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.