Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Practically Raw Desserts by Chef Amber Shea Crawley


Practically Raw Desserts by Chef Amber Shea Crawley
Practically Raw Desserts is Chef Amber's sophomore release, and this sequel is definitely as good, if not better than the original.  What I love most about this book is how flexible it is.  Sometimes raw recipes can be so daunting.  I've read through recipes in some raw cookbooks that can literally take a week (or more!) to make.  Not so in this book.  Amber makes eating naturally and "practically" raw easy.

I have been drooling over so many of these recipes that have such simple ingredients.  And not having to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer is such an awesome bonus!

The Strawberry Blondies (page 75) are simply incredible, and so friggin' easy to make.  I plan on having a batch of these in the fridge always, so that I can satisfy late night sweet cravings with a healthy dollop of fruit and nuts, in a treat that I think tastes kind of like a PB & J cookie bar.  So strawberrylicious. (Sorry, Amber, I just couldn't help myself!)  Another favorite is the Key Lime Pie (page 121.)  I love desserts that star avocado as the main ingredient, so this is a real keeper.

Beyond the recipes are practical tips and techniques for raw food prep, including lots of base recipes for nut milks, flours, crusts, sauces and syrups that can be used in all sorts of recipes, beyond those in the book.  I really love when a cookbook gives the reader the power and confidence to go out and create their own with the knowledge gained from the book.

Also included are ingredient guides, nut soaking tables, substitutions, and lots of other info.  Have I mentioned that I like to take cookbooks into the bathtub with me so I can read them like romance novels?  Well, this one is perfect for that, since there is a lot of info, beyond recipes to read and enjoy.

Overall, I find this book to be a real keeper, even for someone who isn't a raw foodie, or even vegan. The flavors are solid and anyone who is interested in cooking (or in this case, uncooking) would really enjoy this book.

I would also like to share a copy of this book with one lucky reader.  Simply leave a comment below telling me about a memorable experience you've had experimenting with raw foods, whether eating or making it!  I'll start.
"When I worked at the Whole Foods in Venice Beach, a lovely raw chef there used to use me as her guinea pig for all of her new raw creations, she came up with a "Tiny Raw Pizza" that looked absolutely nothing like pizza, but tasted fantastic!  And a tiny little piece was enough to fill me up for lunch, so it was then that I realized how nutrient dense raw foods really are, and a little bit goes a long way."  
I will choose one comment at random on Monday, July 29, at 7 pm PST.  So please check back to see if you have won.

CONTEST NOW OVER.  CONGRATS TO #7, BETHANY!


Amber was generous enough to allow me to post one of the recipes from the book for you to enjoy, and if you are a tahini lover, like, I am, than you will absolutely adore these insanely simple little bites of goodness.

Salted Tahini Caramels from Practically Raw Desserts
Salted Tahini Caramels
Grain-Free, Nut-Free

From Practically Raw Desserts: Flexible Recipes For All-Natural Sweets and Treats by Amber Shea Crawley, © 2013. Used by permission.

There are two types of people in this world: those that adore tahini enough to eat it straight out of the jar, and those that do not. I am of the former persuasion. If you are too, you’ll love these tahini-rific little freezer caramels. Have all the ingredients ready to go at room temperature to make for easy mixing.

1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Combine the tahini, coconut flour, and coconut nectar in a medium bowl and stir until very well-mixed (the mixture will be thick). Pour into a small glass container (lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper for easy removal, if desired) or divide between mini muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with the sea salt and freeze until very firm. Once frozen, slice into bite-sized pieces with a very sharp knife. Enjoy straight out of the freezer.

Store the caramels in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Yield: 16 small caramels
Per caramel: 64 calories, 4.2g fat (1g sat), 6.1g carbs, 1g fiber, 1.6g protein

Substitution Option
Coconut nectar: agave nectar, maple syrup, or any other liquid sweetener

50 comments:

  1. One of the most satisfying raw food experiences I had was when I successfully made a raw tomato-squash taco shell using my oven rather than a dehydrator. Now that I have a dehydrator, though, making such raw foods requires much less attention!

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  2. I recently had a great run-in with some raw food since I am doing a CSA share! I made a fresh zucchini salad with a raw almond "pesto" (mostly just crushed almonds, a little cheese, red pepper flakes, olive oil)... Sliced the zucchini thinly on the mandolin. One of the most satisfying summer dishes I have ever had! This book would be so much fun to continue with the raw recipes.

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  3. Most memorable raw food experience was the first green juice I made. I kept reading about how good they were for you but I was a little skeptical. Then I made a simple green juice with kale, green apple, cucumber, and a piece of ginger. OMG! When I don't feel good and need a reset, I ditch the cooked and processed food and stick to the raw. To have some of Amber's delish creations to top it off would be a treat indeed!

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  4. Thank you for the giveaway and recipe! One morning in September 2009, I was entertaining a guest and I also needed to review Ani Phyo's desserts book. I whipped up three recipes in no time at all and we had a breakfast feast of raw desserts.

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  5. I firmly believe that anything that comes out of a food processor is delicious. Regardless of what is put in ...
    Technically, my first raw food experience (as is many, I'm sure) would be stealing cookie dough batter when I wasn't tall enough yet to reach the counter. I'm assuming that doesn't count though :)

    I participated in a raw vegan potluck in early spring, and went way out of my comfort zone and attempted to make sprouted quinoa and millet tabbouleh. The quinoa sprouted - the millet did not. Not deterred, I made (in the food processor) cauliflower "rice" tabbouleh instead. The raw foodists that I served it to were so impressed it disappeared before I got any, and I had to give the 'recipe' to them all! I am now hooked on cauliflower "rice", and am determined to master the millet sprouts.

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  6. One of my favorite raw food experiences was making Moo Shoo veggies in my dehydrator and then eating them rolled up in butter lettuce leaves. The Moo Shoo sauce was made with raisins as a sweetener and it was so amazing. I've also made some pretty fantastic pesto stuffed mushroom in my dehydrator.

    Loved Amber's first book, and this one looks amazing too, would love to win a copy :)

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  7. My most memorable raw experience was having a 3-course dinner at Pure Food & Wine in NYC. It was spendy but boy, it was delicious!

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  8. The first time I ate raw kale in a delicious grain salad, I thought, OMG, this is GREAT! And I was converted instantly. Swoon!

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  9. I love Amber! I've been following her blog for a long, long time, and I'm happy for all her success!

    I took a raw food class last summer that was really my introduction to preparing raw food. I was so amazed with how easy a lot of it was and mostly by the amazing sauces you can make out of nuts! And how amazing a strawberry pie tastes with no sugar or glaze and a date and nut crust.

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  10. Definitely when I got my dehydrator I had no idea I could "bake" in it or make things other than dry fruit. It opened up so many possibilities!

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  11. Making brownies with dates, walnuts and raw cacao was the first raw dessert I prepared - and I loved it because it tasted so pure, fudgy and rich!

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  12. I live near an excellent raw restaurant called Ecopolitan. It is so good! I once went with some friends who were not that into raw or vegan foods, and one taste of their "green burrito" changed their minds---they loved it!

    Courtney

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  13. A batch of watermelon gazpacho, made with heirloom tomatoes and ground cherries from our CSA, opened my eyes to how good raw food could be.

    gaia (at) cinci (dot) rr (dot) com

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  14. I have not had raw food yet, so I'd love to have this book to begin to enjoy raw food.

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  15. Husband and I went to a restaurant beck in the 1990's in Lansing Michigan that had several items on the menu that were raw. It was interesting, and even more fun when someone came in looking for meat and not finding any! Sadly, the place closed. Ahead of its time, I think.

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  16. Amber is such a whiz with raw foods! I love how accessible all her recipes are. I celebrated my 21st birthday at a raw vegan restaurant in London. My omnivore friends were all so amazed at how delicious and creative the dishes were- the cashew based chocolate orange ice cream was a particular favourite :D

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  17. I own a copy of Amber's Practically Raw and my memorable raw moment occured when I made the cheezy sauce. I felt like Remy (the rat from Ratatouille) in the scene where he is mixing flavors. However, in my case, it was about increasing my bite size, I had a small taste, then a second bigger taste until I was eating the sauce off a spoon. This was a great introduction to cashew based cheese.

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  18. I love making raw pistacio cookies and realized how easy it was to make yummy raw treats

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  19. Love all of Amber's recipes! I myself just started working in a raw vegan place and every dish is a surprise, an excitement :)))

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  20. For my husband's birthday in May, I made him a raw, vegan keylime 'cheesecake'. It was SO delicious and smooth. I grated lime zest on top for decoration and for hubby's I drizzled with dark chocolate to make it more 'manly' :). I am a cheesecake freak and this one so impressed me, I blogged about it, posted photos on facebook and shared the recipe for others to try. My mouth waters just thinking about the wonderful desserts in Amber's book. :)

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  21. I'm learning about raw now, and found Chef Amber on Facebook via VegNews' page. When I saw the photo of her no-bake chocolate cupcakes, I fell head-over-heels in love. It looks like coconut flour is soon to be a staple in my kitchen. <3

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  22. A memorable raw food experience I had was eating at the restaurant Ecopolitan. With gluten intolerance and dairy allergies, I am always worried about cross contamination, so I rarely eat out. However, at this raw restaurant, everything is gluten- and dairy-free, and I had a fun lunch with my mother and grandmother where we all ordered something different (raw lasagna, raw spaghetti, and raw wrap) and got to sample a little of everything.

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  23. so happy to have these little gems at the end of a healthy meal. being vegan and a whole food sort of "chef", they go along way nourishing us vegans, with healthy fats and plant based protein. thanks so much for all you share, Amber and company!!

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  24. My very first raw food experience was Crudessence in Montréal. I was there for a conference (am actually from Europe) and normally a very strict vegan colleague of mine was going to join me. We had picked out some veggie restaurants together. In the end she fell sick and couldn't go. But I was still so intrigued by "raw foods" (had never before heard of it) that I went and checked it out. And it was soo goooodd! it sparked a passion in me!

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  25. I never meant to get into raw foods, but after being introduced I was so curious how someone could live like this. The more I tried out the different recipes (avocado mousse being the winning transition dish) the more I realized how amazing it is! I lost so much weight, my migraines cleared up, I slept so much better, and I was happier in general. Once I stopped getting migraines I decided this was the life for me! yay Raw Food!

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  26. Yes! I actually have all the ingredients for this recipe! Gonna try it soon!

    My memorable raw foods experience is of all the raw foods classes I took in Kansas City. I learned so much and tasted AMAZING dishes!

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  27. I moved to a new city earlier this year to start a Master's program at a university....being a long way from home (across the country in fact) with no familiar faces or places I was getting a bit homesick and wondering exactly why I had chose this path...I wandered into a little cafe near to my new apartment and to my amazement and joy it was raw and vegan!Being the first time I'd ever eaten raw food, I ordered a green juice and a bowl of raw lasagna (I was craving comfort) and as I sat there waiting for my food, the nice chef/owner started to chat with me. She was so nice and made me feel so welcome - I think it was the first time I'd truly smiled since I left home. I sat there talking to her, like an old friend, for an hour and a half as I ate and drank her delicious creations! It was the most comforting experience I've had and I'm glad that the raw/vegan food was a part of it!

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  28. I started drinking green smoothies after buying a Blendtec and shared them with my sister. Then she bought a Blendtec. I then bought a dehydrator and made apple and banana chips plus raw fruit leathers and shared with my nieces and Dad. Then my Dad bought a dehydrator. The best part of raw foods is sharing it with others and seeing their enjoyment from something you made with love.

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  29. My first raw food experience was at a restaurant called Bliss. They had the most wonderful Firecracker Rolls! Unfortunately, due to mismanagement, they are no longer in business. However, the memory and craving for the rolls lives on!!!

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  30. I can still remember one day while surfing the web and You Tube for healthy vegan and vegetarian recipes as I had just started a new job as an allergy free, vegan and vegetarian chef at a local college. I ran across a recipe for raw avocado chocolate mousse or pudding. I was like WHAT??? But had all the ingredients and went and made some. Oh my word!! I have since then made many raw deserts but am still partial to that fond memory. Now I use that pudding with a few tweeks and use it as frosting.

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  31. I don't have a lot of raw food experience beyond "normal" raw food like smoothies and salads but I ate at this delicious raw food restaurant in Austin called Beets Cafe a few weeks ago and it was so stinkin' good. I've had a dehydrator on my wish list for a while now and I'll definitely be purshasing one soon so I can recreate some of that deliciousness.

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  32. I'm just starting with raw food so that memory is still in the making. I can't wait for loads of them!

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  33. I'm trying to incorporate more raw foods into my life but a recent discovery was several types of kale salad! Yum!

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  34. I had great fun teaching my niece to make raw cashew cheese and raw date nut bars...sooooo messy and so spinningly fun!
    Cheers!

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  35. I had experience with raw food when I volunteered at a raw food cafe/restaurant helping to prepare the dishes. The food was amazing and so fresh, it inspired me in so many ways. This cookbook would be great to learn more about raw desserts!

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  36. I am just getting started so I don't have any experience yet

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  37. Aah Love Amber! She totally rocks! My number one raw food moment was when I made my first raw massaged kale salad. I thought there was no way Kale could taste good raw but once I tasted it I was shocked at how delicious it actually was. I realized raw food isn't as boring and bland as it may seem. With a little bit of time and creativity, eating a raw foods diet can be fun and tasty!

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  38. Mmmm Raw tacos. Romaine shells, some nut meat, a nice fresh salsa, some guac. Perfection. So yums.

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  39. my food processor allows me to have so many yummy raw food moments :)

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni