Book Review: Practical Paleo

Ok, how much do I love my job? Answer: heaps and heaps. I have about a thousand reasons for feeling this way, but today’s reason is because I received an advanced copy of Practical Paleo to review for all of you.

For those of you who don’t know, Practical Paleo is the soon-to-be released book by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites, one of THE premiere Paleo sites on the World Wide Web. It is one of my go-to sites when I’m feeling stumped about a particular nutrition issue for a client, or even if I just need a good recipe. Diane and her website never fail me. She’s also the co-host (along with Cave Girl Eats) of my favorite podcast, also called Balanced Bites.
So a few weeks ago I got an email requesting my address so I could be sent this lovely tome for advanced review. I was so excited! What an honor! THEN! When it arrived….Christmas morning and my birthday all balled into one.
At the risk of sounding like a weirdo fangirl, Practical Paleo is, simply put, the book of the year.
I can’t say it any more plainly than that.
I always knew that Diane knew her stuff. I attended one of her Practical Paleo seminars, I’ve talked with her in person, and I’ve even consulted her about some new-to-me things that cropped up with a few of my clients. But this book? It’s everything I want to be as a health coach rolled up into 400+ pages of genius. I’m almost angry at Diane for writing a book that perfectly sums up what I’m about as a health coach (PLUS gorgeous photos!!!! PLUS mindblowing recipes!!!!) before I could get to it. That’s sarcasm, but maybe not. I’m definitely jealous!
Three sections of beautiful photos and more information than you could ever want about what happens inside your body when you eat, why eating real food is essential to a long healthy life, meal plans, and the gorgeous recipes. I know I’m gushing here, but I can’t help it. This book will be my guide and my bible.
Let’s take it section by section:
First of all, part one is all about the hows and whys of shopping for food, cooking, eating, digestion, and…ahem…elimination. Curious to know how to get started with healthy eating? It’s in there. Curious to know how junk foods wreck our insides? It’s in there. Curious to know some tips and hints for maintaining healthy habits when you go out on the town? It’s in there. Buzz words are explained and misinformation is cleared up. My favorite section in this part is definitely “Everything We’ve Been Taught About Good Nutrition Is Wrong”. It is a concise and thorough explanation of why all the stuff we hear in the news and read in the paper is actually working against our health. I can see myself quoting from this for years to come.

(This is one of my favorite passages in the book. No hokum here, friends. Just eat real food.)

Part two consists of twelve 30-day meal plans to follow depending on the state of your current health. Have I used the word “genius” enough already in this post? It applies here too.
Typically when I see a book or a magazine article that contains a meal plan, I cringe and/or skim over it. I find most meal plans to be devoid of things I want to eat and information on why I ought to be eating these bland foods. Nobody wants to eat a broiled boneless, skinless chicken breast (or poached salmon for the love of heaven!) and steamed vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Blah.
Because we’re all different and have different goals and issues (fat loss? have cancer? a family tree riddled with autoimmune disease?) simply following a Paleo diet isn’t good enough. Sure we can eat healthy meats and tons of vegetables, but getting down to the nitty gritty of ensuring what we eat will serve us well is complicated stuff.
Practical Paleo to the rescue. Not only are there calendars with foods to eat each day, but lifestyle and supplement recommendations and thorough explanations of WHY these things are being recommended. (This is something I think other sources omit – the WHY!)
And what’s a meal plan without beautiful, tasty, mind-blowing food to eat everyday? Part three contains over 120 recipes.
Allow me to emote a bit about the recipes. Full disclosure, I was privy to some of the recipes while Diane was still writing the book. (How lucky am I to be able to taste test recipes? Another one of the thousand reasons I love what I do.) When she was having the photos taken, there were a group of friendly vultures hanging around photographer Bill Staley’s house to scarf up the noms after shots were taken. I was one of those vultures. And let me tell you, those were some of the most delicious and filling days I’ve had in a long time.
The recipes are not fancypants, hoity-toity, too-complicated-to-put-together kinds of recipes. They are positively scrumptious, easy to prepare, simple to follow dishes that have already become mainstays in my kitchen. You cannot go wrong with any of the 120+ recipes in this book! Seriously!
Something I especially love about the recipe selections is that the dishes are unique. A quick search of the Internet for Paleo recipes will yield many tasty things, but quite often the recipes are not quite inventive or different. Diane’s recipes have a different flair to them and often contain unexpected (but not weird or difficult to find) ingredients that truly set these recipes apart from anything I typically make.
Just last night I made dinner for my dad and used two recipes from Practical Paleo – Indian Spiced Turkey Burgers (page 268. I used beef because I had some local grass-fed ground beef in my freezer) and Zucchini Pancakes (page 248.) The Zucchini Pancakes recipes is in the breakfast section, but I used it as a little vegetable side. All this plus a sliced heirloom tomato and Dad and I were set for a delicious meal.

I, of course, thought it was a fabulous meal, and my dad said, “EXTREMELY delicious!”
It could have been a mainstream dinner of a hamburger with whatever on the side, but spicing up the beef with a unique Indian Spice Blend (page 233) and adding a zucchini pancake is just what I’m talking about when I say that the recipes have that extra little somethin’-somethin’ to set them apart from typical.
Ok, so I’ve gone on and on here. I know that. If I could virtually jump up and down and shout from the Internet’s rooftop about this book I would. The short story is this: Buy this book. Period. The recipes alone are worth it, but this book is SOOOOOOOOOOOO much more.
Here is a link to where you can pre-order it. It officially is released in one week and if you pre-order now you can have it on your doorstep next week. I’m telling you, you will NOT be sorry you bought this book.


  1. Jake
    August 6, 2012 7:41 am

    “You’re not smarter than mother nature.” The best quote I’ve seen in a long time…obviously true! As an add on….”You can’t fool mother nature” either by chemical witchcraft in manufactured foods.

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