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RAWvolution Reader Review

Rawvolutionmattrawfood

Mamta Jain, our good friend and fellow globe trotter, sends us her reader review of Matt Amsden's RAWvolution book signing and food tasting hosted at Santa Monica's Euphoria Loves RAWvolution.

Note: When reading emails like this you just can't help but to smile. Welcome to the world of raw food baby!

Hey Dhrumil,

Thanks for last week's posting on WLIR re: Matt Amsden's new book and "open house" event on Saturday. I took my boyfriend (a raw virgin) and we had an absolutely savory meal. Thought you'd want to hear about our experience.

We started with the bok choy salad, a very crunchy and fresh salad. We also had the no-bean hummus --- Suman (my BF) la-la-la-la-loved the hummus and could not get over the fact that it was bean-free and 100% natural. We also tried two entrees -- the "Big Matt with Cheese" -- a non-traditional quarter-pounder slathered with cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion in between 2 slices of onion bread. This really hit the spot. It was filling but not too heavy, very tasty and filled with yummy greens. Suman loved it so much he decided to try the "Sloppy Joe" -- a nut and veggie pate in a rich, sun-dried tomato marinara, layered over crisp lettuce and served between two pieces of onion bread. We enjoyed it, but it wasn't as tasty as the rest of the meal. I've never left a raw joint without trying desserts and since Saturday was such a beautiful day on Venice Beach, Suman and I splurged on three after-meal specials -- chocolate chip cookie dough, apple raisin cookie, and coconut walnut fudge. By far, my favorite was the cookie dough. It wasn't too sweet, and the texture did me in. It melted right on my tongue leaving just a little crunchy cacao to chew. Second place was the apple raisin cookie.

We also picked up a copy of Matt's book. It's a beautiful publication -- the pictures make you want to eat everything right off the pages! More importantly, though, it's filled with a variety of recipes for every part of food preparation including breakfast, lunch, dinner, salads, appetizers, dressings and sauces, desserts, juices, and smoothies. It's very user friendly too -- each recipe is assigned a number (1-3) that correlates with the ease of preparation. Most were either a 1 or 2. I asked Matt how many recipes require a dehydrator (which I don't own), he estimated between 10-15%.

Not only was the food amazing, the people who work their are extremely friendly. Kam is my new Punjabi friend who eats about 80% raw, he made excellent recommendations. Amita, a Hungarian woman who has been raw for 17 years (and has also been to Vipassana), told me about some of the key ingredients in many of Matt's recipes (Nama Shoyu, a non-pasteurized soy sauce that shows up in a lot of recipes). The location is amazing -- it's a very funky, hipster area of Santa Monica just one block east of the Pacific Ocean, which you have a decent view of from the restaurant windows.

Granted I don't have the most critical taste pallet, but we had a great experience at Euphoria and Suman is officially a believer :).

MJ

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Comments

elizebeth

First off I would like to say that I dont live in California so I havent been able to go to RAWvolution and try the food there, I cant compare my home 'cooking' to his.I have 5 other raw cookbooks and was awaiting this release to add to my collection.

This book is definately not for someone new to a raw food diet, as it doesnt contain much informatoin about they why's and how's of what you are eating. It does however include a small chapter on what ingredients you should keep in your pantry.

With less than 200 pages from cover to cover it is on the small side for a cookbook. The recipe chapters include breakfast, soups, sides and starters, sauces and dips, entrees and desserts. The breakfast section is quite small with about 10 recipes. Although I usually have a green drink or juice I do like breakfast recipes to eat throughout the day, they're nice to have. Most of the recipes are pretty nut/seed patty heavy (using one nut loaf for 4 different entrees and a seasoned walnut meat for 3 others) but Matt does use more sunflower seeds than nuts which for me is refreshing. He also uses his onion bread recipe in anything that requires a crust such as pizza or sandwiches and for tostadas, no other bread, cracker or tortilla recipe is included.

The book is also light on dessert recipes. Whole fruit pies in a 5inch pan make up most of them. You will either need to purchase a 5 inch pie pan or make 1 1/2 the recipe to fit a standard 9 inch.

Some recipes that stand out are the mock tuna and mock chicken salad (my new favorite!), cheese pierogis, the big Matt with cheese (his raw version of a big mac), cheese sticks, cucumber dill salad, hummus, mashed potatoes and a fantastic chili.

Dehydration, soaking, the use of a high speed blender (VitaMix or Ktec) and juicing are used so these machines will be needed to complete the recipes.

What isnt included a lot is sprouting. Which is refreshing after so many authors being "sprout" happy which adds days to your preperation. There is only one recipe which requires soaking.

The pictures of the food are appetizing and clear which make trying the recipes tempting. The photographs of Matt and his staff are a little California 'hippy' which is fine but I didnt buy the book to look at the author. The recipes are clear and easy to understand, they indicate at the top of the page how many servings each recipe yields and icons are used to denote what type of machines are used.

This is a good book that makes a great ADDITION to your collection, I would not start with this book though. My favorite raw food book to date is still "Raw food, real world" by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Mengalis, which does have some lengthy recipes but the flavors are amazing.

UPDATE: So Ive had this book an extra week since I wrote the original review. I have had issues with 3 of his recipes so far. The "Famous Onion Bread" which serves as every bread, cracker or crust is completely wrong. I ended up having to blend all ingredients in a Vitamix, add water so it would blend and then it took 4 days to dehydrate. I will NOT make that again. The cheese sauce which is also what is used in the cheese sticks is either missing an ingredient or it is enhanced for the photos in the book. In the picture of the "Big Matt with Cheese" it is yellow, while in reality it is brown. It has no nutritional yeast in it and has no flavor of any cheese, although it is a nice spread it wont help with any cheese cravings you might be having. Also the nut loaf which is used in several recipes is way under seasoned and makes an enormous ammount, much more than what he states it does.

If I could change my vote I would give it 3 stars. Some recipes DO work and they are delicous. But it seems that this book was perhaps put together in a rush to capitalize on the raw movement. There are many typo's that I have come accross and now half of the recipes I make I have to adjust them to make them work. Im finidng I am more dissapointed than delighted in this book.

If anyone else buys this and gets that onion bread to work the way that it is written than please let me know what special thing you did, because for me it was a huge pile of onions with a small ammount of sauce. It stayed in my dehydrator for 2 days turning into caramelized onions, not bread.

I guesse I would say buy at your own risk and know you will have to manipulate the recipes. Such a shame that this happened.

Jennifer

I also tried making the cheese for the cheese sticks and it did not resemble cheese at all... but I was wondering if you knew what was in the cookie dough, sounds really good, I would love to make it!

elizebeth

FYI:
The picture of the onion bread that is with her meal that they prepared is NOTHING like it is pictured in the book and tells you how to prepare........no wonder it doesnt work!
Also her chocolate chip cookie dough that she loves so much isnt even offered.
Sorry but this book is a huge thorn in my side and this post is just bullshit.
This is the WORST raw foods cookbook Ive seen yet. The fact that someone who ate at the restaurant but hasnt made anything from the book get's to post seems stupid. Sure his food tastes good out of his kitchen, he's not following the recipes out of his book!
Oh and if she wants to keep eating the onion bread, big matt with cheese, the sloppy joe or the apple raisin cookies your friend is gonna need a dehydrator.

elizebeth

I make my own cookie dough by making chocolate chips out of cacao powder and agave syrup that I dehydrate until I can break it up in small pieces. Then I mix oat groats, ground almond flour, vanilla, agave, a little coconut butter and the chocolate chips together and I either dehydrate to make chocolate chip cookies or use the dough in ice cream or just eat it.
My Mom who isnt raw LOVES it and says it's her favorite.

Jennifer

Thanks for the info! I will definitely try it, sounds delicious!

stephen

I've met the girl who works with Euphoria...I think her name is Janabai...I thought she was very knowledgeable and well-informed.

Raw Vegan Momma

If I'm ever in his area I'll definitely stop by his restaruant.

@ Elizabeth
Thanks for letting us know what you think about the book. I have a few raw food cookbooks. I don't follow the recipes I just like buying cookbooks. It's always nice to see others who share my passion for experimentation and meal preparation. I also enjoy looking at the the pictures. :-) I usually loan my raw food books to friends who are interested in the raw food lifestyle.

I might hold off getting this book. I don't want anyone feeling "overwhelmed" about the raw food lifestyle.

Dhrumil

Elizebeth,

Thanks for posting your comments. We don't always get it right, hah or close to right, but that's why we have an open forum for comments. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the conversation.

What would you say is your favoriate raw food "cookbook"?

Lisa Hamilton

I have purchased this recipe book as well as 8 others. I do like the Rawvolution book. I made the flat onion bread, and was satisfied with the results. My husband loves it! It didn't require additional time to dehydrate, and I didn't alter the recipe. I also made the veggie cakes and we loved them, much better than so many of the "burger" type recipes you find in other books. We also tried the not tuna pate, and it was very tasty.

I find something I love in all of the books I have. I don't have one book that I feel is a stand out among all of them--I think each brings its own strengths, and none are without its weaknesses.

I found the recipes in Rawvolution to be very easy to prepare, and I will be making more of them.

elizebeth

This book does have some good recipes, the tuna salad that can also be made into chicken salad is good, along with some salads and salad dressings. I just have issues with finding typos, incomplete recipes and such a small ammount of recipes from a book. When I get a new book I try to use it for at least two weeks of meals so I really get a feel for the book. This has been my most dissapointing book.

My favorite raw cookbooks are "Raw food, Real World" (I havent found a 'dud' recipe yet and the meals I make from it are my families favorites) "Living Cuisine" by Renee Loux Underkoffler (amazing information and delicous and diverse recipes) and "Raw" by Charlie Trotter (I originally dismissed this book but Ive now found it to be a real winner)

I love cooking and always have, I dont mind preperation except excessive sprouting. And I love raw meals that are exciting and sometimes exotic. I love shocking my husband, family and friends that raw food is not boring or just salads.

I just personally feel this book is overrated and over priced for a small little book that was clearly not edited properly.

elizebeth

Oh yeah, and "Naked Chocolate" by David Wolfe and Shazzie...

I have always had a sweet mouth, not just a tooth but a whole mouth full and this book has been awesome. The first raw food I prepared (not including salads or fresh fruit) was the 'Cacao KAPOW!" recipe from the book and it was delicious!

I know cacao isnt for everybody but for me and my daughter it has been heavenly.

cindy

I have an idea regarding the onion flatbread in this book... maybe try to make the batter excluding the onions. Spread the batter onto the teflex sheets and then press the thinly sliced onions into it. You can control the amount of onion plus be somewhat artful in the design of the bread. Could you even press into the dough some olives or sundried tomatoes? Just a thought.

Colleen

Hey mamta; it's great that you are converting people to raw food! I am sure that Suman will thank you!

elizebeth

Cindy, that is a good idea. I will try that and give the recipe another shot. Thanks for the suggestion.

Jason

Hey Elizabeth, I actually just bought the book too. I'm not a chef and learning how to prepare living foods, so if possible, could you please tell where the typos and editing problems are? I'd probably end up making the dishes and not even realize I'm making them wrong! heheh! I do have to say that I've never met Matt, but I have met his girlfriend Janabai (who's pictured in the book), on several occasions while at her old raw food store in L.A., and she is really a great spirit. They really both look so peaceful together and I do wish them both luck with their endeavors 'cause I feel they are coming from a sincere place. I used to buy his 'Coconut Carob Haystacks', and they were so good, they melted off my tongue like creamy snowflakes.

Heidi

@ Jason:
Regarding Coconut Carob Haystacks melting off the tongue like creamy snowflakes...
that sounds so delightful I definately need me some of that right now!

Raw Mamasita

I have the book it is wonderful. One of the easiest Raw foods book to make foods out of besides Alissa Cohen's Living on Live foods book.

The ingredients are easy to find. The directions are very clear and the pictures look awesome.
I once was visiting Souther Cali and had his food delivered to my hotel room. How amazing and delicious it is. The Big Matt with cheese was delicious. So was the pizza and soup. the chili tasted good, I just missed something like beans or veggie meat. I may try that one with walnut meat.

The Come Bite the Apple Cookie is delicious. It made a convert out of my husband who hates apples.

I make onion bread regularly with no problems (besides gas, I know TMI). For my own taste buds I do have to cut the nama shoyu a bit (half in that recipe), or it will be way too salt to me.

The no bean hummus rocks too. My friends loved it.

also the Pecan pie is delicious. I am going to try it tonight with dates instead of raisins so that I taste more pecan, but my non raw eating friends really enjoyed that pie, still talking about it a week later.

Haven't tried the bread sticks yet but will soon.

sarah

The Green Ice Cream is a total winner! Make it without the crust, and put it into silicone muffin forms and freeze - just remember to wipe a bit of coconut oil into the molds first. Or, make it in a pie plate and cut into wedges. I like it better without the crust. It is really the best ice cream ever and in my opinion, the crust detracts from it. This recipe was worth the whole book, though I do like lots of Matt's recipes:)

RE: the onion bread, I used a fraction of the Nama Shoyu and found that it needs either half the onions or double the dough. A bit too rich for my taste but good if you are wanting to entice not-yet-raw people with it.

Lorna

This was the first raw food recipe book I bought and I can't say enough great things about the recipes. Love the onion bread. I followed the recipe and it turned out great. Also, I love the Come Bite Me Apple cookie recipe and as well I have made the Mock Tuna recipe although in the future I will have to half the recipe as it was too much for one person. And the recipe for the mushrooms - well that went over really well at a raw food potluck I attended. Definately will make them again!

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