Eat Raw, Eat Well: Raw Inspiration from Doug McNish. Plus, Vegan Cinco de Mayo!

by Gena on May 4, 2012

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Months ago, my friend Doug McNish, a talented raw foods chef who resides in Toronto, sent me a copy of his new book to review. I’m pitifully behind on book reviews, so I hope you don’t mind that it’s taken me so long! I’ve made quite a few recipes now, and believe me, it was worth the wait.

Eat Raw, Eat Well is the title of this book, and I love it. Why? Because it implies both an enthusiasm for raw foods and a gastronome’s excitement about great cuisine. I’m a raw foods lover, yes, but I’m also a foodie, and I’ve never felt that I need to compromise one priority for the other’s sake. Raw food is good food, period, and Doug’s recipes are proof. Doug himself is classically trained, so he brings a keen palate and sense of sophistication to his food, but never at the expense of health or simplicity.

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A few things make Doug stand out from some other raw food chefs:

1. He’s not zealous about RAW. He’s passionate about raw food, yes, but he still makes room for cooked foods (in his book, his language, and his own life), and he doesn’t feel the need to put cooked food down in order to praise raw food.

2. He cares about animals as much as he cares about health. When I first started going raw, I noticed—to my dismay—that lots of the people writing about animal rights didn’t seem interested in raw food, and weren’t particularly interested with healthy eating in general. By contrast, most of the raw foodists I was reading seemed highly concerned with their own health (and sometimes the environment), but they didn’t have much to say about animal rights.

Nowadays, the distinctions between these two categories have blurred. Lots of raw foods lovers are also outspoken friends of animals, and lots of vegan activists are talking about health. It’s a wonderful development, and Doug embodies both priorities: a serious interest in healthy living, and a serious commitment to helping animals.

3. His recipes are not exclusively nut-based. Doug is also really into legumes and grains (yay! legumes & grains!), which means that his recipes contain sources of protein that are varied and lower in fat than nuts and seeds. Sure, the nuts, seeds, and avocado are in there, but they’re not the only source of caloric density. Doug usually calls for sprouted or soaked grains and legumes; I personally find these very hard to digest, so I’d cook mine instead, but either way, it’s great to see some variety and inclusiveness in this recipe book.

I wish I’d had time in the recent weeks to make a giant sampling of recipes from the book; instead, I’ve made only a few, but everything has turned out wonderfully. I made Doug’s amazing carrot and parsnip fettuccine with pesto. The publisher’s photo is better than mine, so, with credit to Robert Rose publishers and photographer Colin Ericcson, here it is:

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The recipe has been reprinted online, so I will share here for you guys

Pesto-Coated Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccini

This dish is a great way to get as many healthy ingredients into your body as possible without having to sacrifice any of the things you love. The softness of the root vegetables makes it reminiscent of traditional al dente pasta.

Makes: 2 servings

Ingredients

3 large carrots, peeled
3 large parsnips, peeled
1 tbsp cold-pressed (extra virgin) olive oil
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
11⁄2 tbsp fine sea salt, divided
3⁄4 cup cold-pressed hemp oil
1⁄2 cup raw shelled hemp seeds
3 cloves garlic
3 cups chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and parsnips into long, thin strips, dropping into a bowl as completed (see Tips, left.) Add olive oil, 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice and 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) salt and toss until vegetables are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes, until softened.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process hemp oil and seeds, garlic and remaining lemon juice and salt, until somewhat smooth but the hemp seeds retain some texture. Add cilantro and process until chopped and blended, stopping the motor once to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add pesto to fettuccine, toss well and serve.

Author’s Variations

  • Substitute an equal quantity of parsley leaves for the cilantro.

Tips

  • Peeling the vegetables lengthwise produces the long, thin strips required for this recipe. For best results use a Y-shaped (slingshot) vegetable peeler. When using a regular peeler, you can glide down the length of the vegetable to make one long, thin strip.
  • If you prefer, combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl before tossing with the vegetables, to ensure even integration.

Absolutely delicious! And totally the sort of recipe I’d make for myself. I love Doug’s simple, accessible raw foods style.

I’m a giant fan of carrots, so I also made the carrot hemp slaw. Carrots and hemp seeds? These are two of my favorite things.

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So simple, yet stunningly flavorful. I could eat this kind of food all day long. And I love the idea to add hemp seeds to a slaw.

Doug is full of such ingenious ideas. It was he who gave me the idea to blend banana and kombucha in a smoothie (his “Blue Sunset” smoothie). And he also inspired me to combine two of my favorite ingredients—lemon and banana—in a creamy smoothie. I’ve made lemon chiffon pudding with avocado, but never thought to blend banana and lemon before. It really works (the “lemon meringue” smoothie), and is a delightful sweet breakfast or anytime dessert!

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And last, but not least, I had to give Doug’s desserts a try. I went with banana and goji berry cookies. These are great! I love the idea of adding banana and cinnamon to a raw cookie. It’s a cashew base, and the cookies are very easy to make. They do call for dehydration, but to be honest, you could cut back on the moisture in the recipe and eat them as “balls.” Or just eat the dough with a spoon.

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Yummy.

I love Doug’s super outspoken and passionate approach to this lifestyle; he always seems to be glimmering with enthusiasm for his work. And I hope you’ll all be tempted to invest in this book. The recipes are all relatively simple—not much waiting for stuff to sprout or dehydrate—and there are tons of little sidenotes about recipe swaps, substitutions, and health benefits. Doug has done his homework, and he’s a highly informed nutrition guide as well as a great chef. Best of all, the book is a good investment: with 400 recipes, it’s downright encyclopedic, and it will give you lots to experiment with.

You can check out Eat Raw, Eat Well on Amazon. And feel free to say hi to Doug on social media: he’s always responsive and happy to share more about his work!

Twitter: @dougmcnish

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For what it’s worth, Doug also has a powerful story of weight loss and improved health, which he details through his recipes and writing. It’s all very inspiring stuff. I hope you enjoy!

Before I take off for more studying: tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. I’ll be in the library all day. Ole! But that’s no reason you all shouldn’t make a vegan recipe or two for me. If you need some inspiration, here’s a small gathering of recipes, which I shared a month or two ago. Nothing like vegan and raw fare to spice up the day!

Chili-Rubbed Sweet Potato Rounds with Guacamole

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Mexican Rice Pilaf with Spicy “Cheese” Topping

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Smoky Avocado and Cumin Dressing

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Raw Tortilla Soup

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Mexican “Chocomole” (chocolate avocado pudding with cinnamon and spice)

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And don’t forget to check out my soft, all raw summer corn tortillas at VegNews online!

Happy May 5th. And thanks to Doug McNish for being such an inspiring vegan and raw advocate. Please check the book out, and look for upcoming CR book reviews of work by Mizpah Matus, Amber Shea Ford, Allyson Kramer, Dreena Burton, Sayward Rebhal, and Chloe Coscarelli!

xo

Recipe xcerpted from EAT RAW, EAT WELL by Douglas McNish © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca. All rights reserved.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ May 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I recently started following your blog and let me just say: I. Love. It! I love all of your recipes and ideas! They’re so easy to put together and always turn out delicious!
I was hoping you maybe could do a post about natural products? Face washes/shampoos etc. I’m really trying to swap my current stuff for more natural products and am having the hardest time finding products that I like! Any suggestions?
Thank you for all that you do!
MJ

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Lisa May 5, 2012 at 1:56 am

You should check out http://www.nomoredirtylooks.com. That’s a great site with lots of recommendations/reviews of natural cosmetics, shampoos and the like.

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:44 am

Thanks so much, MJ! I have written a little about skin here, but I have some reviews on the way.

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Sarah May 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Gena’s tip on coconut oil is the best one ever! I now use it for moisturising face and body, removing eye make-up and found it to be good for healing (whether it be pimples or a cut!)

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MJ May 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thank ya’ll so much!!!! Unfortunately I’m one of those people who have broken out pretty bad since I went vegan in November 2011. I kept thinking (and hoping!) that my body was just getting rid of the toxins and that it would pass but unfortunately it hasnt. :( Currently I use the 100% Pure Lotions and just bought Albas Acnedote which I love but was looking for a good shampoo. I’ve tried some natural shampoos and they dry my hair out bad ( I have long, thick hair!).
What kind of coconut oil do you use? I’ve tried doing this at night on my face and it just makes it really oily. Maybe I’m using the wrong kind?
Thanks again!
MJ

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Mikaela May 7, 2012 at 10:41 am

I too have oily skin and experience breakouts and I have had great success with the “oil cleansing method.” Basically, I clean my skin with a DIY olive/castor/tea tree oil formula- it has been working wonderfully. You can find more details on numerous sites but I found the following helpful:
http://www.crunchybetty.com/nitty-gritty-on-the-oil-cleansing-method

Hannah May 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I checked out some of the recipe examples on the amazon page and they sound awesome….pear and walnut pancakes! Cool. I appreciate books that give you options to simplify recipes…I’ve made the mistake of buying too many raw food books only to not use them because most of them required “strange” ingredients or hours of sprouting/dehydrating (I probably should have paid closer attention before buying though, haha)

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Ela May 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Wow, looking forward to all those reviews.
Good luck with the studying, and happy cinco from a fellow carrot-lover!

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

I have a carrot slaw forthcoming that is 100% dedicated to you.

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm

What a post! Passionate but not a zealot, not solely relying on nuts in recipes, double bonus.

The cookies and that smoothie, awesome. And then all the party food…great post, Gena!

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janet @ the taste space May 5, 2012 at 1:18 am

I feel very fortunate that I live in Toronto with Doug’s former restos although I will admit that his food is heavy. They are very tasty, though, no question. The great thing about recipes is that I can fiddle around with them to decrease the oil, nuts, etc. Thank you for sharing a great recipe with us, Gena – and really, your food is better than the publisher’s!

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jen May 5, 2012 at 8:20 am

hi gena- do you have a recipe for homemade almond milk on your site? thank you!

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Gena May 5, 2012 at 8:41 am
jen May 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

thank you so much for your quick response! do you know what the nutrition information would be for just the plain almond milk if you use the nut milk bag to remove the pulp? or for any of your nut milk recipes you posted? for about 8 ounces? thanks so much again!

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bitt May 5, 2012 at 9:21 pm

looks like a great book. i’ve been hearing a lot about it. too bad there’s no giveaway…yet?? ;-)

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rel May 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Thank you for the awesome recipes, I love tortilla soup and tried this tonight! I tried it without oil and used 1/2 an avocado instead, and I was pleased with the result :) It still turned out pretty creamy and delicious, but next time I’ll reduce the amount of water as I think my tomatoes over juiced it…

I have been reading your blog for a while now as I’m transitioning into a more raw lifestyle and this is the first time I was courageous enough to try one of your recipes. Total success! Now on to that chocomole for dessert ;)

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Charity Lighten May 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for the great post. I have about 6 raw books checked out of the library right now :) My biggest complaint is that they are so high in nut/fat and never mention grains or legumes. So I look forward to trying this book – not to mention that I am a Canadian (living in Utah) and love to support my “homies”! Thanks again for a great post – cant wait to try the corn tortillas!

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jess May 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

what a great review gena!

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Cara May 7, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I love these recipes! Especially the avocado and cumin. I grew up eating mostly raw because my mother is quite the health nut but the recipes on your blog are a new twist for my family and we’ve really been enjoying trying them all out. Thank you! Here is my health and fitness website: http://cara.best3weightloss.com/. Hope you enjoy and thanks again for your blog.

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Skye May 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for the helpful review. I love that this pesto recipe is nut-free! :) Do you think the book is low enough on nuts/friendly enough on substitutions that it would be worth buying for someone with a nut allergy?

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com May 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Every dish looks so delish, I bet the book is gonna be a huge success!

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