Guest author Alex “Chicken Sausage” Woolfson brings you her take on Diane Sanfilippo’s new book Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach To Heath And A Whole-Foods Lifestyle.
There’s a lot of shit in Practical Paleo. Literally. The first few chapters are all about your digestive system: how it works, what comes out, and what it says about what you should be eating. In his forward to the book, Robb Wolf commends Diane Sanfilippo for taking complex ideas, like a leaky gut, and making them easy to understand. As a lady with her own set of digestive issues, this is what appealed to me when I first picked up my copy. I found that Wolf is right, the book is easy to digest, pun intended, with great illustrations, my favorite of which being a piece of poop in a tiara (can’t make this stuff up). Joking aside, Practical Paleo offers great guidelines to help treat a variety of ailments through a paleo lifestyle. Ms. Sanfilippo’s recipes are clear and easy to follow, and for the most part I’ve found them to be quite tasty. However, while the book totes its practicality, I found it difficult, as a busy New York CrossFitter with a demanding job, to find the time to do all the precooking prep work that many of the book’s recipes call for. Overall, this book is a great read, offering interesting insight to your own insides, along with some damn good recipes.
In the first part of Practical Paleo, Ms. Sanflippo tells her own story of paleo discovery, her career as a nutrition consultant, and explains the paleo philosophy. She offers an easy list of yes and no foods, along with some flexible exceptions. For example, she considers clarified, grass fed butter okay, along with ghee. Her baked recipes often call for high-grade maple syrup. Depending of your interpretation of paleo, this may change some recipes for you. Her 30 day meal plans are thorough and clear, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes that specify when you should make a double batch, so you can have leftovers. Meal plans are curated to a number of ailments, including fat loss, autoimmune conditions, digestive health, athletic performance, and many more. To make it even easier, shopping lists customized for each meal plan are available online.
But to make paleo more practical, the book expects you to put in a lot of prep work. Clarifying your own grass fed butter to make your own ghee, buying fresh herbs from the green market to dehydrate them in your oven for 4 hours, creating as many as 10 different spice blends in your food processor so you can have them on hand when a recipe calls. There is a lot of prep work involved. I tried one spice blend, drying my own herbs, the whole deal, and I have to say, it was way tastier than any spice blend from the grocery store. But I also know that I don’t have that kind of time. I’ve figured out my own ways to make sure my pantry is stocked, mostly with store bought alternatives, using better quality butter and not clarifying it. I can still make the recipe, but maybe it’s not as squeaky clean as it could be. I think that we all have to decide just how paleo we’re going to be, and make exceptions based on our lifestyle. For me, I found a rigorous 30 day meal plan difficult to follow, but I did my best to incorporate the meal plan for digestive issues into my everyday cooking, and I am feeling some of the results.
I’d absolutely recommend Practical Paleo to anyone looking for some tasty paleo recipes. My favorites include the Fiery Jalapeño Bison Burger, Sweet Potato pancakes, and Bacon Wrapped Smokey Chicken Thighs. If you’re willing to commit the time and focus for a 30 day meal plan, this is a great book to help you focus on what foods are best for your needs. If you’re a busy New Yorker, you can tweak some recipes and prep work and make it work for you. Whoever you are, Practical Paleo can offer you an easy to understand guide to your insides, along with a delicious meal.