As most of you know, I follow the Paleo diet due to dietary restrictions (dairy and legume intolerance, wheat allergy) as well as a general care for my own health and wanting to make sure Asa doesn’t have issues breastfeeding, since certain non-Paleo foods definitely affect him as well. Since we now live with my parents, who also follow the Paleo diet, I realized that my mom and I have a very nice stack of Paleo cookbooks to use, and I thought it might be nice to rate each one, for any of you who might be looking to buy a Paleo cookbook but don’t know which one to go with!
So let’s get started!
Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat
Best Mayo recipe, most versatility in flavors, most Whole30 compliant
Well Fed was the first Paleo cookbook I bought, and continues to be the one I am most impressed with. The recipes don’t call for crazy ingredients, and are deliciously adventurous while being relatively easy to make. I love that most of the recipes in the book are more international in flavor — many Paleo cookbooks tend to present simple, basic, somewhat boring recipes that I could have thought of myself, but Well Fed is made up of lots of exotic recipes that have been rethought to take out all the bad-for-you junk. They are wholly delicious, interesting, and truly great for the cook who likes to try more international flavors. Also, this book made me like cooked carrots. And that’s huge.
Pros: Almost entirely Whole30 compliant, easy to follow, inventive and interesting recipes, includes a comprehensive how-to-stock-your-kitchen preface, includes alternate ways to make a recipe, has a page of suggestions for quick dinner flavors, best Mayo recipe ever
Cons: sauces don’t always taste like what they’re supposed to be (the Ranch Dressing recipe, while good, tasted nothing like Ranch Dressing), danger of overeating due to deliciousness of recipes (okay, not a con. Ha!)
Purchase if: you’re doing the Whole30 and don’t want to worry about what recipes you can and cannot make while on the 30 days; you want a cookbook that has both quick dinner ideas AND more fancy ones; you like exotic flavors and aren’t afraid to try new things (Chocolate Chili? YES.); you are dairy intolerant and don’t want to worry about excluding dairy from your recipes (some Paleo cookbooks include certain forms of dairy as it CAN be good for you if you are not intolerant)
Bonus: If you need help being convinced that this cookbook is a must in your life, you can try out tons of Melissa’s wonderful recipes on her blog! Check it out here. Or, you can get a free 30-page PDF sampler. Have at it!
Primal Cravings: Your Favorite Foods Made Paleo
Best salad dressings
I got this cookbook for my birthday, so I haven’t been able to make a ton out of it yet. But I am already impressed! This one has the best Paleo dressings of all of the cookbooks– I was SO surprised to find that their Ranch tasted exactly like Hidden Valley Ranch. And Ranch dressing is my favorite dressing, so when I say it’s good you know it’s true. It also has a lot of ideas for foods that I wouldn’t have thought of — using potato rounds as hamburger buns, for example — as well as lots of ideas for trail mix, quick meat-veggie lunch rollups, and jello!
Pros: So many recipes! Lots of ideas for making the foods you are used to into Paleo meals; nicely sectioned out into categories of meats/mains, sides/salads, snacks, sweets, and basics; lots of dessert recipes for when you’ve got a sweet tooth; great snack recipes that would be good for kids; lots of great made-Paleo recipes like bread, crackers, muffins, and pancakes
Cons: a lot of dairy-optional recipes; I am dairy intolerant, so there are a few recipes I just can’t use because of the dairy content; would not be a good book to have during the Whole30 as there are a lot of SWYPO recipes (muffins, ice cream, bread…); might tempt more craving-prone Paleoists into eating too much “junk food” (yes, it can be junk even if it’s Paleo!). But y’know, those aren’t terrible cons.
Purchase if: You really want to eat some of your old foods, but want to make them Paleo; you have kids and need recipes that they’ll love ; you prefer the all-American diet, just modified into Paleo; you are not dairy intolerant and don’t mind using cheeses and whole-fat milk/butter in your recipes.
Bonus: They also have a blog (I think all of these Paleo cookbook authors do, actually) full of recipes you can test before making a purchase!
The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking
Most comprehensive guide to eating Paleo for a month
This one is my mom’s, and while I haven’t used it I think it is great because it lays out an entire month of Paleo cooking for you, complete with grocery lists! There are also inspiring transformation stories in the beginning, and a comprehensive guide of what Paleo is, what you can eat, how you should stock your kitchen, what you can drink, etc. I’m excited to try it out now that I live in the same house as my mom and can easily grab it for ideas.
Pros: the 30 day guide. Seriously, when you’re feeling desperate and need to stick to 30 days of Paleo, it’s great to have a guide to get you there! Plus, their recipes are very, very good. They’re not very exotic, but they know their flavor pairings and will still present you with meals that delight your tastebuds and sometimes surprise you. Also, their ingredients are mostly quite common. And their almond-flour pancakes are the bomb.
Cons: Again, these guys are dairy-optional Paleoists, so you have to watch out for that. As well, they call for duck fat a lot, but that is easily substituted.
Purchase if: you are doing the Whole30 and need particular help figuring out what to eat for a month, or just like having a structure to stick to.
Bonus: They have a website, and a Paleo Kitchen App!
Paleo Lunches And Breakfasts On The Go
Most surprising flavor combinations
I bought this one because I am terrible at figuring out lunch other than… leftovers from dinner. So when I saw the title, I immediately got it. And I’m so glad I did! Full of great, easy recipes for delicious lunches (and breakfasts!), this book has been such a lifesaver. I now have access to some great lunchtime recipes that for the most part utilize things easy to find and delicious to eat!
Pros: Each recipe is geared to only make 1-2 servings, so there’s no having to downsize in order to feed just yourself; it’s all lunch and breakfast foods (obviously) with lots of wraps that can be thrown together in minutes; there are some great unexpected flavor pairings; there are flavors from several different cultures, and recipes for grain-free casings like coconut flour wraps; there is a really handy guide to dining out in the front, as well as a suggested month of kid-friendly meals.
Cons: It doesn’t make multiple servings (a pro and con depending on who you’re feeding); there aren’t pictures for each recipe (that’s probably a personal con); it occasionally calls for ingredients that are specialized or only come out once a year; some recipes are a bit oddly flavored and not for every palate; about half of the recipes aren’t really “on the go.”
Purchase if: You, like me, have issues figuring out lunches, or if you need some one-serving ideas for quick dinners.
Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great
Most impressive all-around grain-free recipes
This one is my mom’s, and she loves it. Out of all of her cookbooks, this one is her absolute favorite, and she says she has not tried a recipe from this book yet that she dislikes. It has lots and lots of grain-free desserts, muffins, pancakes, etc. as well as some really delicious main dishes. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes; they look so, so good.
Pros: So many good desserts!; great bread recipes; perfect especially for gluten-allergic people, or paleoists looking for some great converted treat recipes.
Cons: for me, again, it’s a dairy-optional cookbook so I can’t have everything in it. But, according to my mom, that’s the only con.
Purchase if: you’re looking to add breads, cakes, pancakes, waffles, muffins, and etc. that are Paleo to your diet, or if you’re allergic to gluten, or if you’re okay with dairy and want some Paleo ice-cream.
Bonus: Website, where you can test countless delicious recipes before purchasing the book!
Paleo Indulgences: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes to Satisfy your Primal Cravings
Most impressive collection of desserts
This one (and the next one) is my mom’s as well, and neither of us have tried many recipes from it. But I’m already excited to try the marshmallow recipe (for camping!), the fruit jerky recipe, and several of the cookie recipes. This cookbook is definitely purely for decadence in your diet, when you just need to satisfy that sweet tooth or hankering for some comfort food.
Pros: as mentioned, there are some great-looking recipes for things that you don’t usually find in Paleo cookbooks, like marshmallows or fruit jerky. As well, there are lots of cakes, cookies, and muffins, so it’d be perfect for when you’re entertaining and need some Paleo dessert ideas.
Cons: according to my mom, a few of the recipes she has tried are way too egg-y. To compensate for the coconut flour, which soaks up a lot of moisture, they add a lot of eggs. So if you’re not into eggs, or you can’t have eggs, this book is not for you.
Purchase if: you need a Paleo dessert cookbook, or have kids who would probably LOVE the marshmallows or fish sticks.
Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen
Best collection of… well… comfort food.
The last of my mom’s cookbooks,and you guys… this one is so full of comfort-food recipes it’s not even funny! I cannot wait to try some of the things listed (fish tacos, apple and apricot pork chops, barbeque chicken). But then, what do you expect with a name like that?
Pros: lots and lots of comfort foods; easy-to-follow recipes; great homestyle cooking adapted to be wholesome and healthy.
Cons: once again, it’s a dairy-optional cookbook. Plus, according to mom, a few of the recipes weren’t that great.
Purchase if: you’re trying to adapt to the Paleo diet but don’t want to give up your favorite meal just yet.
Make it Paleo
And last but not least, we have Make it Paleo, which was written by the same people who authored The 30 Day Guide to Paleo. I love this cookbook. It has, hands down, the best Paleo desserts I’ve tried yet, plus the food photography is gorgeous, plus the recipes are all easy to follow… but seriously, their almond flour chocolate chip cookies? To die for. Currently, I have a ton of recipes marked to try out, and I have yet to try anything from this book that I did not like! I even had my sister-in-law make their coconut cake for my birthday, with Avocado Mocha Frosting on top. It was divine.
Pros: So many. Great desserts; beautiful photography; delicious main dishes; easy to use recipes, easy to find ingredients
Cons: Dairy optional, and some of the recipes are no-brainers (two-ingredient recipes are not things I want to pay for).
Purchase if: You have a hankering for chocolate chip cookies, need instructions on how to prepare unfamiliar foods, or need simple, easy recipes mixed in with the more complicated ones.
So that’s it! Those are all of the Paleo cookbooks I currently have access to, and I hope to soon add Well Fed 2 to my collection. As well as many of the others I see floating around at bookstores and Costco.
Do you have anything to add? Any Paleo cookbooks you’ve tried and loved?