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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
I've had the pleasure of knowing Elaina since she began her very first raw food class in the fall of 1998. Elaina was one of the first raw food pioneers who took a relatively bland food movement and made it taste great. Since then, she has evolved into into one of the top raw food chefs in the world, and, as a chef instructor at the Living Light Culinary Academy, she has trained many of the other leading raw food chefs.

A number of the recipes in these two volumes evolved from the monthly classes she held in her home, which I attended for several years. Each month, those of us in the class would marvel at how she was able to combine foods, herbs and spices to come up with so many amazing recipes and menu plans. For example, her Thanksgiving holiday menu (which I believe was the first gourmet raw Thanksgiving menu available on the planet at that time) enabled me to enjoy a raw food meal so delicious and satisfying that it rivaled the traditional one my family were eating, but on a much healthier scale.

Using a series of her recipes for a "burrito" with "re-fried beans" and "rice" I once organized a dinner party where each participant brought one of the components of the meal (including raw, vegan sour cream, cheese, guacamole, etc). All of the attendees, myself included, were amazed at how such simple, raw, plant-based foods could do such an awesome job of coming so close to the classic tastes, while remaining healthy and raw.

For about a year, the Brownies (made with carob from before raw chocolate (cacao) made the raw food scene) were my breakfast staple, although my all time favorites are the raw pizza recipes.

Her simply amazing kale salad recipe inspired me (a vegan who does not like vegetables) to eat kale for what I believe was the first time in my entire life. That dish became my staple party potluck dish (often at the request of my more junk food-loving vegan friends), and I turned many omnivores and vegetarians alike into avid kale fans. One omnivore friend even told me this recipe had become her staple party potluck dish, and that she received rave reviews for it. She also began to regularly include it in her diet because she could feel how much better all the minerals and vitamins in the kale made her feel.

Many of the recipes in these two volumes are also the ones she serves when she caters for events held by some of the world's leading raw food educators, including David Wolfe and Gabriel Cousens, M.D.

And as you read through these volumes, you will see her style and ingredients constantly evolving to keep up with the latest trends and understandings of how to create a healthy, balanced raw food diet, as well as how to combine raw food ingredients to create new tastes and textures satisfying the most demanding palate. For example, following research by Dr. Cousens on the benefits of a low glycemic, raw food diet for overall health and for curing type 2 diabetes (his diet program even has had some success in curing type 1 diabetes -- although he states its not medically understood how this is possible), Elaina has been one of the ones making the diet palatable using natural, plant-derived, low-glycemic, raw sweeteners. If you look at the recipes in Dr. Cousens' "Rainbow Green Cuisine" and "There is a Cure for Diabetes," those with a sweet tooth will not find much solace. But Elaina took on the challenge and is now coming out with a formidable arsenal of low glycemic recipes to satisfy the most ardent sugar lover. Furthermore, many of these recipes can be found for free at her Pure Joy Planet website.

In summary, I highly recommend these two volumes of books, as well as any recipe product Elaina sells or offers for free. I also recommend those seeking to go raw -- or just incorporate more raw foods into their lives -- look to Elaina for guidance.
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