The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook | The Paleo Diet®
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

Try The Paleo Diet®!

Learn more. Get recipes & meal plans. See the science.

The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook

By The Paleo Diet Team
February 27, 2014
The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook image

Loren Cordain: I'm Loren Cordain, founder of The Paleo Diet Movement.

Shelley Schlender: I'm Shelley Schlender. This is The Paleo Diet Podcast for April 2015. Okay, so it's called the ... Say it again.

Loren Cordain: It's The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook.

Shelley Schlender: So what was the radio tour like talking about a cookbook for thirty different radio stations?

Loren Cordain: Well, a lot of the people, as opposed to you, they didn't know who I was or my background, and even a few of the hosts, believe it or not, hadn't heard of Paleo, which I can't even imagine, because I've been all over the country and the world now, and it really has become a household word. One or two of them I had to explain the concept to, and I even had one host from New York who called it Pahleyo. When I was on Larry King Live, Larry King called it Pahleyo as well. He's got all these young people that are in his studio and they're pulling him over: "Larry, it's not Pahleyo, it's Paleo."

It's The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook. It's been out since about March 1st.

Shelley Schlender: There's some things that are different about this from other Paleo Diet cookbooks. The biggest thing I noticed at first is, there's no bacon in it.

Loren Cordain: (Laughs) That's right. As the whole Paleo movement has gotten popular, it's kind of like a medusa head; it's fractionated out in different people and different ideas. From the very get go, neither Boyd Eaton, myself, Staffan Lindeberg, or many of the scientists that have been involved with this idea from the beginning have we ever suggested that high-dietary-salt intakes should be part of a contemporary Paleo diet.

So bacon is a huge source of concentrated salt, so in about a quarter pound, you get way more than even what's recommended by the USDA, which is what? Twenty-three-hundred milligrams, or twenty-five-hundred milligrams.


Shelley Schlender: In your cookbook, you have these marvelously beautiful pictures, and then recipes that don't include added salt. I tried one of these out on some friends; the tandoori chicken, and they loved it! Finally I said: "Well, we didn't add honey, we didn't add salt of any kind." Guess what they said?

Loren Cordain: I'm sure they probably enjoyed it. My wife Lorrie and I have tried about twenty-five or thirty of these recipes and the chefs and the professional cooks that created these recipes; they absolutely got it right. They know how to blend spices and herbs, and vegetables and meat products together. Not only are these pictures just gorgeous, look at these Shelley! This is eye candy. These pictures are absolutely and totally amazing. Every single recipe that Lorrie and I have tried tastes every bit as good as it looks in these photographs.

Shelley Schlender: I want to find the tandoori chicken. There it is! Tandoori style chicken legs with cucumber raita.

Loren Cordain: I can see that you've used it Shelley. (Laughs) There's a bunch of spices and drippings here! (Laughs)

Shelley Schlender: That's the sign of a good cookbook as far as ...

Loren Cordain: That is! You open it up ... We've got one right here on our kitchen, and it's also getting a little bit tattered and worn because we thumb through it and pick out these recipes.

Shelley Schlender: Yes, the evidence is there. Here are the kind of herbs and spices that your chefs used to make this taste so good without salt. Lemon juice, ground cumin, turmeric, all-spice, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fresh ginger, garlic, and I think onion. So those were some of the spices used in the marinade.

I was around people who love salt, and they didn't notice it was missing; they just said this was delicious and looked very happy.

Loren Cordain: I'm not much of a salt fan myself; I try to keep it out of my diet. Every single one of these recipes that we have tried are just amazing. These are all, by the way, as I mentioned, they're created by professional chefs and cooks, and they've all been tested. So they're taste tested.


Then they have professional photographers that come in. The photography is ... I'll tell you, this is a type of book you want to put out on your cocktail table and people will start thumbing through it, and they look at it and they go: "Wow!" They can't put it down because it is so visually stunning.

Shelley Schlender: It is pretty, and at the same time I've made it look very cluttered with all of the little Post-It tabs for the recipes I wanted to try. With the tandoori style chicken, I'm going to go on and say one more thing about it.

Loren Cordain: Okay.

Shelley Schlender: Which is that usually people eat that kind of food with a yogurt dressing on cucumber or something like that; that's called raita. This was an example of a cashew cream replacement. For somebody who doesn't eat dairy, there was the cashew cream with fresh mint and fresh cilantro and cumin and black pepper. In my case, I added olive oil, because I love olive oil.

Loren Cordain: Sure. The chefs were amazing and creative. I reviewed every single recipe in the book, and there's about two-hundred-and-fifty of them. I reviewed every single recipe to make sure that it was fully compliant with Paleo, and they are the ones that figured out how to take out dairy and salt and what have you, the non-Paleo items.

Shelley Schlender: 'What have you', meaning honey.

Loren Cordain: Honey, that's right.

Shelley Schlender: Or agave.

Loren Cordain: Yes. To make these things taste wonderful, and they've got an entire chapter on sweets and desserts that aren't made with refined sugars, but rather fruits and fruit juices, and mince, and those kinds of spices. This is real work of art, and it's a collaboration. I wrote all the introductions to every chapter to try and give it a little bit of a nutritional and scientific bent, but clearly the recipes aren't mine; they were created, as I've mentioned again and again, by professional chefs and cooks.


To my knowledge, I think that there was between ten and fifteen people that made these recipes. So it wasn't just one single person; it was many people, and they were all given that instruction. Then I went through and I reviewed every single recipe to make sure that there wasn't a tad of salt here or a something non-Paleo there.

That's why the title of the book is called: The Real Paleo Diet. My editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Anne, she and her team were responsible for coming up with this name. That was the intent from the very get go when we working on the design of this book is to show how many of these copycat Paleo cookbooks really aren't Paleo at all, because, as you mentioned, they put in sea salt, they put in honey, they put in refined sugars, all kinds of ingredients that really strictly aren't Paleo.

Shelley Schlender: You weren't around when Paleo became a thing. What was that? Two-hundred-thousand years ago, seventy-thousand years ago. So how do you know?

Loren Cordain: This comes from studying hunter-gatherers all over the planet. There's not a whole lot of hunter-gatherers left, but over the course of the time in which the Western world encountered these people that were non-Westernized, we have some pretty good records, and we also have some biological and medical exams of these folks.

For instance, there's a group in South America called the Yąnomamö, and they were studied fairly extensively in the late 60s and early 70s. They measured urinary sodium, and they measured urinary potassium, they measured blood pressure. Then they actually were able to analyze the foods that these folks were eating and measured the sodium content and what have you.

People that were generally living inland that were non-Westernized; they didn't have access to salt. Even though we put salt in all of our food and we put salt basically everywhere, it's a chemical that we mine, and we usually mine it either at the ocean where we dry out saltwater, or there are lake beds that have become very salty and they dry up, and then we can mine the salt there.
My point is that salt from the ocean is not a whole lot different than refined salt. Regardless of what ocean you're in, or what part of the world you're in, saltwater contains essentially the same, twelve or thirteen ions, and sodium chloride about eighty-five percent of that.

Shelley Schlender: So just because it's sea salt doesn't mean it's something that was widely used among Paleo people as opposed to Morton Salt.

Loren Cordain: That's right. Morton Salt is made with a process called pan refining, and what they do is they take sea salt and they basically distill out all the other salts, the other ions, and you end up with a salt that is 99.9 percent sodium chloride.

Shelley Schlender: There's scientists and medical people who will debate the value or the danger of salt, and we'll get into that in another conversation, but what was intriguing to me was whatever somebody's opinion about salt, it's really kind of interesting to take it out and see if things can still taste good, and to get one's palate back to not expecting more and more and more of it.

I found that after I had some of your recipes for a week, I was at a dinner where there really wasn't much that I wanted to eat. It was all Jello-kind-of casseroles and sweet coleslaws; it just didn't appeal to me. They did have salami, so I had salami and I had some of the bacon there, and I woke up the next morning and my mouth just tasted like, guess what?


Loren Cordain: (Laughs)

Shelley Schlender: Like salt.

Loren Cordain: Yeah. I have had a similar experience. I haven't been doing Paleo my entire life; I've only been doing it probably since about 1990, so my wife and I are, except for hunter-gatherers, are probably few at the time, one of the very few people on the planet that were eating in this manner. That's one of the things that I noticed is once I got going on it at home, in cooking without salt and not using salt, I'd take Lorrie out for a nice dinner downtown and we'd get something that had been marinated in some kind of salty marinade, and it was just like: "Wow! That is just way too salty for me. That's too much."

Shelley Schlender: Actually, I have to admit, I like salami, but the next morning I was noticing it that it was like something in my body was going, 'ah, that's more than you may need.' So simply as culinary adventure in seeing what life and flavor can be without salt; this book is rather exciting.

Loren Cordain: It really is. That's one aspect that we bring to the plate with this Real Paleo Diet cookbook is all the other ones out there that are advocating recipes with sea salt are really typically not Paleo, and eating basically a lower-salt diet. Once you get salt coming back into it, it doesn't really sit as well.

Your experience is similar to the Yąnomamö people in Brazil in the late 60s early 70s is they gave children sugary treats and they also gave them salt treats like olives or what have you, and the kids spit it out. In their words, "this is too salty".
Shelley Schlender: This was things that we think of as treats.

Loren Cordain: Right. So if you go to a cocktail party, the foods that are gobbled up are salty nuts and pastrami and fatty, salty meats. Those people, when their palates are cleansed from this after a long period, it doesn't taste nearly as good.


Shelley Schlender: Speaking of things and whether they taste good or not, another example of what you have in here are not breaded meats, but nut-crusted meats. As I read through some of these recipes such as for almond-crusted sole; that was intriguing because I tried it, and sure enough by using an almond meal to crust around sole as a fish. It doesn't stick to the pan, and it holds a little bit more of the fat that you grill it in, and it tastes delicious.

There's so many ways that people say who are celiac patients, or somebody who feels like they have a gluten intolerance, there are certain foods that people miss, and here's a recipe that doesn't even give a nod to grains at all, and yet it creates this wonderful flavor around the fish. Here again, they didn't use salt. Instead, it was a lemon-herb seasoning and some black pepper, and some olive oil, plus something you call Paleo mayo, which is a mayonnaise that's made with eggs and ...

Loren Cordain: Olive oil.

Shelley Schlender: Then it makes a mayonnaise that you can have, be very flavorful.

Loren Cordain: There's a chapter on making your own condiments, so they have the equivalent of mustard, and mayo, and ketchup, and what have you, but they're made with real Paleo ingredients rather than the commercial versions that contain added sugars and salt.

Shelley Schlender: Look at this. This page is so gorgeous.

Loren Cordain: Five ways with cabbage. Isn't this just an amazing photograph? You open these pages up, and you go, "wow! I could eat that right now."

Shelley Schlender: Radishes sliced with that beautiful red border on them. Mint, cabbage. This looks to me like some mango and some lime juice, and that's just for beginnings. It's again what makes any cookbook that's good, fun. It's a new way to look at food.


Loren Cordain: Literally, these people are culinary geniuses as well as artists that created it. Many of the people that have written contemporary Paleo Diet books, they're professional chefs, they're just people that dig Paleo and they put their own thing together and put salt in it, put sugar and honey and sometimes even grains and call it good. That's really the intent of this book was to correct some of those shortcomings.

When you try these things, it's amazing how the combinations of ingredients they've put together to get beyond the salt. There's actually even a chapter in here talking about the types of spices and condiments that you can use as you cook so that you don't have to deal with added salt and added sugars.

Shelley Schlender: A lot of people who, for instance, are gluten intolerant, there's all kinds of cookbooks that are basically ways to sort of make a bread that is a gluten-free bread by using another grain of some kind, which is a little questionable because a lot of grains have something that's irritating to the digestion.

Loren Cordain: To say nothing about the high-glycemic load of grains in the pseudo-breads that people make. So gluten free, well obviously this book is completely gluten free. At one time we thought gluten was only a problem for about one percent of the population. So here in the US, that would translate into about two-million people, but increasingly Alessio Fasano and other celiac researchers have found that gluten sensitivity is a huge, huge issue that influences anywhere from five to seven percent of the population.

So now we're talking about twenty, maybe twenty-million people that have this issue, and maybe that's one reason why the whole gluten-free industry has arisen, is that many people have problems with gluten that aren't necessarily just celiac disease.


Shelley Schlender: A lot of people when they give up gluten, of whatever kind it is, they do feel deprived, and they keep thinking 'muffins, bread, cake', and I kept looking through your recipes and thinking, 'well, this is way more fun than muffins, bread, and cake.' These cauliflower cups with herb pesto and lamb, where your chefs have made, basically, a crust, if you will, with cauliflower. Let's see how they did that.

Loren Cordain: Look at that. This is great, on page fifty-nine of the book. If you were to ask the average person what this is, it basically looks like some sort of muffin that has been stuffed with lamb. What it's actually is it's cauliflower that is stuffed with lamb and pesto.

Shelley Schlender: Yes it has, let's see, cauliflower and almond meal and eggs as part of the way that the cauliflower cups are made into, kind of like a cupcake holder. Then the lamb and the beautiful emerald-green cilantro pesto.

Loren Cordain: I can't say enough about the creative genius of the people that are responsible here. I did a radio tour to help promote this book where you go from one radio station to the next, and I did about thirty in a row. One comment that came from one of the radio personalities was that, 'oh, I thumbed through all of these recipes and you wouldn't even know that this stuff is Paleo. This just looks like delicious food!' He had no idea that this would be part of the Paleo Diet.

People, I think, they have this stereotype that eating Paleo is a big chunk of red meat at every single meal. You can see here, it's like golly, he's root-vegetable chips.

Shelley Schlender: Beautiful reds and oranges and ...

Loren Cordain: Sweet potatoes and beets, and carrot, turnip, parsnip, rutabagas; they're all scraped and peeled, and they're cooked in extra-virgin olive oil. They're all seasoned with a blend of many, many types of seasoning, and they're all salt free. I challenge the other quote unquote Paleo Diet cookbooks to just take a look at these recipes and the photos and to cook up a couple and see how you like them.


Shelley Schlender: I do like them. I've been intrigued and I like the fact that I can also modify them some more myself, because the recipes are simple enough. If I want to add more olive oil, if I want to add more of a favorite ingredient, I can do that. It doesn't make me be strict.

Loren Cordain: These are just common spices and ingredients that almost everybody would have. Some of these are more complicated than others, but I think you can whip these together, particularly if you have people over, or you want to impress friends, or your spouse, or even your children. These are absolutely wonderful to serve up.

Shelley Schlender: My friends were impressed, and they like my cooking anyway, but they were intrigued by this food that they didn't realize didn't have some of the most standard ingredients that are used in cooking.

Loren Cordain: Did you tell them it was a Paleo dinner that they were going to come into?

Shelley Schlender: No, I didn't. I just said we were serving tandoori chicken one night, and then another time I served a steak that was marinated in a sauce that's further on in the book that was really delicious; it was kind of an Asian-style sauce without using something salty like soy sauce. It was horseradish and ginger, and cumin and some other spices that made such a delicious flavor that people just said, "this is wonderful."

Loren Cordain: Your experiences are very similar to my wife Lorrie. She had en event, a couple months ago at her school, and so we had just got the book, and we tried out some of these recipes. So she made one of these recipes, one of these entrées, and she took it over to the school and she said that that entrée was just literally wiped out the very first trip. People just completely consumed that entire thing. Of course, when you go to these events, people bring all kinds of food, and so she brought this in, and they were just like, "wow!"

Shelley Schlender: It never occurred to them that it was healthy. They just thought it looked good and it tasted good.


Loren Cordain: That's right. People were complimenting her on how good the recipe tasted. This is one of these working cookbooks. I can with here with Shelley, she's got spices in the middle of it and so forth. This is a working cookbook that you put out in your kitchen, and you thumb through it, and you taste one, and you go, "wow! That was pretty good, let's try another one." Then you try another one, and the beauty of it is there's two-hundred-and-fifty of these. So you got a long ways to go. You can eat almost for a year and try something new.

Loren Cordain: That's all for this edition of The Paleo Diet Podcast.

Shelley Schlender: Our theme music is by Chapman Stick Soloist, Bob Culbertson.

Loren Cordain: Visit my website: for past episodes and for hot links to my research studies, books, and latest writings. For questions or comments, the place to go is

Shelley Schlender: For The Paleo Diet Podcast, I'm Shelley Schlender.

Loren Cordain: I'm Loren Cordain.


Even More Articles For You

Wheat Sensitivity: A New Study Shows It’s Not in Your Head, It’s in Your Gut
Do you think you may have a wheat sensitivity that is often dismissed by doctors? Find out about Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity's and new research surrounding the topic.
By Trevor Connor, M.S.
Crispy Paleo Zucchini Fritters
Grated zucchini, eggs, and flax meal form a tasty batter that fries up into easy, tasty fritters. Enjoy them hot for a healthy breakfast, appetizer, or snack!
By Jess Case
Real World Eating Paleo, Real World Results
In a two year study, involving people following The Paleo Diet, and people following the Nordic Diet-- the most weight loss and changes to body composition
By William Lagakos, Ph.D.
Paleo Leadership
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark J. Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.