Monday, October 27, 2014

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: A Review (& Recipe!)
Some of the latest buzz on the Paleo streets is the newest cookbook from Grass Fed Girl's Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, and Balanced Bites's Diane Sanfilippo: Mediterranean Paleo Cooking. If you've been outside the loop, then I'm here to give you a quick last minute preview before it launches TOMORROW, October 28! I have to admit that I was super excited to get my hands on a preview copy for two major reasons: 1) Um, Mediterranean ethnic food? Can we say, "Hello, flavor??!" and 2) There's AIP-friendly options in the cookbook! Whaaat?! Yep! And I'm going to give you the run-down on what that means for all of you, my fabulous AIP readers! So keep reading.

When I finally had the cookbook in my hands, I was instantly impressed with the size. There's a lot of pages and the recipes are easy to read. Of course, the photographer in me is also in love with all the drool-worthy photos—so much color and tantalizingly teasing meals photographed on almost every other page. I'm not really nervous when it comes to trying ethnic foods, and with this cookbook, there's no reservations at all! The pictures will make you ready to dig in, even if you're not so sure of the ingredients. And don't really worry about those either, because the authors have given you an easy and quick little breakdown about Mediterranean dishes, origins, regions, health and lifestyle, and how to stock your Mediterranean pantry/kitchen.

If you've been reading my blog, then you already know that I have a Portuguese and Italian heritage, and I embrace ethnic foods with gusto. And eating ethnic foods while AIP can sometimes be a struggle. Mediterranean Paleo Cooking has over 150 recipes and over 100 of them are AIP-friendly! Yes, over 100. I counted them myself! And I have to admit that I'm sure impressed with the effort the authors took to modify the recipes to AIP. A lot of times, I have seen non-AIP recipes made AIP just by stating to "omit for AIP" next to inflammatory ingredients. And while this does adapt the recipe for us, that doesn't mean the recipe is going to have much flavor. Caitlin and her contributors actually created feasible substitutions that take out the inflammatory ingredients and replaced them with other equally-flavorful options. And that kind of time and effort has to be applauded.

Now keep in mind that in the introduction, the authors/contributors clarified about the AIP-friendly options. They decided to include berry- and fruit-based spices (like black pepper and cardamom) and fresh legumes (like green beans and peas) in their AIP-friendly recipes. While originally these were considered grey area foods, Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom has since clarified in her book The Paleo Approach that these are reintroduction foods and should be avoided during the elimination phase of the protocol. Based on this, I would recommend that anyone who has not reintroduced anything yet should use caution and use their best judgment for these recipes. They are still very adaptable (simply omit the spices in question) to the elimination phase of the protocol. For someone who has successfully reintroduced these spices and foods, the recipes are perfect and are a great addition to a healing diet. I also appreciate that the authors chose to label the recipes "AIP-friendly" versus "AIP-approved". In my opinion, this wording encourages the reader to adapt the recipes accordingly without claiming them to be fully compliant.

And now for the recipes themselves. I didn't get to try as many as I wanted to, but you can be sure that I'll be reaching for this cookbook often to try lots more of them in the future.

Nacera's Lemon Ginger Chicken Tajine

This chicken dish has some great flavor, and is fairly easy to throw together. Also has a crockpot option!

Savory Chicken Kebabs

 Marinate these tasty kebab the night before, and you come home to a quick dinner that's in and out of the oven or off the grill in a flash. I don't have a grill, and the broiler worked great.
Cabbage Dolmas (Stuffed Cabbage)

This recipe looks somewhat fancy, but it turned out very easy with simple and clear directions. Give it time to simmer on the stove for a nice, rich sauce that's tomato-free.
And last but not least! I tried the Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes. Yum! Such a nice breakfast. And because these are baked, you can cook them all up at once. I even received permission to share the recipe with all of you before the cookbook launches. So make these for breakfast tomorrow and grab a copy of the cookbook!

Autoimmune-Friendly Banana Pancakes*
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Serves: 3 | Yield: 6 (3-inch) pancakes

3 medium bananas
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp arrowroot flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
maple syrup or honey, for serving (optional)
melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
3. Spoon a few tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a pancake about 3 inches in diameter and ⅓ inch think. Repeat until all the batter is used. For a perfectly shaped pancake, use a ring mold.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pancakes and bake for 10 more minutes.
5. Let the pancakes cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. Top with maple syrup, honey, or melted fat of choice. Serve and enjoy.

*Shared with permission from the authors.

Be sure to grab your copy off Amazon! The book comes out tomorrow, so snag the preorder price while you can!

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking
by Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, & Diane Sanfilippo