I have a large collection of cookbooks and I read them like novels. It’s weird I guess, but I think there are good stories in what people eat.
When we started eating whole foods and getting away from preservatives and things we couldn’t pronounce, I went to the bookstore and started looking for healthy recipes we’d actually eat.
Part of the reason we found ourselves in an unhealthy weight range is that I thought eating healthy meant eating mulch and quinoa for the rest of my life, and honestly I was just fine drowning my sorrows in frozen burritos and pudding cups and calling it a day.
Then there was the day I saw myself in a picture and wondered who the old woman was standing with my kids.
And that my friends, is a wakeup call.
Thankfully, there are hundreds of websites, videos, and cookbooks out there that make eating real food easy and flavorful when what you really want is for some scientist to find a way for your hormones to live in harmony with cheese and chocolate.
Anyway, I use a whole lot of cookbooks and Pinterest recipes. But I have a few go-to cookbooks that take the thinking out of meals. In no particular order (click on pictures for link):
I love, love, love her. We share Ulcerative Colitis, which is a story for another day, but the short version of the story is that we have both learned to control disease with diet.
Danielle is the master of flavor. Seriously, we haven’t had a bad meal yet from her book.
Our very favorites are the Maple Dijon Pork Tenderloin, which is grilling as we speak. I have made the Southwestern Frittata so many times I can’t count, and it is the big hit when you have a houseful of teenagers. The White Pork Chili is outstanding (and you use the left-over pork tenderloin from the maple-dijon recipe. The BLT salad is ridiculous, and all of her salad dressings and condiments are outstanding as well.
Against All Grain by Danielle Walker
This is actually her first cookbook, and the way I discovered her. If you are thinking about adopting a Paleo lifestyle, or you have heard all the hype and don’t really know what it’s about, Danielle is your girl. She makes it very approachable and a little less-weird than the fitness world. I like her food. We aren’t Paleo; we are Paleo-ish. We avoid a lot of grains, but when we do go for a dish that is made with traditional grains, we go ahead and have it rather than substitute with nut flours. I’ve made several of her substitute recipes and they are outstanding for Paleo food. Texture is a big issue at our house, so I’ve found that baking with whole foods, and just generally cutting back on grains has been more doable here. However, the Vanilla-Almond Granola is outstanding as are the Rosemary Roasted Almonds. I make her Carne Asada Beef Jerky all the time.
Our absolute favorite meal ever is the Slow-Cooker Sesame-Orange Chicken. The good news with this one is that it is very easy to throw together and put in the slow-cooker. When you get home at night, you just chop up the chicken and serve it.
100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake
Once I decided that we weren’t going to be a 100% Paleo family, this is where I turned. It’s common sense cooking. If you aren’t gluten-sensitive, and you don’t have an inflammatory disease, this is an excellent way to provide good food with lots of flavor.
Obviously the Grilled Cheese with Apples and Bacon is a hit. But let me tell you, cheese is a treat food. Too much and you throw your hormones into some sort of hissy fit, and nobody wants to see that. There is a breakfast casserole that I’m dying to try, but this book is fairly new, so I haven’t actually made it yet. There is a recipe for banana pancakes which is ridiculous as well as dozens of less-caloric choices. From what I’ve gathered with Lisa’s book, she wasn’t concerned as much with weight as she was with good food choices that would support optimum health. I think the important thing to know here is how your body reacts to certain foods. For instance, as much as I would love to eat grilled cheeses every day, there isn’t a grass-fed cow alive that can handle my hormonal response to dairy.
And that, my friends, is tragic.
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
This was the other part of my first Paleo purchase. I bought Danielle Walker’s first book and this one at the same time. Both books have lots of dirty pages. Dirty in the sense that they are covered in food splatters because I’ve used them so much. There is a lemon-artichoke chicken recipe that is outstanding, and I don’t like artichokes. Trust me, you won’t care. It is fabulous.
This book also has a wealth of information on the Paleo lifestyle as well as modifications for different types of diets and medical issues that diet can help to heal. I read this one like a text book.
And there isn’t a recipe in it that you won’t like.
5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson
I bought this book back in the initial weight-loss stages. Honestly, I just wanted quick things to cook that didn’t require a long list of ingredients. As it turns out, the fewer ingredients you use, the more nutritional integrity you’re likely to get…IN MOST CASES.
Anyway, the ingredient lists are short which means your wallet doesn’t cry. It also means you don’t have as many steps. I made Cornish Hens au Vin for dinner. The flavor was outstanding, but the kids had a hard time with the hens because they said they still looked “too much like real birds.” So take that information and do what you will with it.
There is a bacon and egg salad that is ridiculous. There are also several salads and soups that are easily made staples in your house. We both teach school, so whatever I make for dinner becomes lunch the next day. This book and that strategy save us hundreds of dollars each year in food.
And also…Fig and Rosemary Flatbread. It’s a BIG treat at our house, but it alone is worth the price of the cookbook.
So, those are my go-to cookbooks. There are dozens more. I’ve also gotten quite adept at modifying recipes and improving their nutritional quality. We’ll talk about that soon.
But for now, go enjoy your day with a good cookbook.