How much do I love Mel Joulwan? Let me count the ways.
I grew up helping my Mother and Grandmother create these delicious dishes in the kitchen and I was instantly hooked on cooking. They may have used recipes passed down from generation to generation, but it was all in their heads. Measuring cups and spoons? As if. Everything was done by sight and taste. A little oregano here. A little salt there. Voila! Delicious was born.
As a kid we got Betty Crocker recipe cards in the mail and suddenly a whole new world of cooking was introduced to me. To this day my favorite thing to do is read cookbooks. My collection is getting embarrassingly large but I don’t care. As long as Amazon has free shipping with orders over $35, you bet your sweet patootie I’m going to buy them two at a time. Then I discovered the Paleo lifestyle and my new obsession was born. Must. Buy. Paleo. Cookbooks.
I’m a good cook. People frequently come to our house for dinner or parties and rarely is there any food evidence left by the time the time people leave. When I started my first Paleo Challenge, I had a bit of a panic attack. No cheese? No sugar? No GRAiNS?!? What in the heck were we going to eat? Starvation seemed a very real possibility. So I started researching because I was not resigning myself to baked chicken and steamed broccoli. Blech.
My first Paleo cookbook was Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed – Paleo Recipes for People who Love to Eat. I love to eat. These recipes must be made for me! From the first page I was absolutely in love. After reading her introduction on what Paleo really is, how to prepare my kitchen and pantry, and most importantly, how to shop for what we’d need on a weekly basis, I was convinced I could be Paleo without a problem.
Where Well Fed succeeds where other Paleo cookbooks fail is that Mel’s recipes speak to your inner foodie. Each recipe is created with the end result in mind. Food that is delicious, appetizing, beautiful to look at and irresistible to eat. Thank your lucky stars, you won’t find baked chicken and steamed broccoli here.
Well Fed just isn’t a collection of recipes… it’s an approach to an overall lifestyle. Mel provides tips and trick on how to change up a recipe so that you can get multiple uses. There are ideas on what to serve alongside a particular dish. Most importantly, she provides real-life advice on how to execute the recipe in your own kitchen with what you have available to you. And she does it all with her signature friendly and witty tone.
Some of my favorite recipes are:
Pad Thai – I’ve served this at more than one dinner party for people who aren’t Paleo but couldn’t stop eating it straight from the pan as I was cleaning up.
Waldorf Tuna Salad – This is our staple take-to-work lunch when we don’t have leftovers but we do have cans of tuna fish in the pantry.
Meatza Pie – I don’t even miss the cheese when we have Meatza Pie for dinner.
Scotch Eggs – My new favorite breakfast food.
Italian Sausage and Eggplant Strata – Mind blown. Seriously, you should stop reading this post, order Well Fed, and make this recipe as soon as it arrives on your doorstep.
Then when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Mel released Well Fed 2- MORE Paleo Recipes for People who Love to Eat. How did she know I needed a new cookbook to obsess over???
Well Fed 2 was crafted with more of a focus on doing the Whole30 while still including vital info on what Paleo is and how to start adapting to a Paleo lifestyle. Just because it’s the second book doesn’t mean it plays second fiddle. Well Fed 2 stands on it’s own with a solid foundation of information and knowledge.
Some of my favorite sections are what staples to keep in your pantry and kitchen, an in-depth list of spices and how to use them, and 10 things to put on your burgers. Omg. Burgers are my kryptonite. If I had to choose my last meal, you bet it’ll be a burger. They’re quick, easy, and delicious. And now with 10 new ideas on what to top them with, I am going to be sure I try all 10 in the near future.
My favorite recipes from Well Fed 2 and examples of why you should buy this book immediately?
Lebanese Seven-Spice Blend – What??? I’ve been searching for literally YEARS trying to find the spice blend that makes the food at my local Lebanese restaurant so delicious. Now that I’ve found it, I put it on stuff at least once a week.
The Burgers, Balls & Bangers Section – There 15 examples of how to transform a pound of unassuming ground meat into mouth-watering bites of perfection. With spice mixes like Greek, Turkey and Cranberry, and Chorizo, you’ll never experience boring again. Plus Mel included a trick of using cream of tartar, baking soda, and warm water to produce tender, airy meat that has changed my ground meat world.
Thai Basil Beef – Exotic and yummy all at the same time.
Lemon Lamb Tagine – Preserved lemons have found a new and permanent place in my pantry because of this recipe. Be warned, I do make this with chicken, not lamb and found it to be spectacular.
Crisp-Sweet Collards – This recipe is proof collard greens don’t have use vinegar or cook for hours to be delicious.
While you’re waiting for your copy of Well Fed 1 & 2, check out Mel’s blog The Clothes Make the Girl and her bangin’ recipe index. It’ll whet your appetite while waiting for UPS to make a special delivery to your doorstep.