One of the most common requests we receive are for Whole30-approved recipes. While we’ve got a ton of recipes listed on our site, sometimes it’s nice to have an actual cookbook to refer to, make notes in, bookmark for future reference.
So we’ve been on the hunt for cookbooks that meet our ridiculously high standards. We quickly realized there are a lot of Paleo cookbooks out there – many of which we like – but we recently stumbled across one that we loved so much, we decided to feature it in its very own blog post.
The Paleo Recipe Book is the creation of Sébastien Noël, and features over 370 recipe creations, the vast majority of which are Whole30-friendly. (That’s a new meal every day for a whole year!) The downloadable PDF also features detailed narratives designed to help you make better food choices, featuring everything from how to clarify your own (pastured, organic) butter to how to choose the best cuts of (grass-finished) steak. Read on for our complete review.
Things We Like
The first thing that caught our attention is that almost all of the everyday meals featured here are Whole30 approved – meaning the recipes don’t call for added sugar, grains, dairy or legumes. (He also recommends substituting chicken broth or beef stock for wine when cooking during your Whole30). Recipes even use the generic term, “cooking fat” to allow you to make your own healthy fat choices – select butter (post-Whole30), tallow, coconut oil or something else of your choosing.
The second thing we liked is that his recipes will get people out of their cooking comfort zones and encourage them to try new foods. While the cookbook does include some of the old Paleo stand-bys like meatloaf, chili and chicken fajitas, it also features fresh, exciting dishes like cocoa cinnamon baby back ribs, grilled curried mussels, chicken liver omelette, and mango and salmon tartare. In addition, there are more than 40 pages dedicated to vegetables and salads – enough to get even the pickiest veggie eater excited about eating their greens.
The third thing we noticed was that his narratives throughout the cookbook closely mirrored the advice we give to our readers. The sections between recipes offer customers a wealth of tips and tricks for maximizing food quality and eating as healthfully as possible, and offer timely reminders about making smart choices. A few select quotes:
“Foods like honey and high amounts of nuts, while sometimes available to our ancestors, can be a source of problems on the diet. We know that most nuts are high in Omega-6 fats…and that honey is very high in sugar, which should be kept to a minimum on a healthy diet.”
“Olive oil is a fat that’s mostly monounsaturated, which makes it a healthy fat. Don’t cook with it, it can burn and oxidize quite easily. Use it in dressings or drizzle it on top of already cooked meals.”
“Choose a steak that comes from beef that has been grass-fed and grass-finished. I’d rather choose a grass-fed cut that’s less tender than a tender cut from a grain-fed animal. Focus on the quality of the meat (first), and then on the quality of the cut itself.”
“These (almond banana pancakes) are delicious, though they are heavy in fruits and nuts – two elements which should be kept to a minimum on the diet. Think of this breakfast or dessert recipe as an occasional treat.”
The Cookbook Cautions
Wait, almond-banana pancakes? You’ve heard us rail against the Paleo-ification of poor food choices before, so why would we endorse a cookbook with a small section (just 13 recipes) devoted to desserts and sweet treats? Because you aren’t eating Whole30 all the time. And we’ve always said that sweet treats are appropriate now and again, as long as they pass your “nutritional off-roading” checklist. The dessert-y recipes included here are for those occasions when you want to kick up your heels and indulge. And they come with a strong dose of caution (as you read above), to ensure no one thinks that section of the cookbook is everyday food. Which we very much appreciate.
Second, we’ll caution folks that not every recipe in the cookbook is Whole30 approved. You’ll still need to read your ingredients as you read your labels, including appropriate substitutions when necessary and skipping any recipe for which an integral ingredient is on the “do not eat” list. (This mostly applies to the dessert section of the cookbook, not the everyday meals. As an example, the very first “everyday” recipe that mentions added sugar is all the way on page 162, and specifies the honey is completely optional.)
Finally, purchasers of the Paleo Recipe Book also get a bonus 8-week meal plan – breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack, all laid out in a weekly format. And while we love the idea of a meal plan for those who need a little extra help planning their week or getting creative with their meals, we don’t love all the breakfasts featured here. Our MealSimple™ template calls for a complete breakfast (including protein), and some of the breakfast recommendations in the Paleo Recipe Book don’t feature a protein source. However, it’s easy to sub out a smoothie for a MealSimple™-style breakfast, (or just add your own protein source) – which means the meal plan itself is still a great added value.
The Paleo Recipe Book is one of the best Whole30-friendly cookbooks we’ve seen to date – and with over 370 recipes and all the bonus material (including a special guide to herbs and seasonings), an exceptionally good value at $34. So if you’re in the market for a new Whole30 cookbook, click on over to read more about the Paleo Recipe Book. Got questions about the recipes, the material or our review? Post them to comments.