04 August 2012

Book Review: Practical Paleo. The Missing Manual Is Now Out


The basic idea of paleo diets and lifestyles is that man evolved eating foods and with activity patterns different from what most of us have today. Many of the foods we eat and the activities we pursue today and for that last 10,000 years (since the dawn of agriculture) are not good for us. (More accurately, do not provide optimal health). With some changes to our lifestyles, we can achieve robust or optimal health.

I have mentioned in some of my previous posts on nutrition that paleo style eating is probably a good path, and I continue to believe that. Many people have trouble actually implementing the approach. They have recipe books that call for added sugar, or breading, or the oils called for in the recipes are not healthful ones.

Now Diane Sanfilppo has written a book called Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle. It is the missing manual for Paleo.

Bottom Line - E4E Take:

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle  by Diane Sanfilippo contains the why, what, and how of a paleo, ancestral-style diet. It is well-organized, beautiful to behold, and contains a ton of great information.

Even if you do not buy into the whole paleo movement, you can't go wrong with this book. Robb Wolf does the foreword. I think he is a highly principled person who would not put his mark on anything less than a top-rate product. It has 30-day meal plans for various goals, and all the recipes and ingredient lists you need to back it up. And keep in mind that paleo is not about caveman re-enactment, the main point is to eat healthful, natural foods that are nutritionally dense. That is not a fad diet. It's a good diet.

The book seems aimed especially at newbies to paleo, but even people who have been paleo for a while will benefit from the meal plans (and the lifestyle suggestions) and the recipes.

I notice that the macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) ratios she recommends are pretty consistent with what I have recommended in the past (I recommended a bit more protein and less fat than she does). So maybe I like it because of confirmation bias, but more interesting is that Diane gets there by concentrating on food quality rather than macronutrients.

This book is a tour de force. I am ordering copies for my my kids and some friends. Buy pre-release and you get a discount.

Full disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book pre-release at no charge. I recognize that this can induce a bias. I have no financial or other interest in the success of the book unless you click the links to Amazon in the post, and even then it would amount to less than $1.00.

If you do want to order this (or any) book, I encourage you to go to Latest in Paleo scroll down a little and launch your Amazon search session with the keywords "Practical Paleo" from there. He does a really good service to the paleo community and we might as well give him a buck instead of Amazon.

The Book:

Diane Sanfilippo of the BalancedBites website has released a new book called Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle.

The book is gorgeous, and even just thumbing through the book you are guaranteed to learn something.

It contains everything you need to know about living a more healthy life following paleo/ancestral principles.

Following is a rundown of the table of contents with some commentary:

There are three parts to the book.

Part 1: The Why - Food and Your Body
What is Paleo
Everything We've Been Taught About Good Nutrition is Wrong
Paleo at Home: Shopping for Groceries - includes some great lists of foods that are considered paleo and information about their quality
Paleo in Public: Restaurants and Parties
On the Go: On the Road or in the Air
Your Digestive System
Is Your Gut Leaky?
Blood Sugar Regulation
Frequently Asked Questions

In Part 1, Diane talks about what paleo is, why conventional recommendations are flawed, and provides a bunch of practical tips for shopping eating out, and what to do when you're not at home. Then she goes into some detail on the science of why it is important, specifically dealing with digestive/gut health and blood sugar regulation and how those are in turn related to cardiovascular health, neurological damage, etc.

She talks a lot about questions and potential objections to paleo, including calcium, fiber, anti-nutrients, inflammation,  and cholesterol. She has good references including Robb Wolf, Mat Lalonde, Alessio Fasano, and Chris Kresser (among others) and information. I believe that the science is good.

Part 2: 30-Day Meal Plans
Autoimmune Conditions
Blood Sugar Regulation
Digestive Health
Thyroid Health
Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue
Neurological Health
Heart Health
Cancer Recovery
Athletic Performance
Fat Loss
Squeaky Clean Paleo

Each of these sections contains information on overall diet and lifestyle recommendations (what to include and avoid), supplements and herbs to consider, important nutrients, then 30 days of three meals per day. These are not necessarily 90 unique meals, she does include leftovers.

The practical approach of targeting specific issues is innovative and very useful.

Part 3: Recipes
Kitchen Basics
Beef & Bison
Sides & Salads
Sauces & Dips
Treats & Sweets

Recipes are about half of the book with almost 200 pages (over 120 recipes). We have tried a few of them at home and so far, so good. Our favorite is the Italian-style stuffed peppers. I am confident that we will cook many meals form this book over time. The photography is excellent.

The author's FAQ can be found here.

Diane has:
a blog, Balanced Bites
a facebook page, and
a twitter account. ( @balancedbites )


14 January 2012

Book Review - Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen

This is my first book review on e4e.

Full disclaimer: I received the book as a gift from the authors. They offered a copy to volunteers at the recent Ancestral Health Symposium. I have no financial or other interest in the success of the book unless you click the link to Amazon at the bottom of the post.
If you do want to order this (or any) book, I encourage you to go to Latest in Paleo scroll down a little and launch your Amazon search session with the keywords "Paleo Comfort Foods" from there. He does a really good service to the paleo community and we might as well give him a buck instead of Amazon.

I have no conflict of interest, but there is a possible bias. They were very kind to offer this book for free, with no strings attached, but with encouragement to review the book on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. so I am well-disposed to the book in the first place.

Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen

One of the challenges with following a low carb, paleo, or any unusual diet is the social aspect of it. There are always recipe books available, but in the end, the food is just... different. This book "Paleo Comfort Foods" gives us a way around that. The recipes yield highly palatable food that look normal. They do this by substituting  ingredients like almond or coconut flour for normal flour found in standard recipe books.

This book is excellent. The food recommendations are aligned pretty well with the e4e recommendations. It has a lot of foods that look like standard comfort foods. Your Aunt Mildred from Dubuque would recognize most of the dishes. However, what she wouldn't know is that those mashed potatoes are really cauliflower, and that the breading on the chicken is almond flour. If you want to follow a paleo diet (stay away from grains, added sugars, and processed seed oils) yet still wish to function in a world of people who do not follow that way of eating, this book provides a perfect bridge.

It is an impressive book. The photos are beautiful. The cover has a photo of fried chicken, mixed vegetables and what looks like mashed potatoes and gravy. But looks can be deceiving. The mashed potatoes are cauliflower, the fried chicken has an almond flour coating and was fried in coconut oil.

It is not a low carb cookbook per se, but rather is good real food, with carbohydrates coming mainly from vegetables, fruit, and root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes.

The book is in six sections
1. starters and snacks: examples - spicy salmon salad or dip, devilish eggs, maryland crab cakes, bacon-wrapped dates
2. sauces and staples: chimichurri, not peanut sauce, paleo mayonaisse, cave ketchup, turkey gravy
3. soups and salads: creamy caesar salad, gingered butternut squash salad, chicken tomatillo stew
4. on the side: mashed cauliflower; creamed spinach; scattered, smothered and chunked sweet hash, sweet potato spears, dirty cauliflower "rice"
5. main dishes: green eggs and turkey, ham and egg cups, chicken breasts with mushroom sauce, chicken enchiladas, fried chicken, cedar-plank chipotle salmon
6. desserts: banana nut bread, strawberry shortcakes, jules' banana pudding, sweet potato pie, luscoius lemon squares

Also Robb Wolf does the foreword, there is a section on foods to keep around the house, and a section on essential kitchen tools.

Bottom Line: We have tried a half dozen recipes from this book. All have been great.  (One suggestion though--if you make the decadent chocolate cake with a kick, dial back a little on the pepper). I heartily recommend this book.

A few final words:
Kurt Harris of the Archevore blog might disapprove of this book as being akin to smoking candy cigarettes. That is by creating food in the form of unhealthy foods we encourage people around us to eat those unhealthy foods. From a purist standpoint, I see where he's coming from. But sometimes, we just don't want to have to explain our choices to people.