On the Shelf

Paleo for Unicorns

Eat the Patriarchy

by Amy Subach

Paleo for Unicorns is a witty and irreverent guide to paleo written by a Portland mom who discovered that the diet and lifestyle changes helped her family feel better. There is a concise and helpful introduction to paleo at the beginning of the book, accented with exercise and parenting tips. Subach discusses the 80/20 rule: If you follow the diet 80% of the time, you can still benefit. “It is a way of accepting that we live in the real world, and the real world has margaritas in it,” she writes. The recipes are easy and structured for a busy family. There is a delicious prescription for noatmeal, or paleo porridge, and instructions for fried plantains. She includes recipes for fruit crumble and blueberry muffins, and something called “tarte ta tin,” although she acknowledges that Julia Child would most likely rename it. The book concludes with a short list of resources and recommended books.

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Sweet Potato Soul

By Jenné Claiborne

Sweet Potato Soul is everything a cookbook should be: awesome recipes, easy as promised, lavishly illustrated, and utterly irresistible. When people question Claiborne about a disconnect between Southern food and vegan lifestyle, she says, “My great-grandparents from the South, and my ancestors from West Africa, ate mostly plant-based diets because it was efficient, reliable, and nutritious.” The sweet potato is central to Southern cooking. There is a minitutorial with recipes like fluff y sweet potato biscuits and sweet potato hummus. Practical tips are spread throughout. She recommends cutting greens into ribbons (chiffonade) because they will cook more quickly and be more tender. A sidebar about beans recommends cooking them with kombu seaweed and explains that your body becomes used to beans when eaten more often. Fun recipes, such as hot pepper pecans and blackberry mint julep, also enliven this book. Sweet Potato Soul deserves to be included in the annual best-of lists. It’s that good.

Hippie Food

By Jonathan Kauffman

Food writer Jonathan Kauff man has written an absorbing and fascinating social history of the nutritional sea change that had its roots in the 1960s. A slowly spreading people’s revolution was changing the way we ate and thought about food, and Kauff man chronicles the people, farmers, writers, co-ops, restaurants, and markets that raised the consciousness of the country. Kauff man begins by raising two questions: Why did the counterculture start eating such foods as brown rice, tofu, granola, and whole wheat bread? And how did it spread across the country? The story begins (where else?) in California, as Vermont was experiencing a population boom of young farmers. Now-familiar diets like Zen macrobiotics and the best-sellers Diet for a Small Planet and Moosewood Cookbook were hugely influential and were found in rural, urban, and suburban kitchens. Next time you visit Tommy’s or The Root Café, you’ll know where it all began.