Several years ago, there were only a handful of vegan cookbooks. Today, there are dozens, and I recently learned there are 200 new vegan cookbooks on the way!
Great news, unless you are deciding which cookbook to add to your library. Fortunately for me, I did not have to choose, as I received a hardcopy version of Crazy Sexy Kitchen as a gift. With the subtitle "150 Plant-Empowered recipes to ignite a mouthwatering revolution" – and avoiding the word "vegan" – Crazy Sexy Kitchen educates us about the many benefits of plant-based diets (for animals, the environment, and health) and declares that any step toward a "plant-passionate diet" and away from the Standard American Diet is a positive one.
Though some may believe giving cookbooks titillating titles is a marketing gimmick, the approach of co-authors Kris Carr (of "Crazy Sexy Cancer") and Chef Chad Sarno is sure to appeal to anyone seeking greater vitality and fitness.
What I like most about CSK is that it puts great emphasis on healing recipes using fresh local vegetables, and presents a variety of cuisines and cooking techniques, from basic to more advanced. CSK has a broad variety of raw recipes (16 pages dedicated to juices and smoothies, 23 pages to salad, and a few entrees) and techniques as well as cooked recipes, featuring prominent vegan chefs including Tal Ronnen, Sarma Melngailis, and Fran Costigan.
Before delving into recipes, the book gives you the basics of the Crazy Sexy Diet (Carr's previous book), information on preparing your kitchen, and cooking tools and tips. Carr summarizes Crazy Sexy Diet (CSD) to be "a nutrient-dense plant-happy approach to eating and living that harmonizes your beautiful body at the cellular level." She explains that inflammation leads to disease, mentioning the dangers of dairy, meats and sugar, and talks about the acid / alkaline balance (pH), too:
"As part of your inflammatory wellness plan, I encourage you to reduce or eliminate all icky foods that irritate your body. Most of the vittles commonly found in the Standard American Diet (SAD) – meat and dairy, refined carbohydrates, wheat, processed foods made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and trans fats. and let's not forget the chemicals, drugs and anything else you can't sound out phonetically. "
Carr, diagnosed with cancer at 31, deals with 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. avoiding soy as a result of a cancer diagnosis, please strongly consider dumping the dairy as well. "
All recipes are marked with symbols labeling recipes according to dietary preferences (soy-free, gluten-free, raw, kid-friendly), as well as difficulty level ("eazy breezy" or "cheffy"), and "time saver". 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 "Office Lunch Party".
I first heard Chad Sarno's name when preparing his cashew cheese recipe in Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook" three years ago. It was my first exposure to raw foods, and I'm glad to see that Crazy Sexy Kitchen contains a good sampling of raw recipes. Besides juice and smoothies, there are old school raw entrees such as raw noodles and "rawvioli" (ravioli made with wrappers made from sliced beets). Carr says that she encourages people to "up their intake of raw foods" and that a combo of mostly raw and some cooked foods is ideal over the long term.
Though CSK has dozens of enticing recipes, some of my favorite are:
- French Toast with Amaretto Creme (p 105)
- Hearts of Palm Style Crab Cakes with Remoulade (151)
- Chickpea with root veggie tagine (185)
- Beetroot Ravioli with Cashew Creme Cheese (193)
- Madeira Peppercorn Tempeh (203)
- Rocking Rosemary Popcorn (245)
- Raw Apple Spiced Rum Shortcake with Maple Vanilla Glaze (273)
Is Crazy Sexy Kitchen is a good choice for you?
A cookbook is a very personal choice – especially if it means a change in diet and lifestyle – but here are some features of CSK you may want to consider:
- Recipes from a wide variety of chefs that will impress your friends and family and give you a broad perspective of the all the possibilities of a plant-based diet.
- Some raw recipes require a high speed blender as well as a dehydrator, and this may be an obstacle for some. Don't be discouraged that you don't have or cannot afford some equipment. A Spirooli Slicer is an affordable way to start. You can always put the other items on your "Wish List".
- Supplies tips on how to save money that you can dedicate to buying local and organic ingredients.
- Some recipes call for vegan butter or shortening or other vegan convenience foods (which I don't care for), but they are useful for making a transition to a more plant-based diet.
In general, Crazy Sexy Kitchen is appropriate for aspiring chefs, vegan curious, or just those wanting to prepare healthier meals. For long-time vegans and experienced cooks, it may round out your collection and broaden your horizon. With dozens of beautiful photographs and appealing design, it makes a great coffee table book and gift idea, too.