One of the first things you notice when you start cooking paleo recipes: it’s a commitment.
You have a whole new shopping list, filled with unfamiliar ingredients like coconut aminos, ghee, and beef liver. You have to learn about concepts like “intermittent fasting” and why legumes are a no-no. It can seem overwhelming, and frankly, it often feels like many of the recipes are just gobs of meat and fat.
Not so with paleo pioneer Mel Joulwan’s book “Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less,” the third in Joulwan’s “Well Fed” series.
This book seeks to remove the complexity from the paleo diet, with simple, attractive infographics showing new paleo-ites what to eat and what not to eat and an approach that combines ease and speed with truly delicious, gourmet, and innovative recipes.
“(Paleo) guidelines are fairly stringent but extremely practical, and they’re based on the idea that we should eat the foods that make us the healthiest,” Joulwan writes.
Joulwan’s background seems to have destined her to be a great cook, even with these constraints. Her dad owned a restaurant when she was growing up, and her mom was a frequent cooking contest winner. Joulwan also has a diverse background, with Lebanese, Italian, and Slovak roots. The recipes in this book combine all of these influences – as well as a few others – for a myriad of dishes that you can make in under 45 minutes with limited pots, pans, and stress.
I’ll admit, I tend to be skeptical of books that highlight the rapidity with which a given recipe can be made, not because I think all recipes need to take a long time, but because often these books include too many shortcuts that cut down on time, sure, but also on flavor, by using prepared foods. Joulwan’s paleo recipes, however, use only whole foods and are full of flavor and ingenuity.
The book is divided into sections that cover each major protein – beef, pork and lamb, chicken, eggs, and fish and seafood. Within each of these sections are both delicious stand-alone paleo recipes like beef Milanese with peach salsa, pork medallions with blackberry compote, and Mediterranean tuna cakes, but also guides for creating your own recipes with a common theme or guideline, like the velvet stir-fry recipes, the burger night variants, and more than enough egg salad ideas.
I particularly loved the recipes that stepped out of the ordinary, with lots of flavor thanks to spices and aromatics – not fat. The Moroccan steak salad with fig and pistachio dressing is definitely a new favorite; I ended up licking the pot for the hot dressing clean, with its fresh, slightly sweet-sour flavors. The chicken shawarma bowl – one of the “meat and potato” variants – combines a spiced chicken breast with a crisp, refreshing cabbage slaw and perfectly cooked potatoes, for an easy dish (provided you have a well-stocked spice cupboard) that adds color even to winter plates.
Joulwan includes lots of make-ahead tips and tricks as well as suggestions for how to make different paleo recipes in the book more to your taste. She also includes notes for making recipes Whole 30 and Autoimmune Protocol compliant. Her conversational tone and true love of food are what makes this book a real winner for anyone considering trying the paleo diet or even those who just want to eat cleaner.
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Pork medallions with blackberry compote image care of Greenleaf Book Group Press