Book Review: Make it Paleo

Make it Paleo
By Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

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A couple of weeks ago, after sending Bill and Hayley my expression of interest, I was generously sent this book along with a humble request to write a review of it for my blog.
I wrote them back saying I was honored to know that the Strictly Paleo…ish! blog is something they would like their work to be associated with, that I (of course) happily accepted the request and that I felt grateful for the trust and the opportunity to write this review…but I also told them that those facts would not have any influence on what was to be written in the review, as that would not be fair neither to them nor to me…nor to you.
I assure you that this review is as true as it gets, that it’s my honest opinion and that every single word in it is fully backed up by my heart!

First Impression
When I received the book, I first quickly just browsed through it (like you often do with a book of this kind)…and within seconds I was completely blown away by it’s potential!
Beautiful, attractive pictures of each recipe. The recipe instructions were clearly outlined and kept short and concise, leaving minimal room for misunderstandings. There is unmistakeably a very warm tone throughout the book. A short introduction section in relation to the huge recipe section leaves no questions about the profile of this book: It’s a cookbook.
I knew right from the start that I would have a great time writing this review!

About the authors
Bill and Hayley dedicate a few pages of the introduction section to also introduce themselves to the reader. They each briefly share a bit about their individual backgrounds, their own versions of how they met, how they grew dedicated to living a Paleo lifestyle together and how this eventually led to the book you’re holding in your hands.
In just a few pages I know in my heart that Bill and Hayley are two passionate, honest, caring, loving and helpful persons that also are well aware of, and grateful for, the fortunes of their life situation.
I guess you could say they seem to possess all the characteristics you want to see in those you consider being your closest friends, and that feels comforting for me as reader.

At first though, I must admit, I thought that “wow, this is gonna be a few cheesy pages”…but after reading them I’m happily proven wrong! What they actually do here is to defencelessly open up to the reader, and speak directly from their hearts…which is nothing less than brave, and having the courage to do so impress me!
Normally, I wouldn’t care much about a section like this in a cookbook…but for this book, I do think it actually benefit from it.
I feel these pages gives the book another dimension, making it more than a “just a cookbook”…this is where you get the feeling that you are actually holding a piece of Bill and Hayley’s life, and that in some way makes you appreciate and respect it even more.

About the book
It’s obvious that a lot of hard work and thought has carefully been put into making this book a great experience for the reader.
As I’ve already mentioned, the focus in this book is on the food. The Paleo concept is just briefly (but enough to get an idea about it for those that are not yet aware) explained in the introduction section, which I think is a good thing. There are plenty of books out there that, in detail, describe the Paleo way of living, and then usually ends with a few recipes. This is actually the first book that I’ve come across that does the complete opposite, and that really makes it stand out!
I think it’s a really smart move by Bill and Hayley to differentiate in this way, to choose to not compete with the existing literature and instead put the emphasis on inspiration rather than theoretic knowledge!
What also strikes me is the fact that, due to it’s chosen profile, this book has the potential to attract a very wide audience, and is actually not really targeted in any specific way. Well, of course it’s all Paleo compliant food, but anyone can enjoy and benefit from it. I mean, no matter which of the following categories you belong to I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with what I say below after reading the book:

• Those that don’t know, or care, about what eating Paleo means:
I’m 100% sure there’s not one single recipe in here you would not consider being food, and I’m pretty confident you would find the majority of them quite appealing too.
You would probably not have any problem placing this cookbook among the rest of your favorite cookbooks…and maybe it’ll even make you a bit curious about “this Paleo thing”…

• Those that are aware of the term Paleo, but still think it means to “only eat raw meat and nuts”:
This book will drastically de-dramatize your view of what Paleo is! You will think “What?…but…this..is REAL FOOD!”, and chances are you want to know a bit more about what Paleo really means…

• Those that are new to Paleo, but still struggle with giving up old habits:
This book will take away any concern that you might have about what you can and can not eat, and it will leave you super excited about all the good things you can eat (which is where your focus should be if you want to make a smooth and positive transition). What I mean is that…
…you won’t care that you can’t have cereal when you can have “Grain-free Granola” instead!
…you won’t care that you can’t have regular potato fries when you can have “Cajun Sweet Potato Fries” instead!
…you won’t care that you can’t have Ben & Jerry’s when you can impress your friends with home made, healthy, “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream instead!
(…and this list can go on forever!)

You will also probably feel relieved that you don’t have to constantly come up with, or search for, good meals that will take you through the day…it’s all in there and all you have to do is to cook from it and you’ll know you’re on the right track! There is plenty of variation so you can solely cook from this book for a long, long time without getting bored or tired of the food you eat. The time you’ll save from not having to actively search for good recipes all the time you can spend on educating yourself instead, or just to help you find a good and stress free life balance through this phase of your paleo journey.

• Those that already have fully adopted the Paleolithic lifestyle:
No matter how skilled you are in the kitchen, this book will provide great and endless inspiration!

Unfortunately though, I don’t think many of the first two categories naturally will come across this book as I assume most stores are likely to only put it on display it in their “health” or “special diets” sections…and that’s a shame!
Paleo or not…the food itself in this book can very well compete with the food in any given cook book…and if letting it do so many more could become aware of the Paleo concept in a beautiful, attractive, un-forced and de-dramatized way (and, who knows, maybe from there even become a little bit curious to find out more about it’s health benefits! (…so now it’s up to you and me to help spread awareness of this book outside the paleosphere!)) ;)

Being a Swede, I’m also happy to see they’ve taken international readers into consideration by adding US/Metric unit conversion charts to the end of the book. However, there are a few ingredients throughout the recipes that are very hard to come by here in Sweden (eg. Coconut Aminos, Palm shortening etc). Now I know my best choice for substituting eg. Coconut Aminos is to use wheat free Tamari instead, but I still kind of miss a “best option for replacement” chart for those ingredients that are not that commonly available world wide.
This is even more important for those being new to Paleo…
Anyway…if you’re an international reader, don’t let this note scare you. As long as you’ve got basic skills in the English language and/or know how to use a dictionary this book will without a doubt still bring you a lot of joy!

About the food
The huge food section is divided into logical chapters:
• Breakfast (21 recipes)
• Appetizers (20 recipes)
• Entrées (58 recipes, divided into 3 sub-categories)
• Salads (18 recipes)
• Soups (9 recipes)
• Sauces & Dressings (25 recipes)
• Side Dishes (21 recipes)
• Treats & Cheats (43 recipes, divided into 8 sub-categories)
This provides a very good overview, and you know exactly where to look for a certain type of dish or food you would like to cook.
The recipes are very well written, with short and consice step-by-step instructions that are extremely easy to follow. Not a word more than what is needed is used, which gives the recipe pages a very clean look-and-feel. Each recipe is pictured with beautiful, full-page images, and most of them have got a discrete personal note from the authors.
In the intro pages there are some useful basics, such as which spices and herbs goes well with what type of meat, suggestions on how to make wise choices when stocking up your kitchen, and at the end pages there’s even suggestions on how to combine different recipes to make complete, themed, menus for special occasions.

Of course I’ve tried a few recipes out, and they’ve been nothing but DELICIOUS! Here’s some samples for you:

“Deviled Eggs”
– Awesome no matter if they’re served as a starter, on the Christmas table or as a part of a Sunday brunch…

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“Balsamic And Rosemary Chicken”
– Quick, easy, fresh, and packs a lot of delicious flavor! I served this with some Lemon And Almond Cauliflower Rice.
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“Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese”
– My girlfriend, who’s not too fond of neither dates nor goat cheese, asked me the other night if it’s not time to make a new batch soon… (That’s how great the combination is!)
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Initially I planned to have a few more samples ready for you before publishing this review, but unfortunately I’ve been way more busy lately than I expected when I started to write it…and I feel I don’t want to stall the post just due to this. However, I have a long list of recipes to try out as soon as I get the chance to, so I’ll just update the post with new samples when I’ve tried them out instead.

Other notes
If you’re interested in Bill and Hayley’s food, but by any reason don’t want to or can’t buy the book, you can download their smartphone app for free. It’s called “myKitchen” and is available both for iPhone and Android.
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The app pulls the recipe data from Bill and Hayley’s website’s (“The Food Lovers Kitchen“) database, resulting in over 400 recipes(!) + it has some really neat and handy features.
Now I have not browsed them all, but I think it’s safe to guess that most of the recipes in the book is also available through their website and smartphone app (although you’ll miss out on the great feeling of flipping through the pages of an awesome book…and you might get your phone messy too (the book will definitely not disturb you with an incoming call while reading or cooking…that’s for sure)). ;)

Also, Bill and Hayley recently reviled their next Paleo cookbook project: “GATHER, the Art of Paleo Entertaining”, and after reading “Make it Paleo” I have really high expectations on their new book!

I do encourage you to take the time and visit their website for much more info on their work.

Summary
Well, I guess you have since a long time already figured out that I HIGHLY recommend this book. It is by far the best Paleo cookbook I’ve ever read, and if you’re just the slightest interested in good food or healthy living you should really consider getting it…if you’re into Paleo it’s a must have!
Either way, you will not regret the purchase…

-End of review-

Thanks for taking the time to read this review and I hope you enjoyed it (even though it turned out to be quite a bit longer than I first intended…guess that’s kind of a proof that it made a huge impact on me).
Have you already read the book?, if so I would really like to know what you think about it, so please drop a comment below.

Take care now, and have a great day!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Make it Paleo

  1. Pingback: The Best Thing Strictly Paleo…ish Ever Ate! « Popular Paleo

  2. Pingback: Book Review: “It Starts With Food” | Strictly Paleo…ish!

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