After perusing “Soak Your Nuts: Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods” you will understand why people travel hundreds of miles to eat at Karyn Calabrese’s restaurants in Chicago: TASTE!
With a provocative title that no man could get away with, this book is actually two books in one: One half contains raw vegan recipes (95 pages) and the other cooked vegan recipes (77 pages). Karyn’s first book in the series was entitled Soak Your Nuts: Cleansing With Karyn: Detox Secrets for Inner Healing and Outer Beauty (2011). She explains on her blog that the attention-grabbing title came to her while meditating.
Though Karyn, an accomplished entrepreneur, has practiced a raw vegan diet for over 40 years, her book’s aim is to help people transition to healthier plant-based eating-whether cooked or raw. Judging from the 100‘s of approachable easy-to-follow and tasty mostly one-page recipes, her aim has been achieved.
Karyn explains that her journey began when she was in her twenties and her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “She started juicing and eating a cleaner diet as part of her healing process, and I joined her for moral support.”
You don’t win converts by introducing people to wheatgrass and sprout salad and telling them to eat it because it’s good for them. This is where my cooked recipes come in. I call them “conscious comfort foods” because they offer familiar flavors and textures without the harmful animal products that cause poor health. When you’re ready for the next step, my raw-food recipes will blow you away.
Karyn adds that her book is meant to offer the best of both worlds for whatever fits your life at the moment. “You might eat raw for breakfast and lunch and cooked for dinner, or raw during the week and cooked on the weekends, or raw for yourself and cooked for family.”
I really admire Karyn’s approach because I know that beginning vegans need lots of flexibility!
Karyn shares another important lesson for aspiring vegan chefs: “When introducing someone to healing foods, always prepare something delicious.”
Other words of wisdom from her ingredient guide:
- Chocolate only becomes non-vegan when dairy products are added!
- Maca root powder, in addition to being high in phytochemicals and minerals, can be used as an herbal coffee substitute.
So far I’ve made a couple of Karyn’s cooked recipes, and they were both easy-to-follow and delicious. I like that Karyn’s recipes use sprouted nuts, seeds, grains and legumes, which increase digestibility and nutrition, such as in her “Sprouted Black Bean Soup” (photo above).
Other things I like about this cookbook:
- contains both raw and cooked recipes
- uses living foods and sprouts
- tastes good enough to win over non-vegans
- novel ingredients (i.e. za’ atar, ground dried papaya seeds)
- attractive photos
While Karyn calls them “comfort foods,” many recipes call for using more oil than I am comfortable with in the name of taste. You can try reducing the oil next time you make them and judge for yourself if it’s worth it.
Some things I didn’t care for about this book:
- Uses ingredients like sugar, white flour, soy creamer, veganaise, buttery spread, and egg replacer
- Most recipes lack photos
Many vegans will also object to the use of honey, but it can usually be substituted with another liquid sweetener.
Speaking of sweets, Karyn does offer a number of healthy ways to indulge your sweet tooth. Here’s another recipe that I can’t wait to try: Curry Ice-cream!
Curry Ice Cream
(Raw Recipes, p 94, pdf)
2 pitted dates
1/2 cup coconut meat
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
Drain the dates, reserving about 3 tablespoons of the soak water. Transfer the dates and the reserved soak water to a blender with all the remaining ingredients. Process on high speed until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the blender jar. Pour into an ice-cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
No matter how many times I tell people it’s not a sacrifice being vegan–as most vegans will agree–there are still many meat eaters and vegetarians who perceive it as a huge sacrifice. For those who cannot give up taste, forgive me if I say, “Soak Your Nuts“!
Please leave a comment if you try the recipe above (or any of the other recipes in Karyn’s book) or have visited Karyn’s restaurant. And please share this article with your friends!
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