Cook Lively by Laura-Jane Koers | Cookbook review + Recipe + Giveaway

Whether you believe in a raw food diet or not, I think we can all agree that we need to bring more raw food into our everyday meals. Since most of the time, the nutrients are destroyed from high-temperature cooking, adding more raw food to your diet can be more nourishing and, yes, lively. Cook Lively: 100 Quick and Easy Plant-Based Recipes for High Energy, Glowing Skin, and Vibant Living Using 10 ingredients or Less by Laura-Jane Koers (the creator behind the popular Canadian vegan food blog, The Rawtarian) is a great introduction to raw, plant-based food and is the perfect book for anyone interested in eating better and learning healthier ways to cook your food. 

Before I received the book, I already knew that I'd enjoy the recipes just by looking at the cover. Very often, the cover of a book sets the tone and tells you what type of diet and recipes are inside. Here, the simple, elegant, and clean feel conveyed by the cover hints at the super-healthy, light, and wholesome meals she shows us how to prepare. Sure enough, when the book arrived, it did not disappoint me at all. In fact, I was so impressed that I wanted to try the recipes right away!

On Laura-Jane's blog you'll find endless raw food creations, but in Cook Lively she doesn't limit herself strictly to a raw food diet. Rather, she focuses on simple, plant-based cooking, which I love. I'm someone who believes in many kinds of diets. I like trying out different cooking methods and learning different ways of looking at food. Most of the time, I'm not crazy about cookbooks that try to sell a specific kind of diet, but I don't get that pressure from this book at all. Instead, I feel that the purpose of this book is to try to inspire everyone to eat better and to bring more awareness of what you put into your body. In fact, she even launches the book with the memorable quote, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants," from food author Michael Pollan, who is neither vegan nor a raw foodist.

In the introduction, Laura-Jane shares her personal story and how her perspective on food evolved over time. It was so compelling and inspiring to learn that she actually had a different lifestyle before, and how much willpower it took for her to become the person she aspired to. And because she went through this evolution herself, she knows how difficult it can be for those of you who are looking for a change. She dedicates a whole chapter, First Steps On The Path To Vibrant Health, to carefully guide you through each step on your own journey. I particularly appreciate how she gives very detailed, useful and smart tips on how to introduce a healthy diet into your life. Everything was written in a very thoughtful manner, from getting rid of your bad habits, to getting your kitchen organized. She also covers essentials such as meal planning, time-management when cooking, and getting familiar with and adding new, healthy ingredients to your pantry. To sum it up, she covers it all!

As for the recipes, everything in the book is, according to Laura-Jane, vegan, gluten-free, minimally processed and raw or lightly cooked. And healthy food doesn't need to look "healthy"; these recipes look absolutely scrumptious. The more you scroll through the pages, the more it makes you want to try them! The recipes are divided into seven sections, from your First Sip Of The Day, to your Morning Eats, Salads & Soups and Appetizers And Sides," all the way to those surreptitious, yet guilt-free, Midnight Snacks (which I know you'll love, because a lot of them can be made in advance and stored in the freezer). Plus, there is a Simple Staples section that contains homemade versions of typically store-bought items, including different types of vegan milk, sauces, ketchup, almond meal, almond butter, and even cashew yogurt! If you're a reader of Laura-Jane's blog, you'd know how organized and informative she is. Every recipe includes nutritional value at the bottom of the page, as well as information on how to serve and store, not to mention her simple, easy-to-read instructions. Also, if you're scared away by the raw food diet because you think you might need to buy a dehydrator, there's no need to worry; for all the recipes that require light cooking, Laura-Jane has already thoughtfully offered two cooking methods for everybody, one using a dehydrator and one using an oven, (even though the lower cooking temperature is better). Another nice thing is that nearly all the recipes include photos, and all the lovely photographs were taken by Laura-Jane herself. Talk about multi-talented!

In order to make this review as helpful as possible for you, I took a lot of time testing out some of the recipes, and here are a few that I've already gotten hooked on:

Banana Nut Gelato: This is one of the simplest recipes in the book. I've tried a few nana ice creams in the past, and I have to say that the texture of this one is incredibly creamy! Even my husband had a hard time believing it was a vegan gelato! I know for sure that I'll be making this recipe all summer long.

Sunflower Croutons: So easy to make, and again, it's a recipe that I know I'll be returning to regularly. The texture is slightly crumbly and is much lighter than regular croutons. They also have a very nice savoury taste, which easily goes well with a wide variety of salads, or even can be enjoyed as a savoury snack with some vegan cheese!

Chocolate Donut Holes: Next to the gelato, this is the second most addictive sweet I've tried so far! When I first saw the recipe, I was wondering why they weren't called energy balls and whether they would taste just like other energy balls, but after tasting them, I was really surprised by how light the texture was; it really resembles the texture of a donut hole! Laura-Jane was right, I'll have to double this recipe when I make it the next time, or it'll be gone in just a day or two (like it was this time!).

White Bean Cakes: I don't usually like to eat a lot of beans, but I must say this bean cake is a great recipe! Not only is it easy to make, but it's delicious and substantial without being overfilling. Pair it with her Ranch Goddess Dressing, which I also tried here (and can't believe it's vegan!) - they go so well together. You'll want to keep this recipe handy for your weekday meals, and you won't be craving any meat.

Nori Sushi Rolls: These grain-free sushi rolls are made with cauliflower. (Here, I added my own little variations for filling: steamed beets + avocado and avocado + cucumber.) They are especially delightful to have in the summertime, since they're light and full of veggies!

Here are some more recipes that I can't wait to explore and make:

Fruits of the Forest Pizza

Fluffy Baked Pancakes

Asian Grain Salad

Easy Cheesy Cracker Bread

Zucchini Nuggets

Rich Strawberry Cheesecake

Addictive Banana Cream Pie

Black Bean Cookies

As if all of the above weren't enough, the book ends with metric conversions and a chart on how different grains and lentils are cooked. It specifies the different cooking times, the amount of water needed, whether it's gluten-free, and provides cooking tips and suitable uses according to the texture. I especially love the section on how to grow your own alfalfa and spelt sprouts. Knowing how to cook for yourself is important, but knowing how to grow your own food is empowering.

I know that to many of us, the raw food diet can sound a bit extreme or intimidating, but in Laura-Jane's book and on her blog, she demonstrates how easy it is to bring raw food into your everyday life and how some of the recipes are not as "raw" as you might think. She successfully delivers a collection of simple, creative, beautiful, and tempting recipes. Even though I personally don't eat 100% plant-based food and I eat mostly cooked food, I can see myself enjoying these recipes regularly. The bottom line is, whichever diet you follow - and especially if you're not familiar with plant-based, gluten-free, or raw food diets - this is a great addition to your cookbook library. After reading and trying out Laura-Jane's recipes, you'll definitely learn to appreciate this new way of cooking and thinking. The food is so divine, you may just lose your desire for unhealthy food. It's a book that will grown on you, and it's the perfect gift for your health-conscious friends or family members, too! I hope the book will inspire you as much as it inspires me!

© photos by My Chouchoux

:: Recipe & Cook Lively Cookbook Giveaway ::

I'm really happy that Laura-Jane's publisher, Da Capo Lifelong Books is allowing me to share one of the recipes and a photo from her book. Plus they're offering to let me host a giveaway for a free copy of Cook Lively to a lucky reader on this blog! (See details below the recipe)


Recipe and Photo from Cook Lively!: 100 Quick and Easy Plant-Based Recipes for High Energy, Glowing Skin, and Vibrant Living—Using 10 Ingredients or Less by Laura-Jane Koers. Copyright © 2017. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

How To Enter the Giveaway:

  • The giveaway contest is only open to Canadian residents (or those who can provide a Canadian address).
  • All you have to do is to click the Rafflecopter below and leave a comment on this post to tell me what your favourite plant-based dish is. That's all! I'll randomly choose a winner. Don't forget to enter your name and correct email address, so I can reach you if you win. Good luck!

The giveaway contest ends on Sunday, June 25, 2017, at midnight EST.

This giveaway contest is over.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. My favorite plant based dish is falafel! :)

  2. Our family enjoys salad greens with tahini cilantro salad dressing and nuts and seeds. Raw food is our passion. :)


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