"The Paleo Approach Cookbook" (Book Review)
Sarah Ballantyne is known as The Paleo Mom and as the co-host of The Paleo View. She is also known for her ability to translate scientific concepts into layman’s terms. This is due in part to her doctorate degree in medical biophysics and in part to her years of personal exploration and experimentation into the relationship between diet and health.
About the Book
Sarah’s first book, The Paleo Approach, looked at this relationship in an in-depth way. It used graphs, charts, and science to guide readers in gaining an understanding of their immune and digestive symptoms, how to determine if they had a problem themselves, and also how to heal those problems through nutrition. The biggest complaint readers had about the book was a lack of a recipe section.
"If you are dealing with some form of autoimmune disease, this book, the science in it, and the recipes it provides could very well change everything for you."
So now, here is the “recipe section” - an entire book full of them, in fact. In what is essentially a sequel to her original book, Sarah shares over 150 recipes. She also provides six weeks worth of meal plans and coordinating shopping lists, with handy pull-out versions to take to the store or post in your kitchen, as well.
Bacon-Apple Chicken Burgers with Maple-Cranberry Sauce
What You'll Find in This Book
Aside from the standard kitchen tips most cookbooks contain, Sarah includes less common, but highly useful information like how to store all these vegetables you’re going to be buying. In fact, there are four pages of guidance on food storage. For someone new to cooking with fresh, whole foods, this is great information that might not be as easy to find or learn as you might think.
Other bits of useful info include how to season cast-iron cookware, how to freeze fresh herbs, and three pages of suggested cooking times for different cuts of meats.
Since this cookbook is oriented around the idea of eliminating autoimmune issues and diseases through diet, it is full of information for those with food sensitivities. In the first part of the book, Sarah includes a detailed outline of how make substitutions for high-FODMAP ingredients. Each recipe also includes tips for those avoiding FODMAPs.
"With just over 150 recipes, Sarah manages to cover a lot of ground and include a massive array of ingredients."
And since part of being healthy and having healthy guts is good nutrition, Sarah also provides the full nutrition facts for each recipe. Everything from macronutrients to vitamins and minerals. This information is almost always lacking in cookbooks, even those intended for healthy eating, so enjoyed getting an idea of my caloric and nutrient intake with these meals.
Rustic Bison Pot Roast
The recipes are divided into the following categories:
- Kitchen Staples
- Breakfast Foods
- Appetizers, Salads, and Snacks
- Soups and Stews
- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Shellfish
- Side Dishes
- Sweet Treats and Beverages
Recipes I tried included:
- Pot Sticker Meatballs
- Rustic Bison Pot Roast
- Bacon-Apple Chicken Burgers With Maple-Cranberry Sauce
- Pork Pie-Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Steak and Kidney Pot Pie
- Balsamic-Roasted Beets
- Spiced Kabocha Squash
Left: Stuffed Acorn Squash; Right: Spiced Kabocha Squash
I enjoyed the recipes in this cookbook, although I wouldn’t say I was blown away by the recipes. But that’s not a bad thing. With just over 150 recipes, Sarah manages to cover a lot of ground and include a massive array of ingredients. Plus, not everybody wants to cook complicated recipes, so while these recipes might not always be gourmet, they are all very approachable for the vast majority of people venturing into their kitchens.
The one drawback to this book would actually be its wide scope. Because Sarah advocates a wide range of foods, and sometimes foods that people might not be used to eating (e.g., calamari or pork jowl), you might not get excited about all the recipes. Or you simply might not have easy access to those type of ingredients.
I would encourage anyone using this cookbook to explore, though. Be open to trying new ingredients and new flavors. How do you know you don’t like offal? Some of Sarah’s recipes might make you change your mind. And seriously, kufu? You may not have heard of it, but you really can’t go wrong in combining plantains and bacon, trust me.
Perfect for Beginners
Like Sarah’s first book, this cookbook is full of colorful graphics. From page to page, the layout stays interesting, colorful, and easy to read. While this is beneficial to anyone seeking to learn more, the presentation lends itself particularly to those who are just beginning their journey toward healing their guts and changing their diets.
"For someone new to cooking with fresh, whole foods, this is great information that might not be as easy to find or learn as you might think."
This book is dense with information - and I mean really dense, with a lot of science - but the layout keeps it from feeling daunting. You could read every word on the page, or you could flip through and look at the variety of tips, insets, and lists and still come away with a ton of new knowledge.
And in the end, I think this cookbook makes for a fantastic first book for someone making a serious exploration into his or her health. If you are dealing with some form of autoimmune disease, this book, the science in it, and the recipes it provides could very well change everything for you. If you read it and really consider what it’s suggesting, it will empower you around your body, your health, and your food.
“The Paleo Approach Cookbook” is available for $26.02 at Amazon.com.