Authors Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger prove that it’s possible and delicious to prepare plant-based paleo meals!
When I found out I was getting the opportunity to review Paleo Vegan: Plant-Based Primal Recipes, I was excited because honestly, I had no idea what a paleo vegan diet would look like and I wanted to learn more. Author Ellen Jaffe Jones also wrote Eat Vegan on $4 a Day and Kitchen Divided: Vegan Dishes for Semi-Vegan Households, both books I own and love. In fact, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day was the first (of many) vegan books I purchased. For Paleo Vegan, she joined forces with Alan Roettinger, author of books such as Speed Vegan and Extraordinary Vegan
I had my doubts about how a paleo diet could be vegan friendly, but as Ellen Jaffe Jones shares, both diets typically encourage a return to more whole, unprocessed foods. Chapter Two in the book deals entirely with nutrition and the similarities between the two diets. Both allow nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, heathy fats such as avocado and coconut oil (in limited quanities), and occasional “cheats” such as sweet potato, wild rice, and quinoa. Also shared in Chapter Two are several very useful charts detailing protein sources, calcium sources, and iron sources.
The recipes in the book are well thought out and generally easy to make, which is very appealing to me since I don’t like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. They are divided into eight categories: Breakfast, Sauces, Dips, and Condiments, Soups, Salads, Psuedograins, Legumes, Vegetables, and Dessert. I tried making items in each category, and had definite favorites that I am incorporating into my regular diet.
My favorite breakfast recipe was the Fruit Salad with Blueberry Almond Cream Sauce. It combined many of my favorite fruits, and the coconut cream made it almost decadent. It’s a great option to make the night before since the coconut cream mixture can be refrigerated for up to eight hours, and the fruit can be prepared ahead of time. I also liked the protein rich Pineapple-Coconut Smoothie, which only took a few minutes to make and gave me energy that lasted all morning.
In the Sauces, Dips, and Condiments category, my favorite was the Spicy Peanut Dip. I am admittedly a wimp when it comes to spice, so I halved the amount of red chilis used in the recipe. It still turned out fantastic. The book suggested that it could be thinned with a small amount of water to make a sauce, so I did and served it on grilled tofu. The lime kicks the dish up a notch and adds a brightness that I loved. I also enjoyed the Green Olive Tapenade. I wasn’t familiar with picholine olives (I am by no means an olive aficionado…my experience with olives up until this point has included the typical green olives with pimento, black olives, and kalamata olives), but there are great “foraging for flavor” sections throughout the book that make suggestions on where to obtain items that the average cook might not be familiar with. These sections also share ingredient information and offer helpful tips on substitutions.
Of the soups, the Green Soup was my favorite. With only seven ingredients, it was extremely easy to make. I was expecting it to be bland, but the onions and bouillon added a surprising amount of flavor to the kale and napa cabbage. It seemed like the perfect soup for getting over a cold; healthy and soothing.
I love salads, so this was my favorite section of the book. My favorite was the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Watercress. I purchased some beautiful organic heirloom tomatoes from my local organic market, and this salad really highlighted them. I had never eaten watercress before, but really enjoyed it. It had a slightly peppery flavor that worked very well in the dish. This is the perfect summer salad; I know I will be making it again in the near future as the farmer’s markets fill with heirloom tomatoes. I froze the leftover basil oil that was created in the course of preparing the salad, and can’t wait to use it again in something else. I also really enjoyed the Baby Kale Salad with Balsamic Braised Mushrooms. I took the advice offered and purchased several different kinds of peppercorns for the dish, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Balsamic Braised Mushrooms were delicious, and I can definitely see them on tofu in addition to being served in a salad. Lastly, the Hot and Cold Roasted Cauliflower Salad was amazing. I debated about making it because it is definitely time consuming, but it was worth it. I’m a huge fan of cauliflower, and I loved the flavor that was imparted to it in this recipe.
The Psuedograins recipe section included some “cheat” items for added protein. Although it was a bit labor intensive, I loved the Artichokes Stuffed with Quinoa, Olives, and Capers. Not only were they delicious, they looked beautiful on the plate. The Pineapple Fried Rice was my favorite in this section of the book, because fried rice is one of my favorite dishes. This was no exception, and proved to be satisfying and tasty. The cilantro and almonds were perfect with the pineapple.
The Legumes section continued the optional “cheat” suggestions, and I loved the Avocado and Tempeh Towers with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce. Again, I am a wimp when it comes to heat, so I halved the cayenne pepper recommendation. I didn’t have a ring mold to make this dish look as beautiful as it could have, but I still managed to make it look pretty tasty. I served it to a non-vegan friend, who also loved it.
The Vegetables section was loaded with good recipes. I loved the simple Roasted Artichokes, and was surprised by how delicious they were roasted. I typically steam them, but I think roasting will definitely be my new preferred method of preparation. I also loved the Wild Mushroom Saute. Even though I am not a fan of the prep involved, the Wild Mushroom Saute is worth it. Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, and I love how flavorful and simple they are in this dish. Combined with scallions and lemon, they are simply amazing.
The last section is the Dessert section. I loved the simplicity of the Hazelnut Chocolate Bark, and am planning on making some for Christmas gifts this year. It’s supposed to make 10 two ounce servings, but it definitely didn’t last as long as it should have in my refrigerator…I think it was more like five servings for me! Since I love chocolate, I also had to make the Figs with Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. It was so rich and decadent; definitely another recipe I will be making again.
Although I was doubtful about the ability to combine the seemingly meat-centric paleo diet with veganism, these delicious recipes made me a believer. Even if you aren’t considering a paleo diet, this cookbook is a must have for its creative, nutritionally loaded recipes.
Dandelion Salad With Beets
1 large bunch very fresh dandelion
greens (about 6 cups cut leaves)
2 cups grated beets
½ cup grated carrot
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup thinly sliced celery heart,
1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic or
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground mixed
peppercorns (black, white, green,
and pink) or black only
¼ cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup Brazil nuts, cut into 4 pieces each
Keeping the dandelion greens in a bunch, hold them by the stems and rinse well under cold running water to remove any grit. Remove any decayed bits, then lay the bunch on a cutting board and cut the leaves and tender stems crosswise at 1-inch intervals. Put in a salad spinner and spin dry, or blot dry with a clean dish towel.
Put the greens in a large bowl and add the beets, carrot, onion and celery. Toss until well combined.
Put the tangerine juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Pour over the salad and toss thoroughly.
Divide the salad among four plates. Top with the Brazil nuts and serve at once.
Per serving: 383 calories, 7 g protein, 30 g fat (4 g sat), 27 g carbohydrates, 278 mg sodium, 171 mg calcium, 6 g fiber
(*Recipe from Paleo Vegan: Plant Based Primal Recipes by Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger. Reprinted by permission of Book Publishing Co.)
(All images from Paleo Vegan: Plant Based Primal Recipes . Published with permission of Book Publishing Co.)