Category Archives: Reviews

Nom Nom Paleo – Food for Humans (A book review)

nomnompaleoI have a confession to make. I rarely use cookbooks. Don’t get me wrong, I do love them! A lot! I go through them, look at all the pretty pictures of food, make all kinds of great plans to cook the meals, and then I put them on the shelf in my pantry, and they kind of just sit there and collect dust. “Make it Paleo” and “The Paleo Slow Cooker” are my go to books for almost all my cooking needs when I don’t get a chance to just look up a recipe on fastpaleo real quick. Occasionally I check out the “The Paleo Chocolate Lovers Cookbook”, because the recipes in that book are out of this world.

And then, my friend Michelle (yay, I just wrote friend!) offered to send me her new cookbook for review, and I happily agreed, because, again, I do LOVE cookbooks. The book arrived in a large-ish box, and I was surprised how heavy it was. The hardcover big red cookbook I held in my hands moments later, came as a surprise. In my whole life I’ve never owned a big, red, hardcover cookbook. This book demanded to be sat down with. I did. I sat down at the dining room table, and next thing I know, it’s a half hour later, and my daughter calls me because it’s time to take her to ballet.

Wow, I was in love. The book’s first pages are filled with pictures of Michelle’s cute as buttons kids and the sweet dedication, “For Owen + Ollie: You are our everything” and a little below that in parentheses “Now go finish your vegetables”. Call me weird, but this awoke my page turner instinct.

The following page yields the Table of Contents. The preface, introduction, chapters 1 through 9, credits, bibliography, metric conversions (this European girl thanks you!), and index.

And then, you dive in. You meet Michelle. You get to know the woman behind Nom Nom Paleo, and you can’t help falling in love with her a little bit, because, well…. she’s just so nice, and because the cute comic strips throughout the book sort of keep your attention! Those comic strips are awesome. And the funny thing is, Michelle really does have those little pig tails. So, yay, I love it. 🙂 The introduction of the book is page after page after page of awesome information on cooking, kitchen tools, ingredients, and stocking your kitchen. You’re a beginner? You’ll find help there. Did you know to blot your meat before you sear it? Do you know your salt? The broiler is not your friend yet? Well, it will be, after you’re done reading the introduction!

You will learn in detail what you should always store in your paleo kitchen… herbs, fruit, salt, capers, coconut aminos and so much more. And then you’ll learn exactly what they all are, and what they’re good for. Yes, you also learn about cooking fats. Because those are so important in the paleo world.

After a thorough introduction, it’s on to the recipes. Each and every recipe is accompanied by a number of pictures, sort of like a progress report. If you’re a beginner, this will be a huge help, as you’ll know exactly what everything “should” look like… and yes, those “roasted bell peppers” really are placed directly onto your gas stove. Heck, you’ll even be taught (by cartoon Michelle) how to make poached eggs that aren’t ugly. Truth be told, I never tried, because I was too scared. I may actually give this a try now. nomnompaleo2

Nom Nom Paleo is chock full of easy to cook meals, dips and sauces, dressings, snacks, desserts and more. The step by step instructions make it easy to follow the recipes, and little cartoon Michelle accompanies you through the book with little pieces of advice and recommendations.

Oh, and then there is a “hearty” surprise at the very end right after the Credits. Definitely check those out. They are super cute.

The verdict: I love this book. I really, really do. I’ve actually bookmarked several recipes that I want to cook. Speaking of bookmark. There is a bookmark in there, so you can always go right back to your very favorite recipe. 😉 I strongly encourage especially beginners to purchase Nom Nom Paleo. Most (if not all) of your paleo cooking questions will be answered right there in the book. Plus, it’s just a really pretty book to have.

Nom Nom Paleo is available for pre-order on Amazon! Order your copy now… Release date is December 17!

Beyond Bacon Book Review

beyondbacon2Let me start by saying once again, that I don’t give good reviews when I don’t feel that one is deserved. I give them, when I really stand behind the product and absolutely love it.

Let’s get to the couple who created Beyond Bacon, Stacy and Matthew, also known as the Paleo Parents. When I first stumbled on their website they were still in the middle of editing their first book, Eat Like a Dinosaur. I was a quiet follower of theirs. Their ways, their voice, and their dedication to paleo was different from the other paleo gurus I had encountered so far. They were regular people like me… with kids… with weight issues… with hopes and dreams. I never did get around to buying their first book, partly due to the fact, that I felt my kids were beyond the ages of ELAD.

Over the past couple of years I kept up with their posts and recipes, even shared some of their stuff on my own page, and without them knowing it, they became my friends.

When I received my review copy of Beyond Bacon, I was actually pretty tickled, because that means someone over there at Paleo Parents knew about me, be it through FastPaleo or my blog. I flipped through the pages, and I was instantly hooked. There is something about dedicating an entire book to the hog. I always, always loved pork, even as a child I was most often served pork. (Growing up in Germany, beef was simply not first choice for my parents.)

What can I say? I love this book. First of all, I love the attention to detail, such as “Difficulty”, “Time to Table”, “Serves’, and even “Equipment”. You’ll find this and other information at the beginning of every recipe, no matter the category. This is so helpful to me, as I really don’t care to go through the whole recipe first to figure out what tools I have to use. Having said that, you WILL find some unusual kitchen items in your equipment list… like a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, and a smoker.

What will you learn in the book? Well, everything! Lard, stock, sausages, cured meats. Heck, you’ll learn how to make head cheese. And yes, I will admit that I am absolutely, positively grossed out by head cheese. I can’t even bear to think of the stuff. I saw one picture somewhere once, and that was enough to send me over the edge. But you’ll also learn to make kielbasa… and when I say, you’ll learn to make it, I mean, you will actually be making your very own kielbasa sausage, which you will then stuff in to pork casings. How cool is that?

My favorite recipe in the entire book? The German Schweinshaxe. OF COURSE! (And I don’t think the name is unappealing at all as they say in their little blurb about Schweinshaxe!) I want to sink my teeth into it every time I look at the picture.

Some of the other categories in the book are Fried Lard Goodness, Veggies & Sides, Sauces and Dressings, Soup and Stews, and of course you’ll also find desserts, because every good cookbook has to have a dessert section.

Also, in the beginning of the book there is lots to read… a little history, a little science, and of course lots of great, passionate writing on why they “wrote this love letter to pork”.

I have never in my life made my own sausage or my own bacon… I’ve never smoked meat… and I’ve never, and will never make head cheese. But the truth is, that with this book I will actually be tempted to try. I will no longer feel that I need to leave this stuff up to the butcher, if I don’t want to. And that feeling alone is empowering! Back to the roots is the motto of this book, as it beautifully combines the message how to leave our modern (and oh so quick) ways without having to sacrifice what the 21st century has made possible for us.

So, go ahead, get your copy of Beyond Bacon. It truly is money well spent. 🙂

 

Review and Giveaway

chiagranolaI have about three posts I want to write, and I’m just now getting around to the first one. Originally I was going to write my recap for Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib’s workshop first, but I’m dying to do this giveaway. The recap will have to wait until the weekend. So as I’m getting comfy with my glass of NorCal, let’s see if the creative juices care to flow for a lovely review and of course a giveaway. I’m sometimes a little hesitant about receiving something for free to review and then do a giveaway, because I don’t want to be dishonest about how I feel about it… But in this case, I really have nothing bad to say. So read on.

The product I’m going to review is called Louise’s Granola, a grain free, gluten free, and sugar free granola for all of us paleo peeps out there to enjoy. Of course it’s not only free of bad things, but also full of great things like almonds, coconut flour, chia flour, pumpkin seeds, raisins, nutmeg, and cloves. For sweetness, they added stevia. Okay, I am well aware of the fact, that there are a ton of people out there who shy away from chia, as they don’t consider it paleo. But for those of you who do enjoy chia (and that includes me), this granola makes for a fantastic breakfast or snack.

I love the crunch of this granola, and while I dig the granola I occasionally make myself, I really enjoy that this stuff isn’t as sticky as the granola I make. I ate a small portion of it for breakfast the other day. I enjoyed it with a little bit of creamy plain Greek yogurt, as I include some dairy into my diet (now and then!). It hit the spot, as I went to a CrossFit WOD about an hour later. Oh my gosh, it was so good. And while I’m usually not a huge fan of nutmeg and cloves in granola, this actually tasted delicious. It reminded me a little bit of a gingerbread taste. But it wasn’t overpowering, so that was a big bonus!

I will not eat this every day. It will remain a special treat for those days when I have a craving for granola. And so, my 10oz bag is still about 3/4 full. And at $9.95 per bag I think it’s a good idea not to go crazy every single day. 😉

After over two years of being paleo (primal) I am pretty much used to making everything myself. I spend a considerable amount of my time in the kitchen. I don’t mind it either… BUT I do have those days when I just don’t want to, when all I want is to reach into the pantry and grab a bag of prepared food. For those days the Chia Granola is absolutely perfect.

So, for that GIVEAWAY! One lucky person will receive 2 bags of Chia Granola. And all you have to do is comment on my Facebook page, “Send me Chia Granola!” I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow, May 3, 2013 at 8pm PST.

I also urge you to go and check out Louise’s GranolaAlso, go and check out her blog at Ancestral Chef. Enter your name and e-mail address there, and you’ll receive FREE 4 Free Paleo Meal Plan.

Product Review: Tastyface Organics

tastyfaceA few weeks ago I received a few products from Tastyface Organics for sampling and with the idea that I would write a review, once I’m done. Find Kelly’s shop here: http://tastyfaceorganics.myshopify.com/

It is important to me to give honest reviews, so you will never find a sales pitch here, when I do a review.

Here’s a little blurb from Kelly’s website:

I started doggedly searching for skincare that I really wanted: TRULY clean, organic, awesome skincare and cosmetics that still do the heavy lifting of cleansing, moisturizing, refining, beautifying. But without the unnecessary and potentially harmfully side effects of those “other” ingredients. Super tough to find what I wanted. So I got to work!  A multitude of research, consulting with amazing experts – including aestheticians and hair stylists, and crazy long hours in the TASTYFACE kitchen!

I am always looking for skincare that is really good and, quite frankly, affordable too. At around $20 or more for a jar of moisturizer, Tastyface Organics is not cheap, BUT these prices are super competitive in this market, especially considering that the ingredients are all top notch, organic!

Also, after three weeks of using both the Coconut Vanilla Cream Cleanser and the Vanilla Mint Daily Moisturizer, I can confirm that you only need the smallest amount to cover your whole face. These products go a long ways! Here’s how I use them. I wash my face in the shower or before bed at night. The coconut oil is so rich, it’ll leave a bit of a creamy film on your skin. If you don’t like this, simply wipe it off with a wash cloth. But I actually DO like the feeling of it on my skin. And because it doesn’t instantly get absorbed by my skin, I only need very little of the daily moisturizer.

When I use the moisturizer in the morning, I make sure to use very little on my forehead. I have bangs and don’t like the oily feeling on my hair. Again, you don’t need much of either product to cover your entire skin and neck. Usually I even have some left to rub it on my hands.

The first time I used the moisturizer was just before bedtime. I went to kiss my husband good night, and I pointed out that I smell differently… in a good way. “I want to lick your face.” were his exact words. Yay, husband approved skin care!

After about a week I started developing a couple of pimples. But I’m a cosmetologist (well, I was in a former life in Germany), so I know that your skin sometimes takes a while to adjust to new products. I chose to wait and keep using the products anyway. And what can I say, after three weeks, my skin is more soft and smooth than it has been in a long time. I also seem to have fewer wrinkles around my eyes. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I’ll take it as a result of these really awesome products.

The consistency of both the cleanser and the moisturizer is nice and creamy. Obviously they are stored in a warm-ish bathroom, and a consideration for me was how firm the coconut oil would stay even in a warmer room. I’m happy to report that this is not an issue at all.

Well, I’m a captured fan… and by the way, so is my 12 year old daughter. She walked into the bathroom a couple of days ago, as I was applying the moisturizer. She loved how good it smelled and asked if she could use it. She LOVES it. On Day 2 of her using it she excitedly announced that her skin was a soft as a baby’s butt. So, she’s now using the cream with me, and I’m happy to let her, because I know exactly what’s in it.

Check out all of Kelly’s products here: http://tastyfaceorganics.myshopify.com/collections/all

Rich Food Poor Food… a quick review

Better late than never… here’s a quick review of Rich Food Poor Food, written by Jason and Mira Calton. I had the pleasure of receiving a couple of free copies, one of which I will be giving away to one of you! 🙂

The book is made up a little bit like a magazine. Short chapters, lots of pictures, easy language, glossy pages. The first three chapters or Part 1 focuses on educating your average shopper on food labeling and how to navigate the book.

In Part 2 the reader is taken on a “walk” around the grocery store. You start in aisle 1: dairy! A quick guide to everything there is to know about dairy (like pasteurization, homogenization, Vitamin D and more) is followed by “Food for Thought”, “Alternate Route to Health”, and finally recommendations for brands of milk and which to avoid. This section is called Steer Here and Steer Clear and is repeated in each aisle. Another helpful “tool” is the checkout checklist at the end of each product. The book has just become a workbook. Smart!!

The book is not entirely paleo or even primal, so I actually don’t use the grains aisle at all. But I did get some good advice from the other aisles. Every so often I ask myself whether or not I should buy this brand of chia seeds or that. Or I find myself looking at a bag of “something” and wonder whether or not I should throw it in my cart. I like the brand recommendations.

My favorite aisle has to be the snack aisle, and it’s really for two pages within the snack aisles. Pages 228 and 229. These two pages focus on nuts, the need for soaking, how much salt to use, and what’s in the nuts.
You’ll find almonds, brazil, cashew, peanut, hazelnut, macadamia and so many more!

A word of warning… not all of us are lucky enough to live in an area with health food stores, or even access to high quality meat and produce at all times. The authors tend to turn their noses a little bit at lower quality foods, which, to your average American shopper, can be a bit of a turn-off. However, personally I would not let this keep me from purchasing the book. In the end, we are all responsible for our own decisions and choices.
Some of you may be forced to set some priorities, such as buying only good meats, but when it comes to produce you may simply stick with the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. This book can still be for you, because eventually you’ll end up in one of the center aisles at your store… or you’ll wonder which yogurt to buy, which brand of milk to stay away from, and you’ll have your answer right there in your book.

Would I buy the Kindle version or the paperback? Personally I’m a paperback kinda girl when it comes to anything non-fiction, because I do like to work with the book, turn back a few pages, stick a note in there, write something in with a pen. If that’s you, spend the few more dollars on the paperback version. Otherwise the slightly cheaper Kindle version will do just fine for you.

Of course there IS the option to win a copy! How?
Share my Facebook page on your timeline and comment “Done” on my Facebook post about the giveaway, or post on my timeline. You have until Sunday, March 17 at 9pm PST! Good luck!