I am so happy to be including a fellow food blogger, and now cookbook author in today’s post. Gena Hamshaw. Gena is nutritionist and creator of the blog Choosing Raw.
Before I dive into the recipe I’ve chosen to make from her book, I wanted to share a little bit about Gena first and how she ended up eating a mainly raw diet. I always find it interesting to learn how, when and why people choose their dietary lifestyles and thought you might too.
Gena has helped thousands of people learn, understand, experiment and adapt a vegan
and/or raw lifestyle.
- “Americans are shifting their focus away from diets and dieting and toward food choices that are sustainable, socially responsible and nourishing. With this shift comes a widespread interest in plant-based diets: diets that are centered around fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains.” she says.
Gena equates her raw/vegan lifestyle now to a weight issue she had when she was just a preteen. She states in her book that she struggled with gaining a few pounds in her pre teens and started to control her appetite or hide food to lose weight. She’d count calories or skip meals in order decrease her overall calorie intake. This habit unfortunately followed her though college and into her twenties as her eating disorder escalated.
- “At some point in the middle of my junior year of college, I relapsed into the worst of my former habits. My clothes started sagging, my period stopped, and I became increasingly isolated from my friends. I was hungry all the time, and cold; stomach rumbling kept me awake at night. Concern from my friends, coupled with a family crisis, compelled me to get better for a while, but it was an uneasy truce, and I relapsed again in my early twenties.”
This left her with some challenging health issues, including IBS. Her struggles with her stomach and the fear of the intense pain it brought her caused her to seek out Drs who could help her. She started to avoid dairy and eat almost all vegan. But her digestion issues prevailed. That’s when she started eating raw foods. Raw foods by definition are foods that have not been heated above 115-118 degrees.
And while Gena has regained her health and found great relief in eating raw foods, she has chosen not to label herself a ‘raw foodie’. Rather she enjoys raw foods but also incorporates cooked vegan foods as well. Best of both worlds she likes to think.
- “I found an effortless balance between the raw foods I so naturally gravitate toward, and the warm dishes that keep me grounded and add nourishment and heft to my diet.”
Why I reached out to Gena
I’ve followed Gena on Facebook for a while now and heard of her cookbook. It’s been slowly filtering it’s way through my brain. But let’s just get something out of the way here … I am not a self proclaimed vegan, raw foodie or even a part time vegetarian!
So this book is a L E A P for me.
However, I have found I am at a crossroads right now in my journey of unprocessing my diet. The thought of eating more of a vegetarian lifestyle has appealed to me for quite some time. I like to think I am at the front door and it’s slowly opening. I am intrigued and find myself naturally wanting to dive in a little further.
Like I said, I’ve been noticing more and more Raw foods and Vegetarian cookbooks lately and there was something about Gena’s that I liked. I decided to reach out to her and see if she would send me a copy in return for making a recipe or two and telling you all about it. She graciously did.
I won’t lie, it is a little overwhelming for someone like me who isn’t even a vegetarian to digest all these recipes. But if you’re anything like me, and you just want to make 1 or 2 or even 3 meals a week that DON’T include meat then you have to try some of the recipes from Gena’s book. You never know where the road may lead, and Gena makes the road a little less scary.
Enough already, get to the recipe!
So with all that said, the recipe I chose to make was (drumroll …)
Yes I played it safe, baby steps.
Ratatouille is made up of summer vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, squash, peppers and fresh herbs. I of course, put my own touch on Gena’s recipe and you can see that reflected in my recipe below. I’ve included Gena’s original recipe as well. You can click here for a PDF RAW OR COOKED RATATOUILLE.
Let me tell you I have roasted vegetables many times before but two things really stood out for me in this dish. The first was the fresh lemon. I mean it took the flavors of the veggies and put them over the moon!
And the other was the addition of the pine nuts. I’m sure I’ve had them in salads or dishes in my life, but I personally have never purchased them. Since they are so expensive and I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, I got some from the bulk foods section and I got just about 1/2 cup.
Insanely delicious! I am so happy I tried this recipe. It was just my daughter and I for dinner last night and I couldn’t eat all of it so I saved what was left and I CANNOT wait to eat the rest for lunch today.
Gena this recipe rocks! Thank you for sending me your cookbook and giving me the opportunity to share it with my readers!
I used all organic ingredients when making this recipe, and hope you do too!