PRACTICAL PALEO by Diane Sanfilippo: Review and Giveaway
“You can find extraordinary health in beautifully simple, unprocessed, whole foods.”
Toward the end of the introduction of Diane Sanfilippo’s new book Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle, is the above sentence, an elegant thesis statement of sorts for the book. The sentence is placed before the breakdown of the paleo concept, before the guides to foods and eating, before the everyday-language anatomy and physiology lessons that couple with illustrations to make sense of human systems, before the clarification of the familiar-but-often-hazy term “leaky gut,” before the dozen different thirty-day meal plans for various goals and conditions, before the entire cookbook’s worth of recipes, and before everything else that Sanfilippo has managed to include in this hefty volume, and although it is a simple explanation of the book’s guiding attitude, the chapters that follow clearly demonstrate that the world of paleo is incredibly rich in its simplicity.
Upon taking hold of this book for the first time, readers are sure to notice its unmistakable physical presence. Clocking in at 415 glossy pages, this book is substantial, and a quick flip-through will show it to be a thing of beauty. With photography by Bill Staley and Kelty Luber and Illustrations by Alex Boake, Practical Paleo’s visual appeal sets it apart from many other nutritional texts. The photos accompanying each recipe serve as a reminder that paleo eating means eating well, while the illustrations elucidate complex health topics that even those readers familiar with the paleo diet may have had difficulty fully grasping before Sanfilippo tackled the subjects with charming illustrations and her friendly, gently funny voice: “So, just like your mom picks up stuff lying around the house and puts it in its rightful place, insulin finds nutrients in your bloodstream and tries to put them in their rightful place—your cells.” Her talent for making complex material accessible animates this subject matter, moving it from the abstract—physiology—to the real—our bodies.
Those bodies, Sanfilippo acknowledges, are a diverse group, and from the outset, she acknowledges the need for individualization in an approach to eating. One-size-fits-all, hocus-pocus fad diets are out. “Practical Paleo will serve not just the average person looking for improved health, but also those who have been diagnosed with a medical condition and perhaps told they’d suffer with those symptoms for life,” she writes. “If you fall into the latter group, this book was particularly created for you.”
It is because of this approach that this book shines. Instead of merely acknowledging those with medical conditions, noting the necessary deviations from a standard diet in a special section, or sending these afflicted readers elsewhere for more information, Sanfilippo has successfully created a guide that fits all in its flexibility. I can’t stress enough that this is truly special.
Sanfilippo discusses leaky gut and helps readers understand whether theirs might fit the bill before laying out a dozen 30-day meal plans for conditions and goals including (but not limited to) Autoimmune Conditions, Thyroid Health, Athletic Performance, and Fat Loss. A Squeaky Clean Paleo plan provides a strict whole-foods paleo structure for those who aren’t looking for help with specific conditions or goals. Each plan comes with a list of diet and lifestyle items to add and avoid, nutritional supplements and herbs to consider, supportive nutrients and foods that contain them, and 30 days’ worth of meal plans connected to the recipes in the book.
In the recipe section, each recipe is marked on the bottom-left corner with the allergens or gut irritants it contains (nuts, eggs, nightshades or FODMAPS). If a recipe can reasonably be made without the ingredient in question, substitution information is listed above.
I have tried three of the recipes since receiving my review copy. Mom’s stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato cranberry sauce were simple to modify, using the marginal note, to be nightshade-free, and they’re fun to make. The rolling is much easier than I thought it would be. They reheat beautifully. The sweet & savory potatoes are delicious thanks to an unexpected ingredient. My new favorite food, though, is the herbal tea-infused gelatin cubes. These deliver the healing properties of gelatin, but offer a change from beef broth, and they’re absolutely addictive. I make mine without any sugar or other sweetener, but they still remind me of the Jell-O I used to eat by the batch-ful as a kid.
These recipes are a pleasure to flip though because, alongside necessary go-to staples like bone broth and sauerkraut, Sanfilippo includes exciting recipes that depart from the familiar stews and curries. I’m looking forward to making red palm & coriander tuna over daikon noodle salad, spiced lamb meatballs with balsamic-fig compote, and lamb dolmas, to name a few.
The book will be available on August 7, but it is available for preorder now. Diane Sanfilippo writes at balancedbites.com.
I'm glad this book has made it onto my bookshelf, and I recommend it to those readers looking for guidance in their efforts to find extraordinary health in simple, whole foods. For that reason, I am giving away a copy of Practical Paleo to one reader. In order to enter, all I ask is that you subscribe to this blog using the box on the righthand side of the page, right under "SUBSCRIBE to receive email notifications about new posts." You won't get frequent annoyances, but once we're acquainted, I'd love to keep in touch to let you know when I have new posts. After that, please leave me a comment to let me know that you've signed up. This giveaway will end on August 15 at 12:00pm PST. I'll choose a winner randomly.