Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind by Vanessa Barajas

When I first got my copy of clean eating with a dirty mind I was super excited as I had seen so many people Instagramming their selfies (while smugly clutching a copy) and saying how awesome it was. And they were not wrong, this book is pretty fancy pants and it leaves no heavenly dessert stone unturned.

The book is a whopping 432 pages and broken down into two parts, the first part being ‘The essentials’ where it tells you everything you want to know about the whys and how’s of Paleo. It discusses what the paleo diet is (including ‘what to avoid’), a list of appliances and how necessary they are, a list of paleofied ingredients such as flours, sweeteners and fats and plenty of tips for measuring and troubleshooting, which is particularly handy as it can give you an insight into why your muffin’s have sunk, why your sponge has a soggy bottom or why your sauce has separated.

What I didn’t expect was this book to have a range of savoury dishes! In the ‘meal ticket’ section savoury recipes include biscuits and Cajun sausage gravy, pesto reloaded, French onion and bacon tart, bacon cheeseburger stuffed potatoes, chipotle coleslaw, duck fat fries and pizza soup! It was a pleasant surprise as I had shamelessly assumed that it was purely deserts.

Other recipe sections include bake my day, confections of a dirty mind, easy as pie, let them eat cake, that the way the cookie crumbles, what’s the scoop and whisky business. All of the recipes from ‘bake my day’ on wards are deserts ranging from pies, cakes, bars and cookies to glaze and fillings. There really is a lot to choose from if you’re looking to impress!

“Bake my day” includes recipes such as S’mores bars, sour cherry crumble bars, billionaire bars, brownie crumb donuts, pumpkin bread and chocolate chip cookie bottom.

“Confections of a dirty mind” include white chocolate, almond butter cups, salted caramel cups, cookie dough fudge, chocolate covered toffee, brown sugar bacon and caramel crème brulee.

“Easy as pie is” – as you may have guessed – the sweet ‘pie’ section with old-fashioned flaky pie crust, graham cracker crust, pumpkin pie, S’mores pie, blueberry lemon tarts and strawberry meringue tartlets.

“Let them eat cake” is the cake section where you can really get to grips with paleo ingredients and make some fabulous show stoppers. Recipes include classic yellow cake, blackberry elder-flower cake, death by chocolate cake, S’mores cupcakes, key lime cheesecake cups, “Reese’s” cheesecake and spooky Halloween cake.

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles” is (yes, you guessed it!) the section on cookies with recipes including chocolate fudge cookies, shortbread cookies, paleo moon-pies, soft batch chocolate chip cookies, French macarons and soft and chewy gingerbread cookies.
“What’s the scoop” is the frozen section for ice creams, pops and bars and recipes include the best chocolate ice cream, cookie dough sandwiches, almond butter and jelly ice cream sandwiches, sea salt and honey ice cream, banana bites, coffee ice cream, peach sorbet and pumpkin ice cream.

The final recipe section “whisky business” is based around fillings, glazes, frosting and creamy stuff! It includes maple sugar, ganache three ways, chocolate shell coating, sour cherry compote, lemon curd, chocolate butter cream, elder-flower mascarpone and goat cheese frosting and lemon glaze.

Now without sounding like I’m down on this book (I’m not, it really is a work of art) I do have a bit of a mixed review on it. This is partly because of its layout and partly down to its ingredients, but I’ll try to explain as much as possible so that you can decide whether this book is for you.

What I Liked
The advantages to this book are that it is jam-packed with tips, hints, subs and extra ideas to make many of the recipes even more super awesome. There are little info-graphics to show if a recipe is nut free, dairy free (we’ll come to that below), or egg free which I thought was pretty handy. As paleo ingredients don’t act the same as grain/ non paleo ingredients you have to be mindful of that when mixing, cooking and allowing to cool, therefore the troubleshooting section is a bit of a god send as it can explain what it is you might be doing wrong! I also like that although it might be complicated to a paleo newbie, this book takes things to the next level and will give you a whole range of ultimate show stoppers. This is probably the best-selling point for this book, because many paleo dieters have made the change to this way of eating as a lifestyle choice (not just for a few weeks or months to lose weight!). So this book takes desserts to the gold standard of baking, and is like a big fat middle finger to those who ask if paleo food is ‘boring’ or comes out with that annoying question every Paleo eater gets fed up of being asked… “don’t you miss …” (fill in the blank!).

Any Downsides?
I was particularly surprised that there are a number of recipes in this book made using dairy because I had assumed they would be dairy free; ingredients include butter, cheese, mascarpone and ghee – which isn’t technically dairy but is still to be avoided by those who are super sensitive to dairy products. That said, many paleo people do still consume dairy and I don’t want that to put you off as these recipes do have ‘sub notes’ and everything you need to know to adapt the recipe for dairy free, but you need to pay attention to changes in weight or volume when subbing. The only real downfall (which is what I found personally) was that a LOT of the recipes are made up using a number of other recipes in the book. For example the sweet brownie sundae with brown sugar bacon crumbles is made up of 4 different recipes , most with 4-5 ingredients which you have to make beforehand before you’re able to start making the initial recipe. It does note in the ingredients section which page to refer to (for e.g. Better than brownie box batter page 110) but It could get very confusing as it means a lot of too-ing and fro-ing. Now don’t me wrong, the recipes really do look and sound amazing but for some of the more fancy pants ones, you need to be prepared to do some prep work and take your time.

Another thing to consider with this book is the type of paleo diet you are following, It’s not AIP, I quite sugar, Low carb, Ketogenic or FODMAP friendly as many of the recipes contain quite a lot of sweetness (either from coconut sugar, maple sugar or dried fruits), however that’s not the fault of the book – but it is worth noting if you are following any of these diets.

Overall Rating
If you are ‘just’ paleo (not low carb, AIP or FODMAP) one of the great things about this book is that there are so many awesome recipes, many that are (dare I say) better than the original non-paleo versions. There are some real show stoppers that would be great to make on special occasions and you certainly wouldn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything (as many non-paleo people seem to think!!). If you are prone to falling off the wagon or often crave non-paleo sweets and treats, then get this book because it will stop that from happening!

I have only actually tried one of the recipes (flour-less Almond Butter Cookies) from this book as many of them are very carby and I have to manage my carbs levels (I didn’t realize when I purchased it – doh!). The recipe turned out really well and they were chewy and soft and I really enjoyed them; I am planning on making one of the more special cakes for my husband’s birthday, so keep an eye on my Instagram as I will no doubt be uploading photos once I have picked and made something! Considering I’ve only tried one recipe from this book and I am limited (as I am Ketogenic) I’m not disappointed because I know that when I want an extra special treat I can look to this book and find something.

Rating wise I was torn between a three or four out of 5 because its photos are amazing, the tips and handy hints are really helpful and the recipes really look fantastic, but the downside is that many of the recipes are made up of other recipes, which could end in confusion! However I think I will settle on a four because I really do think this is a great book mostly because it really highlights the awesome things you can make on the Paleo diet. I would say that newbie paleo people should probably approach this book with caution, as it takes time adapting to the paleo diet on its own without introducing complicated recipes. For those who are already very comfortable and confident with the paleo diet and cooking this way, and for those who are not limited to the ingredients they can use – I would say to go for it, you will be spoilt for choice.

You can purchase Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind from Amazon – Its £20.66 (June 2016)

Other Cookbook Reviews

For more cookbook reviews take a look at the following posts….

Family Food – Chef Pete Evans
Ketodiet Cookbook Review – Martina Slajerova
Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine – Sarah Fragoso

**The above review is my own personal opinion and I purchased the book myslef**


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