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Review: The Performance Paleo Cookbook
This is a really good time for paleo cookbooks! And I’m very happy to announce that The Performance Paleo Cookbook, the eagerly-anticipated recipe collection from Stephanie Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo, is being released on January 6. I love this cookbook for three reasons:
1. Stephanie’s recipes are easy to make and always taste delicious. They’re also meticulously tested so they work every time. This is no small feat and as the paleo-sphere grows, the careful cooks, like Steph, distance themselves from the pack. There are fast-and-easy breakfast dishes like Smoked Salmon Egg Bake and Scotch Eggs… delicious fish like Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Honey Lemon Glaze and Blackened Fish Soft Tacos with Mano Slaw… and fun goodies like Pizza Burger Bites and Cocoa Almond Plantain Cakes. One of my favorite aspects of the cookbook is that even with something like a paleo pancake, Steph focuses on nutrient density: no almond-flour-and-honey bombs here!
2. Steph is a very talented food photographer, and she shot all the photos in The Performance Paleo Cookbook herself. I have mad respect for that because it’s tremendously difficult to create a recipe, test it, write it so others can understand it, find the right props, and then take a lovely photo. And she did it.
3. The recipes are not only tasty, they’re smart. What differentiates The Performance Paleo Cookbook from the others is that Steph has included helpful information about how to use paleo recipes to support your physical activity, specifically: what to eat before and after your workouts to best feed your body. The recipes are divided into helpful sections that map to her advice, and there’s a chapter of menus that shows you how to put it all together.
Steph was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book and to share a scrumptious recipe for stupid-easy, super-delicious, 2-step Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. Take a bite!
Who’s the target audience for The Performance Paleo Cookbook?
It’s for people who like to train or participate in sport, and who know that good nutrition is an integral part of how well they can perform. You don’t have to be an elite athlete or even enter into formal competitions to realize that you can’t expect to do your best if you’re eating junk all the time. This cookbook is for anyone looking for some guidance about how to better fuel their efforts in the gym or who wants to tighten up their nutrition to include more nutrient-dense foods.
Your food is always delicious, but I love that your recipes are also intentional. They taste awesome but they also have a sort of training-related focus. Can you talk about that a little bit?
I wanted to do something different in Performance Paleo so I organized them in a special way. I get lots of questions about what to eat pre- and post-workout. While I think sometimes we place a bit too much analysis on those periods (to the point of creating stress about them… not good), some basic rules apply. So, I created recipes that are great for before and after workouts to help people better organize their meals. I also split recipes into protein- and carb-dense options, then rounded it out with veggies and sauces.
One of the biggest mistakes I see performance-oriented people making is being way too low on carbohydrate intake. I really made it a priority in this book to provide a myriad of different nutrient-dense options, some really familiar and some new. And to help with planning, I created fifty different combinations of recipes from the book to make complete meals.
What’s your favorite recipe in the book and why?
Wow, that’s so hard! It’s probably a tie between the Cherry Cashew Protein Bars — anyone who wants a non-dairy / non-egg protein bar will finally get their wish — and the Gado Gado with Spicy Satay Sauce because it brings back memories of Bali).
What’s your personal nutritional approach? Do you eat this way in your real life?
Honestly, when you read the recipes on my site or in the cookbook, that’s me on a plate. How I eat every day is what you see represented in the recipes I put out to the rest of the world. I’ve been paleo for five years, and at the beginning I fell prey to the trap of making tons of desserts and trying to fit poor eating habits into a shiny new package. It didn’t work. About 18 months after I started, I did a Whole30 and really had an epiphany about how I needed to change my approach to paleo if I wanted optimal health and performance for life. I eat lots of whole, nutrient-dense foods, three meals a day. I’m not perfect, and if I want a treat, I’ll eat it, but I know my body well enough to realize that they don’t really make me feel good. A vast majority of my food intake is meat, seafood, eggs; veggies and some fruit; and healthy fat.
You’re hosting a dinner party with 7 other people around the table. You can invite anyone, living or dead, real or fictional. Who’s on the guest list and what are you serving?
Ha! I love this question. First, let’s start with the food. I’d serve medium-rare grass-fed ribeye, roasted veggies and probably baked sweet or white potato with a bunch of Kerrygold butter. Totally simple but so good. Now, for the guest list: My grandma (she passed away in 2007 and taught me a lot about cooking); Gandalf the Grey; Henry Rollins; Peter Jackson; Rosalind Franklin; Neil deGrasse Tyson; and my husband, Z (because he’d be bummed if he missed this all-star roster).
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Compound Herb Ghee
From The Performance Paleo Cookbook | Serves 2-4 | Whole30 compliant
1 pound white sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon melted ghee
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons ghee
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary, about 1 sprig
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, about 5 sprigs
Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Scrub the skin of the potatoes thoroughly. Use a very sharp knife to make several vertical cuts from the top of the sweet potatoes most of the way through, stopping about 1/4 inch from the bottom. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet. Brush with the melted ghee and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft.
Meanwhile, make the compound ghee. In a small bowl, combine the ghee, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Stir well with a spoon until it forms a soft mixture. Top the hot roasted sweet potatoes with the compound ghee.
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Mel, what can I say? You are one of my few true heroes in this community, and it’s an absolute honor to hear you speak so kindly of my cookbook. A dream come true, really. Thank you for all of your support <3
Oh, and the fact that you posted pics of my dinner guests is the best thing ever!!
It’s a pretty hairy dinner party, no? And I love your choices — plenty of good conversation and, potentially, some singing after the meal.
It’s well-deserved. Your cookbook is wonderful and that’s a huge accomplishment. I hope people buy copies and enjoy your delicious food and smart advice.
I’ve scoured my local Whole Foods and other specialty grocery stores, but can’t seem to locate white sweet potatoes. Any suggestions? This recipe looks fabulous.
Hairy dinner party… 😉
Hmmmm… I don’t know! I live in rural Vermont, and I get Japanese Sweet Potatoes are our co-op. They work as a substitute for white sweet potatoes, so you might try looking for those!
Melissa, Have you read her Paleo Athlete e-book? I was trying to decide whether to get Performance Paleo but I’m worried it may be basically the same.
The Paleo Athlete is more about the science, and Performance Paleo is a little bit of explanation of LOTS of recipes. It’s a companion to the Paleo Athlete, IMO.
Awesome! As a biomedical scientist (who doesn’t work with nutrition), I thought it was great. But i can always use more recipes 🙂