I’ve mentioned a few times how I’m interested in eating vegan, so reviewing a book based around eating a paleo diet may seem a bit strange, so let me clear that up; I’m not vegan, I eat meat, I am just interested in eating more vegan meals because I believe I shouldn’t eat too much meat and I want my veggies to be the star of more of my meals, rather than an afterthought – I would like to eat more plant-based foods.
So what is eating a paleo diet all about and why am I interested in a book about it? In the introduction to Perfectly Paleo by Rosa Rigby, we are told, “The Paleo diet is derived from the foods our ancestors consumed in the Palaeolithic era … they are foods we have fuelled our bodies with for centuries that have not been farmed or processed in any way and are therefore absorbed in their raw form. “
That, to me, makes a lot of sense, I essentially want to wean myself away from processed foods. So it means you don’t eat grains, dairy or refined sugars and oils, and although I don’t intend to give up grains (just not eat too much), I struggle with too much dairy and I’d like to eat less refined sugar, so in many ways the theory behind the paleo diet works for me.
Rosa also points out that our ancestors, unlike us, would have had days where they ate little and managed by foraging for nuts and berries, and other days, after a successful hunt when they could indulge, but importantly, that wouldn’t have been every day, some days, prehaps many days would have been meat free.
The introduction also includes Rosa’s back story – how she came to live with paleo diet, her top ten tips, a brief summary of the main ingredients you are likely to need and and a small selection of recipes for preserves, sauces and sides, plus a bone broth and a vegetable broth recipe.
The remainder of the book is divided into five chapters, “Breakfast Boost”, “ Super Snacks”, “Salads, Soups and Sandwiches”, “Main Meals” and “Tasty Treats”.
Chapter one, “Breakfast Boost” provides a variety of ideas to help start your day, from smoothies and seed pots to muffins and banana pancakes. I quite like the idea of the “Riceless Breakfast Kedgeree” which involves a soft boiled egg wrapped in flaked fish with a mild curry flavour.
I was keen to look at the chapter on “Super Snacks” as I always find it hard to give up on snacking when I am trying to watch what I eat, so I’m always looking for slighlty less naughty options. This section offers a couple more dips, plus crackers, nuts and seeds. It also shows you how to make some delicious looking “Sweet Potato Scones” and “Fruit Buns with Honey Butter”, or if you were feeling a bit adventurous you could try making “Jaffa Cakes”.
The third chapter, “Salads, Soups and Sandwiches” feels shorter than I would have liked, and although I’m not thrilled by the idea of “Squid Spaghetti”, I’m looking forward to making “Tomato and Romano Pepper Soup with Vegan Rolls”.
Within “Main Meals” four recipes are vegetarian (five if you remove chicken from the pizza), three are fish/seafood dishes and seven are meat based meals. I think I would have liked a few more vegetarian options, but in fairness the meat recipes look very good. I really like the idea of “Beef and Oxtail Ragu with Spiralized Sweet Potato” and “Smoky Pork Belly with Mustard Slaw”. The first meal I would like to try though is the (vegetarian) “Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fried Eggs”.
In the final chapter (my favourite), “Tasty Treats” you will find all kinds of baked goods as well as ice creams, a recipe for marshmallows and recipes for “Strawberry and Gooseberry Trifle” and “Mocha Mousse”. I definitely like the sound of “Campfire Pie” (think S’mores, meets banana, meets meringue pie), and surprisingly (because you would think I’d have had enough seeing them in every baking book), I’d also like to make the “Victoria Sponge” – I’ve been wanting to find a sponge recipe that doesn’t use refned sugar for a while, so this should fit the bill, (even if it does mean buying coconut flour and tapioca flour).
There are one or two odd ingredients to source if you are new to paleo eating, but there are so many cookbooks calling for alternative flours and coconut or nut milk right now, that you may be surprised how many things you already have in your cupboards. I found this to be a very balanced cookbook with a nice variety of different foods and flavours. It isn’t as big a book as I was expecting but it still contains more than 60 recipes which it claims are ‘energy-boosting’ and “easy-to-prepare”. Each recipe comes with its own sumptuous full-page photo (by Mowie Kay), something I alwas give full marks for, and there is also the odd sweet little illustration by Lily Rigby (I would have liked a few more).
This book has impressed me, it covers so many bases, whenever I have thought about eating paleo previously I assumed it would be all meat, but Perfectly Paleo has a good balance of meat and vegetarian options, and it is nice to have such a wonderful selection of sweet treats that don’t use refined sugars, I’m currently putting together a shopping list so I can make the “Frangipane Tray Bake” - I can’t wait!
Perfectly Paleo by Rosa Rigby, Photography by Mowie Kay
Published by Ryland Peters & Small
All images © Ryland Peters & Small