I’ve had Primal Cravings by Megan McCullough Keatley and Brandon Keatley at my house for nearly two months now and have been holding off writing a review because I wasn’t sure exactly what to say.
I still have really mixed feelings.
I was really excited to receive the book. My kids are always clamoring for foods that their peers eat and I’m not always able to make them. However, over the four and a half years that I’ve been Primal, I’ve come up with substitutions for almost everything they want, including pizza crust, crackers and rolls. I already make my own cake, ice cream, soda, beef jerky, cookies, mayonnaise, salad dressings, waffles, popsicles, tomato-free pizza and spaghetti sauce, and pasta. To be fair, there really aren’t a lot of recipes out there that can impress me. (Here’s one for waffles from the Paleo Parents that did.)
That being said, I’m always on the look out for recipes that use new and different seasonings, or that combine different gluten-free flours to come up with amazing new combinations. When baking ingredients are given in ounces or grams, I’m able to substitute different flours for things I have on-hand or to avoid things we’re intolerant to.
Although this book is beautifully bound and laid out, when I first opened it up I was pretty disappointed. Approximately 70% of the recipes contain nightshades. I know that nightshades are commonly accepted in Primal and paleo diets — but they aren’t on an autoimmune one. Things like cayenne pepper I can leave out or substitute, but when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of potato starch, not only can I not make it, I can’t even make substitutions.
Different flours weigh different amounts. Even the same type of flour, but different brands or stored differently, can weigh different amounts. If I replaced 1/2 cup of potato flour with 1/2 cup of tapioca starch, rice flour or coconut flour, my recipe would fail miserably.
A lot of the recipes either center around or feature potatoes and tomatoes. That rules them out right away. A lot of the desserts and baked goods use potato flour and/or starch. Ditto. There’s a lot of coconut flour being used — something my family hates and my gut can’t tolerate.
The reason that I have mixed feelings about this book is because the recipes that I can make are really, really good. There’s a recipe for Swedish meatloaf which tastes better than Ikea meatballs. A take-off on Girl Scout cookies that are freakin’ insanely good. A carrot salad which even my kids loved.
If I’m in the mood for comfort food, I flip through this book to see what I can find. A lot of the dinner recipes that don’t contain nightshades are delicious and there are a lot of interesting combinations and techniques I’ve never seen before. The book is beautifully put together and well organized. I’m just not sure that I can recommend it to everyone — especially those just starting out on a Primal path. Primal Cravings is a recipe book full of treats that, while they may be gluten-free and Primal, are certainly not going to help your blood sugar and insulin out any. That being said, the authors are up front about this — they’re offering you recipes for the foods you crave. How often you choose to make them (and eat them) is totally up to you.