Paleo Soups & Stews

a review

OK, my new favorite paleo cookbook arrived in the mail today: Paleo Soups & Stews, the newest offering by Simone Miller of Zenbelly fame, who began her culinary career as a ‘soup line cook’.

paleo-soups-and-stews-cover

I’m a huge fan of soup and have quite a collection of low-carb and paleo soups and stews in my own recipe files. This book, however, isn’t just another 100+ paleo recipes, many of which are also low-carb, it is a veritable gold mine of ideas and tips and important info for serious soup-a-holics, like me.

And I love the way it is organized.

It begins with a short treatise good explanation of the basics, the various techniques you’ll use, how best to season, what tools you’ll use. (Now here, I might quibble just a tad with her omission of a sous vide water oven, but on that point I’ll admit to a soupçon of bias.) Then soups by type, beginning with great recipes for every sort of broth — roasted vegetable, beef, pork, dashi, fish, mushroom, shrimp, pho and a whole lot more.  There are even recipes for dairy-free, cream-like agents, such as cashew cream, flax milk, and yogurt for those paleo devotees who eliminate dairy. And things to put ‘in the soup’ such as noodles, ‘on the soup’ garnishes and textural additions, and ‘on the side’ go-withs, such as grain-free and relatively lower carb versions of baguettes, croutons, rolls, drop biscuits, breadsticks, and crackers These rely chiefly on almond flour and cassava flour, the latter of which while not particularly low carb, at about 75 grams to the cup, is at least somewhat lower than the 93 grams for wheat flour and without the gluten. These I’d view as treats, not staples, but it’s always nice to have a treat now and again to look forward to.

If you are a soup lover, like me, you’ll want to make room for this must-have addition to your cookbook shelf!

Paleo Pastries and Desserts? The Perfect Holiday Gift

A Review of My Paleo Patisserie

Here come the holidays! And with them the mine field that is traditional baked goods. Right now it is the Thanksgiving/Christmas/ Channukah spate of annual feasts of fall and winter, but it could mean ANY feast from Easter to the Fourth of July! For those of us who subscribe to the low-carb or paleo way, baked goods have become a dim and distant, if pleasant, memory. Until now.

My Paleo Patisserie coverPastry maker and blogger Jenni Hulet’s book My Paleo Patisserie: An Artisan Approach to Grain Free Baking changes all that. And just in time for the holidays!

A lifelong love of feeding those you love delicious food, a couple of decades of pastry experience, and a serious acute autoimmune attack that resulted in major dietary changes inspired a cookbook that offers comfort and joy to the paleo devotee and, in the main, to the low carb faithful as well. In it you’ll find…

Eclairs and cream puffs.

Ganache and glazes.

Cakes and cookies.

Tarlets and tortes.

Linzer cookies and ladyfingers! … and more!

Oh my!

There are even a few savory pastries to round things out!

Filled with helpful baking tips on what to use and how to use it, gorgeous photos of the finished masterpieces, and well-organized content, it’s a delight to pore through.

The recipes, themselves, are founded mainly on almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot flour with sweetening power primarily coming from honey and maple sugar. While they aren’t strictly low carb, they’re almost all certainly much lower carb than their traditional counterparts. And certainly made of better, more nourishing ingredients.  Perfect for a bit of holiday indulgence without a boatload of post-holiday remorse!

If holiday baking is on your To Do list in coming weeks, pick up a copy and go Paleo for dessert!

And lest the meat lovers on your shopping list feel slighted, here is a list of books they’ll enjoy!

Craving Chinese? Try Paleo Take Out

Review

Paleo Take Out coverRecently, I received a review copy of Russ Crandall’s newest paleo offering, called Paleo Take Out: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk. It was charmingly packaged with a couple of pairs of branded chop sticks and a marketing piece designed to look like a Chinese take-out menu. If you’re a lover of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Indian foods, but have eschewed them, since adopting a paleo lifestyle, here’s your chance to indulge in a pretty guilt free fashion.
The recipes in Paleo Take Out sometimes use a bit of honey (which, though the author would disagree, could in theory be replaced by more stringent low-carbers in most instances with a bit of xylitol or stevia or eliminated altogether if added sweetness wasn’t key to the dish) and some thickening starches, potatoes, yams, and rice, but in most instances, the author gives some great substitutions for those.

All your take-out favorites are here: Moo Goo Gai Pan, Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Pork, Pepper Steak, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Dashi, Kibchi, Kalbi, Tom Kha Gai, Lamb Vindaloo, more. And, for me, the piece de resistance… a good recipe for Hot and Sour Soup, which all by itself is worth the price of admission!

In short, this one is a keeper!

Mr. Crandall is also the author of another one of my paleo favorite cookbooks, The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle, that I confess I have long meant to review and somehow hadn’t gotten around to. I intend to do that soon.

Homegrown Paleo

In Disney’s movie Frozen, Elsa famously asked Anna, ‘Do you wanna build a snowman?’ For me, better lyrics would be ‘Do you wanna build a farm?’ and my answer would be a resounding ‘YES!’ Ever since I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve longed to build my own ‘Polyface’ farm. I dream of happy chickens laying eggs and pecking about their mobile pens, fat pigs (Mangalitsas, of course) foraging for acorns in the oak woods, sleek cows grazing in lush pastures, orchards and vines hanging with fruit, and colorful veggies and herbs in neat, tended rows in the garden. To me, it would be Eden itself, but it isn’t where my life is right now or may ever be.

Homegrown Paleo coverThat dream was rekindled with the arrival the other day of a review copy of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Healthy Food by Diana Rodgers with Andrew Rodgers. This beautiful book is misnamed as a cookbook, although it is certainly that, with over 100 delicious gluten-free, farm-to-table recipes, arranged seasonally as the crops come in. The second title tells the bigger story — it is a complete guide to how to care for and manage livestock, keep bees, build coops and hutches, and grow your own paleo foods, whether you have a patio container garden or some land. She gives sustainable farm layouts suitable for as little as 1/8 acre or 1/4 acre, or 1/2 acre or a full acre. I have a full acre, actually a bit more, and don’t think it hasn’t got me to thinking about what I could do in my backyard!

The paleo recipes, alone, are worth the price of the book even if you have no ‘Green-Acres-is-the-place-to-be; farm-livin’-is-the-life-for-me!’ aspirations. But if, like me, you do have a just a touch of a ‘keep-Manhattan-just-give-me-that-countryside’ streak in you, you must get this book!

6 Books for the Low Carb Meat Lover

If you’re looking for that last minute, but perfect gift for the carnivore in your life, here are some of my favorites:
 
 

Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda and Carolyn Carreno

 
Meat Pat LaFrieda Cookbook image
Mike just got me this one for my birthday and it’s fabulous! From America’s most celebrated butcher, Pat LaFrieda, it contains everything you ever wanted to know about where various cuts come from and guidance in selecting the best cuts for what you want to cook. There are step-by-step photographic instructions on butchering and breaking down–even how to French a rib rack. Delicious recipes illustrate how to cook and serve every sort of meat, including veal, lamb, poultry, pork, and beef, and even offal and odd bits. Don’t expect to find any veggies or sides here; this is a book dedicated to meat!
 
 
 

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat by Joshua and Jessica Applestone and Alexandra Zissu

 

Butcher's Guide to Well Raised Meat book image
 
The subtitle tells it all: How to Buy, Cut, and Cook Great Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry and More. From the tools you need to do it to (including even how to make your own tools if you’ve a mind) the book gives clear instructions on the art of butchery, beginning with ‘how to hold a knife’ and moving on to tackle topics as diverse as how to do that clever butcher’s wrap to how to do a pig roast in a pit. The writing is entertaining and often humorous.

 
 
 

Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan

 
Odd Bits book image

In a world of prime cuts, we too often overlook the more economical and perhaps less photogenic parts of the beast. This book will introduce you to them all — the bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, ears, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and even testicles! Back before offal became awful, these odd bits had a regular place on our plates and in our culinary repertoires. Ms. McLagan, chef and author, has made it her mission to restore respect to the lesser known and her recipes will make you confident handling them in your kitchen.

 
 
 

Beyond Bacon by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry

 
Beyond Bacon book image

Just from the tag line that reads ‘Paleo recipes that respect the whole hog’ you get the gist of this book, which its authors proclaim as ‘a love letter to pork’. In it, you’ll find information on how to source pastured pigs and techniques for rendering your own lard, making headcheese, and, of course, making bacon. And it’s filled with recipes aplenty for every conceivable sort of pork, as well as paleo offerings for the rest of the plate, including dessert!
 
 
 

Carnivore by Michael Symon

 
Carnivore book image

From the noted chef, restauranteur, and regular competitor on tv’s Iron Chef, who describes himself as a meat lover and his cuisine as ‘meat-centric,’ this book is a treatise on the various cuts of beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, game and game birds, including dozens of mouthwatering recipes for cooking each of them and sides to go with. Everything I’ve made from this book is flavorful and delicious!
 
 
 
 
 

Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

 
Salumi by Ruhlman book image

Like their previous book Charcuterie, which is also wonderful, this book offers a complete education on how to make (and best of all serve) each of Italy’s ‘big eight’ porky delights: guanciale, coppa, spalla, lardo, lonza, pancetta, proscuitto, and salami.  They even offer step by step instructions in how to butcher a hog American style or Italian style, if you want to take it a step further.  It’s a fascinating education, even if you don’t want to actually get into the salumi biz yourself!
 
 
 
 
Whatever your pleasure, or that of someone you love, these books will make a welcome addition to the library of any devoted meat lover!

21 Day Sugar Detox

In our many years (decades, in fact) of working with patients in the clinic, using nutritional changes as the chief means of helping them to lose weight and solve their weight related/metabolic health issues, we generally recommended people go cold turkey off sugar and starch, which is quite effective. It’s the method we felt worked the best and was the quickest and in many ways easiest way to shift to the new eating regimen for the most people and it’s what we recommended in both Protein Power and Protein Power LifePlan.

In our experience, most people suffer little from making the switch, though it does mean a few days to maybe a week of some degree of withdrawal. It’s sort of analogous to pulling the bandaid off a wound — it’s more painful to make many tiny pulls that each hurt than one purposeful pull that hurts once and gets the job done fast. For other people, however, letting go of sugar is tough and becomes a stumbling block to successful transition to this new way of eating.

21 Day Sugar DetoxSo for that group who needs a day by day plan to get off the sweet stuff in a more gentle fashion, let me recommend Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox.

The book is sufficiently informative, but not weighty, in the initial sections describing the whys of getting off sugar and full of helpful charts and meal plans and all the what and how-to information, including lots of delicious recipes, such as a gorgeous Shrimp Pad Thai that use zucchini noodles instead of grain-based pasta and a number of slightly sweet treats that don’t pretend that maple syrup or coconut sugar are something other than what they are – sugars – but make sparing use instead of fruits, such as apples and green tipped (under ripe) bananas for such things as Granny Smith Apple Crumble and Grain-Free Banola.

If you’ve been wanted to go low-carb or paleo, but were unsure if you could finally give up the sugar, this book may be the interim step and the help you’ve been waiting for.

Food for Humans: Nom Nom Paleo

Readers of this blog will know that I love cookbooks and that my overflowing collection of them has long hence exceeded the linear feet of shelves I have in my kitchen, which, while not inconsiderable, were finite. No matter — there’s always floor space! And thus, this Christmas brought a new one that I already absolutely love! Nom Nom Paleo Food for Humans, its on time arrival delayed by the winter storms, appeared instead as a Boxing Day/Feast of Stephen gift.

Nom_Nom_Paleo with borderWhen it arrived, I spent most of the evening sitting by the fire, thumbing through it, reading the delightful narratives of the sort that have made Michelle Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo blog such a hit and perusing the collection of mouthwatering paleo recipes inside. With clear and concise instructions and gorgeous food porn shots, it makes you hungry just reading. The book is an enjoyable and approachable primer that proves it’s possible for a mom (and/or dad) to cook healthful, whole food paleo meals the whole family (even the pickiest kids) will love, while juggling the responsibilities of a full time professional career, writing a blog, and raising a family. Having met Michelle at the first Ancestral Health Symposium, I can attest that she is a ball of happy energy and that comes through loud and clear in this book.

Although a seemingly endless array of paleo cookbooks have come out in the last year–and many are quite good–this one is a real standout IMHO, because of its ‘real-world-ness’. Every funny anecdote screams: OK, this is a real mom cooking for a real family and she absolutely loves doing it! Best of all, you can see yourself doing it, and I think that was Michelle’s main goal; make cooking and eating real food a pleasure for the family. And, foodie that she is, her recipes are stand outs, too. Although it’s sometimes a mistake to conflate paleo or gluten free with low carb, these philosophies have much in common and I was very happy to see that but for a very few, none of the recipes in Food for Humans would cause metabolic havoc to any but the most seriously carb sensitive.

Among my favorites in this book are those using eggs. There’s a great one for a simple Salade Lyonnaise and this one, very reminiscent of a way my late sister did eggs for brunch, combining three of my favorite foods–eggs, mushrooms, and sausage–that I’ll share to give you an idea of the tasty offerings.
Uova_in_Purgatorio Nom Nom Paleo borderUova in Purgatorio
From Nom Nom Paleo Food for Humans (Tam+Fong/Andrews McMeel, 2013)
Serves 4

1 tablespoon ghee (or fat of choice)
1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 pound Cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound loose Italian pork sausage
2 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400F, with the rack in the upper middle position.
2. Melt the fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until moisture released by the mushrooms evaporates.
3. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until it’s no longer pink. Pour the sauce onto the meat and add the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine the ingredients and cook until the sauce simmers.
4. Divide the saucy mixture into four 8-ounce ovenproof ramekins or mini cocottes. Make a small well in the center of each and crack an egg in it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggs. Place the ramekins on a tray in the oven and bake until the eggs are done to your desired consistency, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Whether it’s making Paleo Mayo, your own Sriracha, a big batch of Zoodles (zucchini noodles) or some of the most interesting deviled eggs I’ve ever seen, it’s all simple, fresh, flavorful food and definitely fit for humans, young or old.

Gathering Some Friends for the Holidays

Ok. So the holiday countdown begins tomorrow with Halloween and it won’t let up until New Year’s Day! What’s a person committed to a low carb or Paleo lifestyle to do? Safely negotiating the dangerous waters of the holiday party and feasting season can be tricky, but as we told our patients for decades, it can–and should–be done! And so, we gave them tips and tricks for handling the holidays each year, because we believed (and still do) that enjoying the conviviality and richness of the season with friends is important to the human spirit–even, and perhaps most especially, for those who have adopted a given lifestyle to control weight and the myriad health issues related to metabolic imbalance.

Gathering together to feast and celebrate is essential to emotional well-being. And now, a book, authored by the Make it Paleo team of Hayley Mason and Bill Staley offers us delicious insights into how to do it!

Gather_The Art of Paleo Entertaining #proteinpower

Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining (Victory Belt 2013) takes us all on a culinary romp through the seasons, with step-by-step advice on shopping, planning, and executing a fun-filled, food-filled, Paleo-friendly year of entertaining. The authors take us from a Springtime Tea Party to a summer Night in Tuscany or Tropical Getaway to the autumn with the Thanksgiving Feast and on to a Winter Holiday meal that would seamlessly slip onto anyone’s Christmas dinner table. There’s even a New Year’s Eve Cocktail Party!

The photographs are luscious, the menus interesting, and the recipes obviously tasty.

If there is one criticism that I would have about this book (and it goes for most of the flood of paleo cookbooks that have arisen with the blossoming of the paleo movement) it would be the mistaken notion that because something is ‘natural’ and was possibly present in paleo times (sometimes a stretch) it is somehow nobler. That it is less metabolically harmful to use grape juice, maple syrup, honey, molasses, and dried fruits to sweeten than equivalent amounts of cane or beet sugar or corn syrup. Or, one might even add, than artificial sweeteners. And that’s simply not the case.

Let me hasten to say that many, if not most, of the recipes in Gather are well suited for both the paleo crowd and for those following a low carb diet to address metabolic issues. I heartily recommend this lovely book, but with one crucial caveat for the metabolically dysfunctional, overweight adult with insulin resistance: please read the ingredients lists with care and be alert that all that is currently dubbed paleo isn’t necessarily low carb… and some of it isn’t even necessarily paleo.

For instance, as it is coming up soon, let’s take the Thanksgiving Feast.

The authors have presented a beautiful meal, filled with traditional foods, attractively plated and clearly scrumptious; for the young, healthy, cross fit paleo devotee, it will be fine. However, the older, less fit, less active person still trying to corral metabolic syndrome must tread with some care. For that person, eating a thin sliver (one-tenth) of pie sweetened with 100 grams of simple sugar–albeit in the form of maple syrup, molasses, and dates–may be tolerable as a 10-gram treat after a meal of roast turkey, mashed cauliflower, and green vegetables with few, if any, additional sugar/starch grams. But that’s not what comes before.

In addition to that tasty pecan pie, the Thanksgiving Feast includes: Cranberry Relish, Poached Pear Salad, Lemon Green Beans with Shallots, Apple Veal Stuffing, and, of course, Stuffed Turkey. Let’s look at how much carb is in the meal preceding that pie. Fortunately, the recipes in this particular feast are all scaled to feed 10 people, so it make the per-serving carb math easy.

Take the Poached Pear Salad. Along with fresh mixed greens and gorgonzola cheese with a simple balsamic dressing (no carb issues with any of this) it is made with spiced pecans and poached pears. The pecans, in their native state, aren’t problematic, but here, they are sweetened with 1/4 cup maple syrup (52 g) and served along with the 4 pears (72 g) that are poached in 3 cups of grape juice (of which they will surely absorb at least some portion of the 66 g of sugar contained therein). That’s at minimum 12 to 15 grams of sugar/starch in each of the 10 servings, just in the salad.

The Lemon Green Beans with Shallots are a dream come true and there is nothing a low-carb dieter would need to do but enjoy them!

In the center of the plate, this Stuffed Turkey sounds fantastic, rubbed with a compounded mixture of duck fat, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. (Disclaimer: Damn-near anything with duck fat in it rings my chimes!) But this is a stuffed bird, and the stuffing, though grain free, is still pretty weighty in the carb department.

The Apple Veal Stuffing for the turkey is filled with mushrooms, onions, veal, spices and herbs–all good low-carb players. But then it gets some nuttiness from 6-1/2 ounces of chestnuts (52 g) and some sweetness from 3 Granny Smith apples (60 g) and 8 ounces of dried cranberries (which could be as low as 20 g for unsweetened dried cranberries, but as high as 160+ g, if sweetened somehow, which they may be). All of which means that each serving will weigh in at least with 11 grams of sugar/starch carb just from the apples and chestnuts and unsweetened cranberries, but could go as high as 22 g if the cranberries were sweetened with grape juice, which they often are commercially.

While we’re on the subject of cranberries, there is also a Cranberry Relish made with 3 pounds of fresh cranberries, which of themselves are pretty low in carb at 2 effective grams per ounce. But their natural tartness needs something to sweeten it, which in this case is Medjool dates. 3 cups of them. For a total of 300+ grams of added non-fiber carb, for another 30+g per person.

Adding it all up, over and above the small amount of carb present in the nuts, green beans, and salad greens and the garlic and onions used to flavor, the paleo Thanksgiving meal could top 75 grams of effective carb per person.

And therein lies my concern.

So, my recommendation is that this is a beautiful, well-produced, cookbook, filled with lots of good recipes. I recommend it for many of its recipes. If you are young and healthy and living a paleo lifestyle, vowing to eschew grains and high fructose corn syrup and table sugar and modern pre-packaged foods, this book makes a wonderful addition to your paleo cookbook library.

But if eating low carb is your aim, I caution you to be a careful reader of ingredients and to substitute the concentrated sugar sources with something less provocative to your insulin regulatory system.

Remember, paleo humans didn’t have grape juice. They didn’t process sugar cane into molasses. They probably didn’t tap maple trees for sap, but that is less clear. Beyond occasionally stumbling into the honey tree, where they had to fend off angry bees to claim the sweet prize and the wild berries and less-sweet fruits they might gather in the late summer and dry (without added sugar) for use through the winter, early humans had no sources of concentrated sweetness.

Perhaps a better option for us all, paleo and low carber alike, would be to take a page from their ancient book and simply sweeten less, whether that be with ‘natural’ sweeteners, such as honey, molasses, and dried fruits, or with acceptable artificial sweeteners or low-calorie-carb-free natural alternatives, such as stevia.

However you approach this holiday season, make it a healthier, happier one, filled with many Gatherings to enjoy friends, family, fun, and lots of good food!

Paleo Goes Global: Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine

We love to eat in Italy and love the flavors from the savory Parma ham of the north to the creamy mozzarella di bufala of the south; we adore every ‘red, white, and green’ inch of it! So how excited was I to receive a review copy of Sarah Fragosa’s new entry into the ever expanding paleo cookbook fold, Italian Cuisine!
Italian Cuisine Sarah Fragoso
I know, you’re thinking Italian and Paleo?? Are you kidding? What about the pizza? It’s there on an almond and coconut flour crust. The bruscetta? Try serving it on slices of hard salami (ever so much tastier) instead of crostini! The pasta? She’s got that covered, too, with spaghetti squash replacing spaghetti, mandolined zucchini or yellow squash replacing linguini or egg noodles, cauliflower masquerading as risotto, and sticks of butternut squash or white yam for penne. Afterall, it’s all about the flavors (which are present and accounted for) and not the wheat!

While I might quibble that a metabolically deranged Syndrome X-er might not be able to tolerate a diet that included a slug of white sweet potatoes (at least not much and on a regular basis, or that 1/2 cup of honey in a recipe is not a lot different from 1/2 cup of sugar metabolically speaking, those are fine points.

It’s a great resource for the paleo or low carber who misses Italian food! And gluten-free diners will love it!

Practical Paleo

Seems there has been nothing short of a deluge of paleo diet books coming out lately and most of them are quite good, but one came across my desk that I think will prove exceedingly helpful to folks trying to adopt the paleo lifestyle in a modern world. It’s called Practical Paleo and the name says it all.

practical-paleo

Here’s why I think it stands out.

Back when we wrote Protein Power (in 1996) and Protein Power LifePlan (in 2000) we felt that we had laid out exactly why it is important to human health and fitness to follow a diet more in sync with our paleolithic biochemistry. And particularly with the LifePlan, we thought we’d presented a low-carb diet in a way that would allow people to individualize their levels of commitment to making the change from the high-everything-American-diet to one ever closer to the paleolithic ideal, by laying out not just the whys, but the hows in our three levels: Hedonist (only carb restriction), Dilettante (paleo-lite–ie, allowing alcohol, some non-gluten grains, organic dairy, and a little artificial sweetener), and Purist (true paleo low carb.)

We got mountains of letters (email and snail) singing the praises of these two books. People would invariably say ‘Now I understand! I’m convinced! I believe! So tell me what to eat!’ Oddly, we thought we had.

Granted, we didn’t offer specific meal plans in Protein Power; I resisted doing so for years, because treating thousands of patients taught me that one size rarely fits all where personal taste is concerned. I can’t tell you how many ‘I don’t like that’ and ‘I can’t eat that’ comments we’ve gotten over the years, when we worked to help patients devise meal plans for themselves in our practice. For instance, we had one patient years ago, who would eat no sources of protein except shrimp and egg whites.

Bowing to the requests for plans–although I still wanted to give people freedom of choice in what they ate–in the LifePlan, we presented mix and match meal suggestions. Here, the dieter was directed to combine a protein of choice with any of various bundles of fruits, veggies, and (depending on which level of commitment) grains that we had scaled in portion to add up to the recommended carbohydrate intakes for intervention (treatment level), transition, and maintenance living. But the letters kept coming requesting specific meals. Clearly there are many people who want to be taken by the hand and told step by step, meal by meal, what to eat, especially when becoming acquainted with a new way of doing something.

So, in response, in 2003, we wrote The 30-Day Low Carb Diet Solution, which was truly a few pages of science (just the merest gist) and 30 days worth of low carb breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and the recipes to cook them. (Heads up disclosure: the approach laid out in 30-DLCDS is not paleo. It’s purely and only low carb, which is a great step in the right direction of getting healthier, but not the non plus ultime diet for humans, since it contains neo foods as well.)

But as we have written so often over the last 15 or 20 years, our firm belief is that the closer you come to the paleo diet your ancestors thrived on, the better you’ll thrive. So, for those of you who have been considering going paleo, for those of you who are trying it but not sure about how to make it work for a family, for those who want the practical how-to-do-its, Practical Paleo offers that and more. Diane Sanfilippo gives you 30-day meal plans tailored to meet specific goals, whether you’re aiming for fat loss, to enhance athletic performance, adopt a squeaky clean paleo life style, or recover from illness. The book offers how-to instructions for making your own pro-biotic (fermented) foods, ghee, and bone broth; it includes tear out guides for shopping, and over 120 gluten-, grain-, legume-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free recipes.

All in all it’s a very good book. If I have a quibble with it, it is this: After a couple of decades of hands-on treatment of thousands of overweight and metabolically unbalanced patients (those with diabetes, fatty liver, and the other sequelae of insulin resistance) in our clinics, I firmly believe that the absolute number of carbohydrates–regardless of how ‘natural’ and ‘wholesome’ or ‘paleo’ they might seem–still matters in resolving these issues. Based on that I would argue with her inclusion of sweet potatoes for diabetics, because although there are some nice vitamins and minerals in there, 60 grams of carb at a sitting is still 60 grams of carb and while it might not cause much of a blip in the young and healthy and athletic, my experience is that it will derail blood sugar and insulin control in the metabolically challenged. I might be skeptical of including such concentrated sugar sources as black-strap molasses or pure maple syrup as acceptable sweeteners for folks trying not just to prevent but to turn around a metabolic Armageddon. But these are small points in a really good and helpful resource and one that will do a world of good for people who take it to heart. So give it a look. I think you’ll find it worthwhile.