Part of eating a clean diet is including more raw food items in menus. I’ve really been enjoying reading through the cookbooks I’ve been able to review. They help keep me on track to eating healthier. Today’s cookbook is The SimplyRaw Kitchen – plant-powered, gluten-free, and mostly raw recipes for healthy living by Natasha Kysaa (author of The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual).
Most people feel that eating healthy means it’s going to cost more. I used to think this way also but have found that planning my menus around foods in season, has helped control my budget. One BIG positive that this cookbook entails is the use of everyday raw foods. Nothing too fancy and you should be able to find everything in your local grocery store (and Farmer’s Markets).
Tonight we enjoyed the Lentil Soup with Kale along with a Massaged Kale Salad.
Lentil Soup with Kale
1 cup red lentils, well rinsed (I used green lentils)
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small yam, cubed
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
2 cups finely chopped kale
2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 cup cilantro, for garnish (not used in my recipe)
In a large pot on high, bring to a boil 6 cups purified water, lentils, bay leaf, onions, carrots, celery, yam, marjoram, cumin, and coriander and fennel seeds. Skim off any foam from the top of water. Cook partly covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale, garlic and salt and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Remove bay leaf, stir in cayenne and serve garnished with fresh cilantro.
From the press release:
The SimplyRaw Kitchen is an all-vegan, gluten-free cookbook and lifestyle
guide to be shared between generations. Chef and wellness consultant
Natasha Kyssa wrote The SimplyRaw Kitchen to inspire others to include
fresh, whole, nutrient-rich foods in their diets in a balanced and loving
way, and to experience just how delicious healthy eating can be. When
we prepare meals centered around whole plant foods, we fuel our bodies
with a tasty abundance of life-giving essentials. Kyssa offers a innovative
variety of simple, flavorful recipes that use basic, easy-to-source ingredients
and take little time and effort to prepare.
Natasha promotes a balanced, flexible diet based on fresh plant foods.
Her regimen also considers those who cannot tolerate an all-raw diet by
including specific cooked foods.
Natasha shares vegan versions of comfort food classics like Mushroom
Goulash, Babuschka’s Borscht, and Romantan Cabbage Rolls. Other
must-try dishes include Holiday Nut Nog, Rad Pad Thai, Autumn Apple
Crumble, plus plenty of raw soups, cakes, smoothies, and more.
Natasha Kyssa runs SimplyRaw, a healthy lifestyles consulting company,
and SimplyRaw Express, a vegan restaurant in Ottawa, Canada. Through
her workshops, café, and detox program, she has assisted thousands of
clients to achieve optimum health, wellness, and nutrition. She has
appeared as a speaker at TedX, and is a frequent presenter at health,
wellness, and vegan festivals where she often talks about nutrition as the
best and most affordable method of preventative health care. Natasha
also hosts professional seminars and workshops. Her popular first book,
The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual, was published in 2009.
Question and Answer period with Natasha Kyssa
Q: You have seen thousands of clients through your SimplyRaw workshops and counseling. Inevitably, you
work with a wide range of individuals, all with different body types, ages, abilities, activity, and wellness
levels. What have you learned about the universal benefits of a raw diet?
A: I am very blessed to have worked with so many different clients and students over the years, and to see and hear
first-hand the endless benefits of a raw diet, of even just incorporating more fresh foods into one’s diet. While many
of my clients seek help with various health challenges, there are some foundational improvements that almost all of
them experience: increased energy, improved digestion, better sleep habits, glowing skin, balanced moods, and an
overall improved physical, mental, and emotional state.
Q: Critics of raw and vegan diets often argue that these lifestyles are only possible for the affluent, and that
eating healthy in North America is a luxury. How do you answer this critique? Are there any recipes in
particular in The SimplyRaw Kitchen that are particularly budget-friendly?
A: Eating a healthy, whole plant-based diet (high in raw foods) is accessible to everyone, and does not need to be
expensive. Fresh produce is readily available in most cities and towns, often from local farmers. Many places also have
farmer’s co-ops or food boxes with fresh local fruits and vegetables for a reduced package price. Sprouts are truly the
freshest, most nutritious foods available — they are also very cost-effective and can be grown in the tiniest
The main point to consider when evaluating the cost of dietary choices is return on investment. Many of the low-cost
packaged “foods” in tins, boxes, cans, and bags, are so devoid of nutrients that they provide zero nutritional value,
and have a negative health impact. So the return on investment (your health) is actually negative. Fresh whole plant
foods provide a high return on investment from both a nutritional and preventative care perspective. A healthier
body will result in a diminished need to rely on expensive medical care.
Q: What are some of your favorite seasonal Fall ingredients and go-to recipes? What raw food choices do you
recommend to your clients during the holiday season?
A: As the weather starts to get cooler in the fall, I gravitate towards cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and other warming
spices. A slightly heavier dish, my Wild About Rice Salad, is still easy to digest, but provides a bit more substance to
help your body adjust to the cooler days. My Autumn Apple Crumble is a delicious dessert to share for Thanksgiving,
especially when paired with a nice warm mug of herbal tea—very comforting.
The holiday season can present a host of challenges and temptations from festive gatherings. But the comfort foods
found in my book, such Real Tomato Soup, Sour Kream & Onion Dip, and Aged Peppercorn Cheeze can help you to
feel indulged yet healthy. Some delicious (and nutritious) desserts are sure to be welcome at any gathering include
my Better Pecan Pie with Shortbread Crust and Yum Rum Balls (just don’t tell anyone they’re raw and good for you).
Q: You are an avid runner. What kind of diet do you recommend for other runners, and what meals do you love
to have before a long run?
A: To prepare for runs, I like to use simple, easy-to-digest, whole food ingredients including hemp and chia seeds—
both excellent sources of protein. Personally, I do not believe in using protein powders that are produced in a factory.
After a longer run, I replenish with a blended celery, chia, hemp and banana smoothie or freshly pressed green juice.
I’m also a fan of raw coconut water and algae for athletes, and for general daily consumption.
Q: Can you talk about what it’s like to go raw and vegan as a family? Some of your recipes mention introducing children to greens, chia seeds, etc. Do you have tricks and tips for going raw/vegan as a family and how to
make eating raw convenient?
A: It certainly makes it easier if the whole family is vegan or raw. I’m lucky to have the support of my husband for the
lifestyle—we eat similarly, shop for the same foods, so there’s no conflict in the household about food choices. My son
is also vegan so we can easily keep our fridge and kitchen as safe common ground. Many of my clients are challenged
with spouses and families who are not following the same lifestyle, so I am regularly trying to help them introduce
healthier choices to their families’ shared meals.
I always recommend making gradual changes—starting with just adding a few side dishes or extra salad with meals.
Smoothies are one of the easiest and quickest ways to expose family members to healthier eating. Starting with
fruit-only smoothies makes them sweet, delicious, and appealing in color. Gradually adding a few light greens will
change the color and be intimidating at first, but is an easy enough barrier to overcome.
I also recommend not announcing that it’s raw or vegan—just make it and serve it with a smile. Get the family
involved in the kitchen, make it super tasty and fun, without the focus on it being different or healthy.
Q: Do you work with pregnant and post-natal clients? When you are preparing meal plans and menus, what
might you recommend for a pregnant woman’s nutritional program? Are there any raw “super-foods” you
recommend to your pregnant clients?
A: I have worked with expectant mothers and post-natal clients, and my recommendation is not to make any radical
dietary changes, as the mother should avoid going through a cleansing process. The key is to get enough nutrition
during this period by consuming many nutrient-dense foods while avoiding processed foods with empty calories.
Again I recommend making very gradual changes to add organic fresh whole plant foods—not necessarily going all
Some of the nutrients I focus on are iron, calcium, protein, essential fatty acids, and folic acids, all of which are
attainable simply by eating more healthy calories. Hemp, chia, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts, avocados, spirulina, and
dark leafy greens are essential, and can easily be added to smoothies. Daily green juices are an excellent source of
easy-to-digest nutrients for moms-to-be.
Q: What is one health/wellness practice you’d absolutely recommend for everyone? Say you could get
everyone to change or do one thing to improve their wellness—what would you have them do?
A: Keep your mornings raw—eat only fresh whole plant foods each and every morning, starting with a green juice or
green smoothie. Try to keep it light, green, and raw until lunch time. This is an excellent way to start the day—and it’s
disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the cookbook for review. All opinions are my own.