The signing event was casual, informative, and interactive, but, not surprising to me after living in Florida for 3 years, lightly attended. I don't want to sound too harsh, but this is honest: there is something about the culture and the people in FL that makes it difficult to get folks together for events. This signing should have been jam packed! I just don't get it. In the bustling metropolis of Miami, full of paleo eaters, we could never get more than 10 people max together for our paleo meet ups. Absolutely pitiful!
So, c'mon, Florida -- let's get it together and act like a real paleo community for a change!
Anyway, the crowd that night was very glad to be there and asked lots of great questions. One of the topics that came up was baking with sunflower flour. Somehow, I had never heard about the cool science trick that sunflower seeds play when exposed to baking soda: they turn GREEN! Stacy mentioned that there was some info in the book about sunflower flour, so I made a mental note to check that out later.
After the signing was over, my husband Andy and I ate a late supper with Matt and Stacy at this cool place in Tampa called Burger Monger. While their beef is not grass-fed, they do use domestically-raised akaushi breed cattle (one of the breeds used to produce Kobe beef in Japan) and it actually tastes very good. The best part, though, are the fries. They hand-cut the potatoes and fry them in *drumroll, please* BEEF TALLOW!
They also offer gluten-free buns. I read the ingredients, and there's a little junk in them, but hey, sometimes it's totally nourishing to just relax and enjoy a meal at a restaurant and feel normal. I'm totally on board with Matt and Stacy's idea of "not paleo perfectionists" as long as your imperfections don't cause you to feel ill afterwards or cause a major setback in your healing progress.
The good thing is that neither my husband nor I get any kind of icky digestive feeling after eating there, either. It's a really fun treat to eat there (it's our go-to spot when flying out of Tampa).
Check out Stacy's photo of our meal. YUM!
My thoughts on Real Life Paleo
While we were at dinner, I had a chance to really talk to Stacy and Matt about Real Life Paleo. They told me that they poured all of their combined knowledge into this book. They've been at this for about the same amount of time as me (4 years), but they've raised 3 kids in the process, which is no small feat!
They created this book for some very specific reasons: to help families make a smooth transition into paleo by following a gradual, gentle 3-phased approach, and to help folks already eating paleo to stick with it in the long term and stop yo-yoing between extremes like a Whole30 followed by a bagel binge.
After reviewing the book, I can say that they definitely hit the mark. The first 100 or so pages of the book are dedicated to teaching you how to get started on a paleo diet. And their recommendation is not to dive in 100% right away. The 3 phases they guide you trough are: swap, remove, heal. This gradual approach is what many people, especially families with kids, need to take in order to be successful at adopting a paleo lifestyle. While going all-in worked wonders for me, I know that not everyone can do what I did.
This part of the book is also full of practical tips to help you stay on track, no matter what real life (ha!) throws at you, including holidays, eating out, and special events like birthdays. There are also tips for how not to break the bank while on paleo and for sourcing the best ingredients for your cooking. Other sections include some fundamental techniques everyone should master like making paleo-friendly mashes and rices, building salads, drinking enough water, and crafting spice blends.
I would say that my favorite thing about the book is the way it is organized and categorized. Recipes are denoted as Phase 1, 2, or 3 and there are check boxes for egg-free, nut-free, and nightshade-free. There is also an allergen index that you can quickly reference to see which recipes fit your dietary needs, sorted by recipe type (appetizers, sides, mains, etc.) There are also 5 main categories that you'll find spread throughout the book: holiday, on the go, under 5 ingredients, under 30 minutes, and one pot meals.
There are also numerous meal plans and menus put together from the recipes in the book. Here are some sample menus: Chinese Take-Out Dinner with Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, and Cauli-Rice; Italian Lunch with Veggie Lasagna, Caesar Salad, Garlic Breadsticks, and Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake; and Chicken Dinner with Sage and Citrus Roast Chicken, Citrus Broccoli, and Green Onion and Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese.
Don't those all sound amazing?? I can't wait to try all of those, and more! There's about 20 menus like that in the first section of the cookbook. There is also a 1-week meal plan for each of the 3 phases. This stuff is all super helpful!
Not only do Matt and Stacy teach you how to create a balanced paleo meal for every day eating, but you can also plan your entire Thanksgiving or Christmas menus from this book! Just keep an eye out for the "holiday" tag throughout and you'll find that you can come up with some lovely menus for your special days.
The rest of the book is all recipes -- over 175 total! This truly is a comprehensive paleo cookbook that you won't get bored with. This isn't one of those cookbooks that you get excited about for a few days, maybe cook a few things from, and then it collects dust on your bookshelf afterwards. The recipes in this book are so unique and diverse that each time you flip through you will find at least one new recipe you can't wait to try!
Bottom line: Real Life Paleo has moved its way up to the top of my favorites list and is now going to be one of the books that I recommend to folks who are new to paleo and wondering how to get started. Real Life Paleo has just the right combination of practical advice for easing into a paleo lifestyle, helpful tips for succeeding with the transition, and delicious, varied, and easy to prepare meals to keep your family nourished and excited about this way of eating for the long term.
Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake from Real Life Paleo
Recently, my husband and I have been feeling a little burnt out with our "standard" breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon or sausage, sauteed leafy greens, and avocado slices. It's a wonderful meal and is incredibly nourishing, but with the colder weather in the mornings recently, we've both found ourselves wanting some comfort food for breakfast. Specifically, something baked. So, I looked through the cookbook's breakfast recipes to find something and the Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake was the perfect recipe to try.
Remember I mentioned sunflower flour earlier? In the cookbook, Matt and Stacy explain that in their experience, you can substitute sunflower flour 1 to 1 in any recipe that calls for almond flour. This recipe is written with almond flour, so I actually made two batches: one with almond, and one with sunflower flour.
Unfortunately, I made a mistake in both batches. I forgot the baking soda in the sunflower batch so they didn't turn green. I was so sad when I realized my mistake. And then I forgot to fold in the apple cubes in the almond batch.
The great news, though, is that despite my errors, both batches taste absolutely AMAZING. Like, wow. I can see us eating these quite often in the months ahead!
Note about sunflower flour: you have to grind it yourself from raw, shelled sunflower seeds. I used my mini food processor and it worked great. Just be sure to use a mesh strainer periodically to sift out the flour. Return the pieces that aren't ground down enough to the processor and repeat until you've got your flour.
Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake (with nut-free option)
From the book: "If you're the type of person who craves a doughnut or coffee cake with your morning routine, we suggest this tasty pastry to satisfy you without gluten or grains or refined sugars. Make it on Sunday to have with your coffee every day of the week. When making this recipe, we use a special pan made for cinnamon buns, which gives the illusion without the gluten."
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour OR sunflower flour
- 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1/3 cup honey (local unrefined is best)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 cup blanched almond flour OR sunflower flour
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds OR whole shelled sunflower seeds
- 3 Tbsp unrefined granulated palm, date, or maple sugar (Amanda's note: I use unrefined granulated cane sugar, called sucanat)
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut butter
For the cake
For the topping (optional)
For the glaze (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350F and grease your preferred pan. If using muffins, get 12 muffin liners for your cups or pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, cinnamon, and baking soda.
- Using a food processor or an electric mixer, beat together apple sauce, honey, oil, and vanilla until smooth.
- Stir in the dry ingredeints until just combined.
- Fold in apple pieces until well distributed.
- Pour the batter into the pan, about two-thirds full. If making muffins, fill each liner about two-thirds full.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the topping ingredients. Sprkinkle the topping over the batter, distributing it evenly. NOTE: I had plenty of topping for one batch of muffins when I cut the recipe for the topping in half.
- If using a cinnamon roll pan, bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. If making muffins, check at about 25 minutes and cook until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
- If using coconut butter glaze, microwave in a small bowl for 30 seconds. Using a spoon, drizzle over the top of your cakes. NOTE: you can also let your jar sit in a bowl of hot water for several minutes to soften it up, if you avoid the microwave.
- You can also make a quick bread with this recipe. Pour the batter into a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
And just so you can see what it would look like if you used a cinnamon roll pan, here's the photo direct from the cookbook. It makes me want to buy one of those pans! :)
Links below are to products that I personally use and trust and think you will love, too! They are affiliate links. I appreciate your support :-) Click on any picture to check out the product on Amazon.com.
Enter to Win a FREE Copy of Real Life Paleo!
Now, aren't you just SO excited about this cookbook? Wouldn't you love to have a copy for yourself? What if you could have it for FREE? Here's your chance! Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. Be sure to participate in the Instagram portion of the contest....you can earn extra entries by doing it once per day! That adds up to a LOT of entries!!
And if you just can't wait to get your hands on a copy, go ahead and grab one from Amazon.
I'm telling you, this book will make the perfect gift for anyone you love who is looking to improve their health but finds paleo intimidating.
Or, if you are like me, you have some paleo friends who just can't seem to stick with it and are constantly cycling between a strict paleo challenge followed by indulgences or even binges that leave them feeling inflamed, bloated, and gross, which leads them into another round of strict paleo, until the cycle repeats again.
This book is for that friend, too.
Thanks for reading and GOOD LUCK in the giveaway! <3