Reviews: The Paleo Coach, The Paleo Slow Cooker, and Living Paleo for Dummies

Since we began Paleo Parents, we’ve been increasingly and routinely asked to review books and products by people in and adjacent to the paleo community. At this point, we get so many we are unable to actually do the reviews of the products in a timely manner! That’s why we recruited the Paleo Parents Review Team to fill in the gaps. Look forward to reviews on Tuesdays!

This week, our friend Amelia talks about three recent books that have recently come out. What are they about? Are they good additions to your paleo library? Find out here!

I absolutely love reading Paleo blogs and books. That is how I found The Paleo Parents after all! But these days it seems like a new Paleo-related book or cookbook comes out at least every week. Even I can’t keep up. Taking on the role as a reviewer seemed like a great way to check out at least some of what is coming down the pike. In this first installment, I’m taking on The Paleo Coach by Jason Seib, The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian, and Living Paleo For Dummies by Melissa Joulwan and Kellyann Petrucci.

The Paleo Coach

The Paleo Coach is looking to offer advice, support, and practical strategies for navigating the Paleo lifestyle in this decidedly non-Paleo world. Like any good coach, Jason Seib won’t always tell you what you want to hear. I sometimes have trouble with this mentality – probably why I never did well with team sports! But, if succeeding at this lifestyle was just about knowing the rules, we’d all be smooth sailing. Sometimes we need a good kick in the pants to help get us on our way.

My favorite thing about Jason Seib’s perspective is his focus on health over aesthetics. Getting away from the scale and the mirror as the barometers for success is vitally important. If we put our energy on such shallow goals, we’ll never get to the deeper transformation. However, if we start with doing the hard work on the road to true health, better vitality and yes, attractiveness usually follow. My favorite line is on page 20 when he says, “it makes much more sense to get as healthy as possible on purpose while you get hot by accident”.

One of Jason Seib’s more controversial stances is about Paleo treats. He’s pretty hard on folks who rely on them as a staple. Reading his book, though, gave me a little more insight into his thought process. Treats should be treats – a safe birthday cake or cupcakes or the occasional pancake breakfast, not an everyday addition to the diet. Context matters here, too. If you’re an active kid, you’re probably going to burn off those Paleo muffins. If you’re trying to lose fat, it’s best to steer clear. This is something I struggle with to this day, over two years into my Paleo journey. I might not want to hear it, but I know in my heart that the grain-free chocolate chip cookies are doing me no favors. I love the element of normalcy and fun they add to my life, but my over dependence on treats is indeed holding me back. I personally need to find a way to make peace with letting go of the crutches and giving my sugar addiction the heave-ho for good.

Something I needed to hear on page 47 was, “…if you have a sugar addiction that is hindering your progress, your desire to appease your cravings outweighs your desire to get healthy and fit.” True words (at least for me). This book is tailored to people just like me – those either first starting out or those who are struggling to reach their goals. If what you’re doing is working for you, by all means, keep doing what you’re doing. But, if you’re feeling stuck, like me, maybe it’s time to reexamine your lifestyle and commit to some further tweaks. If so, this is a good book to help motivate and inspire you to take on the challenge.

The Paleo Slow Cooker

This is a beautiful book. The photos are stunning and make me want to make everything.  It’s the kind of cookbook I’d be proud to have out on my counter. Even more than that, it is chock full of great information and gorgeous recipes. The introduction was written by the incomparable Chris Kresser, who worked with the author, Arsy Vartanian, to solve her lingering medical issues. Arsy’s own story is very inspiring and serves as a great start to the book.

In addition to the recipes, the author includes great tips for living this lifestyle without rehashing too much background/science. I loved the page about insulin sensitivity – just enough information to get me interested without going into too much depth. I like how she tied it to food – cinnamon is often touted as an insulin sensitizer but the research is inconclusive. Good thing it tastes great, so why not!

Paleo Spicy Rib Appetizer
The section of the book I was most excited about were the appetizers. They are particularly great for introducing Paleo food to guests at parties. I can’t wait to put some of these recipes to use at our next get together. For this review, I decided to try out the Paleo Spicy Rib Appetizer recipe. I’d never attempted ribs in the slow cooker before, so I was a little hesitant. They turned out amazing! My husband and I got to enjoy them for a couple days and were so sad when they were gone. That success makes me want to try out more of Arsy’s creations and I look forward to doing so over the next few weeks. If you enjoy using your slow cooker or would like to try it out, this is a wonderful collection of Paleo recipes to get your started.

Living Paleo For Dummies

As someone who has been living a Paleo lifestyle for a couple years already, this title didn’t jump out at me as something I needed. However, I wanted to take a look because books like this can be a great introduction to the mainstream audience. I’m also a big fan of Melissa Joulwan of Well Fed fame, who is one of the authors. As a result, I tabbed right to the recipe section to see what was included. I found a good variety of choices that would appeal to a wide audience, including some Paleo mainstays like cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles as well as tasty sauces like mayo, ketchup, and even cashew satay sauce (yum!)

But this book is much more than just recipes. It strives to give a comprehensive, if not in-depth, overview of not just Paleo eating, but the lifestyle as a whole. Themes stressing the importance of stress reduction, sleep, and exercise are all covered. I was most drawn to the section addressing common pitfalls. Every possible excuse that might stand in the way of adopting and/or maintaining this way of life was taken on – from how to deal with non-supportive folks in your life to how to manage eating out. The importance of living Paleo for the whole famility was underlined and the authors gave some decent tips on how to help your kids go Paleo.

The only drawback to this book was that it seemed to over-promise on what a Paleo lifestyle can deliver. Yes, it may help you lose weight and/or shed lingering health issues, but I get uncomfortable when I see it presented as the pancea to cure all ills. I do believe that pretty much everyone would be helped by improving diet and lifestyle, but many will need further assistance to undo all the damage our modern lives have already inflicted so far. I would hate for someone to read that “when you eat Paleo, your body naturally loses body fat until you’ve reached your ideal weight” and think it is smooth sailing, only to be disappointed when the inevitable bumps in the road come along. I was happy to see some trouble shooting advice later on in the book to help folks who might stall out at some point. Those minor concerns aside, I do think that this book can be a good introduction for someone just getting started with Paleo. It gives just enough information and background to get someone motivated to give it a shot. And as we all know, the proof is in the results, so getting started is the biggest hurdle.

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