I was absolutely psyched to open my mailbox and find Tammy Credicott's latest book, Make Ahead Paleo. I love preparing healthy and delicious food for my family, but meals I can freeze or even just toss in the fridge knowing they reheat well? They have a special place in my heart.
This book contains several different kinds of make-ahead meals and snacks. The first section is Make and Freeze, which is what it sounds like. Next is Low and Slow, crock pot recipes that are great when you have time in the morning to prepare, but you'll be gone or busy all day. After that is On the Go, recipes you can throw in a lunchbox or cooler for a packed lunch, airline travel snacks, meals for road trips, and picnic fare.
The Room Service section is going to get a lot of use by my family, as we are about to have an adventure living in hotel suites for about 3 months straight. These are meant to be prepared at home and packed in a cooler for one-pan cooking in your hotel room (bring an electric skillet if the hotel doesn't have a kitchenette). Even though I won't be able to prepare at home on our journey, I LOVE the simplicity of these meals, and the fact that they won't make a huge mess to prepare.
The Travel Treats section is full of baked goods that travel well. To me, it seems like an addition to sell more books because who doesn't love a good Paleo treat (and most baked goods DO travel well)? I know I do, and Tammy is an excellent Paleo baker. Remember my Paleo Indulgences review? This chick knows her way around grain free ingredients and understands when to use what, and how they work. This section is like your bonus gift for buying the book.
There is one last section, Week in a Day, with one week of make-ahead Paleo meals, including a comprehensive shopping list. The idea is that over the weekend you can prepare everything, and be good to go for the whole week. This would be great for someone just starting out with Paleo or someone who has a crazy-busy week ahead!
Make Ahead Paleo has a thumbnail index, one of my favorite cookbook features. It makes browsing for dinner ideas simple and finding tried and true recipes much faster than looking them up in an index or text table of contents.
There are also pull-out grocery lists, freezer inventories, and such… Which I probably would never actually use as-is, but someone might. And they are pretty.
The recipes are fantastic. There isn't much in this book that I WOULDN'T want to eat. And the photography and food styling is beautiful – also by Tammy herself. She's just so danged talented.
So here are the specific recipes I tried this week!
These cocoa cinnamon almonds are great snacks. I bought some cocoa almonds from the store and thought they were great, except for the weird aftertaste. What is that? Oh… Artificial sweetener. Of course. Then I chucked them into the trash. These are so much better tasting, and it's comforting to know exactly what is in them (well, on them).
The beef and snow peas recipe is part of the Room Service section. I actually used sugar snap peas, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. That morning, I prepared the sauce in a mason jar while the kids ate breakfast, so by dinner time all I needed to do was throw the beef, veggies, and sauce into a pan. The sauce thickened up beautifully thanks to the arrowroot powder, and all four of us ate everything and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Joseph actually seemed quite fussy and irritated at the beginning of the meal. He had only a fork, while the rest of us had chopsticks, so I gave him chopsticks thinking they would appease him. Not so. He shoved his plate away grumpily, banged the table with his sticks, and pointed … We couldn't figure out at WHAT.
Finally we discovered what he wanted. He wanted to use the chopsticks but couldn't do it himself. So my husband helped him out, and he happily and enthusiastically ate his dinner.
The day my cookbook came in the mail, I was actually googling for tahini recipes. I have a lot of tahini and wanted to figure out a good way to use some of it up, besides in dips and dressings. So as I flipped through Make Ahead Paleo, the chocolate chip tahini blondies caught my eye.
I made the dough in my Vitamix, which cut down on mixing and sifting things separately, in multiple bowls. I just threw everything in. Except for the chocolate chip mix-ins and the coconut and chocolate toppings. It worked great, and these blondies are really tasty and have such a nice texture.
I love antipasto. I could eat salami, olives, artichoke hearts, and related foods for … A long time….before even beginning to tire of them. But what a great idea to add grilled chicken to the mix for a more sustaining meal! I also took Tammy's suggestion and added raw cauliflower to the salad. My 3 year old daughter chomped into a big piece and exclaimed, “I LOVE cauliflower!” (Which is kind of a catch phrase in this house, believe it or not.)
The Best Ever Chicken Strips truly are. The best. Ever. My husband and I were both immediately reminded of the Chick-Fil-A terrible-for-you-but-addictively-tasty flavor. And unlike intentional copycat recipes, there is no soaking in buttermilk, no sugar, no ridiculousness. Just real food.
Tammy Credicott didn't write that these are Chick-Fil-A strips. That's my comparison. You'll have to be the judge though. The recipe is also for strips, but I made nuggets too. Because why not?
Definitely lunchbox-worthy, and picnic friendly. I tasted some of these cold, and they're great as leftovers.
Then there were these nut free paleo granola bars (i.e., seed and fruit bars). Everything was coming together beautifully. Everything smelled lovely. Until I walked away. And the timer on my microwave was too quiet to hear over my dishwasher, I lost track of time, and my bars cooked to a blackened mess.
Right. Nailed it. (I'll have to try again another time.)
If you are someone who
- wants to pull something out of the freezer now and then at the end of a long day, but not from a box
- wants to go on picnics or bring treats to potlucks, without compromising health
- has family members who need wholesome packed lunches
- travels for work or pleasure and needs to continue nourishing your body away from home
- needs to bring pre-prepared homecooked meals on camping trips
- has been looking for a few more slow cooker recipes that don't include cream of crap
- likes to cook and eat food
…then this is a book you need on your shelf.
What type of Make Ahead Paleo meals and snacks appeal to you the most? What recipe above made your mouth water?
PS. Check out the Look Inside feature on Amazon to see the full thumbnail recipe index and a ton more!