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With all of the resources on-line and in print that focus on a specific dietary concept, it is sometimes hard to choose among them. As a nutritionist, I particularly appreciate cookbooks that include important information about the health benefits of a particular diet plan in addition to appealing recipes. Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet, by chef Pauli Halstead, offers both.
By Pauli Halstead, review by Yaakov Levine, NTP
With all of the resources on-line and in print that focus on a specific dietary concept, it is sometimes hard to choose among them. As a nutritionist, I particularly appreciate cookbooks that include important information about the health benefits of a particular diet plan in addition to appealing recipes. Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet, by chef Pauli Halstead, offers both. In the first part of this book, Halstead presents a comprehensive overview of the primal diet, suitable both for those experienced in this healthy style of eating and for newcomers. In the second part, she provides over 150 diverse recipes that support the primal lifestyle.
Since this cookbook can be considered a companion book to Nora Gedgaudas’s informative Primal Body, Primal Mind, it is fitting that Gedgaudas has penned the book’s foreword. As she notes, “this book is family friendly, replete with familiar ingredients that most people will have handy in their homes or find easily in their local natural markets.” Halstead credits Gedgaudas’s work as a nutritionist and author with introducing her to the Paleolithic/primal diet of our distant ancestors and changing her approach to cuisine.
Other authors that influenced Halstead’s new dietary approach include Diana Schwarzbein, MD, author of The Schwarzbein Principle, and Mark Hyman, MD, who wrote The UltraMind Solution. As a successful chef and caterer, Halstead had worked hard to earn a reputation for creating imaginative and great-tasting foods.With the knowledge she gained from these and other teachers, she adopted a diet free from chemical food additives, refined grain products, sugars, and trans fats, and began to create healthier versions of her recipes.
From Hyman and Gedgaudas, Halstead also learned about the importance of eating meat and dairy products from exclusively grassfed or pastured animals. She explains that grassfed meat is rich in vital nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid, and the substance Dr. Weston A. Price called activator X, which is critical for vitamin D absorption. She laments that meat that is not completely grassfed is often marketed as such, and suggests asking your butcher for exclusively grassfed meat with “no grainfinishing at all.”
Halstead also explains the benefits of raw milk and other dairy products from grassfed dairy animals. She reminds us to look for labels confirming that growth hormones such as rBGH are not present in our dairy products, and recommends that we use only full-fat products. The Organic Consumers Association web site (www.organicconsumers.org) is suggested as a helpful resource for finding the top rBGH-free processors.Informative sections are also included describing the best sources of humanely raised pork, and explaining how to find sustainably harvested seafood.
The author discusses the early cultivation of grains, which along with the advent of animal husbandry, led to the widespread replacement of our hunter-gatherer diet with one largely based on cereal grains and processed dairy. She states that there is now much evidence supporting the theory that consumption of grains “has caused nutritional stress and has negatively impacted human health.” Other topics covered in the book include healthy fats, protein requirements, cholesterol, gluten and casein, genetically modified foods, synthetic food additives, and sugar.
In a chapter titled “Paleo Pantry: Setting the Stage for Success,” Halstead provides a list of recommended cooking tools, many of which are likely to be found in most kitchens. She also suggests basic pantry items with which to stock the kitchen, including healthy fats – such as olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and lard – a host of flavorful spices and herbs, mineral-rich salts, vinegars, sugar substitutes, cheeses, and non-dairy milks.In a section about nuts and seeds, she includes a handy chart with recommended soaking times for best digestion. This chapter concludes with the author’s suggestions to shop locally at farmers’ markets and to grow as much of our own food as possible.
Before proceeding to the recipes, Halstead explains that her portions are sized to limit protein content to what she considers healthy levels (no more than 25 grams of pure protein per meal). She points out that, throughout the recipes, she provides substitution suggestions for those who have food sensitivities or allergies, and that every product she recommends “has been screened to be 100 percent gluten-free.”
The first recipe I tried was from the chapter titled “A Good Breakfast.” As one who enjoys breakfast for dinner, I prepared the recipe for Vegetable Frittata for a late-in-the-day meal. One of my tests for a cookbook is that I can pick a recipe and, with my relatively well-stocked kitchen, be able to cook a meal without first making a trip to the store. This recipe passed that test. I did not have parmesan cheese in my refrigerator for the topping, but Halstead offered a simple recipe for a parmesan substitute. The pan-fried (in butter)walnuts, which were then pulsed in the food processor and mixed with nutritional yeast and sea salt, made a delicious, crusty topping. This dish was a success and will be on my list for future potluck meals.
Other breakfast recipes range from Homemade Almond or Hazelnut Milk to Scrambled Eggs with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese. A chapter called “Paleo Party” focuses on various hors d’oeuvres and dips, including Olives with Orange and Fennel, Pacific Rim Tuna Salsa, and Thai Beef Satay. “Soulful Soups”provides directions for making chicken, vegetable, and fish stocks, as well as an array of appetizing soups and chowders. Another chapter provides a wide variety of salads and dressings, including both vegetarian and meat- or seafood-based recipes. There are also chapters for condiments and sauces, such as Very GreenHerb Sauce, and vegetable dishes, including Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Pecorino Romano, and JapaneseBrussels Sprouts with Shiitake Mushrooms.
Wild-caught seafood, grassfed meats, and pastured poultry each has its own chapter, with recipes such as Pan-Seared Salmon with Avocado Slices and Lime Dressing; Braised Short Ribs with Cauliflower Puree, Brussels Sprouts, and Caramelized Apples; and Roast Breast of Duck with Port Sauce and Pear Salad. The dessert chapter contains recipes free of gluten, refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave. The book also includes a helpful list of resources to help consumers locate healthy products and ingredients, as well as a list of recommended books and publications.
This cookbook and guide for eating a healthy primal diet includes a wide range of recipes for both the beginner and the gourmet cook. Chef Halstead has indeed done her homework and offers this guide to fun, wholesome, and nutritious meals, from appetizers to what she calls her dessert recipes: “Perfect Endings.”
About the Author
Yaakov Levine, NTP, is a Nutritional Therapist with offices in Eugene, Oregon. He received his certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association. He has a healthy lifestyle column in the weekly Springfield Times and Creswell Chronicle, and writes for several alternative health journals. Yaakov can be reached at [email protected] or 541-895-2427, or readers can send him a tweet @yaakovntp.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Summer 2013 Volume 37 Number 2
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