Book Review: "Well Fed" by Melissa Joulwan

This past Christmas I received several Paleo cookbooks, and though I like making up my own recipes lately I devoted the month of January to cooking other people's creations. One of the books I received was Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan, which is the primary book I have been cooking from this past month. This book was released on 2011 and I wanted it because I enjoy Mel's blog The Clothes Make the Girl, which is an eclectic mix of recipes, WODs, fashion, literature, Whole 30 and more. The first recipe I prepared from Melissa's blog was her awesome chili recipe, and after that I knew I wanted her cookbook on my Christmas list. Not only have I been impressed with her recipes and general content of her blog, but I enjoy the upbeat tone she writes in and also extreme passion for good food. I also appreciate her recipes are aimed for folks with dietary restrictions and following a Paleo template---just because someone is on a restricted diet doesn't mean they shouldn't eat delicious food!

As far as the book goes, I was impressed by her in-depth bio about how she came to eating Paleo foods, or "dino-chow" as she adorably labels them. As I have recently come to enjoy once a week cooking, I appreciated the game plan she outlines for a "Weekly Cookup" as well as ways to take your pre-cooked protein and veggies to make them into "hot plates" and "cool salads"---basically a way to keep your pre-prepped meals from being boring. Honestly, with all the combinations she outlines I can't imagine being bored, especially with her recipes for sauces (Paleo ranch dressing!) and seasonings which take a plain plate of meat and veg to the next level. She gives an example of her weekly haul, which is what she bases her cookup on. What's really helpful is that she shows you how to calculate your protein needs, which can be tricky when you first start to do a once a week cookup. Every recipe is photographed beautifully which is something I look for when buying a cookbook. She also has an extensive and easy-to-follow "yes" and "no" list of Paleo foods, which is beneficial for those new to eating a whole food diet (which really is the core of Well Fed...eating delicious REAL food).

My favorite part of her recipes is that for most of them she notates variations to make the recipes have different ethnic flair, so basically you get about six or seven recipes in one! She titles her variations "you know how you could do that?" and also pairs them with "tasty ideas," which are recipes elsewhere in the book that would help form a whole meal. She provides a blank "notes" space for your own creativity as well. These variations are especially perfect for those nights you might want to indulge in take-out, but you can easily make your own take-out-style meal with her hot plate instructions plus one of her seasoning mixes and/or sauces.

I would highly suggest this cookbook if you are in a Paleo rut and need some new flavors for old favorites like plain cooked meat, or if you are just starting out and need inspiration. If you are used to eating out frequently at various ethnic restaurants you may at first feel like you have to cut out some of your favorite foods, but with these recipes you will still be able to have the same flavors you love but prepared at home with real ingredients.

Some of the recipes I have prepared (and love!) include:

Baba Ganoush with crudites...made a great snack!
My lunch plate with leftovers of roasted broccoli and "Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata"---I loved this recipe (the leftovers were divine)!

Beef and vegetables with "Best Stir Fry Sauce Ever," which I used as a marinade for the meat   

    "Meatza Pie" (I added cheese, not in the original recipe)