Monday, October 12, 2009

The Paleo Cookbook Book Review

Mission Statement: all reviews will be my honest assessment of the material in question. My opinion will never be influenced by personal bias or my opinion of the author.

The Paleo Cookbook

Recipes for the Paleo Diet - Two Cookbooks - 120 Recipes Each!

"These are the results my clients have experienced and that i have experienced as well - that's why I'm a huge advocate for the paleo diet and I believe you too can experience how amazing it is to suddenly be able to go through your days with more energy, while seeing a happier, healthier body in the mirror."

– Nikki Young

Who is this book for?

It’s for someone looking to adopt a healthy diet and maybe lose a few pounds in the process. The book may also be for someone with a special preference for paleo dieting or a person looking for some new meal ideas to add to their daily menu.

What will I learn from it?

You'll learn to cook and prepare a variety of paleo meals for different occasions.

Strong points

* It features a very extensive list of recipes. Seven books all in all; two main books, and five theme-based books (i.e chocolate and capsicum sandwiches). So in addition to meals that would make good diet staples, there are also paleo-based dessert recipes and snacks.

* Excellent layout with high-quality pictures for every recipe.

* Clear instructions on how to prepare the meals.

* Contains creative solutions to make paleo friendly versions of modern foods such as noodles and sandwiches.

Weak points

* I couldn't find any major flaws with this product. It delivers exactly what it promises. One drawback is that nutritional information is not listed for each meal, but that's not hard to look up yourself either. The book also contains some recipes with "forbidden" foods that might anger some of the purists but these did not bother me.


One of my clients swears by this cookbook, which was the main reason I wanted to read and review it. I don’t typically consider recipe books but I was pleasantly surprised by Young’s. It delivers what it promises and does so in a stylish way. The collection of recipes may be used whether one is dieting, bulking or just maintaining their physique.

I've tried about a dozen recipes so far, and they've all turned out well. My personal favorites are coconut chicken curry, white fish with almond and tomato sauce, and "kids" meatloaf (no idea how Young came up with that name). The coconut sorbet dessert was awesome. There's also a coconut chocolate cake I’d really like to try but I'll have to ask someone to make that for me. Baking is just too much for a simpleton like me. But I'll report back once I can bribe someone into baking it.

This book holds even greater value if you're following the paleo diet to a T, which I don't (nor does the author, according to an interview). Want a quick paleo snack? It’s here. Want’s a filling paleo meal that requires little prep time? It’s here. Want to impress someone with an elaborate paleo dinner? It’s here too. But regardless of your diet habits, the recipes in this book will keep you occupied for a long time, adding variety and flavor to your meals.

If anyone already has this book, or buys it, feel free to post your personal favorites in the comments section.

A quick note about paleo diets in general

There’s now research that supports the health benefits of a paleo diet. A recent study* showed participants’ health markers improved when they switched to a paleo diet for ten days. Most people will see benefits in these markers simply by making an effort to eat healthier, in which case the cause would be reducing calorie intake and the resultant weight loss.

This study was of particular note because calorie and macronutrient intake was controlled and set to maintain the weight of participants. The benefits seen – such as lower fasting insulin, improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood lipids – resulted from manipulating quality, not quantity, of foods in the participants’ diet.

Also these results were recorded after merely ten days of following the paleo diet, so they were seen without the confounding factor of weight loss. When it comes to health, the paradigm of "a calorie is a calorie" doesn't ring true. However, it isn't wrong to assume that similar results would have been obtained by following a regular "clean" diet despite what some of the hardcore paleo proponents may tell you.

* Frassetto, et al. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb 11.


mike said...

Im not against paleo diet, for the contrary i really thinks its a really healthy type of eating, but my only problem with the paleo diet its that,
Its absolutely impossible to know how ours ancestors really ate.
The other problem with this its that depending on were they lived, the way of eating was different.
They say that only high fat, moderate protein a low carb diet its the more healthy diet of all, but i had seen a lot of tribes that theirs diet are high carbs with moderate to low fat, and yet they live long lives.
So at least for me, if you want to live longer and healthier, first you must eat unprocessed food, it doesnt matter if it were carbs, fat, protein, just unprocessed food.

Anonymous said...

This is great book! I use it every day in my cooking. Just now having some scrambled eggs with mushrooms and pine nuts:) Cheers, May.

Martin Berkhan said...


most importantly, for health and life span, you'd need to make sure you don't overeat. Weight gain and high body weight are factors positively correlated to shorter life spans. Eating unprocessed foods would help with weight maintenance/fat loss, but macronutrients most certainly play a role as well. A high carb/high fat/low protein diet would still not be conducive to weight maintenance regardless of the source consumed(processed/unprocessed).

Mark said...

This is why I think that the Paleo diet is so strong - While I agree that it's probably not superior to other approaches as far as losing fat/gaining muscle goes, it's goal is long term health. There is strong evidence that legumes/wheat/dairy cause problems in the gut which can lead to autoimmune disorders. This is why I try to stick to the Paleo diet.

I think some people get too narrow with the Paleo diet too. It's not about eating what a caveman ate, even though that would be a step in the right direction, it's about eating the foods that we were designed to eat. I wish I could say otherwise (because bread is tasty) but so far I haven't been able to shoot down the Paleo approach. So for me it's meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit, no dairy, no legumes, no wheat, no sugar. After saying that, I will concede that if wheat or beans are properly prepared, then you probably can eat them but I'd just rather stay away from them to be safe.

Martin is spot on in his review too. You can't deny the evidence of low fasting insulin levels, high insulin sensitivity, and good blood lipids. Also, the Paleo diet isn't always low carb. You can get up there with fruit, veggies, and the occasional sweet potato. Lastly, explaining to other people (when I get asked why I eat the way I do) that I eat for long-term health and not necessarily looks (even though I care about that and Paleo foods will get you there as long as you don't overeat) makes it easier to talk about.

Great post Martin. I feel that the Paleo diet is looked at as a cultish approach by some and I cheer any effort to show what it's really all about.

UofMWolverine81 said...


Thank you for sharing some info about this book. Your blog is always chock full of good stuff, and this was a unique twist on your usual great content.

Every time I stop by your blog I am reminded of what a privilege it is that you generously spend a portion of your time writing things to post so that many people can learn.

Martin Berkhan said...


'There is strong evidence that legumes/wheat/dairy cause problems in the gut which can lead to autoimmune disorders'

It might be appropriate to replace "strong" with "some" and add "for some people". If not, perhaps you could cite a study to substantiate your claims? I've only looked into the topic briefly.

I agree with you on the whole, in that the paleo diet is very conducive to long term health (and weight management/fat loss).


thanks again for your kind words. The growing number of readers and encouraging e-mails I get, and the comments here, is partly what keeps me going.

Mark said...

Hey Martin,
Good point as that is something that I wonder about myself. Are we all the same or can people from a certain land better handle certain foods? I don't know. Also, if one is able to manage inflammation (Dr. Sears goal) then can they avoid auto-immune disorders even while eating non-Paleo foods? I would think not but I don't know nearly enough about the science behind it to be sure.

While I wonder about these questions, I still come back to the Paleo diet as good starting point for nutrition. Anything that lies outside of it's guidelines is debatable.

Anonymous said...

I really like your review, and your blog is great also. I love the Paleo Cookbooks, the recipes are fantastic - I highly recommend them to anyone wanting to follow the paleo diet.

Sarah said...

Bought this two days ago and have been using it for every meal since:) Thanks for the recommendation and keep up the great work you're doin' with your blog!

Karen Chu said...

great book thanks!

Viktor said...

Hi Martin and thanks for posting interesting stuff.

I would be interested to hear your thought on muscle gain and Paleo diet, as many starch and carb rich foods are excluded.

Do you think it would be possible to substitute these foods with the Paleo counterpart, i.e. bananas, dried fruit etc. and have a equal muscle gain?

Many thanks,

Martin Berkhan said...

'Do you think it would be possible to substitute these foods with the Paleo counterpart, i.e. bananas, dried fruit etc. and have a equal muscle gain?'

I not only think, but am absolutely convinced of it.

Anonymous said...

isn't the paleo diet too low in carb?
low carb diets make me feel terrible

Johnny at The Lean Saloon said...


The Paleo diet is not necessarily "low carb." Depending on what your goal is (e.g. building muscle, workout recovery, weight loss), you can add or subtract starchy foods like bananas or yam, etc. But building muscle can be done with carbs from vegetables and fruits, which by default happens to be low in carbohydrates. But don't forget that muscle is a function of applying the right mechanical stimulus to muscles and having sufficient calories, regardless of the food source or meal frequency.

Viktor said: "I would be interested to hear your thought on muscle gain and Paleo diet, as many starch and carb rich foods are excluded."

Viktor, muscle can absolutely be built on a Paleo diet, without heavy carbohydrates. Here are my recent pictures.

I have used IF regularly, mostly for health reasons and not necessarily for weight loss. I have gained an incredible wealth of knowledge from Martin on this blog.

John said...

I've started trying some recipes. They're good and tasty. I'm not a fitness buff but I do believe that eating the right foods could make my life longer (LOL).

That is why I got curious with this book. And it never disappoints. I already tried about three recipes, even my kids liked the taste.

Amar said...

Have you or your clients experimented w/ any of the other Paleo Cookbooks?

Martin Berkhan said...

Nope, I only have this one in the review.

Anonymous said...

This is the article he refers to

Here is another interesting one I looked at "Estimated macronutrient and fatty acid intakes from an East African Paleolithic diet" (

P.S. Eat more fish! D.S.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

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