I am always on the lookout for new recipes, and one of the popular diets that often intersects with low-carb cooking is the Paleo Diet. There are new resources for this way of life hitting the market all the time, and our library just received a slew of them. One that we have not yet seen is Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry, Elana being a longtime gluten-free blogger that a friend of mine has enjoyed for years. While we wait, here are three of the latest.
Paleo cookbooks today are more sophisticated than the early attempts, and as such, they are more apt to roam far afield in their use of ingredients, as if avoiding the Deadly Whites (flour, sugar, rice, etc.) is the biggest qualification for the prehistoric digestive system. The Mason & Staley cookbook Gather, for example, is heavy in the use of arrowroot, which boasts 113 grams of carbohydrate per cup. I must ask the question: Did prehistoric man have copious groves of arrowroot growing around the cave? Does arrowroot even grow in groves? Maple syrup, also, seems to have been in abundant supply, so I’m thinking that Paleolithic man must have lived in New England or Canada. Throw in all of the coconut aminos, endive, and macadamia nut oil, and one might conclude that some of these recipes are aimed at your metrosexual-type caveman.
Be that as it may, these are three very different Paleo cookbooks, all useful and one even very elegant. Very nice if you’re bored with roasting your mastodon the same old way every night.
The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way, by Arsy Vartanian. This is a lovely, big cookbook with a picture on almost every two-page spread. The recipes are mostly meat-related, of course, with flavors from around the world: Chinese, Indian, Bulgarian, French, Italian, and so on. By and large, the ingredients are items you work with daily, along with typical Paleo ingredients, such as coconut milk. So many people are lactose-intolerant these days that coconut milk is easily available. I did spot some kaffir lime leaves, though, and I have no idea what those are. Happy hunting. It is a little disconcerting to have the live animal in an adorable picture before each new meat section, particularly the “Aww!”-inspiring lamb, but I guess that keeps us carnivores honest. I really think you crock pot enthusiasts will like this one.
The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley. More than just a cookbook, this is a guide for those who are considering the Paleo Diet and need a primer with 75 recipes attached. A large paperback that begins with inspirational success stories and an explanation of the diet that cover the first 50 pages, this title is a very useful manual with tips, meal plans, and shopping guides. The recipes are laid out on two-page spreads with a picture on each recipe. Can you tell that pictures are important to me? I’ll rarely make a recipe if I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. Very nice recipes with mostly everyday ingredients, although I did spot some Himalayan sea salt on one list. The degree of exotic runs from the simple Smoky Country Ribs to Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Chipotle Aioli. New Paleos will be off to a solid start, and veterans can pick up some great new ideas.
Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley (again). This gorgeous, glossy cookbook fills a real gap in the whole Paleo lifestyle: how to entertain and celebrate occasions with non-Paleo types, all with style and beauty. If The 30 Day Guide is beginner Paleo, this is advanced. Filled with photographs of elegant table settings and jubilant family members, Gather is arranged as a year of occasions: tea parties in spring, a tropical getaway in summer, a spooky supper in the fall, and a hunter-gatherer feast in the winter, just to name a few. After a thoughtful introductory section about planning gatherings in general, each event begins with a description, a menu, and a page of “shopping and preparation,” with instructions for make-ahead details. For example, the “Takeout Fake-Out” has activities for three days ahead, one day ahead, and one hour before dinner. The recipes follow. No problem with a lack of photos of the food here. While most of the recipes contain fairly common ingredients, some do have either seriously Paleo or seriously foodie items. Low carbers beware, too. Lots of arrowroot flour and maple syrup. They do offer substitutions sometimes, though, such as “if you don’t have wahoo,…” or “if you don’t have chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar,….” I don’t, actually, although the vinegar sounds good. This is a fabulous cookbook for those who plan to make the Paleo diet a permanent feature of their lives, but who want to continue to feast with friends and family without feeling limited or deprived. Beautiful.
Disclaimer: I read library copies of all of these cookbooks. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.