With the popularity of paleo-style eating increasing, more and more newcomers are wanting to give it a try. But transitioning to paleo can be overwhelming. It feels less like a transition, and more like a wholesale change of everything you’ve ever eaten and ever done. What if you don’t even spend much time in your kitchen to begin with? And now you have to take pains to shop properly and cook?
The “Real Life Paleo” Solution
Stacy Toth and Matt McCarry are the authors of a new cookbook called Real Life Paleo. As the writing team behind the blog Paleo Parents, they understand how challenging it can be to incorporate paleo eating into a busy lifestyle, especially one with children. So their book represents a three-phase approach to paleo nutrition, with real people and real problems in mind.
When Stacy and Matt applied their approach to themselves and their children, they lost over 200lbs combined and improved their gut health, depression and anxiety, asthma, ADD, and allergies. According to them, their oldest even went from being a problem child in school to the best-behaved kid in his class.
Stacy and Matt felt the popular thirty-day paleo programs were too fast of a transition for their family, so took a slower route. To teach other people how to change their families like they did, they outline three phases:
- Swap – Switch to healthier versions of what you’re eating
- Remove – Eliminate all the non-paleo foods in your diet
- Heal – Add in healthy foods and activities
The book has sections dedicated to each of these phases, designed to walk you through the process and achieve success. Suggestions are given to help make shopping easier and grocery lists are provided. In the swap phase, there is a chart outlining what you might be currently eating and what the “better” and “best” choices are for replacements. They also provide ideas on how to eat out without getting frustrated, going hungry, or giving in.
Navigating the Kitchen as a Beginner
As the head of a busy household, you might not be currently spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Or maybe you’ve just never enjoyed spending time in the kitchen. Learning cooking skills can be an obstacle for anyone trying paleo.
To help you overcome that obstacle, this book includes a lot of tips on how to prepare foods, how to save time preparing foods, and how to put whole meals together using the recipes in the book. The meal ideas even include information on what you can make ahead of time and what you can do with the leftovers.
“My experience of the recipes was that they were simple, easy to understand, and generally easy to put together.”
The meal ideas and plans are also all organized by which phase of the three-phase plan they fall under. So you can easily coordinate your progress with the appropriate meals. You can also download coordinating shopping lists for each plan.
At the back of the book, you’ll find handy pullout guides you can post in your kitchen as reminders to help you learn all the ins and outs of paleo. There are also a few pages that contain charts outlining which recipes are egg free, nut free, and/or nightshade free.
LEFT: Juicy Pot Roast; CENTER: Creamed Kale; RIGHT: Not Beanie Weenies
What You’ll Find
There are 175 recipes in this book, covering a broad range of foods. At the start of each recipe chapter, a chart indicates which recipes take under thirty minutes, have fewer than five ingredients, are one pot, are good for holidays, or are on-the-go. Even though I work from home and don’t have kids, I still found that information useful. Some days you just don’t have the time or don’t want to deal with dishes.
The recipes are divided into the following categories:
- Condiments, Sauces, and Dips
- Snacks and On-the-Go
- Childhood Favorites
- Sweets and Treats
Recipes I tried included:
- Apple and Pumpkin Butters
- Carolina Style Sauce
- Not Beanie Weenies
- Creamed Kale
- Juicy Pot Roast
- Mongolian Beef
- Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
- Brisket With Onion Jam
- Creamy Coconut Chocolate Chip Macaroons
My experience of the recipes was that they were simple, easy to understand, and generally easy to put together. The Mongolian Beef was probably the most complicated recipe of the ones I tried, and even that wasn’t too daunting at all.
My husband and I enjoyed every one of the recipes, and we got a real kick out of the Not Beanie Weenies, I must say. We might not have kids, but we still enjoyed the “Childhood Favorites” plenty. And even though I’m technically done testing out this cookbook, I still have a number of recipes I plan to try. The Green Onion and Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese is calling to me.
My only pet peeve with this book was the lack of time estimates on the recipes. While recipes that take under thirty minutes are marked, there is no other indication of how long anything might take. This is one of the first things I check when preparing to cook, so I can plan out my day and not wind up eating dinner at midnight, so it would have been nice information to have.
This is a great general cookbook for anyone new to paleo, but its strength really lies in its orientation toward the family. Throughout the book, Stacy and Matt revisit the idea of enrolling your kids into this whole paleo process. They provide ideas on healthy family activities, as well as tips on how to get your kids on board with the food itself. So if you’re looking to transform not only yourself, but everyone in your household, this book would be a good choice.
“Real Life Paleo” is available for $25.98 at Amazon.com.
You’ll Also Enjoy: