Hello again! I am so very sorry I had no book review for you last week. You know how it is with the end of summer. Ish gets cray. I get lazy.

I want to start off by talking a little about these reviews. Someone recently asked me if I didn’t like a cookbook, would I say so in the review. To be honest, no. Not because I would ever lie to you, my little lovelies, but because I simply wouldn’t write a review on a book I don’t think is worth your time.  When it comes to reviewing others in the paleo-sphere, I prefer to take the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”, approach. Writing is hard. Writing recipes is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort just to write this little blog that 7 people read. I’m not going to sit here and bash what someone put their sweat and tears into. I wont tell you to go get it, but I certainly won’t criticize it.

When I am out looking for cookbooks, it usually goes like this:

I go to Barnes & Noble
I grab anywhere from 6-10 books.
I spend the next hour flipping through them.
I buy the ones I think are good for my needs.

I do this for a few reasons. I’ve bought a lot of cookbooks after seeing a pretty cover, or reading one recipe that I liked, only to come home and realize that it was the ONLY recipe I liked and it send up sitting on my shelf, unused.  Sometimes a paleo cook book will end up being full of weird starches or cheese, or it’s a ton of desserts. Those all serve their purpose, but it’s not what I need. I need ideas for what to make for dinner tonight. If it happens to have a few great treat recipes in it, that’s a bonus. Enter: Make It Paleo.

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So what’s the point of reviews? Well, if there’s a review up here at all, it’s because it’s a book or product that I personally love and think is valuable. Form there, every cookbook has it’s own perspective. Each it’s own purpose. Not every book is going to be right for everyone. They might not all even be right for me, but maybe it would be great for you. Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans, takes huge consideration for implementing Paleo into the family, kids especially. Slim Palate has a tip of the hat to weight loss, and may be for a more experienced cook/palate. Make it Paleo, however…is the best book I’ve seen yet for Paleo-newbies, someone new to the kitchen, or someone who doesn’t want to deal with a thousand different ingredients in the pantry. It’s Paleo. Made extremely simple.

They probably could’ve names this book:

“A Beginner’s Guide to Paleo”

“Paleo: It’s not that hard”

“Paleo for Dummies”

“Really. It’s Not That Hard.”

Any of those would’ve worked just fine. I’ll start by talking a little bit about the authors, Haley Mason and Bill Staley. Better known as the Food Lovers, and the brains behind PrimalPalate. PrimalPalate.com is a meal planning/recipe website that makes staying on a Paleo plan foolproof. They’re also the reason you can buy pretty bomb-ass chocolate chip cookie dough (that’s right, slice and bake paleo cookie dough…or shove a spoon in it and eat cookie dough) to ship right to your house and into your face.

The pair have authored the books, Gather – The Art of Paleo Entertaining, The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking, and the upcoming Make it Paleo 2.  If Instagram is any indication, the second in the Make It Paleo series is going to be ridonkulous. That’s why I went out and bought the original a few weeks ago.  OK, I didn’t go out and buy it. I opened my Amazon app and ordered that bad boy. Speaking of Instagram, head over and follow them at @HayleyMason, @BillStanley and @PrimalPalate…if not only for the hilarious and adorable antics of their Shih Tzu (Spelling? Maybe? Close?), Charlie. Don’t worry, he has his own account: @ChuckDickens.

I’ve been raving about this book to everyone around me for the past two weeks. Primarily because the Whole Life Challenge is right around the corner. These recipes are all extremely user-friendly. Many of them only use a few ingredients, very creatively. The techniques are easy to figure out, and nothing is too lofty. At first, I thought I would be bored by it. I’ve been cooking, and cooking paleo-based menus, for years now. I was happy to find that I was wrong. I actually found my new favorite rub for steaks in this book, and it’s one I never would’ve come up with on my own.  I can’t say enough how much this book will help you.  If you’re starting the Whole Life Challenge, Whole30, 21DSD, or any Paleo type challenge, you need to run out and buy this book.  If you’re starting up with Paleo, it’s definitely in the required reading. If you’ve never touched a stover before, get some supervision, then get Make It Paleo. Like now. Well not now. Finish reading first, then go.

As many cookbooks do, especially Paleo ones, this starts with their story.  Just what brought these two not only to Paleo, but together. Oh yea, they’re married…did I forget to mention that? Something that I find really special about each of their stories, is that it’s probably a very similar one for most of us when it comes to how we found Paleo. Hayley, through being introduced to it at a CrossFit gym after years of being at war with her body image and finding true health through the madness (sound familiar, ladies?), and Bill after meeting Hayley who was already heading down the whole foods road. Way to go, lady (I’m talking to Hayley, here. Not you, Bill). There was no auto-immune issue, weight loss need, nothing critical.  Just a quest for overall better well being. I think that’s how most of us end up here, and it’s nice to see. So many times people believe that only those with health issues that require a Paleo diet are the ones who take that approach, when the reality is that most of us simple tried it, felt good, learned more, and stuck with it.

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Remember that jabber about it being a great book for beginners? It proves that point immediately with a few simple but excellent guides in the first few pages: A short summary of what exactly IS the Paleo diet? An overview of Paleo vs Primal. A simple list of 12 items: 6 to eat and 6 to avoid. Plain, easy, and laid out in a way that is so easy a caveman could do it (see what I did there?)

Charts illustrating what the different cuts of meat are, and even a season-by-season guide to produce.

One of my FAVORITE parts of the introduction pages dubbed “The Paleo Kitchen”, is the ‘In the Kitchen’ tool guide. 29 essential tools. Obviously, don’t go out and get these suckers all at once, but it’s a great baseline of having everything you need to make wonderful meals.  Again, no tool is crazy. There’s no deli meat slicer, or Sous Vies machine, or weird knives that you’re going to use twice a month. It’s the basics of a kitchen that gets used, and the tools that are going to make your life EASIER…not more complicated.

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OK OK enough about all of that. It’s time for the food. I made a few things, and all of them were easy to prepare and tasty as heck (something about Bill and Hayley makes me not want to swear). If you make nothing else out of the breakfast section, make the breakfast sausage…in bulk. The seasoning combo is exactly what you want in a real, good old fashioned breakfast patty: sage, fennel, a little spice. Have it as a patty, on a pizza (a paleo one, duh), crumbled into eggs, go nuts!

A huge winner for me was the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (I subbed in butter for the palm shortening). Ya know when you’re making a paleo muffin, and you can just tell that the batter isn’t going to result in that fluffy, bread, muffin texture you want? You know you’re going to end up eating an almond brick? With these? I could tell as I was mixing the batter that these bitches (I guess I’m over the cursing thing) were going to be amazing. They were. Sadly, I can’t have them for the next 8 weeks as they use maple syrup, but they will be added to the regular rotation. I’ve already made them three times. I’m sharing them, I’m sharing them!

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All you need to make the Lemon Poppy Seed muffins and be very, very happy.

The slow cooker bbq pork was, again, absurdly easy. I used it for days in a dozen different ways.

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One of the last things I made out of the book, and one that I was really quite shocked at how good it was, is the Chicken Lo Mein. It’s always been a favorite of mine when I used to eat take out Chinese food. Something about the salty, nutty sauce with all the veggies and hunks of chicken just did me right. I was skeptical, since there are no actual noodles in this, but I shut up real quick. There is never any need for take out with a recipe like this in your pocket. You don’t even have to follow the exact recipe. I didn’t have broccoli on hand, as it calls for, but I had zucchini. Threw that in instead. It’s really the sauce that makes it. Coconut aminos, sesame oil, garlic and ginger over all of the mushrooms, celery, green onion, cabbage, whatever the heck else you want toss in the mix. It really was astoundingly good. I’m just pissed i had to eat it with a fork, as no chopsticks were in reach.

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Back to the big big victor. The steak. The Cinnamon Steak Skewers to be exact. I’m a bit of a beef purist. Salt, pepper, butter, sear, done. I don’t like a lot of fuss when it comes to my meat. Not in a million years would I have thought, “I’m going to put cinnamon on this steak”. I would have been seriously missing out.  It’s warm and savory with a little kick.  The rub that they’ve created, gives you that bittersweet ending. The one where, you’re on your last bite…and you’re a little bit sad because it’s over, but you’re happy that it happened.

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Once again, I was elated to see tons of pictures. It’s so easy to decide what you want to make when you can just flip around and figure out what looks good. It’s even better when you decide what looks good, and find you already have all of the ingredients in your cabinet. Ah, the beauty of simple ingredients.  Such was the case last night. I had salmon, I had an appetite, and I had no ideas. Cut to opening up Make It Paleo and the Jerk Salmon recipe. A few spices and some lime juice later and I was a happy girl.

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As always, there aren’t enough meals in a week to make everything I want to out of this book.  The duo of chicken wings, peppermint patties, eggs paleo, every salad, the chocolate cake…yea. That chocolate cake looks completely insane. This is an event cake. This is an, it snowed out and the fire is going and it’s the best day ever kind of cake.

The wings two ways. These seem like exactly what you want now that football season is back in swing. Some buffalo for those of us who like some heat, and a garlic version for the more uh… sensitive palates.

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The last thing I need to point out about this book, is hidden in the last few pages. Menus for Special Occasions. Anything you can think of. Tex Mex Night. The Big Game. V-day. New Years. Thanksgiving. Summer BBQ. Everything you need to build your menu right from these 443 pages. They could not make it easier for you.

Hayley and Bill. Bill and Hayley. Hayley and Bill and Charlie. They’ve created something that takes what can be intimidating and makes it something that anyone and everyone can do.  You don’t have to be a chef to make amazing meals. You don’t have to go out and buy the newest, coolest kitchen gadget, you don’t have to fill your pantry with every single spice known to man from here to Kalamazoo. This book proves one very key point about living and eating whole foods: It’s not that difficult and anyone can do it.

This brings me back to why everyone doing the Whole Life Challenge should probably own this piece of Paleo Literature.  Not only do the Mason-Staleys give us recipes that we can make tonight, they give us a proverbial encyclopedia of paleo…an EncycloPaleo, if you will. I know I’ve probably said the word ‘simple’ a thousand times, but it’s an important word. One of my biggest qualms with the Paleo/Chef-On-TV/Food-Blogger/Insta-Food time that we’re in, as much as I adore it, is that it seems like everyone feels the need for every dish to be a complicated masterpiece.  We seem to forget that food can be easy. It can be fun. It will still be delicious.

I can understand how someone who has used their stove as storage up until now would look at it and think,

“No way can I make that. I’m ordering a pizza.”.

Here, we have pages and pages of recipes that tell us,

 ‘No! You really can! Grab those spices and that hunk of meat and those veggies and let’s do this thing!”

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