A few months ago I received a review copy of a Eat Well, Feel Good: Practical Paleo Living by Diane Frampton. You don’t have to be into paleo or primal diet to enjoy this book. It contains beautiful photographs, time and money saving tips, and some simple substitution strategies for people who eat or aspire to eat a produce and protein rich diet comprised of unprocessed foods.
Frampton’s recipes are, by nature, gluten free, grain free, casein free (the only dairy product called for in the book was ghee, which if you don’t have you can replace with real creamery butter (if you normally use it), virgin coconut oil, non-hydrogenated palm shortening, or avocado oil.
What I like about the book
I like the warm, homey feel of the cover: a burlap shopping bag of vegetables pouring out onto a hardwood table top. I like the author’s philosophy of eating fresh, real foods, cooking from scratch, and eating a colorful medley of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, high quality meats (mostly or wholly grassfed, pasture raised, or organic), high quality fats and oils, and very modest amounts of unrefined or minimally refined sweeteners.
I like that the author practices and encourages some of the same things I do, such as eating a colorful array of fresh vegetables on a daily and meal by meal basis, stocking the fridge, freezer and pantry, using a lot of herbs and spices, planning ahead, chopping ahead, cooking ahead and in quantity and freezing so you have great leftovers for the next few days and to store in the freezer for future meals. Doing this saves time, energy, and money because it makes healthy food ready and available when you need it most.
I also like that Eat Well, Feel Good contains beautiful color photos, not of every recipe, but enough to intrigue and to entice. It’s a lovely book, well put together.
The evolution of this book
Diane Frampton’s personal challenges with her weight and digestive issues during adolescence and early adulthood, her attempts to lose weight and regain her health after the birth of her children, and her the fitness and nutritional philosophy popularly known as Cross fit. Eventually she committed herself to following a 30 Day Paleo Challenge with no dairy, no grains, no sugar, and no alcohol. The experience and her commitment to the paleo diet principles beyond the challenge allowed her to shed 40 pounds and keep it off with ease and eliminate her digestive issues.
Frampton’s efforts to put together recipes for friends grew along with request for more. The project culminated in the publication of, Eat Well, Feel Good: Practical Paleo Living, a collection of more than 200 paleo-inspired recipes.
What I tried
My friend, Anne, made and brought me some of the Short Ribs with Vegetables, the Blueberry Scones, the Spinach Pesto, and the Beet Hummus. The ribs (really a stew) were my favorite. I found the stew nourishing and satisfying. Here I paired it with sauteed spinach with onions and garlic.
The scones, which were very low in sugar, containing only 1 teaspoon of honey each, were super moist, almost like a muffin. If you’re not a fan of the strong flavor of ghee, I suggest substituting real butter, non hydrogenated palm shortening, or avocado oil.
You’ve gotta love beets and tahini to like the bean-free twist on hummus here. It was a little too bitter and tart for my tastes, but could easily be modified. I think the best would have been great if I had eaten closer to when it was made (it sat too long in the fridge) or if it had been stored in several smaller jars, each covered with a layer of olive oil, with most of them frozen until close to when they would be used.
At home, I made and really liked her Cilantro Lime Dressing and her Sloppy Joes. The dressing paired perfectly with roasted vegetables served on a bed of baby spinach and with various raw salads I enjoyed throughout the week.
If you make the Roasted Carrot, Parsnip & Ginger Soup, cut the vegetables into small (maybe 1/2 inch) pieces before roasting or increase the cooking time. I cut them into roughly 2-inch wedges, as I usually do when roasing, and they took several times longer than Frampton’s recommended roasting time to become tender and golden around the edges. Not a problem. I thought it seemed odd, maybe even an error that the book listed 15 to 25 minutes at 350˚F; I usually roast chunks of vegetables for 45 minutes at 400˚F. I also added coconut milk; I thought it needed that for the flavor and mouthfeel I’m accustomed to in creamy soups. The soup tasted even better the second day. (I kept some in the fridge and froze some.)
I have flagged some additional recipes I want to try from Frampton’s book for the challenge and variety that new recipes add to my weekly cooking routine, including Japeno Turkey Burgers for later today.
You’ll find the recipes simple, straightforward, and with fairly clear instructions. One caveat; she doesn’t typically say what size pieces to cut the vegetables into. Most recipes simply say, “chopped.” Since I”ve done food writing for publication for 20 years and taught cooking classes for 25 years, I’m used to seeing and providing more specific direction, such as “cut into 1-inch chunks” or “finely chop.” These specifications make a big difference in the cooking time and presentation of recipes. They also guide readers, particularly less experienced cooks, leaving less up to guessing and possible error. Still if you peruse the cooking times and the gist of the recipe, the generalities here probably won’t trip you up. I think it’s a good book overall.
While some of her recipes call for ingredients some of you may not be familiar with (coconut flour, coconut butter, coconut crystals, blanched almond flour, and ghee), most if not al of the foods you’ll need to prepare most of her recipes can be easily found at your local farmers market and supermarket. Many chain grocery stores stock the formerly unfamiliar ingredients on the natural foods aisle, so you won’t necessarily have to go to more than one store, unless you want to.
Recipes run the gamut from beverages and breakfast items to appetizers, dressings, marinades, rubs and sauces, and from soups and salads to cooked vegetables, and from fish, fowl, and red meats to desserts. You can find sample recipes on her web site here:
Check back later this week. I plan to host a giveaway of this book.