Friday, 12 September 2014

Review of The Paleo Approach Cookbook by Sarah Ballantyne

THIS was the book that those of us following the autoimmune protocol diet have been waiting for for months. True, Sarah published The Paleo Approach first - a very detailed book all about the origins of autoimmune disease, how what you eat can affect it, and which foods are potential triggers for autoimmune symptoms and why.

But THIS book was the one with all the recipes, which is what those on very restrictive diets crave. I bought mine, late one night, on my Kindle because I just couldn't wait any longer to get it delivered (I get impulsive like that, especially after 10pm). And my goodness was I pleasantly surprised.

The Paleo Approach Cookbook (affiliate link)

I thought there would just be recipes, and that The Paleo Approach would have been left to cover all the science/food trigger explanations, but I was really pleased to see the basics outlined here again too. There are lists on which foods you should eliminate in the first stages of the diet, with tips on which foods you might be able to reintroduce fine later on. There are also suggestions on tweaking recipes for FODMAPs. Sarah even sets out menu plans (separate ones for you guys watching your FODMAPs) and gives a lot of tips on batch cooking, storage of foods and how to do paleo on a budget. It's really so much more than 'just' a cookbook. 

All the recipes in the book are suitable for the first stages of the diet. I chose a few recipes to cook, and found them easy to follow, straightforward and written as if Sarah's standing next to you in the kitchen as you read. I like that. 

The first job was to make the fresh fig jam, which Sarah serves with her bacon and bison liver pâté, but I chose to serve alongside my own pork and bacon pâté that was waiting for me in the fridge. It was incredibly simple, and I used nice and ripe, sweet figs - but when I cooled the jam and served it the next day, I found it added a slight sweetness to the pâté - it wasn't as intensely rich as I thought it might be, in a dark, jammy way - it was actually quite light and took away the 'liver' flavour from the pâtè a little bit.

Pâté and Fresh Fig Jam

Next, came the sardine salad. For the record, up until this point, I struggled to eat sardines, always preferring the less oily, sweeter mackerel instead. My husband spoons them out from the tin and I have to look away. I diligently chopped up salad bits, made the dressing and placed the salad on the table, for lunch. It was very green, with lumps of sardine in a lemony, crunchy dressing. "Sardines are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat," chirps Sarah from inside my Kindle, adding that they're "an outstanding source of the heart-healthy nutrient Coenzyme Q10." Well. We dug in. I honestly have never enjoyed a fishy salad as much as this one. Sardines are awesome. I've stocked up my shopping list. The lemon, tarragon and parsley all cut the oiliness of the fish - and because you have finely chopped celery in there too, it disguises the soft crunch you get from the bones. It's one of those dishes you eat and it really does feel that it's doing your body so much good. Brilliant. 

Sardine Salad
I moved on to dinner, which was the sweet Italian sausage. Sarah advises on using pork, but I could only get turkey - but I must say the little burgers I made using the mixture were gorgeous. We ate them with some sweet potato chips and pan-fried courgette (zucchini) slices. These would be my first choice to eat cold, on the go or at a picnic. 

Sweet Italian (Turkey) Sausage

I still have a lot more recipes to work my way through (there are over 150 recipes in the book) - but I can see that there are a lot of dishes here I'll be adding to the weekly rota. You can tell that this book has taken a huge amount of work to complete. It's thoughtful, realistic (with money-saving tips too) and a fantastic resource. I'll be recommending this to anyone wanting to start with AIP or paleo as it will give you such a head-start. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Slow Cooker Garlic Lamb Shanks with Lemon Dressing

Lamb and lemon is a combination I've fallen head over heels for over the past couple of months. I don't know why it took me so long. The zesty lemon cuts the fattiness from the lamb, which is so soft you could slice it with a spoon, as it falls off the bone. 

Made you hungry yet? 

You cook the lamb shanks in a slow cooker (or crockpot) with a whole bulb of garlic. The garlic imparts a sweet aroma into the lamb, without being too intense. For those who like a bit more garlic punch, you can then squeeze the softened, sweet cloves out of the papery skins and serve them alongside. They're a bit like a really intense, sweet garlic butter. 

And then you serve the hot lamb with a drizzle of this lemon dressing - and a crisp salad made up of little gem lettuce, diced cucumber and olives. Fresh and aromatic. Lovely. 

Slow Cooker Crockpot Garlic Lamb Shanks with Lemon Dressing
Serves 3-4
2 large lamb shanks
1 whole bulb of garlic
pinch of salt

For the dressing:
good glug of extra virgin olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
juice and finely grated zest of half a lemon
good pinch of salt
half a teaspoon dried oregano

Set your crockpot/slow cooker to HIGH. Drop in the lamb shanks and then place the garlic bulb on top. It might fall off as the lamb cooks - this is OK. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and replace the lid. Leave to cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone. 

To make the dressing, whisk together the ingredients until well combined and set to one side. 

Shred the cooked lamb from the bone and arrange on a serving plate. Serve hot, with a salad and the lemon dressing to drizzle over. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

So you've done your 30 days of AIP, the elimination stage. Your autoimmune symptoms have subsided a little. Now what? Think you're supposed to live on seafood, fish, meats and leafy greens forever? Well, obviously not. You have to start adding foods back in. 

The lovely Eileen from the blog Phoenix Helix invited me to have a look at her e-book, all about reintroducing foods on the AIP. It works like this. You cut out a LOT of foods and live for at least a month (or until you see improvement in your condition) on a very restrictive diet. No seeds, nightshades (that includes spices) - no dairy, no refined sugar, no nuts, no eggs, no gluten, no grains... you get the picture. All this is supposed to calm your body down and reduce any symptoms of autoimmune disease that you may have. But you can't live on a restrictive diet like that forever. So pretty soon, you have to start reintroducing these potential 'trigger' foods back in to see if they affect you personally. I can tell you from experience, that reintroducing any of these foods back in can be quite stressful - the last thing you want to do is have a flare-up - but then you'll never know if you'll ever be able to have omelettes for breakfast again.

Eileen talks about how to go about reintroducing these foods - giving lots of good and helpful tips like how to keep a food diary and in which order to reintroduce (that's important). 

She talks about her own personal AIP journey (it's been a success!) and also features recipe ideas for reintroducing these foods when the time is right, as well as how to notice if that food has caused you some grief. The recipes are accompanied by beautiful, clear photos and a down to earth, positive approach that puts you at ease. It's quite a complicated thing to do, reintroductions, as some foods are from the same 'family' but as Eileen says, they react differently in the body - which explains why I can eat cocoa happily but get quite ill if I have half a cup of coffee (they're both seeds). 

Alongside recipes for Hollandaise sauce, curry blends and dips, there's an absolutely awesome recipe for AIP chocolates (with added cocoa as the reintroduction). They're soft, a little bit chewy with a truffle-like texture. And they're very easy to make. My children LOVE them. And they're pure and good for you. I love them. 

This book is a great resource for anyone wishing to find out more about AIP and solves the problem many people have of 'what's next?'. There's often a misconception that you're supposed to stay on the elimination stage of AIP for ages, but you should reintroduce foods when you see an improvement in your symptoms, for better nutrition and health. 

To find out more or buy your own copy of Eileen's e-book Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo Autoimmune ProtocolClick here to view more details (affiliate link).


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