Paleo Vegan, Plant Based Primal Recipes

By Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger, Review by Judith Kingsbury

Paleo Vegan

Paleo Vegan, Plant Based Primal Recipes: How to make sense of the paleo diet in vegan terms, how vegans can successfully adapt a primal diet, with excellent recipes by Chef Alan Roettinger.

Author Ellen Jaffe Jones says in her introduction to Paleo Vegan, "When the paleo craze first kicked in, I have to admit, it annoyed me ... until I discovered how much the paleo and vegan philosophies actually have in common."

I first encountered Ellen Jaffe Jones when I reviewed her book, Eat Vegan on $4 A Day: Game Plan For Budget Conscious Cooks.

Ellen is a certified personal trainer, running coach, consultant, author, speaker, and has been vegan for over 30 years. She's also a two-time Emmy winning TV reporter and winner of the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism. Not much gets past her.

Alan Roettinger is an international chef, food designer, blogger, speaker and author of 3 vegan cookbooks of healthy but sophisticated and delicious recipes that are accessible to the home cook. He knows food! I've reviewed his Speed Vegan cookbook

Leaving aside my own thoughts about the paleo diet, I was curious to see what practical, knowledgable, no-nonsense vegan Ellen Jaffe Jones had to say about vegans going paleo, and what fun paleo recipe adventures chef Alan Roettinger would bring to the table.

I was happy to see that Ellen downplays the scientific basis of the paleo diet, because that's open to so much interpretation and dispute. Plus the Paleo people may not have had blenders and food processors. Ellen focuses on how we eat in the present day, and our 21st century nutritional needs.

She talks about how the typical meat-based paleo diet can easily and logically be re-configured as plant based, with an emphasis on foraging (usually in the local farmer's market), and the inclusion of grains and legumes as a necessary part of the paleo vegan diet.

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This statement startled me: "the paleo tolerance for cheating is precisely what opens the door to vegans".

Ellen goes on to explain that many paleo diet adherents must tweak the rules to meet their dietary needs. Apparently there's 20% wiggle room, which supposedly leaves paleo-vegans enough scope for adding grains and legumes to their diets.

Ellen Jaffe Jones says: "Vegans may think there's no place for them in the paleo universe, but take heart - there is a way to fit in!".

In Chapter 2, she shows her readers exactly how to build an optimally nutritious paleo-style vegan diet, starting with finding the common ground - foods both vegans and paleos can enjoy.

She explains how vegans can get around the paleo grain/legume issues through sprouting, soaking and cooking techniques.

She discusses protein, calcium, iron and other nutrient sources, foraging for wild and exotic plants, and paleo for the vegan athlete, ending with the paleo recommendations for functional exercise, using natural body movements.

On to the Paleo Vegan Recipes!

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I love Alan Roettinger's tongue-in-cheek approach to the Paleo Vegan diet.

Chapter 3, Breakfast, begins 'at sunrise, gathering energy'. He introduces his pineapple coconut smoothie recipe with 'this morning pick-me-up will get any cave dweller going' and his mixed berries with berry puree and lemon verbena recipe with 'our Paleolithic ancestors would agree that there's nothing like a bowl of fresh berries first thing in the morning'.

For someone who eats steel cut oats with amaranth every day for breakfast (with lots of paleo goodies added), I was disconcerted to find no grains among the breakfast recipes. That is where I would definitely add my so-called 'paleo cheats'.

I fell in lust with the dips in Chapter 4, which include Spicy Peanut Dip, Green Olive Tapenade, and Harissa, the staple hot sauce of Morocco, a must-try recipe which includes this gem, 'There's no great secret to making roasted peppers. Even a caveman can do it.'

In Chapter 5 are yummy greens based soups ('a fire under every pot') which call out to me for the addition of beans, and in Chapter 6, an astonishing array of salads ('grazing paleo style'), such as baby kale salad with balsamic braised mushrooms.

Kasha with Kale

For a sample recipe, I picked Kasha with Kale from Chapter 7 of Paleo Vegan, 'optional cheats for protein, pseudograins'. This recipe was simple, easy, satisfying, and a great way to cook buckwheat groats - added to boiling salted water, simmered, and then drained. The groats were perfect - well cooked, but not mushy.

Alan Roettinger's recipes blithely ignore the possible lack of ingredients such as mellow white miso, red curry paste, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard in the Paleolithic period.

His cooking is firmly rooted in the here-and-now, with a wide range of delectable ingredients in his recipes. For optimal foraging, most likely he has a gourmet food store and a first class farmer's market just around the corner from his urban cave.

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And yet, Alan Roettinger is true to the spirit of the paleo diet, even though he's aware of it's absurdities.

As he says, 'welcome to the global village, a place unknown to our paleo ancestors'.

I take the paleo diet with a grain of salt and a dash of cynicism, but as Ellen Jaffe Jones points out, when practised as a plant based diet (which some scientists believe it mostly was), paleo has much to recommend it for vegans.

If you are a vegan leaning toward paleo, you can't do better than Paleo Vegan, Plant Based Primal Recipes by Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger, to keep you properly nourished and well fed, no matter where you do your foraging.

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