Book Review: "The Paleo Slow Cooker" by Arsy Vartanian
I knew when I was flipping through my copy of The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and it fell open to the Fesenjan recipe that I was going to love this cookbook. Arsy is the creator of Rubies & Radishes (a Breaking Muscle Top 10 Fitness Blog winner) and The Paleo Slow Cooker is her first foray in the world of paleo cookbooks. It is a gorgeous hardcover that includes 125 recipes and a primer on paleo nutrition.
Paleo cookbooks sometimes fall into the trap of being a collection of grilled meats and veggies with some sort of bacon-mocha concoction of a dessert tagged onto the end. This book is as far from that as is physically possible. If you’re looking for recipes to keep paleo “interesting” then this is the book for you. This is a multi-cultural cookbook with Asian, Persian, Mediterranean, Southern, and Latin dishes, covering everything from finger-food appetizers, to main courses, to side dishes, to desserts. A number of the recipes are Arsy's paleo take on family recipes passed down by mother.
But don’t get nervous that “interesting” also means “difficult.” The recipes in this cookbook couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Though Arsy almost always recommends browning meat before throwing it into the slow cooker, for the most part preparation of these meals is quick and easy. In fact, the recipes are great for impressing friends and family, because they will never believe preparing dinner was as simple as it actually was.
Some of the recipes I tried included:
- Beef and Bok Choy
- Oxtail Soup
- Paleo Beef Casserole
- Fesenjan (Persian Chicken with Pomegranate and Walnut)
- Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce
- Ropa Vieja
- Pork Chops in Fig Sauce
- Cauliflower Chicken Curry
- Red Cabbage and Apple
- Paleo Banana Coconut Foster
Literally with every recipe my fiancé would say, “This is the best thing you’ve made yet!” And there are still easily another twenty recipes that I intend to try. I know without a doubt that a number of these dishes will become staples in my weekly meal planning.
Now, to the part of the review I don’t actually want to write. This book is not well edited, and it’s really a shame. For a book that at first glance appears rather luxurious, it seems that care was not taken by the publishers to proofread it properly. There are numerous typos and errors. While this might not seem like a big deal, when it happens in the middle of a recipe – directions being confusing or out of order, or cooking temperature being omitted - it can leave you mystified as to what the next step needs to be.
Given that I have a fair number of hours in the kitchen at this point, I was able to navigate my way around the editing issues. I am not sure how it might feel for someone new to the kitchen, though. Similarly, the recipes in the book include a lot of nightshades, and while mention is made that some people may want to reduce or eliminate nightshades, it would have been useful to provide more specific direction on how to handle reducing nightshades while keeping the integrity of the recipe. But that’s a pretty small and specific issue that won’t affect most people.
And as frustrating as the lack of proper proofreading might be at times in this book, I would hate to have it be a reason for someone not to purchase it. Part of the frustration it caused for me was simply because I felt the content of this cookbook was so wonderful that the presentation didn't do it justice. So, if any of you buy this book feel free to email me or Facebook me for interpretation of anything you don’t understand. Seriously. The recipes are amazing and they’re worth any bit of momentary confusion.
"The Paleo Slow Cooker" is available for $15.84 at Amazon.com.