my repertoire to include global dishes I hadn’t tried until I became vegan. I’ve become more curious and open-minded. Veganism has not made my life feel smaller. It has broadened my horizons, and it has empowered me in every way.

Kris and Chad have come together to create recipes that are very empowering indeed. Some are raw, some are cooked. All revolve around vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and soy. The recipes are accessible, but elegant; Chad’s training as a chef is evident in subtle flavor pairings and the gorgeous presentation in the photos. Here are some highlights of the book—taken directly from Kris’s website, where you can learn a lot more:

    • 150 plant-empowered recipes at your fingertips that offer a huge variety of meals, ranging from easy-breezy to fancy-pants, including juices/smoothies, breakfast, lunch, dinner, starters, salads, sammies, snacks, soups, and dessert.
    • Menu plans for every occasion. You’ll find show-stopping maps for your meals, including a sexy Mexi spread, a scrumptious brunch, the perfect picnic, a no-fail family night, and many, many more.
    • Easy-to-navigate recipes. Each recipe is clearly marked for those with dietary restrictions, health goals, time restrictions and family considerations, featuring symbols for: gluten-free, raw, soy-free, crazy sexy quickie, easy peasy, cheffy and kid-friendly.
    • Fabulous food that fits your needs. Want to throw a rollicking soiree with orgasmic food? Are you tired and in need of a cleanse? Need to whip up a comforting meal for your whole family? Crazy Sexy Kitchen is here for you.
    • All-star guest chef recipes. Now you can prepare meals by your favorite chefs and restaurants in your own home–including recipes by Chef Tal Ronnen, the culinary crew at Candle 79, Chef Sarma Melngailis of Pure Food and Wine, and Chef Rich Landau of Vedge.
    • Savvy, sneaky ways to make your cash and time equal greater health and deeper fulfillment. Crazy Sexy Kitchen’s shopping, budgeting, and planning tips will keep your wallet happy, your schedule manageable, and your belly full of nutritious foods.
    • Spot-on education that sets you up for success. I’ll hold your hand and teach you about inflammation, pH, raw foods, juicing, transitioning to plant-passionate diet, eating for prevention and vitality, and so much more.
    • And as always, we’ll grow together through my heart-felt inspiration. In Crazy Sexy Kitchen, you get an even deeper look at the path that brought me to the kitchen–to heal, thrive, and discover true love for myself and her family.

 

As you can see, Kris’ characteristic energy, spunk, and sense of humor is on full display, too.It was hard to pick out recipes to test from the book, but in keeping with my zany study schedule, I went for some of the easier ones. I started with the crazy sexy breakfast tacos: easy, homemade refried pinto beans with salsa, greens, and avocado, all wrapped up in an Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap (you could use a brown rice wrap for a GF variation):IMG_3653

I loved the combination of spiciness from the salsa, creamy cool avocado, and filling legumes! What a hearty and delicious way to start the day.

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In keeping with the Tex-Mex theme, I next sampled the black bean and sweet potato burger. Holy yum.

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This burger is subtly and perfectly spiced. The combination of rice, beans, and sweet potato makes it nice and filling, and though I did have to add a little rice to get there, the texture was spot on. I’ll definitely be making this burger again!

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Finally, I had to try the kale salad. But which kale salad to try?! There were two: one a simple kale and avocado salad, the other a warm (lightly steamed) kale salad with quinoa, pine nuts, and currants. I wanted to try the latter but I prefer my kale raw, so I merged the recipes. And I wasn’t sorry. I ended up with a raw kale salad with quinoa, pine nuts, and currents a la Chad, and it was amazing.

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With the amount of kale salad I eat, you’d think I would max out on the stuff, and cease to be amazed. Nope. Never ever.

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I wasn’t surprised that I liked the food, of course: I’ve been a huge fan of Chad’s work for ages. In fact, one of the reasons I was so excited to review this book for my blog is that I have so many good things to say about the two people behind it. I first met Chad when we did a VegNews twitter chat on raw foods together. I was struck by his warmth and kindness, and also by the fact that he kept emphasizing that, even though his raw food technique is what he’s best known for, he’s a “foodie,” and he’ll eat any delicious food so long as it’s vegan. In the raw world, there’s often a subtle, underlying attitude that eating is a concession we make, and that food is a necessary evil. The ideal is to move away from it as much as we can, climbing some ladder toward a life of only juices, greens, and air. I find this viewpoint deeply depressing, not to mention disordered. So it’s always wonderful to connect with other raw foodies who really and truly and unabashedly love food. Chad is one of them.

I met Kris about four years ago now, just as I was starting to blog. I was immediately struck by her warmth and generosity to me. We bonded over a mutual interest in health and in medicine, and we’ve stayed close ever since. She was keen on having me give my nutritionist’s eye to Crazy Sexy Diet, when it came out, and I did. We loved collaborating. When I told Kris I was getting my post-bacc, she couldn’t have been more supportive and enthusiastic. And every time I’ve doubted myself along the way—and I have doubted myself, so many times—she’s both cheered me on, telling me that I can do things that feel impossible, and she’s also reminded me that I didn’t choose to do this for myself alone. I’m doing it for the many people I hope to help one day. Wise words, and the reminder I need to push forward.

In general, I think that passion and good intentions give any endeavor—be it a book, a blog, a piece of writing, or a plate of food—more richness. Kris and Chad’s passion for animals and for healthy living are evident everywhere in this soulful book. If you’re looking for an inclusive, welcoming, and fun cookbook with which to enhance your vegan cuisine, I really recommend checking it out. Thank you, Kris and Chad, for the inspiration!

xo

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca January 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Great review! This was the first thing I bought upon arriving back in America. As I always say, I love when people I love love each other. Such a fan of all of you and so happy for all of your successes in your various domains. I love how both the CR site and the Crazy Sexy… books highlight a plant-empowered diet and lifestyle, but do so with a sense of humor and flexibility, which is refreshing in the health world where there are so many extremists. MERCI BEAUCOUP to you Gena, and to you Kris and Chad, for making living with allergies/health issues in a foreign country SO much easier (and happier! :)) I have recommended this book to everyone I know on both sides of the Atlantic !!

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Thanks Rebecca! It is always so nice to see that people within a community genuinely care for and admire each other.

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Ilana January 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I literally just downloaded this on my iPad this morning. Loving it!

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Molly January 9, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I really have to check out this book–I love the range of recipes and menu plans! It sounds as though Kris has been a great friend to you, especially during the trials of your post-bacc. It’s been a difficult week for me emotionally, but it helps to know that I’m not alone in my struggles, and that passion and commitment do tend to yield positive results. Sorry for the tangential comment, but your writing always sparks additional thoughts for me!

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

You are never alone, Molly! I hope the week trends upwards.

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Jodye @ Chocolate and Chou Fleur January 9, 2013 at 9:03 pm

These recipes all look wonderful. Thanks for the great review! I’ll have to pick a copy up now that I know it has the Gena seal of approval!

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Elisabeth January 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Thanks for the great review, Gena! I will definitely check it out. I really do admire your genuine support for other people in the raw and vegan communities and also your own passion for plant-based living. It helps to inspire and motivate me, too.

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m so glad, Elisabeth :)

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Alex @ Raw Recovery January 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

I pre-ordered my copy of CSK a month before it was out in stores and was so happy when it arrived. The recipes are so creative and even got my meat-loving dad excited to try them. I love it when vegan recipes are appealing to carnivores. It’s such a misconception that vegan food doesn’t have flavor. As we know, it’s quite the contrary :)

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Allison January 10, 2013 at 12:25 am

I am wondering about the raw kale…..I have read several places that kale should not be eaten raw as it is hard to digest and may disrupt thyroid function. But I have also heard you get more nutrients if you eat it raw…..what to believe??

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Allison,

If you have a compromised thyroid or have been instructed to avoid goitrogens by your health care provider, then steaming kale may be best for you. If this is NOT an issue for you, then it is likely that you can enjoy kale raw and cooked, depending on your preferences. Hope this helps!

G

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Rachael January 10, 2013 at 1:00 am

I loved reading Crazy Sexy Diet and have been looking through my mother-in-law’s copy of the cook book. I always find Kris’ writing so supportive and encouraging! It’s like having my own personal cheerleader. I must say that it led me to Choosing Raw and I’ve been checking in for regular inspiration ever since. You two could probably get together and rule the wellness world:)

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Hahaha. Well I don’t know about that :) But we do make a nice team!

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Emily January 10, 2013 at 2:48 am

Hi Gena, Thanks for this review. I was wondering roughly how many of the recipes include soy? A handful, a third of them, about one in ten…? The book isn’t available at the bookstores here, so I’d have to buy blind, so to speak. I love Kris too, but I don’t consume soy and my cookbook shelf is already way too full to add one I might not fully utilize!

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Emily January 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

I found my answer on Kris’s site – apparently one fifth of the recipes include soy. The recipes you tried and shared above sure look great though! And since some 120 recipes don’t include soy, I am still very tempted. Thanks again for your review :)

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Dana January 10, 2013 at 7:57 am

I just bought this book yesterday! I can’t wait to try some of the recipes. Thanks for this review :)

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Christine (The Raw Project) January 10, 2013 at 9:17 am

Wonderful review, thanks! I’ve been meaning to pick up this book!

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Ashley January 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

amazing review!! I’ve been super stoked for this book to come out for awhile – just placed my order!! I loved Crazy Sexy Life and wanted it to have more recipes. Add Chad Sarno into this mix and I’m over the moon thrilled.

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Chrissy January 10, 2013 at 10:07 am

The coconut and red lentil soup was delicious and a big hit with my family. I will have to give the black bean and sweet potato burgers a try next.

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Gena January 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I’ll have to try that one!

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Marissa January 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Yet another touching review on Choosing Raw! Even though I already own the cookbook, I want to buy it all over again after reading this. There’s nothing better than supporting good people doing good work.

I’ve been enjoying so many of the recipes in this book. Kris Carr and Chad Sarno really went all out. The chickpea and root veggie tagine was super good. It’s my favorite of the recipes I’ve tried so far.

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kate January 11, 2013 at 9:50 am

I love this book. Easy and delicious recipes. I particularly loved the Nada Curried Egg Mayo recipe – absolutely fantastic, and to my vegan taste buds, very much like the real thing. I also loved the references to Kris’s and Chad’s family culinary heritage and how they wanted to continue to pay homage to this and their respective Grandmas.

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Alana January 27, 2013 at 7:21 am

Hi there,

Thanks for the book review, and the fabulous pictures. I have a suggestion ; perhaps you could get in touch with the book writers and ask to come up with a book giveaway for this month, where you’d give the e-version and hardcover versions of this book to one lucky winner each week? Just a thought. Plus, is kale the same thing as spinach? I never quite figured that out.

Best,
Alana

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Gena January 27, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hey Alana,

Kale isn’t the same as spinach, no.

G

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Hannah April 9, 2013 at 10:14 am

I got this for my birthday today!!
Sooo I’m dying to know what your fave recipes are? I’m totally overwhelmed and don’t know here to start.

Hope you’re well xxxxx

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Gena April 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

Hannah,

I think (and I say this because you so often ask me about what I prefer) you need to work a bit on honing in on your own tastes and preferences. I think it’s an important part of embracing food and enjoying it; finding a place where you don’t feel validated in your choices by knowing that other people like/eat something, too. Forgive me if you’re asking in a very run-of-the-mill way for a simple recommendation, but I do sense that you’re looking for someone to make you feel secure by telling you what’s a good idea and what isn’t. So — start to think about what sounds good to YOU. Hope you’re well!

G

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