Cookbook Review: 30 Days Grain-Free by Cara Comini

Good Jump Off for Starting Grain-Free—Solid Recipes, But Not Inspirational

The idea behind 30 Days Grain Free-is that you can pick up this book, buy all the items on the weekly shopping list and feed your family for 30 days, grain-free. While this premise is neat, I honestly can’t imagine following a book for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days. I love to cook too much! I used this book for about a month, making about a quarter of the recipes. Here is my experience.


Pros:

  1. “Normal” Foods—Comini understands that you might not be ready to give up your favorites, so she has created gluten-free versions of pancakes (pg. 47), coconut flour waffles (pg. 54) and zucchini lasagna (pg. 64), coconut bread (pg. 83), sesame-sunflower crackers (pg. 149). If you’ve done a whole30, many of these foods would be considered “sex with your pants on” and discouraged. I appreciate Comini understands my family might not be ready to eat 30 days of totally new foods, and we’ll need variations of our favorite staples (I have a 3-year old pancake fanatic).
  2. Book is organized well. Comini’s writing is fun and funny, encouraging and thoughtful. She really wants you and your family to succeed in eating grain-free. She’s considerate of including ideas for feeding kids in her meal plans.
  3. Economic/Efficient use of food—I love that in the morning you might make crepes with berries (pg. 70) and roll ‘em up with nut butter for lunch (pg. 71). You make meatballs at the beginning of the week and use them multiple ways (from the freezer) later in the book.
  4. The book is organized day by day, i.e. Day 1 Breakfast, Day 1 Lunch, Day 1 Dinner, etc. so it’s great if your ready to pick up this book and try everything (in order) for 30 days. If you’re new to paleo cooking, and need a place to start and no time to find new recipes, this book is for you. Using the shopping list you’ll have everything you’ll need for the whole week.
  5. Good section of homemade staples in the back (ketchup, pesto, salad dressing, etc). Even better were the “sweet treats.” I’ve made the chocolate truffles three time (pg. 176). Althea helping me roll the second batch in shredded coconut

Gluten Grain Free Chocolate Truffles Vegan with Coconut and Chinese Five Spice

Cons:

  1. I found that I have a hard time following the timeline. We live in rural Maine, with limited access to fresh produce, so I would have had a hard time following all the recipes, even if I wanted to.
  2. There is a stark absence of seasoning in this book. I find, that when cooking grain-free, fresh spices and other seasonings are essential (once you remove all the sugar and other junk!). I found these recipes great starting places, but I’m not sure I made a single one without adding something. For example, just from the first week: Salmon-Coconut Patties (pg. 28), added lemon pepper and sea salt; Hot Cooked Apples (pg. 39), added lemon and cinnamon; Burgers (pg. 44), added my hamburger seasoning blend of smoked paprika and herbs, etc.
  3. Solid recipes, just not inspiring. I’m a cookbook fanactic, and love to look through and drool over the future meals I might make. I dog ear pages. After flipping through this book, I had very few dogged pages. The recipes are solid—just not inspiring! She does push the envelope with cultured salsa (pg. 171). Nice!

All in all, it’s a thoughtful book, considerate of a parent trying to feed their family healthy food. It’s not the book you pick up for inspiration, but for, “I can make that gluten free? OK!” I will return to those lemon poppy seed pancakes before the month is up! It’s also not the book you pick up for meal ideas, as the 30-day organization does not lend its self looking for dinner ideas (I much prefer the organization of the Whole30 Cookbook by protein type).

Tip: She doesn’t introduce “hot-buttered coffee” until page 134…I suggest you start with this on week 1! It’s the only thing that kept me from feeling starved by 10 am.

Spices: To make all the recipes in this book, you will need the following spices:

  • Allspice
  • Basil
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili Seasoning
  • Cumin (ground)
  • Curry (seasoning blend)
  • Coriander (ground)
  • Dill
  • Garlic (granules)
  • Ginger
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Mustard (powder)
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Nutmeg
  • Parsley
  • Paprika
  • Paprika (Smoked)
  • Pepper (cracked)
  • Poppy Seed
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sesame
  • Sea Salt
  • White Pepper (ground)

 

March 10, 2017 by Beth Weisberger

Cookbook Review: Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig

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Inventive and generous use of spices! 

This book was a surprise hit for me! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, and only bought it because I was actually doing a Whole30 in January 2017. We’ve been vegetarian for about 7 years, so eating and cooking all this meat, well, let’s just say I needed some help. The first thing I was impressed with? The recipes are very creative! They are easy to follow, don’t take a lot of time. As you know, I have a baby and a toddler and work from home, so I particularly loved the slow-cooker recipes that make extra meat that is then used for different recipes later in the week. Genius!  

Melissa make liberal use of spices, and as a spice blender myself, nothing could make me happier. And when I say liberal…I mean, this book uses 50 different spices, herbs and seasonings. Some other reviews mentioned the recipes call for some hard to find ingredients. I did not find this to be the case. Besides the occasional call for capers or fennel bulb, most everything can be found at your local store. Spices on the other hand, there are a few that you might need to source online if you don’t have a gourmet foods market near you. If you were to make all the recipes in the Whole30 Cookbook, you’d need:

  • allspice (ground)
  • ancho chili
  • arrowroot
  • basil
  • bay leaves
  • cajun*
  • caraway
  • cayenne
  • cinnamon (ground)
  • chia seeds
  • chili (seasoning blend)*
  • chipotle
  • cloves (ground)
  • coriander (ground)
  • coriander (seeds)
  • cream of tartar
  • cumin (ground)
  • cumin (seeds)
  • curry (powder)
  • dill
  • dukkah*
  • fennel (seeds)
  • garam masala*
  • garlic (granules)
  • garlic salt
  • ginger (ground)
  • harissa
  • herbes de provence
  • italian seasoning*
  • jerk (seasoning / no sugar)*
  • lemon peel (ground)
  • mustard (ground)
  • nutmeg (ground)
  • nutritional yeast
  • onion (granules)
  • oregano
  • paprika (sweet)
  • paprika (smoked)
  • pepper (ground black)
  • peppercorns (whole black)
  • parsley
  • ras el hanout*
  • red pepper flakes
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • sesame seeds
  • tarragon
  • thyme
  • turmeric
  • sea salt (coarse)

*Some of the seasonings (cajun, chili seasoning, dukkah, garam masala, Italian, jerk, ras el hanout,) you can blend yourself if you already own the other spices on the list.

Moroccan Chicken Whole30 Cookbook Review From Pasta to PaleoOf these 50 spices, the essential, most often used ones are coarse sea salt, cracked pepper, smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, cayenne, onion granules, garlic granules and ground cumin. However, you better have ras el hanout (or the spices to blend it) because it was hands-down the best chicken I’ve ever made (Moroccan Chicken with Carrot-Pistachio Slaw, page 143). Here is a photo of this fabulous Moroccan Chicken by From Pasta to Paleo. She also made the dish multiple times! Click here for her review of the Whole30 Cookbook. Other highlight recipes for me: Beef and Sweet Potato Chili (pg. 33)—we ate that all week for lunch, Slow-Cooker Italian Beef Roast (pg 43), Mediterranean Bison Burger (pg. 53), Slow-Cooked Moroccan Spices Shredded Beef (pg. 61), Thai Beef Curry with Green Beans (pg. 77), Pork Posole with Tostones (pg. 87), Chipotle BBQ Chicken Thighs (pg. 128), Grilled Jamaican Jerk Salmon (pg. 192), Mexican Salmon Cakes (pg 198), Dukkah-Crusted Brussel Sprouts (pg. 224)...should I go on?

The first thing you should make from this book? Red Curry Roasted Cauliflower (pg. 242). If you follow Gneiss Spice on instagram, you’ll see tons of posts from this book in January and February. If you're debating a Whole30, don't hesitate to buy this book! Nothing is harder than trying to follow the strict rules, and have no inspiration for what to cook for dinner. With most cookbooks, I usually feel the urge to change the recipes. With this book, I was content and confident to make them just as is. My only complaint about the book would be no mention of portion sizes. I had to head over to their website to find suggestions (they have a cool graphic using your hand to measure portions—not sure why they didn’t include it in the book). Here is it:

 

Whole30 Portion Sizes Diagram