Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: "Practical Paleo"

Practical Paleo by Diane SanFilippo

A couple months ago, as I was overhauling my eating habits and looking for more resources on Paleo, I couldn't help but notice that every source I found was singing the praises of a (then) soon-to-be released book:  Practical Paleo by Diane SanFilippo from Balanced Bites, one of my favorite Paleo sites.  As I read reviews and listened to podcasts and got a better idea of what this book contained, I pretty much made up my mind that I would have to get my hands on this book.  

The Book

Of course, I'm not made of money.  I couldn't afford to pre-order it, so I had to wait until I could work this purchase into my monthly budget.  Once it finally arrived, I immediately tore right into it, and I read it from cover to cover.  I've reread certain sections.  I've gone over the various guides with Gavin.  I've run a couple... tests... and learned some interesting things about my own body.  

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to get a lot of use out of the food plans.  While I had high hopes for the fat loss meal plan, it feels like it's geared more toward someone with unlimited budgetary resources and no additional family members to feed.  By the time I'm done substituting to make it fit my family, it bears little resemblance to the original plan.  That's okay.  I'm sure they'll be helpful to others; they just weren't realistic for us.  On the other hand, the guidelines that immediately precede each plan have some great information and tips. 

The Recipes

We've also had the chance now to sample several recipes out of the book.  The ones we've tried so far include:

Herbal tea-infused gelatin cubes
Swirly crustless quiche
Vanilla-almond sponge bread
Grain-free porridge (coco-nutty variety)
Citrus & herb whole roasted chicken
Indian spiced turkey burgers
Sage roasted turkey legs (we actually used chicken drumsticks)
Grilled garlic flank steak (we used petite sirloins)
Chorizo meatballs

It's been fun to go through the book and let the kids pick recipes to try.  They've also had a hand at helping prepare them, which I'm hoping will make them a bit more eager to try new things.  Elias has helped me make a number of recipes, including the chorizo meatballs, and last night Maddie helped measure the spices and mix them in for the Indian-spiced turkey burgers.  

Of course, we have some favorites and some not-so-favorites.  So far the chorizo meatballs and the chicken legs recipes have been the best.  The meatballs also made a fantastic lunch option the next day.  We'll probably whip up a huge batch soon and shove them in the freezer for a fast meal on a busy night.  I was hoping the tea-infused gelatin cubes might be appealing to the kids in the way that Jell-O would be (I chose a strawberry-pomegranate flavored herbal tea and sweetened them with a touch of honey).  Unfortunately, they aren't entirely enthralled with them, and neither was Gavin.  I'm suspecting that their palates have not quite adapted to less-sweet treats.  I may try them again further down the road to see if they are more appreciated at that point in time.  We weren't too keen on the sponge bread either.  While it was definitely "spongey," it certainly wasn't "bread."  It was very eggy and kind of bland.  

There's plenty of recipes that I still want to try, like the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs!  Elias is dying to get his hands on some of the recipes out of the dessert section.  

Is it Frugal?

From a frugal perspective, I believe that this book is a great buy and worth the money. It is a fantastic source of information that is broken down for easy digestion (haha).  It's also a great one to have out and present to people who are asking questions about how your family is eating.  Many of the recipes fit well into a frugal or budget-conscious lifestyle, and the ones that seem a little pricey are easy enough to tweak (like I did with swapping out the turkey legs for super-cheap chicken legs or switching flank steak for the petite sirloins that were on sale that week).  Since many of the recipes rely greatly on the seasoning mixes that are provided in the book (which are awesome and easy to make since we already have most of those seasonings on hand), it's easy to swap out meats and try different flavoring combinations.  

Diane is also kind enough to offer some tips for those of us who shop on a budget and discusses what your quality "priorities" should be when you are in the grocery store.  She also provides a short answer to the question of whether it's worth eating Paleo when you can't afford grass-fed everything (spoiler:  The answer is yes!).  

One more quick note:  Although this book is available for the Kindle, I think that going that route would limit the usefulness of this book.  You'd lose out on the tear-out guides, and probably most of the good graphics.  Additionally, I don't like the Kindle for recipes AT ALL.  It's electronic equipment, and I'm of the opinion that electronics + kitchens = problem.  

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