New, more useful restaurant reviews

Check out all the new enhancements to make MadisonPaleo more useful, especially in the local restaurant guide:

 

Updates to main site:

  • Fresh new look
  • Faster and more responsive

 

Madison Paleo Reviews spin-off

  • Restaurant reviews redesigned to be more informative, and easier to use – especially on the go, and moved to a site of their own (still accessible from main site)
  • Works better on a variety of mobile devices
  • New star rating system, scores for various criteria like gluten-free or dairy-free options, low-carb choices, quality meats, organic produce, etc. plus an overall paleo rating
  • New “user ratings” feature too, so it’s not all about what I think -and you can leave even leave your own comments!
  • Quick link in each review to check restaurant’s web site for menu or policies
  • Instantly share, email, or print listings for friends when planning where to eat
  • Sort by style of cuisine, or city
  • Search by name or key words
  • Handy sidebar shows the top rated listings, or switch to most recently reviewed

 

Please try out the new features, and let me know if you have any ideas for improvement, or a favorite restaurant that I should prioritize getting into the guide.

 

 

 

My favorite cookbook: “Paleo Takeout” by Russ Crandall

Obviously, there’s no single best cookbook for everyone. There isn’t even a perfect paleo cookbook for everyone. Until now, I’ve refrained from singling one out in a general way, but I’m ready to declare a favorite, at least for now: Russ Crandall’s “Paleo Takeout: Restaurant Favorites Without the Junk” is just that good.

Recently purchased for our home collection, my family has fallen in love with these recipes. The first week, my wife couldn’t stop cooking through them day after day, and we’ve yet to find a clinker. The concept is paleo re-creations of takeout favorites, and as such it succeeds. But I wouldn’t call these substitutes or approximations. The flavors are authentic, if sometimes superior to the originals, and they’re made with such wholesome ingredients that there’s never any “I shouldn’t have” feeling afterward!

Our favorites so far include: Egg Foo Young, Honey Sesame Chicken, Pad See Ew, and Thai Green Curry. (Can you tell we started with the Asian recipes?) There are also “American Classics” such as pizza, wings, burgers, chili fries… all made clean and nourishing. There are even recipes for making your own sauces, condiments, and sides – without the usual junk.

Some recipes include limited dairy or rice, always with alternatives if you want to keep it strict. His reasoning is fully explained in the front pages, along with the expected author’s personal story, introduction to paleo, guide to cooking techniques, etc. Front and back cover flaps double as durable bookmarks.

I’m someone who expects nice full-color pictures of each dish, and “Paleo Takeout” doesn’t disappoint there. Taking it a step further, there’s a cute recipe index in the back that looks like a takeout menu! This book will be much more than just a source for whimsical party recipes. Already it’s one of our go-to cookbooks for everyday use as well as entertaining. This would be a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys takeout, even if they’ve never heard of paleo.

Discover Paleo Podcasts

One of my favorite ways to learn about things is listening to podcasts, and the paleosphere has many to choose from. So many that you might find it difficult to decide where to jump in. Here are my current top picks for those new* to the medium:

Balanced Bites with Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe

Aside from being entertaining and informative, they were first to mention my book Paleo For Restaurants, so they get the first spot on my list.  😉  Rated BG for banter and occasional giggles.

The Paleo Solution with Robb Wolf

Robb’s book The Paleo Solution was my introduction to paleo, and he’s still my favorite of the personalities. Occasional strong language.

Revolution Health Radio with Chris Kresser

Chris really knows his nutrition and biochemistry, and explains health topics brilliantly. He also tells you what he had for breakfast.

The Fat-Burning Man Show with Abel James

I was hesitant to listen to this at first because the marketing looked hokey to me, but Abel’s a real guy with a refreshing perspective, lots of good content, and a great radio voice. Some people don’t know he’s also an accomplished musician.

Everyday Paleo with Sarah Fragoso

Though no longer produced (Sarah is doing other podcasts) this remains a great library to listen through, especially for beginners, and particularly those with children.

Paleo Magazine Radio with Tony Federico

This is the audio counterpart to the Paleo print magazine, and as such you can expect a digest of news and developments in the paleo world.

Primal Blueprint Podcast

Written by Mark Sisson; Narrated by Brad Kearns and Brock Armstrong, this offers a primal perspective rather than strict paleo. The information is so good that you’ll find it valuable even if you need to ignore an occasional reference to dairy foods.

Latest in Paleo with Angelo Coppola

Another digest of information and personal perspective. Some content has been extraordinary.

*  If you’re new to podcasts:

If you’ve never listened to a podcast before, just open a podcast player app (many free options, and most smart phones come with one pre-installed) and click on the search function. Enter a title or subject, and when found select an episode to play. If you like it, you can add previous episodes and/or hit “subscribe” to automatically download new ones. Podcasts are generally free. If you like it, ratings and reviews are easy and very much appreciated.

Joe to speak at DeForest Public Library

“Eating Paleo at Home or Away”

Paleo is once again the most popular diet on Google, and millions are giving up grains, sugar, and seed oils. DeForest resident Joe Disch talks about “eating like a cave man” and his new book, Paleo for Restaurants. There will be discussion of the basic tenets of paleo as well as variants and controversies.

Also covered will be basic tips and tricks for restaurant owners and chefs who want to be more welcoming to paleo and primal clientele. There will be paleo cookie samples courtesy of Paleo Mama Bakery. Come and get your questions answered!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – 6:30pm
DeForest Public Library Community Room
203 Library Street, DeForest, WI          (608) 846-5482
 

 

 

 

New book: PALEO FOR RESTAURANTS by Joe Disch

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my new handbook for restaurants who want to become more paleo friendly. Paleo for Restaurants (Don’t lose customers as they reject grains and other neolithic foods) shares the perspective of frustrated paleo diners everywhere, and offers a range of actionable strategies for accommodating various types of ancestral eaters.  Paleo cooking can be simple enough for a caveman, once you correct a few deal-breakers, and restaurateurs who understand this stand to benefit from new trends while others miss out.  Includes menu ideas, specialty ingredients you should know about, and viewpoints from a variety of experts. Available now in both print and e-book editions.

Order Kindle version

Order paperback

Presentations on paleo, grain-free

I recently held another staff training at Willy Street Co-op, focusing on paleo and grain-free diets, and how to better help customers making the transition.

In the picture, I’m demonstrating a spiralizer.  We also sampled two of the deli’s line of grain free dishes, over a lively discussion of antinutrients like gluten and phytic acid.

Wish you were there?  I’m available to do similar presentations.  Drop me an email or Facebook message!

Are Food Co-ops a Caveman’s Best Friend?

Once you’ve navigated a few grocery stores from the perspective of a modern day caveman, you’ll notice some recurring disappointments. Only a few cuts of meat are from pastured animals, and if there’s someone to ask they’ll probably try to “educate” you on the superiority of corn-fed. Vegetables are mostly grown in a tempest of chemicals, then shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. Eggs are from chickens who may be “cage free” but are still fed a highly unnatural diet based on corn and soy, and seldom if ever see the light of day. Choices are meager among your few packaged “staples” like coconut milk & oil, nut flours, or even pure dark chocolate. What is plentiful, comprising nearly the entire center of the store, are all manner of fabricated “foods”: brightly colored nutritional time-bombs engineered from combinations of highly processed wheat, corn, sugar, and industristrial seed oils — little that your grandmother would recognize as edible.

 

It doesn’t need to be like this. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to live near a more sophisticated outlet – maybe something like Whole Foods. You’ll probably pay a little more, and there’s still (in the words of founder and CEO John Mackey) “a bunch of junk” but you’ll find a better selection of the things you want: organic produce, grass-fed meats, healthy fat options, etc. A few good choices are also starting to appear at stores like Costco and Target, as well as better independent grocers. Certainly (weather permitting) your nearest farmers’ market can be a gold mine of real foods at fair prices. There is, however, another choice – one with benefits you may not have thought possible. Astonishingly, if you don’t have this option now you can get together with your tribe and call it into existence! Behold the modern food co-op.

 

I bet I know what you’re thinking: a bunch of hippies offering up tofu burritos and wormy little apples (“That’s how you know they’re organic, man!”) in a dusty little shop smelling of patchouli and… something. I’m just old enough to remember some of that, and to confess fond memories of ice bean cones, Guerrilla cookies, and my first dried pears. With the passage of the nourishing sands of time, the guiding touch of the market’s invisible hand, and no small effort by hardworking visionaries, food co-ops have matured into something altogether different. In cities and towns nearly everywhere you’ll find clean, professional storefronts as unique as snowflakes but sharing common principles and the overarching mission of putting customers first – because those customers are also the owners.

 

You could say the first co-ops were hunter-gatherer tribes sharing their efforts to ensure that all would eat. Cooperation is a natural instinct precisely because it works. The first cooperative enterprises of the neolithic world, however, are generally identified with the cooperative movement of 19th century Europe. The Rochdale Pioneers of Lancashire, England in 1844 still exert an influence today in the form of the Cooperative Principles underlying most consumer co-ops. The movement enjoyed a second period of growth since the 1970’s when many “second wave” cooperatives started, and some see a third wave beginning now.

 

A coop is typically formed to address a community’s unmet needs. Perhaps a beloved mom-and-pop store has gone out of business. Or maybe there is simply nothing around for miles. In other cases, customers seeking particular (often more natural) foods are perceived as too small a market to warrant catering to. In response, a group of ordinary folks get together and start their own store or buying club. These can be worker-owned, or more often customer-owned. Initial capitalization is often via advance membership sales and a bond drive. Typically, members who invest in an annual share recoup the investment after $100-200 in purchases, and get a vote on certain key decisions. Leadership provided by a member-elected board follows articles of cooperation, a specific mission statement, and the cooperative principles. Product is ordered, shelves are stocked, and a new co-op is born.

 

Walk into a modern Co-op and you’ll likely find a clean, well-stocked grocery store with an emphasis on natural and organic foods. Of particular interest to paleo folks: lots of organic fruits and veggies, local grass-fed meats, good eggs, an excellent bulk department, and packaged items like coconut milk and oil. Member-owned businesses enjoy a tradition of being ahead of the curve in supporting options others don’t yet care about. Co-ops were among the first to offer plentiful organic, vegetarian (some see “paleo” as the new “vegetarian”), and gluten-free options. This applies not only to packaged products but often fresh-made deli and bakery items. (My store, for example, has recently introduced a line of grain-free hot dishes.) If you want something that isn’t stocked, most co-ops are happy to special order it for you. By shopping at a co-op, you’re probably also doing more to support local farmers and producers, and benefiting from the somewhat decentralized distribution network.

 

If you’d like to start your own co-op there are a lot of resources available to help. With a little digging, you’ll probably be able to find assistance with everything from planning to financing. You’ll find, as Thomas Jefferson allegedly once said, that the harder you work the luckier you’ll get. One good place to start is http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/.  Another is your nearest successful co-op. They won’t do the heavy lifting for you (maybe a little in some cases) but they’ll probably treat you more as a kindred spirit than a potential competitor. When assembling your core founders, remember to reach out to those with legal, public relations, real estate, or other helpful experience. Above all, never lose focus on the goal of serving your customers, particularly member-owners. At the end of the day the future of any business is determined by the customers, and this is especially true when the customers are running the show. Whether you get involved with an existing store or start your own, help to make it a place where good food (however you define that) is plentiful and affordable.

© 2014 Joe Disch, MadisonPaleo

Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI
Willy Street Co-op (East store) Madison, WI

Joe Disch has worked for Willy Street Grocery Cooperative since 2001, has run the paleo lifestyle blog Madison Paleo since 2012, and recently taught classes on paleo nutrition for interested staff.

Welcome new and returning students!

A special welcome to new and returning students, and other Madison newcomers!  People think of Mad town as being half vegetarian, half fried cheese and beer — but we have a growing and friendly paleo/primal population as well.

Wondering where to shop or dine out?  Check out our resources page as a starting point.  And don’t be shy asking questions or letting us in on your own discoveries.  Like and subscribe to our free mailing list for updates.  Lots more coming soon!

Welcome to Madison Paleo

Finally, a comprehensive resource for Madison-area Paleos and people who feed them!

Are you a hungry Badger struggling to find grass-fed beef, organic vegetables, or coconut flour?  Feel like our hundreds of restaurants all specialize in fried cheese?  Looking to connect with like-minded folks to share tips, recipes and perhaps a NorCal margarita*?  Whether you’re new to Mad City or a lifelong resident, we’ll help you find find what you’re looking for!

The site officially opens in late August, but feel free to wander around the construction site for a sneak peek – just don’t expect everything to work yet.  Be sure to bookmark us so you can come back when we’re ready, or better yet: register your email address and we’ll send you a proper invitation.  Comments and suggestions are more than welcome any time.

* Yes, I know alcohol doesn’t fit most people’s definition of paleo, but this is Wisconsin after all, and if it’s close enough for Robb Wolf…