favorite cookbooks

The world of Paleo food is experiencing an embarrassment of riches right now. It seems like every day a new cookbook is released and each one is more professional, beautiful, exciting, and delicious than the last! There are books for paleo newbies and books for people following the autoimmune protocol (AIP). There are books that focus on a specific cuisine or region of the country and books that provide a broad spectrum of family-friendly recipes. We’ve got books written by beloved bloggers and professional chefs. There is something out there for every one from the busy professional without much time (or interest) to spend in the kitchen to serious foodies who find cooking a fun and energizing past time (that’s me!).

This post is not an attempt to summarize or catalog the entire range of paleo-friendly books that were released in 2014. Instead, I’ve chosen to share with you my personal top 10 of the year (arranged chronologically). Keep in mind, I love to cook and eat new foods. The more adventurous the better and I’m not afraid to get messy in the kitchen. Therefore, my list skews toward the “serious foodie” end of the spectrum. That said, I have pretty high standards for cookbooks. I want them to show me something new, explain it in a way that makes sense, and inspire me to get into the kitchen.

The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle by Russ Crandall (February)

The first book that captured my attention in a big way in 2014 was this beauty by Russ Crandall, who blogs as The Domestic Man. The recipes are delicious and I love that this was the first “paleo” cookbook to be so bold as to include recipes that use dairy and rice. Russ follows The Perfect Health Diet approach, which looks at both the historical record and modern science instead of trying to be some kind of paleolithic recreation. I’ve loved every recipe I’ve made and many are in regular rotation at our house.

The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Featuring Bone Broths, Fermented Vegetables, Grass-Fed Meats, Wholesome Fats, Raw Dairy, and Kombuchas by Jenny McGruther (April)

I have followed Jenny’s blog The Nourished Kitchen for years – long before I even thought making big changes and was still just playing around with the idea of making my diet a little bit healthier. Jenny is a leader in the “real foods” movement based on the research of Weston A. Price. This way of eating emphasizes nutrient-density and preserving the traditions of the past, including fermenting and broth making. Not technically a “paleo” book (who cares?) but high on my list of books I loved in 2014.

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook: An Allergen-Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness by Mickey Trescott (April)

I was thrilled to hear that Mickey was releasing a print version of her ground breaking e-book in 2014. I support the idea of digital text, but when it comes to cookbooks I really love to touch and feel! This book delivered – it is beautiful, well organized, and inspiring. There is nothing quite so satisfying as paging through a gorgeous cookbook, especially when you are on a restricted diet and every single recipe in the book is compatible with that diet! Check out the detailed review I wrote about the book upon its release in April.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream: 75 Recipes Made Without Eggs, Gluten, Soy, or Refined Sugar by Kelly Brozyna (June)

Kelly’s book appeared on the cookbook scene for me at just the perfect time – the start of summer and during a period of time that I was really strict about cutting out dairy to see if that was the cause of some of my digestive issues. I made batch after batch, testing each of the recipes and marveling at how they completely fooled my taste buds into thinking it was “real” ice cream! My favorite recipe of all was the chocolate, but honestly there wasn’t a single one I didn’t love.

The Zenbelly Cookbook: An Epicurean’s Guide to Paleo Cuisine by Simone Miller (August)

I love Simone’s book because she really bring’s her chef’s perspective into it. The recipes are not difficult at all, but they appeal to my “epicurean” side. Everyone raves about her biscuits, but I really loved the Moroccan shepherd’s pie. It is a favorite in my house, especially now in the colder months. You can tell that these are tried and true recipes that Simone has used to please her catering clients for years. Unlike many other chef driven cookbooks though, her recipes are also well adapted to the home kitchen.

The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (August)

August was a big month for paleo cookbooks, because this long awaited autoimmune protocol (AIP) cookbook was also released. People following AIP no longer need complain about lack of ideas. With this book they get over 200 recipes with hundreds of recipe variations – all of them compliant with the elimination phase of the protocol. I wrote an extensive review prior to the book release, including sharing one of the recipes with permission from Sarah.

The Kitchen Ecosystem: Integrating Recipes to Create Delicious Meals by Eugenia Bone (September)

I totally stumbled upon this book this fall and fell in love with it immediately. It is another that is not a specifically paleo book, but the ethos behind it fits in so well with lifestyle. The book contains a staggering 400 recipes that are organized by ingredient rather than by course or category. For each of 4o ingredients, Eugenia has written recipes you can make right away when the ingredient is fresh, recipes for using the scraps, recipes for preserving some of the ingredient, and then the element that is missing in most books on preservation – recipes that use those preserves later in the year. I wrote a detailed review in November and can’t wait to use this book throughout the growing season!

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle by Caitlin Weeks, Nabile Boumrar, and Diane Sanfilippo (October)

I love that paleo books are now venturing into the arena of specific cuisines. The real food, grain and dairy free template can be applied to food from all over the world without sacrificing the taste or authenticity of that cuisine. Caitlin and her husband, along with Diane Sanfilippo, have done a marvelous job of that here. I have cooked several recipes so far from this book and have a bunch more bookmarked to try. Again, the recipes are sophisticated but not difficult and all delicious!

Real Life Paleo: 175 Gluten-Free Recipes, Meal Ideas, and an Easy 3-Phased Approach to Lose Weight & Gain Health by Stacy Toth and Matt McCarry (November)

I’m not the target audience for this book from The Paleo Parents, yet I love it! I recommend it now to everyone I meet who says they are thinking about moving toward a paleo diet, especially if they have kids because the book is packed with family friendly favorites and extremely helpful advice for transitioning from a mainstream standard way of eating to a paleo-inspired healthy diet and lifestyle. I don’t cook for a family and I’ve long since transitioned my diet, but this book is still a great addition to my collection because of the high quality of the recipes.

The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Angie Alt (December)

Finally, just released last week is another autoimmune protocol (AIP) cookbook. Angie’s book is a little different than Mickey’s and Sarah’s however because she includes recipes for all phases of AIP. I think this is so important, because people seem to forget that AIP is intended to be a therapeutic intervention and not necessarily the way you eat forever. Her book is also full of sage advice regarding lifestyle and draws upon not only her years of health coaching experience, but her own autoimmune struggles as well.

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