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Cookbook review: Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Recipes for the Paleo eater!

Elana Amsterdam is well known for the gluten-free recipes found in her cookbooks and on her popular food blog, Elana's Pantry. In her latest cookbook, Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry: Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free Recipes, Elana brings readers recipes based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have eaten.

You may be wincing thinking, "I'll be eating leaves and twigs on this diet!" But it's Elana Amsterdam's goal to show people that they don't need to forego comforting, familiar dishes they love in order to establish or move forward with a healthy Paleo diet. Your nerves will likely settle as you flip through Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry.

The ins-and-outs of eating Paleo

For those new to this way of eating, Elana provides of list of foods that are included on a Paleo diet. As a general guideline the diet includes meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, fats and oils, and eggs. What is not included are cereal grains, dairy, legumes or processed foods that include soft drinks and candy. Of course, she includes her exceptions: Small amounts of salt; condiments such as oil, vinegar and mustard; and things to bake with such as baking soda, vanilla extract, honey, stevia and chocolate. She encourages readers to modify recipes so they fit their personal taste and lifestyle.

What you might not expect

You'll discover appealing healthy meals in this cookbook, from breakfast through to desserts. In between, Elana provides tips and recipes to create condiments, toppings, drinks, vegetables, and even breads and crackers. The very first recipe in the cookbook is for bagels. While you might think making bagels isn't doable on the Paleo diet, Elana uses almond flour, flax meal and coconut flour as the base for these rounded treats. Ice cream even makes its presence known in the pages of this book, with coconut milk to thank for the creaminess.

Easy, healthy and appealing

Don't fret if you think the ingredient lists for these healthy meals flow with unusual or hard-to-find items. These recipes are approachable and include wholesome foods found in most stores. Recipes and colorful photos for Stuffed Mushrooms, Honey Lemon Chicken, Bacon Tart, Peach Cherry Crisp, and many more will make you hungry for the good things in life.

Try a recipe from Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry:

Asian stir-fry with cauliflower rice

Asian stir-fry with cauliflower rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 heads broccoli, sliced into 3-inch spears (about 4 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, sliced crosswise into 1-inch strips (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the broccoli, carrots and chicken and saute for 10 minutes until almost tender. Add the bok choy, mushrooms, zucchini and salt and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of the water, cover the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are wilted.
  5. In a small bowl, dissolve the arrowroot powder in the remaining 1/2 cup of water, stirring until thoroughly combined. Add the arrowroot mixture to the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. Stir in the sesame oil, vinegar and honey, then serve.

Cauliflower rice

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the celery and saute for 5 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it is the texture of rice. Add the cauliflower to the skillet, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the salt and serve.

About the author

Elana Amsterdam is the popular food blogger of Elana's Pantry, where she shares gluten-free and Paleo recipes. She is the author of two previous cookbooks: The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook and Gluten-Free Cupcakes. She lives with her family in Boulder, Colorado. Visit www.elanaspantry.com.

More cookbook reviews

Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay
The Longevity Kitchen by Rebecca Katz
Ice Cream Sandwiches by Donna Egan

Reprinted with permission from Paleo Cooking from Elana's Pantry: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, High-Protein Recipes by Elana Amsterdam (Ten Speed Press, 2013)
Photo credit: Leigh Beisch
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