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One of my biggest pet peeves is when a cookbook for a specific way of eating shows you how to make things that were never OFF the diet in the first place!
For example, in a gluten-free cookbook, it's kind of annoying to see recipes for vegetables with rice, because DUH, the whole reason you're buying a GF cookbook in the first place is that you are sick of eating vegetables with rice for every meal. What we really want to know is how to make things that usually contain gluten in a gluten-free way.
This paleo cookbook hits on that same annoying trait. While it's great to have recipes for things like buffalo wings, grilled salmon, and omelets, those are things that I figured out were paleo long ago, and really didn't need help with, as all of my old, non-paleo cookbooks have great recipes for those things. Here are a few of the "duh" recipes included in the book:
Bacon and eggs (page 48)
Frittata (page 52)
Kitchen sink omelet (page 56)
Veggie scramble (page 60)
French omelet (page 76 it's "different" because it is fried in butter and has herbs?)
Breakfast sausages (page 78)
Guacamole (page 88 just uses a regular guac recipe and omits the sour cream)
Salsa (page 90)
Pan-seared artichoke hearts (page 102 seriously, I can grill a vegetable, people)
Deviled eggs (page 104)
Sauteed calamari (page 106 saute calamari with seasonings)
Bacon-wrapped scallops (page 108 I only have six other cookbooks with this recipe)
Shrimp cocktail (page 112)
Buffalo wings (page 118)
Grilled clams with garlic butter (page 120 I can melt garlic and butter and put it over a clam without a recipe)
Skirt steak with chive butter (page 128 it's steak! With a pat of chive butter on top!)
Leg of lamb (page 132)
Grilled lamb chops (page 142 do they think we can't grill a beast without their usual garlic, onion, and salt/ pepper marinade? I am so bored! There aren't even grilling instructions - it's just a marinade recipe!)
London broil with balsamic marinade (page 146 c'mon, this is the second meat so far they've told us to dunk in balsamic. Do we need a recipe book for this, when there are so many great paleo blogs out there?)
OK, I'm going to move on, but suffice to say, the entire book is like this - simple, no-brainer recipes that are indeed paleo, but not very creative or inspiring. I'd also like you to note that each recipe has a full-color photo next to it, so while it looks like I may have skipped a lot of pages there, in many cases I was just flipping the photo page and going to the next recipe.
From pages 1-150, I have two bookmarks of food that is innovative and I'd like to try - coconut nested eggs, an interesting egg dish that is like a souffle or meringue, and hot pepper hummus, which substitutes zucchini for the garbanzo beans.
The rest is stuff that the majority of people who have cooked dinner for a few years can figure out without a recipe, and while they are OK recipes, they aren't super-thrilling and don't satisfy that urge to eat familiar foods. For example, while most paleo cookbooks give an example of how you might eat burgers or meat now that you don't have a bun (wrapped in lettuce, in their coconut-flour paleo buns, between mushrooms or chicken breast slices or floofed egg buns) this book just assumes you are going to be stoked to eat your bunless burger on a plate like a steak. And yeah, sometimes you will be stoked on that. But do you need a recipe book to tell you to make your usual bacon burger and just eat it off a plate? The reason we get a book is to help smooth the path between familiar and non-familiar foods and make it seem like you're not giving much up. This book doesn't help with that much at all.
So, now that I have ranted a bit, I'll tell you what I do love about this book.
The photography is fantastic. Many paleo books have shoddy lighting that makes the food look unappetizing. This book makes every dish look delicious, and there is a full-color photo of the finished dish for every recipe.
This is also the thickest paleo cookbook on my shelf, with 447 pages. Granted, most of that is taken up with photos of omelets and grilled meat and vegetables that you don't honestly need a recipe for or photos of, but still. That's a lot of ideas, even if most of them lack originality.
Even with all of the repetition, there are some fantastic ideas here. Unfortunately most of the truly creative ideas are in the dessert section. Here's the list of my faves:
Eggplant hole in the head (page 46 like toast with a hole cut out and an egg fried into the center, these eggplant/ egg circles look fun and tasty, and are definitely original)
Tacos with jicama shells (page 202 never heard of slicing jicama thin and using it as a wrap - this is great!)
Seafood mustard sauce (page 310 combines macadamia nuts with dijon and lemon juice for a chunky topping for crab cakes)
Mint pesto (page 326 uses mint, walnuts and citrus for a new spin on pesto)
Infamous bacon cookies (page 364 bacon and almond flour cookies - not for everyday, but nom)
Fig pinwheels (page 366 like a newton, only paleo-ish)
Carrot cake (page 372)
Lemon cheesecake (page 386 they don't actually approve of you eating this, but they paleo-ify it by using an almond flour crust, and half cream cheese with half Greek yogurt to make the cheese part seem slightly less bad for you)
Burnt almond cupcakes with a creamy filling (page 404)
That's it. Eleven dishes that are new to me and I want to make, in a 447 page cookbook.
I'm going to contrast that with Mark Sisson's latest book, the Quick and Easy Primal Cookbook. It has 226 pages and 61 recipes I want to try.
And Paleo Comfort Foods, which admittedly has many similar recipes to this book (deviled eggs, breakfast sausage, egg muffins). It has 328 pages and 39 original recipes I wish to try.
I'm not saying this is a bad cookbook, because it's not, really. It's just not bringing much that is new and original to the paleo cookbook world. And I'm disappointed about that, because I love the design and writing on their blog, The Food Lovers Primal Palate, and I expected to love this book as much as I do the other paleo cookbooks on my shelf. But I'd advise that if you're looking for a good paleo cookbook, that you buy pretty much any other primal or paleo cookbook out there besides this one or Loren Cordain's book, which was also full of "duh" recipes.