Cook book

“Crazy Sexy Kitchen” produces herbal excitement

Several years ago, there were only a handful of vegan cookbooks. Today there are dozens, and I recently learned that there are 200 new vegan cookbooks in the works!

Good news, unless you’re deciding which cookbook to add to your library. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to choose, because I received a paper version of Crazy Sexy Kitchen as a gift. With the subtitle “150 Plant-Based Recipes to Spark a Mouth-Watering Revolution”—and avoiding the word “vegan”—Crazy Sexy Kitchen educates us on the many benefits of plant-based diets (for animals, the environment and health) and declares that any step towards a “plant-loving diet” and away from the standard American diet is positive.

While some may think giving cookbooks titillating titles is a marketing gimmick, the approach of co-writers Kris Carr (of “Crazy Sexy Cancer”) and chef Chad Sarno is sure to please anyone who are looking for more vitality and fitness.

What I love most about CSK is that it emphasizes healing recipes using fresh local vegetables and showcases a variety of cuisines and cooking techniques, from the simplest to the most advanced. CSK offers a wide variety of raw recipes (16 pages dedicated to juices and smoothies, 23 pages to salad and some appetizers) and technical as well as cooked recipes, featuring eminent vegan chefs such as Tal Ronnen, Sarma Melngailis and Fran Costigan.

Before diving into the recipes, the book gives you the basics of the Crazy Sexy Diet (Carr’s previous book), information on how to prepare your food, tools and cooking tips. Carr summarizes Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) as “a nutrient-dense plant-based approach to eating and living that harmonizes your beautiful body at the cellular level.” She explains that inflammation leads to disease, mentions the dangers of dairy, meat and sugar, and also talks about acid/alkaline (pH) balance:

“As part of your inflammatory wellness plan, I encourage you to reduce or eliminate all nasty foods that irritate your body. Most foods commonly found on the Standard American Diet (SAD) – meat and dairy products, refined carbs, wheat, processed foods foods made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and trans fats and let’s not forget the chemicals, drugs and all that you cannot hear phonetically.”

Carr, diagnosed with cancer at 31, addresses the controversial topic of soy products saying that “many of the same doctors who tell patients to avoid soy never mention the abundant amounts of estrogen and other growth hormones found in dairy products. If you are avoiding soy following a cancer diagnosis, please also strongly consider discarding dairy products.”

All recipes are marked with symbols indicating recipes according to food preferences (soy-free, gluten-free, raw, child-friendly), as well as level of difficulty (“eazy breezy” or “cheffy”) and “time saving “. There are also a few pages (p 274) of suggested menus with promising names such as “Zero Stress in 30 Minutes or Less”, “The Simple Life”, “For Your Valentine” and “Lunch at the Office”.

I first heard the name Chad Sarno while making his cashew cheese recipe in Tal Ronnen’s “The Conscious Cook” three years ago. This was my first exposure to raw food, and I’m glad to see that Crazy Sexy Kitchen has a good sampling of raw recipes. Besides juices and smoothies, there are old-fashioned raw dishes like raw noodles and “rawvioli” (dumplings made with wrappers made from beet slices). Carr says she encourages people to “increase their intake of raw foods” and that a combination of mostly raw foods and some cooked foods is ideal in the long run.

Although CSK offers dozens of mouth-watering recipes, some of my favorites are:

  • French Toast with Amaretto Cream (p 105)
  • Hearts of palm crab croquettes with remoulade (151)
  • Chickpea tagine with root vegetables (185)
  • Beet Ravioli with Cashew Cream Cheese (193)
  • Madeira Pepper Tempeh (203)
  • Rocking Rosemary Popcorn (245)
  • Raw Apple Spiced Rum Shortcake with Maple Vanilla Frosting (273)

Is Crazy Sexy Kitchen a good choice for you?

A cookbook is a very personal choice, especially if it involves a change in diet and lifestyle, but here are some features of CSK you might want to consider:

  • Recipes from a wide variety of chefs that will impress your friends and family and give you a broad perspective of all the possibilities of a plant-based diet.
  • Some raw recipes require a high-speed blender as well as a dehydrator, which may be a hindrance for some. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have or can’t afford certain equipment. A Spirooli slicer is an affordable way to start. You can still put the other items on your “Wish List”.
  • Provides tips on how to save money that you can spend on buying local and organic ingredients.
  • Some recipes call for vegan butter or shortening or other vegan ready meals (which I don’t care about), but these are helpful for transitioning to a more plant-based diet.

In general, Crazy Sexy Kitchen is suitable for budding chefs, curious vegans, or simply those who want to prepare healthier meals. For long-time vegans and experienced cooks, it can complete your collection and broaden your horizons. With dozens of beautiful photographs and an attractive design, it’s also a great coffee table book and gift idea.

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