As I described in this post, I have recently decided to turn myself into someone who takes food more seriously. Sure, I have always eaten whole foods. But I have never really cared about how they are prepared. In fact, for my few first years of paleo eating I mostly ate raw or microwaved vegetables (unless someone else made them), canned fish, and avocadoes. Making tasty food just wasn’t worth the effort. What was important to me was the fact that I was eating.
This is one theme that I’ve found scattered among the lives of many disordered eaters I know. The fastest way to eat food is the best way, so some of us eschew the preparation process and go right for the goods. It’s almost as if the willpower to stay away from food falls out from under me and there is almost nothing left to keep me from eating once my feet have started moving toward the refrigerator.
So I confessed in the Nom Nom post that I want to impress some non-paleo dieters in my life with my mean cooking skills (hah!). That’s a real motivation. But it actually goes much deeper. As I move further and further away from restriction and my disordered past, I wonder: can I develop love for prepared meals? Can I have food in my life as a pleasure, rather than as a drug?
I do believe that I can.
Let me instead phrase it like this: What not to love about Danielle?
Danielle wrote and photographed everything in her whole NYT best-selling book, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great. She has a toddler for whom she cares and of whom, of course, there are beautiful photos in the book. She is a brilliant writer and I enjoy her prose simply for its own sake. There is something delightfully simple and peaceful and loving and homey about her cooking, all the while with Danielle being a fiery spirit with a serious knack for beautiful food and beautiful photos.
(The credit for all photos in this post save the Finding Nemo and those taken on my phone, which you will definitely be able to distinguish, goes to Danielle at her site, againstallgrain.com)
I want to quote the dust jacket to demonstrate to you just how pleasurable her writing is and to give you a preview of what’s inside:
“A self-trained chef, Danielle is the new face of grain-free cooking, tempting foodies of all stripes with her accessible recipes for vibrant Paleo food. Paying homage to the dishes she loved in her pre-Paleo life, she has ingeniously recreated all her favorites without grains or dairy in her first cookbook.
Complementing her innovating recipes with elegant photography, Danielle takes you on a culinary Paleo journey that includes everything from quick breakfasts to sinful desserts, with a long list of hearty entrees in between. And because Danielle knows she’s not the only one with a finicky toddler at home, she has included a special section filled with healthy recipes that kids will be eager to eat and moms will be eager to serve.”
In her introduction, she writes:
“As I began my culinary experimentations, I noticed a lack of recipes as well as personal accounts of setbacks and progress, and wanted to document my journey to help others. I decided to combine the power of my acquired culinary skills, my love for food, and my equal love for journalism and an all-out crusade, and started my blog, Against All Grain. I aimed to not only end my own suffering, but also to become a source of hope for others suffering from all types of diseases or allergies.”
So we have in Danielle’s book:
-a completely grain, soy, and dairy free cookbook. This is important. I need my food to be dairy free.
-innovative recipes that think outside the box
-new inventions as well as new methods for traditional dishes
-and a wide -perhaps the widest- array of types of meals to learn how to cook.
This final point is perhaps my favorite of them all.
There is a big debate in the paleo health scene about whether it’s okay to have “replacement” foods such as paleo cookies and pancakes. These foods are not ideal. No one who is being honest with themselves thinks so. These foods often include nut flours and have sugar in them and do not have super high nutrient density. They also may be addictive and highly caloric and therefore stymie weight maintenance efforts. But… well. So what? I say. YOLO.
(Internet speak for “you only live once.”)
Of course I am still going to eat mostly liver and vegetables and fruits and such – the real, hearty, nourishing paleo stuff. But I also know the world needs lightness and fun and love, so what’s the harm in knowing how to make the delectable sweet stuff?
Danielle delivers both kinds of food, and in spades.
Since in this book are:
-The “basics” (much as it was the case with Michelle’s book, and a big reason I love both of these books). Vinaigrettes, chutneys, barbecue sauce, ketchup, preserves, marinara sauce, pico de gallo, and chicken broth are all included.
-“the grain free kitchen and pantry” in which we learn all about almond flour and coconut products and the like.
-“to start off your morning” or, as I like to call, BREAKFAST, which includes (but there are twice as many in the book) smoked salmon eggs benedict, maple sage sausage with cinnamon apples, Spanish frittata with chorizo, pear-berry crisp, banana porridge, two kinds of granola, and coconut milk yogurt (I can’t wait to make this! I’m so tired of the Trader Joes and Whole Foods versions with 20 grams of sugar in them.)
-“small bites” which includes chicken satay, trail mix, rosemary-raisin crackers, sweet potatoes fries with wasabi aioli, and sweet potato chips. Mmmm.
-“soups, salads, and sides” which includes paleo clam chower (yes! definitely making that for my brother’s wedding), roasted butternut squash soup with sausage, warm spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms, coconut-lime rice, grilled artichokes with remoulade, and about fifteen others.
–28 main dishes (!), including thai pad see ew, fettuccini alfredo with blackened chicken, seafood, chorizo, and chicken paella, curried short ribs, carne asada burrito bowls, and honey-lime salmon toastadas.
-a section for kids foods like fruit roll ups, granola bars, honey graham crackers, and chicken tenders,
-a bread imitation section called “muffins, loaves, and morning cakes” that I literally cannot stop looking at. These “these can’t be paleo they look so good!” breads include both banana and zucchini bread, currant scones and rosemary scones, hamburger buns, peach streusel coffee cake, and “world-famous sandwich bread.” Um, yes, thank you. And when made out of coconut? Gotta love more variety in all my various coconut consumption habits.
–26 “sweets and treats,” OMG, with dishes like chocoalte layer cake, lemon meringue pie (I swear on my life last night I was wondering if any paleo people make lemon meringue pies… now I guess I will be one of them), black bottom banana cream pie, chocolate fudge sauce, seven-layer bars, and just about everything. Everything. I want Danielle to open a bakery.
-drinks in the section “sip on this” like mulled apple cider, berry-basil spritzer, and thai iced tea. Mm.
So there’s the whole range of paleo options, from the simple to the hearty to the fluffy and addictive, and I like that fact very, very much.
OH. No, wait, sorry, this is the best part: Danielle has a handy labelling system for every recipe in her book:
One yellow EF graphic for “egg free,”
a blue one with SCD for “specific carbohydrate diet,”
a red NF for “nut free,” (yayy! since I’m not a huge fan of nuts),
and a green V for “vegan.”
Awesome. Even if you’re not a vegan yourself – as I am not myself – you may some day find yourself asked to participate in a vegan mac n cheese off, and while you might scoff, now perhaps you can blow them away, and with natural foods, too.
No, sorry, the best stuff’s still gotta be the recipes. Photos of some of which are included below. I took photos of my own with my phone to show you what they are like with the recipes in the book, and then I nabbed a few off of Danielle’s site so you can get a better idea of the real stellar quality of her stuff.
Phone photos (if you can’t tell I’m kind of a glutton for the baked goods):
Against All Grain Blog photos:
So there you have it.
Danielle gives me everything I need for both a healthy grain and dairy free and nutrient dense kitchen, as well as the delight of her baking and her sweets and her photography…. with promises for joy and enjoyment I might be able to, over time, learn how to keep myself.
And, as always, in celebration of learning how to enjoy food, I’ve purchased another copy of Against All Grain to give away. Huzzah!
Entrance is easy peasy – just one click – choose one or more of the options below. Contest ends next Wednesday March 12 at midnight!
And, as always, be sure to check out the blog post where I am giving away five free, pre-release copies of the women’s health manifesto Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Lifelong Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence.
And, Thursday March 6-Sunday March 16,I am giving away a brand new, fully-stocked 32 GB Kindle Fire HDX with a pristine Otter Box case (!). Here.