Recently I met with a client who is gluten-free and looking for additional information on how to adapt her lifestyle to ensure she’s getting plenty of variety, nutrients and inspiration. She doesn’t have any weight loss goals, but is eager to sustain and improve her health with food. And unlike so many people who have self-diagnosed gluten sensitivities, she has had a biopsy after a lifetime of GI distress to diagnose complete gluten intolerance. For her, there are so exceptions or cheat days, it’s an adaptation that’s essential. She’s also outside of the crossfit/paleo/food centered world I have inhabited for so long that many of the books that to me were a given were completely new to her.
I did a quick write up of some of my favorites for her to dig into and I thought it would be worth posting here for others. While I’m dairy free and have some grains, they are few and far between, so I primarily reference paleo cookbooks as my go to resources. I like them for several reasons:
- Meals are vegetable centric and expose me to tons of new vegetables.
- They typically rely on healthy fat sources and are cognizant of not using oils at inappropriately high temperatures and do not use vegetable oils at all.
- If you want to add grains, like farro, rice or quinoa that’s pretty easy to do without having to have recipes dedicated to this.
- I frequently sub cuts of meat suggest for slightly leaner cuts, but haven’t found the impacts the deliciousness of the meal (ie chicken breasts for thighs, pork tenderloin for pork shoulders).
- Paleo cookbooks are finally as pretty as the other cookbooks. This was not true six or seven years ago! And have I mentioned my cookbook addiction? It’s really only cookbooks with pretty pictures.
So without further delay, here’s my list:
It all Starts with Food – This is written by the creators of the Whole30. It’s an incredibly well written and conversational book that breaks down all the different hormones involved in our metabolism, how foods affect them and how foods contribute to GI issues, autoimmune diseases and metabolic conditions. You may or may not want to do a Whole30 after you read it, but either way it’s good foundational information for you to understand about your body and circumstances.
Practical Paleo – Written by Diane Sanfilippo, she offers a primer at the beginning of the book on why she’s a proponent of paleo eating and how to eat in a balanced way. Then she breaks out a variety of autoimmune conditions and what is better to eat or avoid based on them and how that translates into meal plans. All of that comprises the first 200+ pages of the book, which are well-designed and approachable. Then she gets into the cooking. I especially like her spice blend recipes which I make up in batches to throw on meat before I cook it up to minimize prep time later (hint: she’s also started selling some of them here, but there are more in the cookbook) and then I like her recipes for being relatively simple and straight forward and the fact that they are vegetable and protein centric. She’s also cognizant of which oils work best under heat – something I find consistent with all paleo cookbooks – so you don’t have to worry about substitutions.
Paleo Cooking with your Instant Pot – Written by Jennifer Robins, who also wrote Down South Paleo, this is a good fundamental how to make the most of your electric pressure cooker and then some. She covers the simplest staples (how to hard boil an egg) through a range of prepping meat, sides and treats. Robins is a great resource for how to reinvent staples with a gluten-free approach in addition to providing some new inspiration. A Texas girl that has lived all over the world, her recipes are both familiar and tasty. In fact, her baking recipes from her other books and blog are also good to have in the mix when you want a homemade treat. For those, I’ve gotten some of the more remote ingredients (cassava flour, anyone?) from places like Amazon or Thrive market if I couldn’t readily find them at the grocery store. One of our favorites is Fish Curry, which my daughter discovered first, so it has become her signature dish. Robins is also the founder of Legit Bread Company, so if you need a gluten free bread or mix, it’s a great option that’s much better than some of the gluten-free refined options you find at the store.
- Her recipe index online is here.
PaleOMG – Food blogger turned lifestyle blogger, Juli Bauer is a spunky crossfitting Coloradan who has delicious and beautiful recipes both on her website and in several of her cookbooks. I get her weekly email, which gives me a little extra inspiration in the kitchen and she’s another resource I turn to, especially if I want to bake anything gluten free. Her baked goods are delicious, but rich, so I make them sparingly, which is consistent with her advice. She’s also who turned me on to things like collagen peptides for extra protein. Her recipes are pretty straight forward, easy to follow and yummy and her website also breaks holiday recipes, which is really helpful when you’re in a pinch for something to take to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner when you don’t want to make a big deal out of being gluten-free.
Nom Nom Paleo – When I want to get serious about cooking, I turn to Michelle Tam. Her recipes are consistently delicious and have more flavor complexity than some of my easier staples, BUT it also usually means a special trip to the store for things like sherry vinegar or lemongrass. It’s worth it, but takes a little more planning. She was also the first blogger hollering from the rooftops about why we need an InstantPot (electric pressure cooker), so clearly she’s on the money. Her dishes are heavily Asian inspired and frequently lean on richer cuts of meat, but I’ve had consistent success using leaner cuts as substitution without any issues (ie Chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs, pork tenderloin instead of pork shoulder). I’m just starting to try some of the things in her new cookbook Ready or Not, which breaks out recipes according to your level of time available to cook. Her Magic Mushroom Powder spice mix is a must have in my kitchen. To make it simpler, I order pre-ground porcini mushrooms from Amazon and use it in place of salt or as the primary seasoning on roasted vegetables or quick food to grill.
- Her recipe index is here.
- Her Facebook feed includes weekly live cooking shows, which you can see here.
That said, if I bake, I have to admit Martha Stewart and Williams-Sonoma are still my go tos. I’m curious though, what would be on your list?