Photo by Christian Guthier via Flickr.com
Thanks again to all that have reviewed the book. We’ve mentioned it before but we are truly grateful. It is a terrifying thing to hope that people “get” what you have done and provide a place for them to leave an indelible, public critique of your pride and joy. But your comments have been amazing. To see reviews from all over the world and from people actually making the recipes and reporting back with rave reviews removes so much of the anxiety. We’re proud to have reviews like that, from real users. Not the kind that write an infomercial sales pitch version of the book with compliments like “looks great”. We strive to be genuine in all we do and recommend. We’d rather put our effort into making something worth liking than trying to fool you into believing we have. Random side note: Much to my chagrin, and at our illustrator’s insistence, I joined Instagram. I’m only using it to “creep” on #primalcravings and #healthbent; I’m not interested in posting anything–like I really need another social media outlet to suck at, but it’s been extremely cool to see what y’all are making.[divider]
Some of our reviews mention the starch content in the book in a negative context. We thought we’d address our feelings on that here, for what it’s worth….
We recommend what we’d refer to as a “low-carb” diet, but to us the “low” implies a lesser amount relative to the Standard American Diets 300-500 grams. To those who consider low to be an Atkin’s induction phase (or any other ketogenic diet) at 0-50 grams of carbs per day, it’s probably more accurate to call what we believe in a moderate-carb diet. As we personally fall in the 75-200 grams per day of carbohydrates. The amounts vary based on our training and current goals (and male/female).
To obtain those carbs, we don’t see harm from (and actually see benefit with) starch. We are big fans of Paul and Shou Ching Jaminet’s work in this arena. In their book The Perfect Health Diet, the Jaminet’s argue for including what they call “safe starches” which include plantains, tapioca, rice, and potatoes of all kinds and colors.
Citing several ways at which they arrive at what The Perfect Health Diet would consist of; they argue that in many cases nutrient deficiencies can arise from a paleo diet that is too low in carbs for long periods of time.
We certainly have nothing against ketogenic or very low carb diets. And we know that there are certain conditions that they suit very well, in addition to being very effective for weight loss. We just don’t think that the extreme necessarily means that it’s more healthy long term. We don’t believe that insulin is evil or that rises in blood sugar from sensible choices are unnatural/dangerous in those with normal metabolisms. We agree with Kurt Harris’ assessment that very low carb diets are unnecessary and can be problematic long term. That said, if you were eating very low carb for any reason we still feel the book contains many (90+!) recipes that would be suitable and knock-your-socks-off tasty.
In what I’d estimate is about 30 of the 125+ recipes, we use tapioca flour or some form of starch, with tapioca flour as the basis of our baking. These starches and flours are only used where other traditional paleo recipes would include almond flour. And we’ve written about why we avoided using almond flour. Not only have we been able to use about half the amount of total flour for the same yield out of baked goods (which usually contain coconut flour too, so it’s not all starch), but we also use the minimum of sugar (less than traditional almond paleo recipes) and the carb load is actually not as much as or that different from traditional almond flour recipes.
CrossFitters and all other active folks will likely do well with some starch with amounts depending again on size/activity level/goals/gender. And honestly I’d be pretty surprised if anyone reading this wasn’t incorporating much good activity into their day-to-day since paleo as a lifestyle is about more than just what we eat. It’s about using our bodies to stay capable.
We do think “carbs can be evil” but isn’t this stigma that all carbs are terrible like saying all fat is evil because trans fats are? We just want to be careful with lumping all carbs in the same boat with processed non-food foods. At first, the paleo diet was labeled as “lean meats only”. A trend that has since been bucked and it seems that to some the same is now happening with carbs. The paleo diet can be a very low carb diet but it’s not synonymous.
Last, we do have a great primer to the paleo diet in the front of the book. It’s probably already apparent from the rest of this article that our take is slightly unique in some ways. We say in the book that the recipes are of course the books primary intent, but that since they are recipes about a dietary lifestyle, we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on what our principles are and how we use those recipes.The recipes in our book are how we really eat within the context we describe in “our philosophy”.
Everyone has their own context of how things work for them. We do get a little sick of the warnings that people try to give about sweets and treats. “Don’t eat this at every meal”…”this isn’t how you should always eat”…and blah, blah, blah. Not only are they likely overstating the supposed “danger” of some carbs (and projecting it onto everyone without regard for individual variance) but it’s extremely patronizing to assume you have to save everyone from their own ignorance. And is there really anyone anywhere thinking that a treat of any kind, paleo or not, is appropriate all day every day?
fictional person: “Well I’m so excited, I’ve made 17 cookie and cake recipes and I’m all set for my meals for the week.”
fictional snob: “You shouldn’t eat treats at every meal, or all day every day.”
fictional person: “Noooooooooooo. Thanks so much for letting me know. Now what am I going to do with all 50 lbs of these treats?”
Sound realistic? To us it’s on par with suggesting a glass of wine or a cocktail can be good for you but feeling the need to add a disclaimer…”Now make sure you don’t drink 413 of them per day or from a beer helmet while on the way to work!” No shit.
To describe our view on the paleo diet we use our “umbrella diagram” expertly illustrated by our artist Danna Ray. We try to make this thing as simple as possible! We get fed up with books and sites that at times seem to want to complicate it and add impractical “rules” that add more hassle and undue neurosis about food choices. Our diagram ties together our motivation for eating this way in the first place, the principles that determine what foods to choose (for autonomous decision making), and what the foods included are. But it emphasizes what to avoid since we really feel that’s the most unifying principle of paleo diet evidence and the biggest impact.
We just wanted to have our view accompany the recipes to highlight our subtle differences but also to provide a solid yet hopefully very reasonable and non-dogmatic version of what the diet is in hopes that the book would make a great gift to those with less paleo knowledge.
There are so many “intro to paleo” books out there now. Our real emphasis for this book was to try and create recipes to blow your mind, but we didn’t want you to need an “intro to paleo” book to go with it if you were just learning about the diet.
We wanted to explain the diet our way and then provide the recipes before anyone can even utter the phrase “so now what can I eat?”.