I recently acquired a large selection of new paleo and gluten-free cookbooks (thanks to Victory Belt Publishing!). I do not have time to thoroughly review them all (I normally like to make 4-6 recipes from a cookbook before writing a comprehensive review); but at the same time, I really want to provide my opinions on these books to those of you trying to figure out which paleo cookbook will give you the most bang for your buck. I have settled on providing mini-reviews. This is the third of six mini-reviews that I will be posting over the next two weeks.
Following a brief section summarizing the basic principles of a paleo diet, including a very nicely laid-out chart of paleo foods, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook begins with advice on how to reconnect as a family, how to set priorities to put family time first, and how to make more room for play, laughter and love in your life. Sarah’s psychology background shines through her recommendations and through the subsequent section on understanding kids.
Many people will find the section on packing lunches (for both kids and grown-ups) to be extremely valuable. Sarah shares some general advice, her favorite lunch boxes (spoiler alert: her favorite is Planet Box), and 15 sample school lunches (with page numbers where that lunch uses a recipe from the book).
Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook then has a section titled Quick and Simple Meal Ideas. This is what we all need to make paleo fit into our busy lives. Sarah first provides 20 simple food preparation suggestions to help make food come together quickly at suppertime (like remembering to have some defrosted meat ready to go and keeping sauces or seasoning mixes premade in the fridge). Fifteen very simple recipes for fast, simple meals are included in this section with brief descriptions on how to bring these meals together (these aren’t full recipes so much as general guidelines). These include paleo tacos, hamburger patties, a couple of stir fries and salads, and a couple of slow cooker recipes that would be very fast to throw together in the morning.
Continuing with the practical application of eating paleo, Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook includes a list of items to keep in your pantry, a one week meal plan with a shopping list, and a guide for eating paleo on a tight budget.
Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook contains 79 recipes (not including the 15 suggested quick and simple meals in the front matter). These recipes are divided into 6 sections:
- Sauces and Dips (14 different recipes, including: ketchup, cauliflower hummus, mayonnaise, salad dressings, and BBQ sauce)
- Slow Cooker Recipes (4 different recipes, nothing to compete with Paleo Slow Cooking)
- Soups and Stews (7 recipes, including: basic chicken broth, seafood chowder, and two different chili recipes)
- Meaty Meals (23 recipes, including: ribs, stuffing, meat salads, a variety of chicken and seafood dishes, sloppy joes, spaghetti, mini meatloaves, and some ethnic dishes. I am most intrigued by the recipe for Pear and Ground Pork-Stuffed Winter Squash and can’t wait to try this recipe.)
- Egg Dishes (6 recipes, including a couple that I think are very innovative)
- Sides, Salads and Small Plates (19 recipes, including some very appealing looking ones like turkey “sushi” rolls, no potato salad, carrot French fries, and zucchini sticks)
- Fruity Creations and Treats (6 recipes, including one muffin recipe, one cookie recipe, one pie recipe, and three fruit dishes).
This is the third cookbook in a row that I have reviewed that contains approximately 80 recipes. This makes a little sense with the specialty cookbooks I recently reviewed (Paleo Indulgences and Paleo Slow Cooking), but it feels a little light for a general cookbook–especially compared to the over 200 recipes in Make It Paleo, 135 recipes in Paleo Comfort Foods, and over 100 recipes each in both Eat Like A Dinosaur and Well Fed, which are all outstanding competitors to this book. Even Practical Paleo, which I recommend predominantly as a resource book, contains over 120 recipes.
This is a cookbook of “everyday” staples, casual and relatively simple, although surprisingly few classic dishes (there are recipes for roast chicken, ribs, wings, burgers, and seafood chowder). The recipes provide a good cross-section of types of meats and vegetables, cooked in fairly simple and unintimidating ways. Very few of the recipes strike me as being particularly original or inventive (although a handful of the recipes do seem very innovative, which is awesome, and I’ve made sure to mention those recipes above). The target audience of this book is families, but the recipes don’t strike me as particularly child-friendly, although also not particularly “grown-up only”. I guess this means that if you kids are good eaters, they will probably eat these meals. If they’re picky, this book isn’t going to magically fix that. And perhaps a recipe that lies somewhere in the middle of kid-friendly and grown-up only is really the whole point.
Clearly, I am a cookbook addict. It is very difficult for me to not completely love a cookbook. I have an extensive collection of paleo and SAD cookbooks and they always seem worth the investment to me (even if I only ever follow a couple of recipes from them). If you already own Make It Paleo, Paleo Comfort Foods, Eat Like A Dinosaur, and Well Fed, then Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook will be a great addition to your collection. However, if you’re looking for a cookbook to get you and your family started on your paleo journey, you will find more variety and more recipes for your investment in one of the above-mentioned paleo cookbooks.