"Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple" (Book Review)
Danielle Walker is the author of one of my all-time favorite paleo cookbooks, Against All Grain. It remains one of the best general-purpose cookbooks when it comes to paleo, and it’s filled with delightful flavors and recipes.
So imagine how excited I was when I heard Danielle was coming out with a sequel. A cookbook sequel! Last time I got so excited over a cookbook sequel it was the second Paleo Comfort Foods book from the Mayfields and, trust me, if you haven’t checked that one out, that’s a sequel worth paying for as well.
Oh, there, I’ve let out my thoughts on this book already. In a nutshell: it’s totally worth buying.
Danielle Walker’s Unique Perspective
Danielle, unlike some of the other popular paleo cookbook writers hitting the scene, is self-trained. Self-trained out of necessity, that is. Danielle was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when she was 22 and was facing a life sentence of hospital visits and medications.
Instead of accepting this fate, she turned to food. She felt the food she was consuming must be involved in her health, for better or worse. She began with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and evolved to eating paleo over time.
Because of all this, you’ll see in this book that not only are the recipes grain-free and gluten-free, but she also indicates which contain eggs, tree nuts, and nightshades, as well as those that are approved for those on the SCD. In this regard, her book is sensitive to those with various food allergies and issues, and not just those choosing to go paleo.
The objective of Meals Made Simple is clear from the title. Danielle was inspired by a brief stay with a family suffering from severe autoimmune disease. She saw how eating paleo helped them, but also how they struggled with the preparation and planning of meals. So not only are the recipes clear-cut in this book, but Danielle also includes eight weeks worth of meal plans and shopping lists to make the whole process easier.
Inside the Book
When I review a cookbook, I usually share a list of the chapters so people can see what topics and types of recipes are covered. This book has such a wide-range of information it covers that a list just wouldn’t be practical to do here. I will say that pretty much any question you could ask - from how to stock your kitchen, to how to equip your kitchen, to how to shop for food - is all answered at some point in the book and most likely accompanied by a cool chart or graph, as well.
And my not listing out the recipe chapters has nothing to do with the quality of the food. The recipes are great. If you peruse Amazon, you may see people complaining they are simple. Which is funny, you know, ‘cause that’s the title - Meals Made Simple. So it seems an odd thing to complain about, and to me, is actually the strength of the book. The food is easy to make, includes a variety of flavors from all over the world, and tastes great.
Recipes I tried included:
- Garlic-Herb Chicken Thighs
- Ginger Chicken and Broccoli
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Chicken Curry
- Beef Stroganoff
- Chipotle Barbacoa
- Slow Cooker Braised Pork Shoulder
- Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Cumin-Garlic Summer Squash
- Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
- Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Meal Plans, Shopping Lists, and Indexes
For those intimidated by going paleo, the meal plans in this book are a great place to start. I love the fact that they are created with photos of the meals, so you can see how appetizing eating these recipes will be. The plans are also organized in terms of using up everything on the associated shopping list and ordering the meals in terms of what will perish first.
In the back of the book are tear-out pages of the shopping lists, so you can take them with you to the store. I would recommend you photocopy them first and use the photocopies. I know what my shopping list looks like by the end of an outing and if you want to revisit these meals plans, you’ll want to use these lists more than once.
Additional Great Things
- Visual guide to which recipes are egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free, or SCD
- Visual guide to which recipes are thirty-minute, one-pot, or slow cooker recipes
- Photo index of recipes
- Tear-out food guides for beginner paleo grocery shoppers
In the end, I would still recommend Danielle’s first book over this one to someone looking for his or her first paleo cookbook. And if you’re a foodie looking for niche recipes, this cookbook won’t be for you either. But if you’re someone who wants to make a difference in your nutrition and just wants a whole plan handed to you that you could follow, then this book would be a wise option for you indeed.
And, really, a cook of any level of ability couldn’t go wrong with this new book in any way. Danielle clearly has a talent for creating fabulous recipes, and in this second book she showcases her ability to create those flavors in simple and efficient ways. Even those of us who are experienced cooks or complete foodies still enjoy nights where it doesn’t take so long to cook. For me, in my continually growing library of paleo cookbooks, this one is going on the eye-level shelf for frequent reference.
“Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple” is available for $20.97 at Amazon.com.