There are so many beautiful paleo and primal cookbooks coming out right now. Danielle Walker’s book, Against All Grains: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great, is one of them and it’s one you’ll probably want to add to your collection. Not only did she write the book, Danielle also shot the mouthwatering, elegant and professional photographs contained in it.
Her story of recovery, the backdrop against which her book is written, will encourage readers who suffer from ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune disorders or know someone who does. Danielle’s diagnosis came shortly after graduation from college, after unbearable pain digestive distress sent her to the emergency room, after her discharge from the hospital with medications that intensified her symptoms, after more agonizing weeks, trips to three specialists, a lengthy hospital stay, and a handful of prescriptions. (You can read more about her story on her blog and in the intro to her book.)
Her journey to health
Frustrated with repeated hospitalizations, drug side effects, and the prospect of taking immunosuppressive medications for the rest of her life and going through repeated flare ups, Danielle decided to research other options. Although she found some relief by following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD for short), her disease was never fully in remission. Eventually, she discovered the paleo diet and began applying it. Almost immediately, the remaining health issues she had while on the SCD began to dissipate.
She started her blog, Against All Grain, to share her newly acquired culinary skills and discoveries, her love of food and journalism, and her desire to help other people with health challenges who were not content to just take medications and suffer through their symptoms. As her following grew, she began to realize that she had a book to write.
Of the 150+ recipes in Against All Grain, 125 of them have never before been published. These recipes arose out of her experiments and her desired to make food that was so satisfying that she didn’t have to feel deprived and neither did her husband, her toddler, or her friends. Her book contains recipes fit for everyday cooking as well as special occasion treats for the holidays, birthdays, entertaining, and more.
Danielle’s recipes are gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and also free of beans, legumes, refined and hydrogenated oils, and refined sugar. Each recipe includes the prep time, cooking time, and yield, a key that tells you if the recipe is egg-free, nut-free, vegan, or compliant with the SCD. You’ll also find interesting notes about each recipe. On some pages you’ll find tidbits––what a dish goes well with, substitutions you might want to try, alternative ways to cook a dish, prep tips, or an explanation about why she used a particular ingredient or procedure. All of these make the book more fun to read and more user-friendly.
What I tried
I’ve made four recipes from Against All Grain so far: Spanish Frittata with Chorizo, Carne Asada Beef Jerky, Sun-Dried Tomato Scones, and Citrus Lime Chicken. I think I’ve also eaten her World Famous Sandwich Bread. I’m pretty sure that’s the recipe someone brought to a paleo/primal potluck last year. I enjoyed all of the recipes I tried. I shared the chicken dish with a friend over dinner and froze some of the leftovers. I took the scones to a paleo/primal potluck (they disappeared quickly!). The jerky I just pulled from the dehydrator yesterday. The frittata, a great breakfast entrée with a side of steamed cauliflower, was my favorite. I liked the mix of sweet and savory and the texture the sweet potato, tomato, and sausage added to the dish.
I’m not done cooking from Danielle’s book. I’ve flagged many more recipes that want to make. In fact, I might end up sharing some of her recipes in cooking classes, particularly when I’m working with families and people with digestive or autoimmune conditions. But don’t think the recipes are only for people with these or other health challenges. These are recipes anyone with an appreciation for fresh, wholesome, unrefined, gluten-free, dairy-free, and delicious food would enjoy.
Here are the recipes on my to-try list: Curried Short Ribs, Slow Cooker Sesame-Orange Chicken, Grilled Artichokes with Remoulade, Roasted-Garlic Mashed Faux-Tatoes (this is not the cauliflower version you’re probably familiar with but something altogether different), Slow Cooker Beef Chuck Chili, Crispy Sweet Potato Fries with Wasabi Aioli, Carne Asada Burrito Bowls, Zucchini Bread, Rosemary Breadsticks, and Coconut Milk Yogurt. Her book also contains appetizing looking desserts, for those looking for sweetened treats, including cut out cookies with frosting for the holidays that look really delicious!
I highly recommend this book for the recipes, for Danielle’s story of recovery, and for the practical tips, and techniques it contains. The pictures will make you want to drop whatever you’re doing and head to the store for ingredients, unless you already have them in your kitchen, so you can start cooking.