Author(s): Megan May
The unbakery book is a celebration of the food served by the award-winning little bird unbakery. Little bird is the creation of partners Megan May and her husband Jeremy. Megan is the chef and creator of the little bird flavour and Jeremy, an award-winning architect and designer, is the brains behind the branding. The book encourages food lovers to try more uncooked food and shows them how they can enjoy and benefit from preparing dishes from raw, natural ingredients. All recipes are gluten, dairy and cane sugar free, along with being vegan. Emphasis is placed on the quality of the food and how the recipes can easily be incorporated into the readers' current lifestyle.
Intimidating at first, this gorgeous volume, and the method of eating it demonstrates, is not so scary after a long read. As you slowly realise it is possible to create all of this delicious food it quickly becomes inspiring. As soon as I got The Unbakery home, I spent two hours absorbed in its pages and planning dozens of good meals - and not an oven, egg, piece of meat, or dairy product in sight. The Unbakery's two Auckland cafes are a roaring success, with regular queues of people hungry for the chance to try Megan May’s nutrient-dense, stylish and tasty food. To someone new to this way of eating it looks like unattainable alchemy, but May leads you gently through her own health journey and her discovery of the benefits and possibilities of a complete raw vegan diet, or even just the interest and benefits offered by enjoying a few new meals a week. The text in this book is well-laid out and simple to follow, and the photography is luscious, with the colours of fruits and vegetables rich and jewel-like. May includes recipes for the building blocks of raw vegan eating - wholefood alternatives to animal products such as coconut yoghurt, nut cheeses, creams, and milks - salads, smoothies, drinks, Mexican food, breads, dressings, crackers, mains, sandwiches, desserts, and incredible cakes and ice-cream, which I can already vouch for. One downside is the recipes can be complicated and time-consuming, with a bit of forward planning necessary. You'd need a fair bit of commitment to eat entirely this way, so presumably the health, taste and vitality benefits are worth it. If you wanted to go deeper into this way of eating and “uncooking”, you’d also benefit from investing in a dehydrator, juicer, powerful food processor and blender, but you'd certainly get use out of them. You don’t have to commit to a raw vegan lifestyle wholly to enjoy The Unbakery. It’s worth it just to expand your cooking repertoire and try a few different flavour combinations with some unfamiliar vegetables and fruits from the Saturday market, and probably investigating the wild foods growing in your area as well. Who knew you could make great-tasting jam from chia seeds, dates, and smashed raspberries? That was much better than the “real" thing, and May promises the rest of it will be too. I’ll be spending the summer finding out. - Naomi
Megan and Jeremy have had numerous articles in major newspapers and magazines. Megan has a regular column in Taste Magazine and has done many appearances on TV, with a feature on Sunday, TV ONE coming soon in 2014.