Pros: Well illustrated, lots of menu suggestions, easy recipes
Cons: no bread recipes, no nutrient information listed
This past year my husband wanted to try the Paleo (short for Paleolithic) Diet. I am never keen on the latest diet fads. They come and go so quickly. And often are so quickly invalidated by the “latest” latest science. So I started to do my research and where did I start, you might ask? Cookbooks, of course. In all seriousness the foundation of paleo is based on what we do anyway, which is eating whole foods. I must say right off, this review isn’t on the pros or cons of the diet, but the cookbook itself. I have searched and read through many paleo books but Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo is the first one I really liked. Diane presents all the many different foods that are permitted on the diet and goes on to explain why they are important for you to eat them.
This isn’t a wimpy paperback, but a hefty 8.5 by 10.5-inch beauty complete with sturdy pages to hold up to all your cooking exploits. It is very well illustrated with each recipe having a colored photograph. The first part of the book is a comprehensive reference for the basis of the Paleo Diet. I really like to see menu suggestions and Diane has supplied you with several sets of 30-day menu suggestions depending on what your focus for healthy eating is going to be. For instance you may have a Thyroid problem, or an autoimmune condition. In this case you simply go to that section and see what foods are particularly healthful for you. For those of you that just want some basic healthy menu suggestions there are 30 days of menu suggestions for that as well. Halfway through the book is where the recipes actually begin.
Testing the recipes was enjoyable. Since the basis of Paleo is hunter/gatherer, all the ingredients can be easily found in your local grocery store. What Diane has done is taken basic foods we tend to prepare the same way over and over again and breathed new life into them. She transformed a rather mundane quiche into a whimsical “Swirly Crustless Quiche” which I loved. I had many “Aha” moments as I went through the recipes and looked at the presentations. The food is simple, but beautiful. What I also found was that the serving sizes were generous. In particular was the recipe for “Italian Style Stuffed Peppers.” Although it is difficult to say what actual sized peppers she used, I had enough stuffing left over to stuff two more half shells! My husband happily ate up the extra as I was contemplating what I would use it for. Thinking back, it would make a good omelet the next morning. Another yummy recipe was “Grandma Barbara’s Stuffed Mushrooms.” Again, I had extra stuffing left over. I enjoyed making the “Pepita Goji Berry Bark,” as well. It turned out great. The one thing I would have liked would be a bread section using the different flours that are acceptable on the Paleo plan, such as coconut and nut based flours.
To sum it all up if you are looking for a Paleo cookbook, then I suggest you try this one first. The recipes are very straight forward and easy to understand. There is even a section on how to chop different vegetables in case you need a nice refresher. This book is written towards the beginner to intermediate cook. Although for anyone looking for some fresh ways to cook whole foods, this will be a nice addition. Sadly, Paleo diets don’t include beans and are big on animal protein, so for my vegetarian friends out there I suggest you peruse it at the library first.
Swirly Crustless Quiche
1 large zucchini, shredded or grated and strained
2 large carrots, shredded or grated
1 teaspoon Rosemary-Sage Salt (Recipe Below)* optional
12 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, bacon grease, or coconut oil.
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Strain the zucchini with a cheese cloth or strainer bag. (This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but will help to yield a better consistency in your quiche.)
- Mix together the zucchini, carrots, Rosemary-Sage Salt, and eggs in a large bowl, and then set aside.
- Grease a 9 inch x 13 inch baking dish with butter, and pour the egg mixture into the pan. For a swirled effect, use a fork to create a circular pattern before baking.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the edges are brown. The quiche will puff up while baking and then deflate when removed from the oven.
*For the athletes out there, try adding shredded sweet potato to this recipe for an added kick of “Good Carbs.”
Herb & Lemon Salt Blends
Yield ½ cup
Creating a blend of your favorite herbs with sea salt is an easy way to keep big flavor on-hand to add to any dish in a pinch (literally). Use a coarse, unrefined, mineral-rich salt (either white or grey). You can often find these salts in bulk at a grocery co-op, online, or even at your local grocery store.
1 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon peel, etc.)
½ cup coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 250F or the lowest setting (a “warm” setting will work, too.)
- Spread individual herbs on their own baking sheets, and dry in the oven until they break apart when handled between your fingers. This takes roughly 4 hours.
- Using a food processor or a mortar and pestle, grind dried herbs and salt to your desired consistency. Re-dry the herb salt in the oven if there is any remaining moisture.
- Store the herb salt in glass jars in a cool, dry place.