I am not a chef. In fact, I’ve only ever attended two cooking classes in my life. But, I am an experienced cook. I cook about 85-90% of our meals at home. That’s three meals a day, almost every day. I have been doing that for at least 6 years. And, it makes a huge difference to my family’s health, energy, and even our connection. We don’t eat together every night. But, we do gather around the table often.
I’m a busy working mom with two kids, so my cooking experience is real.
Last week when I was speaking at the American Physical Therapy Association meeting, I was reminded of the one question that I’m most commonly asked by my patients, colleagues, students, and friends. “What cookbooks do you recommend?”
I get this question so often, that I’ve decided to do a series of cookbook reviews. Today I’ll kick off the series with a review of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking by Caitlin Weeks, Chef Nabil Boumrar, and Diane Sanfilippo.
First of all, this cookbook is beautiful. It is easy to follow, and the recipes are delicious. I tested the Fig and Ginger Chicken Tajine on my family.
This is what mine looked like mid-simmer…
1 Tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil (I used coconut oil because we have some dairy sensitivities in our house.)
1 whole (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (I bought 8 chicken bone-in skin on chicken thighs since I actually don’t know how to cut a chicken into 8 pieces… not to self, learn how to do that, or ask my butcher to cut up my chicken! Anyway, it worked with the 8 thighs.)
1 medium white onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp grated, fresh ginger
fine sea salt and ground black pepper
4 cups Chicken Broth (ideally make your own, or use a good quality store bought brand)
1.5 cups dried figs, halved (about 12 whole figs)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish.
Melt the fat in a large stockpot over medium heat, then add the chicken and sauté for 10 minutes, or until browned.
Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté the mixture for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the broth, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the dried figs and continue to simmer the mixture for another 20 minutes, uncovered.
Serve the chicken with the sauce, topped with the cilantro.
Here’s the final product… (with some roasted cauliflower on the side.)
The verdict? It was delicious. The figs added enough sweetness for my kids to enjoy it, and it was easy to prepare and clean up using my trusty Le Creuset dutch oven.
Here are a few more thing that I love about this cookbook…
- It’s paperback which makes it easy to actually use in the kitchen.
- There are recipes for pasta and pizza dishes that are appropriate for my clients who are on an autoimmune paleo protocol.
- There are a lot of flavorful salad, vegetable, and soup recipes. (Some paleo cookbooks can be a little meat heavy.)
- On beautifully laid out pages in the back of the book, there are menu recommendations for parties. Fun!
- The best pesto recipe. (Blend it in the Vitamix to get it that creamy.)
I have a challenge for you. Because you’re reading this, I know that you understand how essential nutrition is to health. You can not exercise, supplement, or medicate your way out of a bad diet. For my patients who are struggling even with very severe chronic pain, the first thing that I do is get them back into the kitchen (sometimes with the help and support of their families.) It can feel like a big mountain to climb at first. But, cooking is essential to health. Not expert cooking, just loving home cooking.
In order to get to the root of healthy living, it is essential that you get into the kitchen. It may feel like a huge learning curve to you right now. Maybe you didn’t grow up with a mother who taught you to cook. (I didn’t.) That doesn’t matter. Cooking is simply an art and a science. You can’t do it wrong. It just takes practice. How can you teach this to your clients and patients if you’re not living it in your kitchen?
Head over to Amazon right now, order Mediterranean Paleo Cooking, and try one new recipe with your family this week.
I can’t wait to hear all about it! Let us know in the comments below, and share your cooking wins (and disasters) on our Facebook page. We’re cheering you on!