Dana Carpender is best known for her many low-carb cookbooks. (We bought several of them, including copies for relatives, before I even knew Dana.) Her latest cookbook is for people who want to go more paleo, or would just like to have a collection of recipes that don’t include butter, cream, sour cream or cheese. If you’re a low-carber who needs to avoid dairy products, this is the book for you.
In the introduction to 500 Paleo Recipes, Dana explains why she wrote the book:
Low-carbers around the world tell me a shift is occurring. I hear from more and more people who are shunning soy products, who avoid gluten, who are seeking out grass-fed meat and dairy and wild-caught fish. More and more, I hear from people who have quit using artificial sweeteners.
Many of the recipes in my previous books are paleo-friendly, but many are not. Indeed, my own eating habits have shifted over the years, to the point where there are recipes in my own books that I would no longer be willing to eat. I’ve gone gluten-free, no longer eating even low-carb bread or tortillas, yet quie a few of my old recipes call for these items, or ingredients such as vital wheat gluten, wheat germ and wheat bran. Some use canola oil, which I haven’t touched in years.
She then explains what paleo means … or more precisely, how she chose to define it for the book. As she notes, there is no one definition of paleo. Different people who promote what they label paleo diets sometimes disagree with each other about what foods are acceptable. And of course, few if any of us eat a true paleo diet anyway:
It bears pointing out that unless you eat only locally hunted and gathered wild foods, you’re not really eating the same as Ogg. (Or Grok, with a tap of the hat to blogger and author Mark Sisson, of The Primal Blueprint.)
So for the purposes of the book, Dana mostly defines paleo foods as those you could eat raw, even if you typically don’t. You can eat meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables raw. You wouldn’t eat grains and legumes raw unless you enjoy a good bellyache. She also eliminates dairy, alcohol and processed foods in her paleo recipes.
If you’re a low-carber, you’ll be glad to know Dana lists the calorie and macronutrient counts for each recipe in the book. This isn’t strictly a low-carb cookbook, but there are still plenty of low-carb recipes:
You’ll find very low-carb meat and egg recipes here, absolutely, and recipes for non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and other low-carb favorites. But you’ll also find recipes for sweet potatoes, winter squash and other starchy vegetables. You’ll find more fruit than I have hitherto allowed, and recipes including honey.
Just as many low-carb folks don’t eat paleo, many paleo folks are not strictly low-carb. Most low-carbers were drawn to the diet because of obesity, blood sugar problems, or a combination of the two. Many paleo folks, though, have always been slim and athletic, with robust metabolisms that can tolerate more carbohydrates.
Yes, and when the never-been-fat paleo youngsters insist we should all eat plenty of “safe starches” because they personally tolerate potatoes and rice so darned well, I want to smack them. My glucometer knows better than they do. Speaking of which:
As always, you need to pay attention to your body. If you have blood sugar problems, your glucometer is your friend. Pay attention to your body and pick and choose the recipes that work for you.
As you’d expect in a book of 500 recipes, there’s a little bit of everything here: appetizers, main courses, salads, desserts, dips, cereals, pancakes, soups, broths … there even recipes for making your own yogurt and sour cream using coconut milk.
I happen to love sour cream and don’t have any issues with dairy products as far as I can tell, so I’ll probably stick with the real thing. But even if you have no intention of becoming a paleo purist, there are plenty of recipes in here you’ll want to try just because they sound appealing.
I encourage people to buy low-carb cookbooks to avoid letting dietary boredom torpedo their goals. After all, if the Atkins diet were actually as limiting as some people assume it to be (nothing but steaks, eggs cheeseburgers with a little bit of salad), almost nobody would stick with it. Same goes for paleo, or low-carb paleo, or sort-of-low-carb paleo: you need variety to avoid boredom.
500 Paleo Recipes will help keep your diet interesting.