Review: ‘The Uncook Book’ by Tanya Maher

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This week marked the release of ‘The Uncook Book’ by Tanya Maher, a gorgeous recipe book centred around gourmet raw foods. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy a few weeks ago and have been busily reading it and trying out the recipes ever since, so now that it’s available to buy I want to share a bit more information on the book and my thoughts here.

‘The Uncook Book’ is the result of a lot of hard work by the lovely Tanya Maher of betterraw.com, a successful health coach and the founder of the popular raw vegan Tanya’s Café in Chelsea, London. Tanya turned to raw food in an attempt to heal her body many years ago – her ongoing energy and enthusiasm for this lifestyle is evident on every page. Having visited Tanya’s Café several times and loving the vibrant atmosphere as well as the incredible food, I was eager to try out some of the dishes at home. They certainly didn’t disappoint! All of the recipes use only unprocessed ingredients, and nearly all are raw vegan.

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The book itself is beautiful, with stunning photography and vivid designs really bringing the food and flavours to life on the page. It really is a pleasure to read, whether you’re following a recipe exactly or just flicking through for some snack-time inspiration. ‘The Uncook Book’ is divided into sections including drinks, breakfasts, desserts, on-the-go foods and even a fun kids’ sections towards the end which was especially interesting to read. As well as all of the food, Tanya dedicates the start of the book to sharing a more detailed insight into the raw food lifestyle, including the many benefits that it provides, the equipment needed to make it possible, and Tanya’s own expertise on questions such as when to choose a juice versus a smoothie. If you have any queries about starting out or thriving on a raw vegan diet, Tanya’s book answers them!

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The Spiral Smoothie

Firstly, I couldn’t open a book by the owner of Tanya’s Café without making one of her delicious smoothies. My favourite was ‘The Spiral’ smoothie, a green blend of yummy fruits and greens that was very refreshing without being too sweet – I’ve been enjoying it for breakfast most days. When visiting Tanya’s in the past I’ve always ordered a Matcha Tea, so this one is another of my favourite drinks recipes (and so much better than the matcha lattes I’ve attempted to make in the past!) There’s a lot of different options in this section including the popular mushroom latte from the café, so you’ll never get bored of the same old combinations.

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Cucumber and Sea Salad

Moving on to the food, I can’t skip over Tanya’s ‘Cucumber and Sea’ salad, a refreshing dish based on leafy greens, cucumber and wakame seaweed. I loved how light the meal was, and together with the cooling cucumber this made it perfect for enjoying on warm summer days. I’d recommend serving it with extra veggies, or adding it into a wholewheat pitta with falafel for a more filling meal (so good!)

Of course, as someone with a very sweet tooth, you can’t give me a vegan cookbook without me immediately trying to find the raw cheesecake section… if you’ve ever eaten at Tanya’s Café you might have tried her amazing raw cakes, so you’ll already be pretty prepared for how incredible her desserts chapter is. I still find it astounding that it’s possible to make such rich, delicious desserts that only contain ingredients that are wonderful for your health, and Tanya really knows how to combine these raw ingredients to make sweet masterpieces that could wow even the biggest dairy lover. Included are recipes for raw cakes, bliss balls, even more blissful raw slices, and my favourite of all raw desserts: key lime pie. All of them look stunning, and all of them taste even better. As Tanya explains, most of these can even be stored in the freezer for a few weeks or months, so it’s been difficult to stop making everything in the book and saving them for a rainy day.

Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

Within this sweet section are also several recipes for different ice cream flavours, so naturally I had to test the chocolate flavour. This tasted so indulgent, with almond butter giving it a creamy texture that worked perfectly with the subtle hint of the Himalayan salt. Even better, because it was mainly based on bananas it wasn’t too heavy or rich at all (and for this reason I’ve made it for breakfast rather than dessert on quite a few occasions).

Whilst I loved trying out some recipes that I had already made regularly beforehand, such as the açaí bowl and chia porridge, what I liked even more about ‘The Uncook Book’ was the additional sections of recipes suitable for travelling and for children. The on-the-go ideas were really inspirational, but it was the kids’ section that was especially creative and really highlighted how easy it can be to make raw food exciting and enjoyable. There are meal ideas such as raw noodles and jam sandwiches, as well as fun dips and sweet snacks that will appeal to even the fussiest of toddlers. In fact, they’d be just as perfect to serve at adult-only parties!

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One of the only drawbacks of the book that I found was that many of the recipes do require quite expensive/niche ingredients that may not be readily available in all health stores, meaning they would be rather costly to go out and buy all at once. However, Tanya herself mentions this at the start of the book, advising you to first buy the ingredients that occur most often in the recipes you fancy making, and then build up your pantry gradually so that eventually you’ll be able to make most of the recipes without going shopping.

Overall, ‘The Uncook Book’ is definitely one addition to your bookshelf that you simply cannot miss, whether you are an aspiring nutritionist or just like good food. There really is a dish here to suit everyone’s tastes, and they are all so delicious that people won’t believe how healthy they are. I can’t stop bookmarking recipes to try and have loved sharing them with my family – go out and get yourself a copy so that you don’t miss out on any of Tanya’s creative genius either!

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