If you’ve been doing any online reading about this whole Paleo thing, you must have come across Mark Sisson and his Primal Blueprint empire. While Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain are often credited with starting the Paleo revolution, Sisson could surely be held responsible for bringing a point of view and a ridiculous amount of evolutionary-leaning evidence to the masses via his primary site, Mark’s Daily Apple.
Aside from his prolific blog, Sisson has also published several books ranging in subject from how to get started with Primal to an entire cookbook dedicated to sauces and dressings. I thought I’d start with a review of the original – The Primal Blueprint Cookbook which I’ve owned and used for the last two years. Let’s get to it!
Nut-Free Cookbook Review Metrics
# of recipes: 105
% of recipes with pictures: 100%
# of recipes with nuts: 13
% of recipes with nuts: 12%
Overall at a nut-free percentage of 88%, a large number of recipes, and decent pictures, this cookbook is a worthy purchase. I know I’ve used it several times and continue to refer to it for staple dishes that I tend to make and iterate repeatedly. There are plenty of quality go-tos in here.
To the book’s credit, very few recipes have hidden nuts. When they are there, they’re a primary part of the recipe so they’re easy to spot and therefore to avoid. It’s easy to skip the Almond Crusted Poached Eggs, the Nut Crackers or the Nut Butter Bars. But also avoid the Pesto and the Spinach Bread recipes because pine nuts sneak into the mix. Allergens are not specifically noted or bolded in the recipe overview or ingredients lists, so be sure to read carefully before committing to one.
A few of the recipes are for salads or vegetable dishes where the nuts are easily removed without much impact to the final product. Out of the 13 recipes with nuts, I’d consider four of them easily manipulated to omit them.
If you’ve checked out my other cookbook reviews so far, you’ll know that pictures are a key cookbook ingredient for me. This book contains several images for each recipe, including a visual of ingredients and occasionally some in-progress photos. They won’t win any photography awards, but they’re sufficient to understand the method and visualize the outcome.
Variety is good in terms of types of meals, types of ingredients and cooking methods, though there is a definite emphasis on meats. I find that some Paleo recipe books are light in fish, but I feel like this book provides plenty of options. I don’t mind this tilt toward animal products, but if you’re into creative vegetable main dishes, this isn’t the book for that.
Another differentiator is the nice little beverage section at the end, which is also typically excluded from Paleo cookbooks. Mark makes a lot of use of coconut. While this is not a nut, if you’re allergic or sensitive to coconut, this may not be the book for you.
The section on marinades, sauces and dressings is helpful, though nowhere nearly as extensive as the entire book he put out on the subject, which I’ll have to review another time.
In addition to the recipes, the book provides decent up-front information about Primal-friendly ingredients, how to stock an appropriate pantry, and recommendations for basic cooking tools.
All in all, I give the cookbook props for being friendly for those of us with a nut allergy who also cook Primal style. At least some of the recipes (in addition to many, many others) are available on Mark’s blog, so it’s worth checking those out before you decide if you want to invest in the book.
Do you have the Primal Blueprint Cookbook? If so, what do you think?