TPM Tidbit: Mini-Review of Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower

October 12, 2012 in Categories: , by

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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 second of six mini-reviews that I will be posting over the next two weeks.

Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower, the blogger behind growinguppaleo.com, contains 84 paleo recipes that are prepared in a slow cooker.  Wait, a cookbook of just slow cooker recipes?  Really?  Yes!  And that makes this one of the most valuable paleo cookbooks out there for anyone who finds the time commitment that paleo cooking requires challenging (isn’t that all of us?).

The book starts off with an excellent forward written by Robb Wolf that explains all of the benefits to slow cooking:

  • it requires very little time (or your time) to prepare the food (although you do have to plan ahead)
  • it allows you to cook inexpensive ingredients (like cheaper cuts of meat) which is perfect for tight budgets
  • it requires minimal cooking skills
  • it is a cooking-method that preserves nutrients, increases digestibility and avoids production of some of the carcinogens and oxidants that can be produced with high-temperature cooking methods.

The book walks you through the basics of slow cooking, from how to choose a slow cooker, to the types of meat, vegetables, spices and fats that work well for slow cooking, to how to chop vegetables.  A second section written by Robb Wolf goes into more details about how slow cooking increases digestibility and preserves nutrients.  Then, we get into the recipes!

The recipes are very clearly laid out.  The directions are thorough and easy to follow (although every once in a while there is a vague direction like “cook sweet potatoes the night before”).  The ingredients lists are clean, healthy, paleo, often on the lower carbohydrate end of the spectrum although not intentionally low-carb, but with the occasional use of high sugar pre-made sauces, which seems a little contradictory.  The book also uses many spice blends, especially Penzeys spices, and a few specialty ingredients, which not everyone keeps in their pantry.  Each page lists tools you will need in addition to your slow cooker (there are often steps like browning meat or caramelizing onions that are done on the stove-top first), the number of servings, the amount of your time you will spend preparing food (most recipes are under 10 minutes, but several require 40 minutes) and the cooking time in the slow cooker.  Each page also has a handy little area for you to write any notes (say if you choose to experiment with substitutions or additions).  Did I mention that the photography is beautiful and makes my mouth water just to flip through the pages of this cookbook?

If you are expecting a cookbook full of differently seasoned stews and pot roasts, think again.  There are recipes for foods in this cookbook that I had no idea you could cook in a crockpot!  Paleo Slow Cooking starts off with 6 different breakfast dishes, ranging from frittatas to sausage hash to paleo porridge!  Yes, there are soups and stews, but the flavors range from classic chicken soup to clam chowder to minestrone to Indian lamb stew (and everywhere in between!).  The 35 main dish recipes range from meatloaf, to orange maple glazed pork chops, to whole chicken, to short ribs, to stuffed artichokes, to Asian chicken wraps!  Even butternut squash lasagna!  Okay, so not all of the side dish recipes are actually prepared in a slow cooker, but they still retain the simplicity and approachability of the rest of the recipes.  And last, but certainly no least, Paleo Slow Cooking has recipes for 5 different paleo desserts that can be prepared in a slow cooker!  And let me just say that the “tempting chocolate cake” is exactly that: tempting (although once again I have to complain about the use of baking powder in paleo baking recipes)!

Paleo Slow Cooking is a perfect paleo cookbook for anyone who needs recipes that don’t require much time investment (as long as you like to plan ahead!) and for anyone struggling to prepare paleo foods on a tight budget.  It’s also a great starting point for anyone new to cooking.  This may not be my style of cooking, but definitely a useful cookbook for many!

Comments

I also have this book and there are really some great recipes in it. One thing I did discover while making things from this book was the issue with lead in the ceramic slow cooker inserts. This really surprised me, and has led me to reconsider the use of a slow cooker with a ceramic insert as I’m concerned about my family and young children’s health. I’m still looking for alternative slow cooker options.

Briefest review ever: I’ve managed to make 3 items in this contraption. As a slow cooker, made Beef Stew, which was really good. Tried as a pressure cooker on creamy tomato soup, not so good (I don’t think the coconut milk went well with the tomato) and beef bone broth, cooked 2 hours, OK. I think as a slow cooker this will work well, though it has a 10 hour limit on the timer (which is not so limiting, as I’ve found some slow cookers that have no timer and turn off when ‘done’). As a pressure cooker, there is definitely potential, but it’s going to take some trial and error to get the timing right. My bone broth came out OK, but the gelatin seems to have broken down by the hight heat and not as rich as my usual 24 hours batches.

A big plus is that clean up is much easier than with a traditional slow cooker. The insert is much lighter than ceramic, fits in the sink and dishwasher and will also fit in the fridge.

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