Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook & A Chat With Irena Macri

I'm excited to share with you another wonderful cookbook today. Since reviewing my last cookbook I was given the chance to have a peek at the new paleo cookbook by Irena Macri of the popular food blog Eat Drink Paleo. I even have her on the blog today answering some questions about her new cookbook and tips for the newbie entering into the paleo lifestyle. I will preface this post by saying I am not here to debate the pros and cons of eating a paleo diet. I myself enjoy paleo inspired recipes for the fact they are mostly dairy free (due to my dairy intolerance) and full of super dooper, wonderful real food. Anyway let's chat to Irena.

Tell us 5 facts about yourself?
  1. I was born and raised in Ukraine and fell in love with food and cooking through my family, and my grandmother in particular.
  2. I love the outdoors – I feel happiest hiking in the mountains or swimming in the ocean.
  3. I was once ‘the best man’ at a friend’s wedding and had to organise the buck’s party. That was fun!
  4. I had a career in the corporate world until I quit and decided to start a food blog at the age of 31 so I believe that it’s never too late to follow your dreams and passion.
  5. For someone who writes cookbooks, I’ve always had a very small kitchen. I cooked, styled and photographed the whole Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook right at home in Sydney with the help of my dear friends

What was your journey to start eating paleo?

A few years ago I started looking for ways to optimise my diet and lifestyle to foster better health and to promote longevity. I this it’s something that happens to many people after they turn 30. I stumbled on paleo through friends and after doing my own research, I fell in love with its basic philosophy of eating whole, nutrient dense foods and living in a more natural, holistic way.

I took my time transitioning, eliminating wheat and sugar first, and then slowly reducing the amount of other grains and legumes I ate. I started eating protein with every meal, getting more Omega-3 fatty acids and just eating more fat in general. My energy levels increased and became more stable throughout the day and I was feeling more satiated between meals. I stopped getting sugar cravings in the afternoons. The changes in the way I felt motivated me to keep going until this new way I ate just became natural.

What is your top 5 ingredients you would recommend to have in your cupboard/fridge?

I always have the following foods because they are nutrient dense, versatile and tasty: free-range eggs, tinned sardines, sweet potatoes, avocados, and butter.

What is one piece of food wisdom you would give to the newbie paleo?

Focus on what you can eat rather on what you can’t - the world of unprocessed food is huge with many wonderful things to try. And start cooking for yourself – it’s one of the quickest ways to upgrade your diet.

Any tips on keeping to a budget when eating paleo?

Look for specials and buy in bulk staples that you would use all the time and that you can either freeze or store in the pantry for a while – things like coconut oil, olive oil, butter, tinned fish, grass-fed beef mince, free-range chicken thighs and drumsticks, onions, carrots, cabbage, tinned tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spices. But make sure to use them up! There is nothing worse than food waste. Then I would also encourage people to eat in season, eat nose-to-tail and to not snob frozen foods like berries, vegetables, fish and prawns as that also helps to keep the costs down.

Chilli Chocolate Mousse by Irena Macri
What is your latest food discovery?

Ingredients wise I am really enjoying discovering new starchy root vegetables like yucca or cassava, Turkish spices like isot biber chili, black or smoked garlic, fermented foods – I love all the weird and wonderful things.

What was the best food experience you ever had?

Oh this is always so hard to answer because there are so many…I think the best food experiences are as much about food as they are about the people you’re with at the time and the mood, so based on that I think having the world’s best gelato in a small piazza in Tuscany with my close friends as the sun was going down was very memorable. But then again, so was having an amazing Nordic cuisine degustation in Copenhagen with close friends last year. Ask me next year and it will be something new.

What is your favourite recipe from the cookbook?

I love them all but I am especially fond of my paleo lasagna, smoked chicken slaw, lemongrass coconut pumpkin soup and banana bread.

Eat Drink Paleo Cook Book by Irena Macri, Published by Viking, rrp $34.99

Thanks Irena for popping by and sharing with us your beautiful cookbook and knowledge on the paleo lifestyle. Let's talk more about the book now shall we. The Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook is brimming full of wonderful recipes just waiting for the hungry cook to flick through the pages and settle on a recipe to whip up. I had a difficult time trying to decide which recipe was better the Chilli Chocolate Mousse or Raspberry and Honey Chocolate Torte. I couldn’t decide. They both looked to good.

The book is broken up into sections of Introduction, Paleo Basics, Kitchen Basics & Recipes. At the start of the cookbook Irena gets down to basics explaining what’s in and what’s out when following a paleo diet, pantry and kitchen staples and favourite resources and websites. This is all very helpful for the newbie wanting to learn more about eating real-food.

 The recipe section in this book has some great quirky subtitles for each chapter such as wake up baby, fish ‘n’ friends and cheeky treats just to name a few. I’m a visual person and I enjoyed flicking through reading each recipe and appreciating the delicious food presented on the pages. That’s half the reason I buy a cookbook to drool over the food photographs in the book.

This book is packed full of real-food recipes inspiring the uninspired home cook to whip up something pretty darn tasty using seasonal produce. The Velvet Quiche (love the title), Smoked Chicken Slaw, Cauliflower Cous Cous and Dukkah-Spiced Roasted Pumpkin are all on my to try list. To me there are a lot of great special occasion recipes in the book such as the Roasted Rib-Eye with Rocket Chimichurri, Mustard Thyme Quail, Oysters Five Ways and the Lime & Coriander Butter Scallops.  I think the Eat Drink Paleo Cookbook is a great resource for those starting out on a paleo journey, wanting to eat more healthy seasonal recipes or needing a little bit of healthy inspiration in the kitchen.

I am lucky enough to be able to share with you the Chilli Chocolate Mousse Recipe from Irena's cookbook.  You can whip it up in a pinch and delight in the tingling chocolate mousse any night of the week. Enjoy.

This recipe was printed with permission from the publisher.

{Disclosure: I was given a copy of Eat Drink Paleo to review. I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own}



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