Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week is Paleo Perfected: A Revolution in Eating Well with 150 Kitchen-Tested Recipes by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen (America’s Test Kitchen), home to Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country.
The cover of ‘Paleo Perfected: A Revolution in Eating Well with 150 Kitchen-Tested Recipes’ (America’s Test Kitchen).
Following a paleo diet isn’t easy. Our modern approach to eating, heavy on processed foods and refined sugars, is pretty much the antithesis of paleo, which emphasizes minimally processed, whole foods and plenty of meat and vegetables, but no dairy, grains, refined sugars, alcohol, or other foods that were introduced to the human diet after the Paleolithic period.
For some, it’s worth the effort. Look at one of Yahoo Food’s Blogger of the Week, Russ Crandall. After doctors couldn’t figure out why he had a stroke at age 25, he took a close look at his diet. Going paleo seemed to improve things, and he’s stuck with it ever since.
But reconciling the rules of paleo with our taste for classics like spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, and pancakes seems near impossible. But America’s Test Kitchen, the 2,500 square-foot-kitchen that’s home to Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country and boasts a team of more than four dozen test cooks, editors, food scientists, tasters, and cookware specialists, was up for the challenge.
Greek Lamb Meatballs with Cauliflower Rice (Photograph: Carl Tremblay)
America’s Test Kitchen spent more than a year developing, testing, and retesting recipes for Paleo Perfected, which is both a cookbook geared toward everyday use and a comprehensive guide to paleo eating.
The first part of Paleo Perfected is called “The Paleo Kitchen: Getting Started.” In these pages, America’s Test Kitchen shares what they learned over the course of creating the book. They cover the basic tenets of paleo, including foods that fall under the “yes,” “no,” and “in moderation” categories, and offer a chart on how to swap out 10 common ingredients that are off limits on the paleo diet, including sugar, butter, vegetable oil, canned tomatoes, and soy sauce. You’ll also find advice on shopping for produce, meat, and seafood; an illustrated guide to giving your pantry a paleo makeover; a quick overview of baking with alternative flours; and a 101 lesson on spiralizing.
This section ends with recipes for homemade paleo-friendly versions of kitchen essentials like chicken broth, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, and sandwich rolls. If this is all starting to sound overwhelming, rest assured that America’s Test Kitchen is wise to the fact that not everyone has the time or inclination to make their own ketchup and mustard and with this in mind, they made sure all of the recipes work with store-bought versions of those pantry staples.
Blueberry Muffins (Photograph: Carl Tremblay)
The rest of the book is devoted to everyday recipes, which include appetizers and snacks, vegetable mains and vegetable sides, and an unsurprisingly plentiful number of dishes featuring poultry, seafood, beef, pork, and lamb, as well as the occasional less-common meat like bison or venison. The book makes regular use of a slow cooker, which is ideal for winter-y soups and stews, but also just plain practical. Paleo or not, it’s hard to argue with the convenience and appeal of Slow-Cooker Southwestern Chicken Soup or Slow-Cooker Moroccan Fish Tagine.
The breakfast chapter features homemade sausage, plus eggs in many forms — omelets, frittatas, scrambled, and poached — and some real paleo challenges like pancakes, muffins, and granola. That’s about as sweet as things get; there’s no dessert chapter.
Every dish comes with a “why this recipe works” explanation, which details the ups and downs of the testing process. You could easily skip these introductions, but if read carefully, they offer handy lessons in how to develop your own paleo recipes. Test kitchen tips, such as how to devein shrimp or peel ginger, are sprinkled throughout the book and are useful regardless of whether or not you follow a paleo diet.
It’s easy to focus on all the foods that are paleo no-no’s, but America’s Test Kitchen presents paleo less as a diet and more as a common sense approach to healthy eating. There are a few charts and some information on ingredient substitutions, but rather than focusing too heavily on what you can and cannot eat, they emphasize the fact that paleo eating is really about eating fresh, minimally processed foods. In other words, it’s “the type of foods that sensible healthy folks would want to cook for their family and friends.”
Visit Yahoo Food throughout the week for recipes from Paleo Perfected: A Revolution in Eating Well with 150 Kitchen-Tested Recipes (America’s Test Kitchen).
Check out other books from Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week: