A few weeks ago, I received Against All Grain by Danielle Walker in my mailbox. I flipped through, made a menu plan for the week from the book, and got to work in the kitchen.
And I have to tell you, “delectable paleo recipes to eat well & feel great” is right on.
Want to see what's inside?
Danielle shares her story of how her love of cooking was fueled by failure, and how her health declined over time, until she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, at which point her doctors prescribed a battery of medications, which would be tweaked and altered for a while.
Fast forward through hospitalizations, blood transfusion, and seemingly endless discomfort, and Danielle found the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and began healing her digestive system.
Pregnancy, along with a temporary regression in healing diet, and another flare-up came and went, and Danielle recommitted herself to the SCD. After some careful self-observation, she determined that some SCD foods were still causing issues… and made the switch to Paleo.
It's clear how much experimentation and heart has been put into these recipes, and we loved everything we have tried so far.
Beyond a powerful backstory, the design of the book is absolutely user-friendly. And it has my favorite cookbook feature, the thumbnail index, which shows thumbnails and titles of every recipe in one place, sorted by category.
Each recipe also has an indication in the table of contents if it is also egg-free, nut-free, SCD, or vegan. So helpful if you're cooking for people with restrictions that are different than your own, even if you're just “plain old paleo.” (I do wish these were indicated ON each recipe's page though, in case you're just flipping through like I tend to do.)
Oh, and the recipes. They rock.
The only downside of the book is maybe how perfect Danielle is. And I mean that in the most lovingly girlcrush sort of way. Her hair is perfect in every photo of her, and her teeth are perfect and white. Her family is gorgeous and she has a dimply smile. Her kitchen is gorgeous and bright, and oh… did I mention she did all of her own food photography for this book? And it's amazing. Like really perfect.
So here's what we tried.
(My slowly-improving photography, not Danielle's stellar shots, obviously.)
Paleo sausage quiche with sweet potato crust.
The sausage was a little on the sweet side for me, but I can just reduce the amount of maple syrup in it next time. We all loved this, and wished I had made 2 so we had some leftovers. This is something you can put together the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning for breakfast or a brunch party.
Grilled citrus cumin chicken.
This was one of those recipes I read which made me think, “Yes, THESE are awesome flavors together.” I'm a sucker for cumin in general, and citrus in general, so combining them just seemed perfect. I wish I had marinated the chicken longer than I did, but this was really good anyway.
Paleo (Slow-Cooker) Barbeque Chicken Sandwiches with Cole Slaw and Hamburger Buns
As I measured out about 87 ingredients into the crock pot (well, close) I hoped and trusted that it would be wroth it. And it was. I loved this chicken. The cole slaw was great too, and I'm glad I made more than the recipe said to because I enjoyed having leftovers.
My buns came out a bit fally-aparty and squishy in the middle but I CANNOT blame the recipe or Danielle, because my oven had been acting up a LOT and recipes I make that normally take 30 minutes would take an hour or so to bake… weirdly, the temperature tested as correct, so the maintenance guy didn't know what to do.
Anyway, I think the buns would probably rock if your oven doesn't suck. Even though mine weren't perfect, Anneliese's favorite part of the meal was the buns (and she loves sesame seeds, so she was excited about those too). Joseph's favorite part was the chicken and he ate all of his, and Anneliese's too.
Carne Asada Beef Jerky
One of the big selling points (I thought) when I was making the case to my husband for buying my awesome-as-anything dehydrator was that we could make homemade jerky. Then after I bought it, he confessed that he doesn't even really like jerky. So I almost never make it.
But I like it. And the kids like it. And this recipe sounded great, so I went for it. And it's super flavorful, delicious, little strips of chewy meat. (More snacks to throw in my purse when we're out and aboud. The best!)
I don't know why, but I'm always amazed at the transformation food goes through when I dehydrate it, so for fun, a before/after photo. Even though I'm probably the only one who thinks it's cool…
Want some jerky?
Homemade Healthy Fruit Juice Gelatin Snacks
I've been playing with gelatin a bit lately for fruit snacks and thickening smoothies, things like that. But I hadn't yet tried “jell-o” (yeah, I know it's not called jell-o if it's real).
I bought a veggie/fruit juice blend to try it with, because it was lower sugar than 100% fruit juice, and it was so easy to make these. It made a LOT, too. I made some in a baking dish and also filled a bunch of these for single-serving snacks for the kids for the week. Considering the baking dish stuff was gone within 24 hours, the individual containers were a good idea, otherwise my kids would've probably inhaled it all.
Paleo Crock-Pot Beef Chuck Chili
When I was in college, I had a file of non-bean chili recipes I might try making for my then-boyfriend someday, since he loved chili and I disliked beans. Well, when we graduated and got married, I don't think I ever did pull that file out… but now I don't need it. This recipe is it. My husband 100% approves, and I thoroughly enjoyed it also.
Oh, and you KNOW another crock-pot recipe for the Paleo crowd is always welcome and appreciated, seeing as how 98% of crock-pot recipes out there have cream of whatever soup in them.
I didn't even touch the treats in this book, of which there are many (and they all look great). Maple-bacon donuts, anyone?