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Book Review: Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

Okay, I know I’ve been giving you lots of Paleo Diet cookbooks lately. The fact is that I spent months adapting recipes, working around ingredients, and calculating substitutions in order to use recipes to cook for myself and my diet restrictions. Then one day I picked up a Paleo cookbook and realized, “Hey! This is the food I eat! There are recipes out there for me!” I was overjoyed to be able to cook a recipe straight up again. And while I choose not to label my diet (labels bring philosophies, philosophies bring rules, and rules are confining and make me depressed), in truth I am eating a mostly Paleo Diet. So there you have it–the reason for all my Paleo cheerleading. Back to the book.

I was thrilled to receive this book to review*. The photos looked tasty, the ingredients looked yummy, the recipes looked simple. And I was mostly pleased with my little tour through Make it Paleo. But in the interest of full disclosure, I had a couple of minor complaints as well. So while I’m giving this a firm recommendation, I’m also adding on a few qualifying statements.

You may have caught on by now that I’m supportive of lots of photos in my cookbooks. This one does not disappoint. Bill and Hayley give a large, color photo of every recipe. And there is no shortage of recipes. This a cookbook with heft. With over 200 recipes on nearly 450 pages, this book provides recipes for every meal from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. And I love the menu pages in the back, providing recipe combinations for every major holiday as well as a few ought-to-be-major-holidays (Island Luau, anyone?)

Bill and Hayley’s recipes are unapologetically simple, letting simple flavors shine in the recipes. And many of the recipes are suited for feeding one or two people, which can be a difficult cooking situation (though cooking strip steaks for a family of 6 might not be practical). Bill and Hayley have a good eye for making Paleo food fancy, and their book has some wonderful special occasion recipes in it (Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, Duck Confit, Steamed Maryland Crabs). There are several recipes, though, that lend themselves to daily nourishment of larger families, an these are the ones we tried out.

The Zucchini Lasagne was popular with the whole family, even with the kiddos who staunchly defend their anti-zucchini preferences (usually in August). And the Strawberry Tartlets made a most adorable Valentine’s Day treat with just minor adaptations (pinch the crust into a heart shape before filling).

 

The Caesar Dressing made a tasty departure from our usual dinner-time-vinaigrette, though I added a significant amount of garlic. And I love the pages of simple, roasted veggies. Not that you really need a recipe for roasted broccoli, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that veggies don’t have to be fussy to be delicious.

We also tried out a handful of other recipes that I didn’t photograph, including some delicious marinades and a very tasty meatloaf.

But we also tried a few recipes that were less than stellar. The banana bread recipe, for example, was a bit bland and dry. Several of the recipes weren’t specific in pan sizes and I realized too late that my pan was too small or too large. And some of the portion sizes seemed a bit off (1 roast chicken for 2-4 people? I can feed at least 6 with a chicken). The more I cooked, the more it seemed to me that this was a good cookbook that, with a bit of careful editing, could be an excellent cookbook.

Even with my nit-picking, this book has still earned a place on my bookshelf. I intend to pull it down for those few family-friendly recipes that we enjoyed so much, and also for the days when the rest of the family is eating grilled cheese and I need a quick chicken breast recipe for myself. And I hope for opportunities to try out some of the fancier dishes, or, even better, to have some of the fancier dishes tried out on me (*wink in the Sweetie Pie’s direction).

Review posts are my opinions on items that were sent to me free of charge. The items were given to me, but the thoughts and opinions are my own. I only provide reviews of items that I find to be truly worthy of recommendation.

Show Comments


 

  • How on earth do you feed 6 people with 1 chicken? What size chicken do you use? A standard 8 pieces of chicken will not feed my family of 4. Even the kids arent full with 1 chicken leg each. Reply
    TC May 1, 2013 AT 9:42 am
     
    • TC, I suppose the short answer is that I don't depend on the chicken to fill them up. :) In our family, we treat meat like chocolate--tasty and necessary, but a little bit goes a long way. I rely on one 3-4 pound chicken to provide a piece of meat for each person in our family of 6, and then also serve a very large salad and a large pan of roasted starchy veg (sweet potatoes, or winter squash), or a occasional loaf of bread. They get as much of the veg as they want, but only one piece of meat. I suppose I can understand that one chicken might feed 4 people, if you're having a meat-centric meal, but that seems unnecessarily expensive in my opinion. However, I don't get how a whole chicken could possibly serve 2 people. I simply can't imagine how anyone other than a 16-year-old boy could eat half a chicken for one meal. :) Reply
      Erin May 4, 2013 AT 7:25 pm
       
 
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