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Raw food without all the rules? A new cookbook explains

Gena Hamshaw's shared her love affair with raw food via her blog, Choosing Raw—and now she's doing it with her first book.
Asparagus Sushi_Choosing Raw
Choosing Raw’s Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls (Photo: Hannah Kaminsky)

A few years ago, New Yorker and clinical nutritionist Gena Hamshaw fell in love with eating raw food and then became quickly “enamored with raw food cooking.”

She’s shared that love affair via Choosing Raw, her popular blog with tons of recipes and stunning photos—and the 32-year-old has just launched her first book, Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, that’s both a lifestyle guide and a cookbook with 125 or so recipes.

Choosing Raw, Gena Hamshaw
Hamshaw’s all about choosing raw, rather than mandating it. (Photo: Gena Hamshaw by Jeff Skeirik)

For Hamshaw, raw food is about the way it makes her feel—rather than following a litany of temperature restrictions. “When I started my blog, not a lot of people were saying it’s okay to cook this way without following a strict [raw food] diet,” says the passionate vegan.

That ethos comes across in her book, for which superstar Crazy, Sexy Diet author Kris Carr wrote the forward.

Whether it’s pointing out that you’re already eating raw food (ahem, avocado toast and kale salad), or helping you branch out with something like homemade veggie-based sushi (see her recipe below), or her signature Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas (yum!), Hamshaw hopes to turn more people on to the awesomeness of raw food, without obsessing over the rules. —Molly Gallagher

Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls 

Makes four five-piece rolls

3 cups cooked quinoa
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp tamari, nama shoyu, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or coconut aminos
1 tbsp mirin (optional; if you don’t have mirin, add 1 tsp sweetener of choice, such as agave nectar, pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar)
4 nori sheets
4 large stalks asparagus, lightly steamed
1 small avocado, sliced into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices

Choosing Raw

Mix the quinoa, rice vinegar, sesame oil, tamari, and mirin (or sweetener) together in a mixing bowl.

Lay a sheet of nori, shiny side down, on a flat, dry surface in front of you. The shorter end of the sheet should be facing you. Spread 3⁄4 cup of quinoa over the sheet, starting at the bottom. Allow 1⁄3 of the wrapper to remain bare (the third that is farthest away from you, at the top).

Lay an asparagus spear horizontally across the quinoa, about two inches from the bottom of the sheet. Top it with a few slices of avocado. Starting from the bottom, gently roll the nori up, applying pressure as you go. When you get to the top, moisten the top edge of the nori roll; this will help the roll stick together.

Use a very sharp knife to slice the roll into pieces (about five). Repeat with the three remaining nori sheets. Serve with tamari for dipping, or any dressing you like. You can prepare the quinoa as instructed, and store it for up to three days in the fridge, rolling the sushi as desired.

From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong © 2014

For more information, visit or check out Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat