For Hayley Mason and Bill Staley, cooking together was an important part of their relationship from early on. Hayley introduced Bill to the paleo diet, and although he was willing to support her eating choices when they were together, he didn’t follow the diet strictly at first. However, the new way of eating made him feel great, and it wasn’t long before the couple was cooking and eating paleo all the time.
They began sharing their paleo creations on Facebook, and soon came up with the idea of writing a cookbook together. But on the path to this ambitious goal, Make it Paleo was first a blog, The Food Lover’s Primal Palate. “We cooked a recipe every week, and shared it with our friends,” says Hayley. “For fun, we started working on a blog together, it was something that we were doing together as a couple and we wanted to inspire other people to stay on track with healthy eating.”
As the title suggests, many of the recipes in the book are grain and dairy-free adaptations of standard American recipes, often drawing inspiration from family recipes. Many of the dishes in Make it Paleo were created with special occasions in mind like weekend brunch and birthdays, something the authors feel fills a need in the paleo community. “I think one of the things that people struggle with when following paleo is not so much the everyday food,” says Bill. “It’s pretty simple to cook meat and vegetables for dinner, everyone can find their way.” On the other hand, holidays are a time when many people find it hard to stick to a paleo diet–or any diet for that matter.
For this reason, Bill and Hayley created a number of rich, gluten-free dessert recipes that are sweetened with maple syrup and fruit. “The ones that we took a lot of care with, and really took a lot of time developing solid recipes were the baking recipes,” says Bill. “We do feel that there’s a place for dessert,” adds Haley. “Desserts are a big part of celebrations for people, they’re a big part of holidays.” However, they point out that these dishes are for special occasions, not everyday meals.
Although many people lose weight when they “go paleo,” Make it Paleo has cooking as it’s central focus rather than weight loss. “We really wanted it to be all about the cooking, and one of our goals with it is that we wanted our book to appeal to everyone, not just people in the paleo community,” says Hayley. She explains that the grain-free recipes are also good for anyone on a gluten-free diet.
At home, Bill and Hayley focus on eating high-quality meats and seasonal produce. Although reluctant to pick a favorite dish, Hayley particularly loves Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. “It’s something that’s great to make for dinner guests. It’s not too complicated, it has a ton of flavor and it’s definitely something your guests will really love.” For Bill, it’s the Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Mayo, a dish that’s reminiscent of the couple’s first date. “Hayley was already eating paleo at the time, but still figured out how to go out for sushi.”