Choosing Raw the book was obviously a labour of love and has been getting rave reviews since its release earlier this month. It is a beautiful book with plenty of full page images to drool over thanks to the talented Hannah Kaminsky and there are 125 amazing recipes within. But not only that, the first half of the book covers everything from Gena's food history and how she came to embrace raw foods, to the ingredients that make up a kitchen supportive of raw foods, to the tools needed. It also covers some common myths surrounding the raw food movement (No, you don't have to combine foods in certain ways to reap their benefits and No, there is not a lot of foundation to the enzyme theory), and there is also a 21-day meal plan for those who need a bit more help laying it all out.
The recipes are split up into several sections covering The Essentials, Juices, Snacks, Sauces & Dressings and Meal-sized Salads. Following that you'll the remaining recipes are divided into 3 levels (Tried and True, Something New and Brave New World) to help ease you into expanding your raw horizons.
The first dish I made was the Quick Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Vinaigrette. I was all out of quinoa (how does that even happen?!) so I made it instead with farro and it was great. I portioned out a little bit for myself and packed the rest up to deliver to a friend that had just welcomed a new baby. She and her family, including her 2-year old, loved it.
Next I made the Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger Miso Dressing and Chives. It was so delicious - I don't think I've ever combined sweet potatoes and miso but I will be doing it again because their sweetness is such a good partner to miso's tangy umami flavour. I also added a big tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds to the dish and really enjoyed the little crunch they imparted.
The Mango Coconut Chia Pudding was perfect for lazy cottage breakfasts overlooking the lake and the No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars were great for a weekend of camping and music festivaling. Woodrow loved them and kept asking for more "cookies". And then the Fig Bars. They are so yummy and rich and... figgy! They are so good that I find I'm satisfied with only a small bar and so I got 20 bars instead of the 9 the recipe calls for. Bonus! They are so easy and a great raw dessert, snack or even breakfast for those unsure where to start.
And that's the beauty of this book: it is the perfect starting place for everyone. It makes raw foods accessible and exciting. And I love that so many cooked recipes are incorporated too, because it's all about balance.
I am thrilled to share the recipe for the Fig Bars with you today, and also to be giving away a copy of Choosing Raw to one lucky reader! But I hope you are all able to pick up a copy of the book soon because it is a wonderful book. Congratulations Gena, on what I hope to be the first of many!
It’s amazing to me that a dessert this good can be free of refined flour or refined sugar. These fig bars have all of the chewiness and sweetness of traditional Fig Newton cookies, but they’re made with wholesome almonds, oats, and real dried figs.
MAKES 9 BARS
3 cups water
2 cups dried figs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup almonds
1 1⁄2 cups rolled oats
1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt
6 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
3⁄4 cup sliced almonds
1. Bring the water to a boil, and pour it over the figs. Let the figs soak for at least 1 hour (or for as long as 6).
2. Grind the almonds in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade until they’re relatively smooth. Add the oats and continue grinding until both are quite finely ground. Pulse in the sea salt.
3. Add the Medjool dates to the food processor, along with the maple syrup and coconut oil. Process until the mixture is evenly incorporated. Press into an 8–inch square baking dish.
4. Drain the figs, reserving the water they soaked in, and transfer them to a clean food processor. Process them with the vanilla. Add the soak water as needed, until you have the consistency of a fig jam.
5. Spread the fig mixture over the oat/almond mixture. The fig layer should be 1⁄4 inch thick, or a little thicker. Reserve extra fig mixture to use in place of jam on your favorite toast.
6. Top the fig layer with almonds. Refrigerate the bars for a few hours, until they set. Cut into nine squares, and enjoy.
Store the fig bars in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to 2 weeks this way.
From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014
Please use the widgit below to enter the cookbook giveaway. The contest will remain open until midnight on Monday August 5th and is open to Canadian and US residents.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the Choosing Raw book to review, but all opinions are my own.