If you’re wanting to eat more plants, this book has loads of recipes for you.
When I saw the title of this book Plant-Based Paleo: Protein-rich vegan recipes for well-being and vitality I immediately asked for a copy. A lot of people, myself included, assume(d) that the paleo or ancestral diet is all about meat and bacon. If you read some books or blogs, it seems very meat heavy. But the diet (or lifestyle) is about replicating as much as possible how our bodies were designed to live and eat. So regular exercise and movement, spending time outdoors, intermittent fasting, and getting better sleep are all important parts of the lifestyle, some advocates would say as important as the food.
I did not return to eating animal products lightly or easily in 2014; I did so because of a health diagnosis. And what I’ve learned about paleo, that eating plan that currently works best for me, is that our ancestors ate a lot of green plants, some roots, some nuts and seeds, and fruit when they could get it. They ate animals when they could kill them, focusing on the richest parts, the organ meats and fatty tissue. They didn’t eat bacon for every meal. They didn’t eat dairy products.
This book takes the novel approach that before humans learned to hunt they survived on plants (I have never seen this idea floated in the ancestral health literature). The author’s recommendations provide 10-15% of the calories from protein; it doesn’t say how much from carbs or fat and of course that would be shaped by the choices you make. She does not talk specifics about how to balance your diet, address concerns about missing nutrients in a fully plant-based diet (which I heard echoed repeatedly at The Nutrition and Health conference in Denver), explain how much healthy fat to include, or explain how exactly this is “paleo.”
When looking at some of the recipes’ nutritional information, it appears that this is a much higher-carb diet option than what Drs. Hyman and Perlmutter recommend. I personally wouldn’t do well eating this way alone (definitely not enough protein for me), but I would absolutely make many of these deliciously fresh recipes as side dishes.
Layout and design:
The book is organized into seven chapters: introduction, sunrise start, punchy munchies, super salads and sides, light lunches, evening feasts, feel-good treats. Back matter includes shopping resources. The book is beautiful overall; some of the typefaces are very light, making it difficult to read.
Every page features a full-color, full-page photograph, all gorgeously shot by Clare Winfield.
Recipes include green-a-colada, curried sweet potato crisps, protein truffles, Asian kale salad, raw sushi (using cooked cauliflower rice), spicy sweet potato moussaka, zoodles with red pesto and macadamia “parmesan,” and chocolate orange pie. Recipes are vegan, gluten- and dairy-free. A few recipes include quinoa flour, xanthan gum, soy sauce, peas, and bean sprouts (none of which are include in most paleo diets). Recipes include many nuts, nutritional yeast, and fermented foods like miso, so they’re not suitable for people with migraines.
What I liked about the book:
It’s beautiful, with plenty of inspiring plant-based recipe ideas.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Nutritional analysis is not provided, which would be helpful for low-sodium eaters. For the reasons listed above, I think calling this book “paleo” is a misnomer, as this is truly a vegan book. And most people following a paleo diet are eating more in the 10-15% carb range, not in the 60% carb range. She does use some ingredients that paleo diets would not include, like protein powder, soybeans, quinoa, peas, and stevia. However, this book would be a fantastic adjunct to a true paleo diet.
paleo, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, celiac, gluten-free diets
Not recommended for:
Migraine or low-sodium diets
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.