Russ Crandall’s The Ancestral Table

A fantastic new book has been released this week: the first Perfect Health Diet based cookbook. It’s Russ Crandall’s The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle.

Russ Crandall The Ancestral Table cover

I’ve been able to see and test Russ’s recipes since last summer, and they are terrific. Russ has taken traditional favorites from all the world’s cuisines, adapted them to PHD ingredients, and carefully tested and re-tested every recipe to make it delicious and easy to produce. As readers of Russ’s blog, The Domestic Man, know, following his recipes is a highly reliable way to produce a delightful meal.

Moreover, the book is simply gorgeous. Russ has a friend who is a professional photographer and this friend spent 4 weeks with Russ photographing each dish to make a spectacularly beautiful food photos. The book has ample white space and an elegant design. It is a pleasure simply to look through it.

I couldn’t recommend a book more highly than I recommend The Ancestral Table.

Bonus: Russ has a special offer underway through Saturday – a giveaway of a $200 gift card from U.S. Wellness Meats. Visit his blog to enter.

Full disclosure: Russ is a personal friend. We co-presented at last year’s Ancestral Health Symposium, Russ asked me to write the foreword to the book, and Russ has agreed to appear as a guest chef at the May Perfect Health Retreat. None of this in any way biases my judgment about his book. It is a must have cookbook.

Leave a comment ?


  1. I’d rephrase the last sentence. Ofcourse this biasses your judgment – but that’s fine. We read this blog to get your opinion. I’ve bought the Kobo version this morning and I’m really happy with the content. Plus I now his recipes to be delicious, as I cooked previously with them.

  2. Thanks, Paul, for this recommendation. Can’t wait to try some of those recipes this weekend!

  3. I started reading Russ’s blog when you first mentioned him here – and since then have tried a number of recipes that he offers on his site. I got my copy of the book yesterday and spent some time reading it through. It promises to be a great cookbook with several new (to me) dishes that I know will soon become staples in my house.
    Thanks for introducing him to us, a book like his will bring Paleo cooking to new heights.

  4. Looking forward to checking it out. I’m curious what makes it PHD as opposed to just Paleo? The inclusion of some dairy or safe starches such as white rice and potatoes? Those are key elements that make your approach so sensible and achievable for us.

    • “Paleo Diet” is trademarked so we couldn’t use that. Perfect Health Diet is descriptive of how we arrived at the diet – trying to optimize every aspect of diet and nutrition at a molecular level, ie aiming for perfection, the motivation being we don’t know what causes ill health so since it could be anything, the only effective course is to try to fix everything. It is also, we believe, an apt description of the diet – we think it is optimal for health. At least it describes our aspiration, to make our diet advice as perfect as possible and to keep updating the diet if new evidence comes out that invalidates some aspect of our advice. We use the term “ancestral diet” for the broad family of Paleo/Primal/Perfect Health diets.

      The inclusion of safe starches was the biggest distinction between us and other ancestral diets at the time we introduced our diet in 2010.

  5. This book is an important contribution to the understanding of the Perfect Health Diet.

    It’s already led me to realize that my food would be improved with the addition of sauces.

    I was wondering: can we grasp the Platonic form of a sauce? And can that in turn help us to understand cooking? I think Paul said somewhere that a sauce is —- an acid + a fat + spices + a fermented element. That struck me as a particularly deep observation, which got at the essence of what is behind any specific recipe.

  6. I also want to note that when I use the spices and sauces recommended in this book my salt intake decreases quite dramatically. This suggests that my tendency to use salt is based less on physiological need and more on a desire for flavor. So, perhaps learning how to flavor food is a good way to make the overall diet healthier.

  7. yay! i’ve been anxiously awaiting this release! 😀

  8. Check it out:

    12 Paleo Myths: Eat Better Than A Caveman

    The Kindle edition is free from 2/16 – 2/20.

    (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. I don’t have one and read it via the free Kindle Cloud Reader at‎)

  9. Paul,
    Someone just posted this on Facebook and I wonder how you would interpret this study claiming problems from too much animal protein (but the high protein group was still only around 20% protein) I’m still trying to read it over more closely but just thought you might have more insight into it. Thanks!

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