Volume VII, Issue 9
Book Review by Angela Starks
Hooked on Raw: Rejuvenate your Body
and Soul with Nature’s Living Foods
by Rhio (New York: Beso, 2000), $29.95
paperback. 400 pages
When you hear the word ‘raw,’ what comes to mind? Harsh, bleak, crude, unfinished. Apply the word to food and you have flavorless, boring, cold, unsatisfying. It’s no wonder that the idea of eating a diet of mostly raw foods is anathema to most people. If the only salads you’ve ever tried are of the pre-packaged, limp-lettuce and pithy tomato variety, disguised in artificial dressing and served as a sad accompaniment to a restaurant entree, you’re really missing out. That’s where Hooked on Raw comes to the rescue.
The author, Rhio, is an entertainer by profession, but her love of experimenting with tasty raw meals and the resulting improvements in her health have turned her into something of a food expert who has appeared on TV and in newspapers extolling the benefits of non-cooking. Howard Lyman (President of EarthSave International and author of Mad Cowboy) is just one of her fans. He says: “When I was thinking of trying a raw diet, I first read Hooked on Raw. It was the best thing I could have ever done. It was informative, well-written and packed with just what I needed to treat my body to a feast of nutrition. If you love life, I recommend Hooked on Raw as mandatory reading.”
Rhio’s easy-to-use raw recipe sections include hearty main course dishes, gourmet salads complete with inventive dressings, and delicious desserts. There are also chapters on recommended kitchen appliances, a step-by-step guide to sprouting, and handy menu plans. But this is by no means just a recipe book; Hooked on Raw is a really good read with twelve chapters of page-turning facts and industry exposes before we even get to the first appetizer. You’ll find a discussion of things like organic foods (something that Rhio is passionate and extremely well-informed about), and a “yes, no, or maybe?” exploration of dietary supplements. She also shares her opinions on such details as honey vs. maple syrup, hulled vs. unhulled sesame seeds, the benefits of herbs, the healing properties of phytochemicals, and the importance of preparing food with love.
A theme that Rhio returns to again and again is consumer power and the environmental impact of our food choices and agricultural methods. She reminds us that “We, the consuming public, have an astounding amount of collective power with our purchasing dollars. The use of these dollars can be our vote for better health for ourselves and our loved ones. More than a vote, this kind of citizen action would ensure the renewal and preservation of our home, our Mother–the Earth.” To help you put your money where your health is, the resources section at the back of the book provides contact information for all kinds of organizations and companies, from sources of non-irradiated spices and non-hybridized seeds to organic food delivery services and raw food restaurants.
But why go to great lengths to eat raw food anyway? Rhio begins by appealing to our common sense, noting that animals in the wild eat only raw foods (as did humans once upon a time) and that only modern mankind and our domesticated cooked-food pets suffer from heart disease, certain types of cancer and the like. There’s also the thought-provoking reminder that burning something never improvd it, so why should food be any different? At regular cooking temperatures, most of the nutrients are either destroyed, reduced or chemically altered from their natural state (which renders them largely unusuable by–and sometimes toxic to–the body).
But let’s get back to Rhio’s recipes, since the food speaks for itself. Her concoctions are so delicious that when you eat them your tastebuds might forget that they’re raw, except that you’ll feel so good your body will know that they are. A typical day’s menu might consist of “Wake-Up Gruel” for breakfast (a sustaining porridge-like cereal of sunflower sprouts, oats, prunes and oranges), the nutrient-rich “Hungarian Sauerkraut Salad” for brunch with home-made “Almond Mayonnaise,” and “Corn and Lentil Chili” for dinner, accompanied by the incredibly delicious “Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade.” If you’re not into menu-planning, it’s easy to incorporate at least one raw meal a day. You don’t need to master gourmet recipes to eat healthily–just grab an apple and a pile of nuts, or throw some vegetables into a juicer–but it certainly makes food a little more interesting. Enjoy the creative process, and then enjoy the results!
by Permission of Author