Whenever paleo or low carb is mentioned there is usually someone who says that they couldn't do it because it would limit their cooking too much. After all, meat and veg can only be combined in so many ways, right?
Well, I certainly don't agree, and in my hands I hold two very recently published cookbooks packed with paleo recipes aiming to prove that point. About 600 odd recipes between them, ranging from snacks and starters to gorgeous seafood, slow-cooked meats, and desserts.
The aptly named "500 Paleo Recipes" by Dana Carpenter and Arsy Vartanian's "The Paleo Slow Cooker" (which comes with the catchphrase "Health, gluten-free, gourmet cooking made easy" in what I assume is an attempt to emphasize that paleo doesn't have to mean boring) were both sent to me by The Aurum Publishing Group, so in the interest of transparency I want to make clear that I haven't paid anything for them.
Both of the books follow a similar structure, part educating the reader on the health benefits of "eating clean", part dispeling the myth of healthy cooking being monotonous and bland, and of course presenting a variety of really interesting paleo recipes.
So far I have only read the introductory parts of the books, and skimmed through the recipes. While they both seem very thought through and packed with great tips and dishes I must say that The Paleo Slow Cooker is the one that has me most excited. Why? It is hard to get excited by a cookbook without pictures... 500 Paleo Recipes doesn't have a single photo in it while The Paleo Slow Cooker takes the more typical approach with recipes interspersed with full page mouthwatering photos.
That said, having sampled Dana Carpenter's work before, in the shape of "1,001 Low-Carb Recipes" (another cookbook without photos) I know that her recipes are usually clear and easy to follow, and often delicious. We have a few favourite dishes constantly recurring in our kitchen that are courtesy of 1,001 Low-Carb Recipes. So while Dana Carpenter's cookbooks don't seem the most inspirational, they certainly deliver on usefulness, creativity and variation.
In her own words:
"I come to the whole thing, as I did to low carbing, from the perspective of a cook. I want the widest range of flavours and textures I can possibly get while enjoying the benefits of dietary discipline."
Since I apply a philosophy of "Everything in Moderation" to my low carbing, and I too derive a lot of pleasure from trying different types of foods and cooking styles, I certainly agree with that aspiration!
The introduction to 500 Paleo Recipes, talking about what paleo is and why it is good for you, is really good. Without getting preachy, technical or boring (and acknowledging that "paleo" means a lot of different things to different people...) Dana Carpenter manages to not only explain why adopting some of the paleo thinking might be the most important health choice in your life, she also points out that the dangers of sugar isn't because of the substance itself, it's a matter of dosage.
Think about it. The human body and digestive system evolved in a world where refined sugar and processed foods didn't exist. If you wanted a sugar rush you had to consume punnets of ripe berries (or several meters of raw sugar cane...). Belly ache would stop you over consuming. Today you drink one super sized cup of Coca Cola at McDonalds and get more sugar in you than the average hunter gatherer managed to consume over the course of several weeks...
Given the lack of photos in one, and the high production value of the other, I would expect The Paleo Slow Cooker to be much more expensive than 500 Paleo Recipes, but at £12 and £9 respectively on Amazon the price difference is surprisingly small.
What I intend to do is cook a number of recipes from each, familiarising myself a bit more with the books, and then write up a review of each separately. Looks like I'll have to start with 500 Paleo Recipes, while I wait for my soon to be purchased slow cooker to be delivered...