There is something quite powerful about people who are pursuing their passion – even if they are compassionate and caring – the universe seems to know to stay out of their way. I’m not saying that I’ve literally seen the seas part to enable someone to climb to reach the next step on their path, but when people are focused on a goal, they somehow find that stepping stone, just under the surface of the water, invisible to others, that makes their progress possible.
Doug McNish is currently creating a pretty awesome existence and we’re all reaping the benefits.
I’ve known Doug since I first spotted him serving sandwiches and muffins at Urban Herbivore. His “vegan” tattoo caught my eye right away. Since that day I’ve had the privilege of eating Doug’s creations when he worked as the chef at Live Organic Food Bar and Raw Aura. With one bite his talent for creating big bold flavours would seduce you. His raw Mac n’ Cheese quickly became the talk of the vegan scene.
Over the years, we’ve collaborated on many local cooking events. I’ve watched Doug dominate Toronto’s Vegan Iron Chef competition, engage enthusiastic audiences during demos and cater fancy affairs that raise the bar for gourmet plant-based cuisine. He’s a superstar!
On March 31st, Doug released his first book Eat Raw, Eat Well, an incredible collection of 400 raw, vegan and gluten-free recipes. That isn’t a typo, there are 400 recipes in the tome which provide a comprehensive repertoire of exciting eats to nourish your body and fill your belly.
I’ve been playing with Doug’s recipes for the three weeks and have been quite struck by how different his compilation of raw recipes is from the dozens of other books I have sitting on my shelf. Flipping through the pages you’ll notice titles like: stuffed calzone, eggplant parmesan, moussaka, corn and red pepper chowder, and herbed mushroom duxelles. Sounds like an amazing menu to me.
I think that’s the difference.
Doug is a restaurant chef. He’s classically trained and has toiled in many of our city’s best and busiest spots, so he knows what pleases our palates and has quite a collection of tried and tested tricks to creating sensational dishes from fresh, raw ingredients. He doesn’t shy away from salt, oil or flavour.
With such a huge selection of enticing options it was hard to decide where to start.
Beginning with a hearty breakfast seemed logical, so I prepared Doug’s Buckwheaty Hemp Chocolate Granola and a jug of Hemp Milk. The cereal is less sweet than some of raw recipes I tried – which I really appreciated. It was crunchy and chocolaty – I enjoyed it for breakfast but also found myself eating it out of hand as an energizing afternoon snack.
Doug’s adoration of kale closely rivals mine, so I was delighted to see a strong showing of this great leafy green in many of his recipes. I tested out the Kale Waldorf Salad and savoured every bite. Apples and walnuts beautiful balance kale’s bitter notes.
Eat Raw, Eat Well, dashes the common misconception that raw cuisine is too time consuming. The majority of Doug’s recipes are ready in minutes. A huge chapter dedicated to juices and smoothies cuts that time back to seconds. I tried The Antioxider, because it invites all the cool kids to one awesome mixer, imagine the power of hemp, kale, blueberries, bananas, dates, and cacao providing you a potent dose of phytonutrients. Plus, it tastes like blueberries and chocolate, a combination that may not be familiar but will soon become a favourite. I also adored Doug’s Avocado Vanilla Smoothie. It is rich, sweet and creamy. A truly delicious way to enjoy all the benefits of avocado’s nutrient profile with a straw.
A bowl of Cauliflower Risotto served with a subtle hint of thyme, seemed like the perfect dish to eat during the wild weather we’re experiencing in Toronto as we transition into Spring. It is packed with vegetables but still contains enough creaminess from the cashew base to make it a cozy, comforting meal.
Luckily for me, Doug’s Eat Raw, Eat Well, asserts that desserts are part of a well-balanced diet. I tried the Banana Cinnamon Goji Berry Cookies and Almond Lemon Biscotti dipped in Chocolate Fondue. Delicious, decadent…delightful.
So, with 391 recipes still to try, I feel like I’ve barely begun to explore this fantastic resource.
I encourage you all to pick up a copy. I am so lucky to live in Toronto where Doug continues to make great strides to shift our food scene, but with his thoughtful collection of amazing recipes, you now have the ammunition to inspire everyone you know to eat more plants.
If you believe like I do, that amazing vegan food is our best outreach tool then Doug is definitely one of our MVPs. This book is only a stepping stone on his great journey. I look forward to cheering him on all along the way.