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on October 7, 2013
To sum it up: If I wanted a non-Paleo cookbook, I would have bought one.

The book is titled "Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining" not the art of paleo-ish entertaining, or primal entertaining, or hey, paleo entertaining is hard so throw some potatoes and dairy in there because it'll be easier.

The way I look at it is this: call it what it is. Don't write a vegan cookbook and include meat. Don't write a gluten-free cookbook and include recipes with wheat germ. Don't write a Paleo cookbook and include things that are outside the Paleo framework and if you do, either list them as optional or include them in a separate section. Lots of people are "paleo-ish" but what that means to them is different. Some people lean towards primal and include dairy--fine. But then call it primal. I know what that is. I won't buy a primal cookbook because my family has dairy allergies.

Dairy features prominently in this cookbook. Butter, cream, cheese, sour cream.

In the intro to the book, on page six, they say they believe a Paleo "lifestyle" vs a Paleo Diet includes "allowances for holidays, special occasions and celebrations." I agree. Although then I would still prefer to have a paleo version of that indulgence, OR, if I was straying outside the framework, I have plenty of options available to me that aren't marketed as Paleo (while including ingredients that aren't). They further say that while writing the book "it became clear to us, week after week, that serving good, "paleo-friendly" food did not need an excuse or an explanation." Hmm... kind of contradicts what they just said above....If it was good, paleo food (instead of that sneaky "friendly" word included at the end) then I'd agree-- that's what I was hoping this book would be.

One page 13, they list guidelines for people new to Paleo, but oddly do not include dairy and legumes (they list gluten, grains, soy, food colorings , chemicals and preservatives and seed oils). If you compared this list to the one they provided in their first book, Make it Paleo, they would contradict each other. If this was the first book you bought and you were new to Paleo, you would be starting off on the wrong food.

One of the most beneficial aspects of paleo is that by design it eliminates a lot of allergens--many people turn to Paleo for this reason. So to write a book that clearly strays from the paleo (and even primal) framework (potatoes?), and yet title it paleo, is misleading and disappointing. And it's not about being the "paleo police" and arguing to death whether cavemen ate honey--it's about the basic, standard, everybody-knows-what-it-is framework and guidelines.

I like Haley and Bill-- I follow their blog, I have all of their previous books and ebooks and was excited for the premise of gather. I liked the idea of having a book for entertaining that would include meals that everyone would love, whether they ate Paleo or not, and this book does include some recipes like that. I really like the Chinese food section. I wish I could try more of the recipes (even the recipe for cake, the "Butter Cream" frosting is still made with cream! Why put the butter cream in quotes, it's still made of dairy!) How nice it would have been to see a creme brulee made with coconut milk.

I get that they were trying to do an entertaining book that kind of stretched the boundaries of Paleo and included some "indulgences" in things that aren't normally included--but then, just branch out and do a regular cookbook. Or a grain-free cookbook. Or a gluten-free cookbook, and call it that. I already have dozens and dozens of cookbooks with recipes outside the paleo framework that I can turn to if I choose to cook that way--what I expected and anticipated from this book was a way to have treats and indulgences while still staying within the guidelines that I know make me feel my best.

In summary, if you can and choose to eat dairy, or follow a Primal lifestyle, there are probably lots of great recipes in here you can use. The photos are beautiful and there is an expanse of recipes for all seasons.

If, however, you stay true to the original guidelines of Paleo, or have dairy issues, this book probably isn't the best choice for you. For Paleo treats, there are some great recipes in Practical Paleo that stay true to the Paleo framework and use coconut oil or milk in place of dairy.
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on April 30, 2013
At my gym's holiday party this past winter, one of the other members came up to me, pointed to a plate of cookies and asked "are these normal cookies?" I replied "yes, eat one!" She was trying to find out of the cookies were made from wheat flour or not, and, in her mind, if they weren't made from grains, they wouldn't taste good - at all. She was laughing at herself when she realized who she was asking about the cookies - and that of course I'd say the grain-free ones were "normal."

Fast forward four months and we still laugh about it - how good that cookie was to her, and how she was expecting it not to be since it wasn't made from wheat.

I bet this is a familiar scene for some of you. You end up "tricking" friends of family by feeding them your grain-free goodies, and let them know after-the-fact that it was made from almond coconut flour.

That's because (almost) everyone wants treats. I even overheard one very popular Paleo recipe blogger discuss recently on her Facebook page how, of all the amazing recipes she shares on her site, her grain-free chocolate cake is the number one visited page every single day.

There's almost no way around the tendency most of us have to want treats now and then. I say, if you can't beat `em, join `em! Better yet... help them!

In Gather, Hayley and Bill have presented the ultimate guide to creating and re-creating many of your favorites for holidays and special events - all free of grains, refined sugar, and other highly processed ingredients.

This past weekend, we cooked from the Chinese food Takeout Fake-out menu for family - most of whom are not Paleo, by the way.

A few of us got together in the kitchen to chop and prep all the ingredients, then we got to work on the recipes. We tackled the General Tso's Chicken first, as it's the most time consuming, but well worth the wait! The Stir-Fry Veggies and Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice each cooked in under 10 minutes, so we prepared them while the chicken was finishing up. The meal came together in perfect timing, and everyone feasted.

What I loved about this menu is that there are a handful of more complicated recipes paired with a few very simple recipes - which is exactly how you want to approach a dinner party or gathering.

You want to wow your guests, but you don't want every dish to take an hour or more to prepare. Pairing an intricate dish with something simple, fresh, and delicious makes for an easy entertaining experience as well as very satisfied bellies!

The General Tso's Chicken was shockingly (to our family) similar to what we've had dining out - without that icky sort of "fake food"/heavy feeling- and there were only leftovers because we made extra! Let's be serious, who doesn't love Chinese food leftovers?!

The Stir-Fried Vegetables were flavorful, clean, crisp, and light - not bogged down with heavy oils like you'd have dining out.

To our surprise, the Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice was the "sleeper hit" of the table! Everyone raved about just how much the cauliflower took on the role of rice on their plates and only a few bites were left after we ate.

Eating a Paleo or Primal diet doesn't need to create barriers to an enjoyable event for you and your loved ones - whether they eat "this way," or not.

For most of us already eating Paleo or Primal is actually something we consider a lifestyle - not a diet. We find ways to make it work for us when we're on the road, in the air, at friends' homes, and at holiday gatherings. Sometimes, we sneak our grain-free versions of your old favorites onto the buffet or dinner table - and sometimes, if you're lucky, we tell you "this is Paleo."

We want to share how delicious, nourishing, and pleasurable our food is with you.

Gather helps us do just that, without fumbling or missing a beat.
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Bill Staley and Hayley Mason are an oddity in the best possible way. These two good-looking and healthy 20-somethings are a throwback to a generation long ago where food was not only considered nourishment but also an intimate and engaging experience in and of itself for family, friends and virtually anyone who partakes in what loving hands had prepared. How in the 21st Century have we lost one of the clear-cut signs of our truest sense of humanity that comes from not just eating but also the intentional interaction of fellowship that goes along with it? That's a question that GATHER, the Art of Paleo Entertaining not only answers but perhaps even redefines.

If you read Bill and Hayley's fantastic 2011 debut book release MAKE IT PALEO, then you already know just how serious they take the presentation of their food. Bill has a real gift for food photography (as evidenced by his previous book and in the New York Times bestselling book PRACTICAL PALEO by Diane Sanfilippo) and it shines through loud and clear in the 300+ pictures you'll find within the pages of this big 300-page coffee-table-worthy book. These gorgeous photos of the people preparing, plating and having such a good time making nutritious and delicious Paleo meals make the book a joy to read and even just flipping through casually to become emotionally moved by the stories being told by the camera. Even if you're not someone who currently eats a Paleo-styled diet, don't worry about that--these amazing recipes are going to be a hit to anyone who loves good food. The fact that it's healthy is a bonus!

I don't know why people freak out about hosting a party, but GATHER makes me want to give it a go. From something as simple as a brunch date with another couple to an extravagant Christmas meal for all of your relatives, Bill and Hayley show you how to do it, do it well and enjoy the process along the way. With 16 stunning menu plans containing 100 superb stand-alone recipes, a shopping list that gives you all the ingredients to make these meals, and a timetable of when to do what (so critical to keeping everything hot, fresh and ready to serve), you will be comfortable doing something that perhaps you've never done before. To relax any fears you may have about preparing food for others, this dynamic couple infuses their immense wisdom on what you can do to spruce up your surroundings and the food itself for an experience your guests won't soon forget!

GATHER the book is just the inspiration you'll need to be the best party host ever! If you have doubts about whether this is something you could do yourself or if you are a veteran of making meals for others, then I know you'll find tons of treasures and a shared sense of passion for making any dining and social experience the best it can possibly be with this book. Experience it, live it, love it--and then share it with as many people as you possibly can. That, my friends, is the true art of Paleo entertaining!
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on October 7, 2013
Gorgeous photography, stunning book. Opening it was like opening a present!
I loved the idea of a paleo entertaining book (and pre-ordered this one) as I'd always struggled to find things that felt special and that worked together when having guests over.
I think I was expecting a few more 'appetizer' and 'party' type foods; these recipes are very much geared around dinner-party style meals/menus... which is great, too! The tips and tricks, décor inspiration, shopping lists and extra details are very cool. In general, this is quite a good cookbook. BUT be warned...

What you need to know:

Some of the meals are a little out of reach (at least for me) one of them has two recipes which use wild game. No idea where I would find this -- it would have been nice for them to have listed alternatives.

Some of these recipes are quite good. But, every time I open this book, it bothers me that they included non-paleo ingredients. One of the reasons this frustrates me is the conflicting information confuses people new to the paleo world and is aggravating for someone (me) who thought they were buying a truly paleo cookbook. The author(s) have defended this by saying "paleo is strict enough.." (which seems like an odd comment. Would you include the occasional peanut butter in a cookbook for people with peanut allergies? Because it's just so hard to live that way and entertain?) One of the authors comments in a response to another review- "Gather is a tool for people to ease their family and friends into the idea of going grain-free. There is a very real need to make this lifestyle more accessible to the masses without getting all crazy strict Paleo on them" That's fine.... then call it a Grain Free cookbook, or a gluten free cookbook... and let me know that before I buy it rather then selling a "book [that] is proof that it's possible to eat and entertain like a gourmet without gluten, grains or other "non-Paleo" ingredients..." (huh!?) ... "delicious and satisfying menu that will also promote good health."

Good health, for me, was discovering my own intolerance to gluten and dairy and finding a community that also ate this way. It has been simply amazing to be able to have a wealth of truly paleo recipes available and be able to see "paleo" and know that it encompasses all the parameters I need to follow to be healthy. If I wasn't looking for paleo recipes, I wouldn't have bought a paleo cookbook. If they felt it necessary to include these things, I feel they maybe should have been in a "grain free treats" section, or as a "primal option" subsection of the recipe. Eating paleo has eliminated friends' auto immune diseases, my father's GERD and my nephews debilitating excema. When I have a dinner party, I want and need to cook paleo food for my friends and family, and I'd hoped this book was going to be the one to help me do that. It seems (from the author's comments) this book is more "for the masses" since apparently eating paleo is "all crazy strict".

True, sometimes it is difficult to eat this way. That is why I turn to talented chefs to create menus that align with this lifestyle, because frankly, a menu which includes cheese, potatoes (there is a whole page dedicated to a recipe for potatoes as a side dish) and creme brule for dessert? Sounds a lot like the way I was eating before I was paleo and looks a heck of a lot like a million other menus in cookbooks I've already given away....
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on July 24, 2013
I have been cooking for many years, and the concept of this book is fantastic! If you want to throw a feast with friends and need help with planning the entire menu, then this is your book! However, on a day-to-day basis, I find myself reaching for my other Paleo cookbooks. The recipes are not strict paleo as there are many that contain dairy.
But the concept of entertaining a group with beautiful and delicious food, already laid out for you, works (if that's what you're looking for).
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I tell people that we're on a "modified paleo diet;" we aren't purists. A year ago, the doctor told my husband to eliminate grains and white potatoes from his diet. (And it's paid off. He's lost 25+ pounds and his blood levels are in range for the first time in many years.) While we eat legumes, it's easiest to choose recipes from Paleo cookbooks because I _know_ I can cook from them without fiddling with changes or sighing over what isn't on the diet.

Most paleo cookbooks spend a lot of energy giving you ideas about what you can cook everyday, and that's wonderful. Sometimes, though, you want suggestions for what to make for a special dinner. So many of our big comfort-food dinners are carb-heavy, after all: potato gratin, stuffing, gingerbread. Bill Staley's Gather does an excellent job of giving us options for, well, entertaining. I've been cooking from it for months, now -- not only for dinner parties! -- and I can comfortably give the cookbook 5 stars.

But you might not. Aside from "no grains, no legumes, no white potatoes," paleo has several variations. Some people use milk products; others eschew them. Most paleo folks avoid any kind of refined sugar, though I've encountered flame wars about the use of agave versus honey versus, well, all the other options. I don't have a dog in that fight, but I'm aware you want to know: The author uses milk and cream, as well as some sugars (such as maple sugar) you might avoid.

That didn't make you run off screaming? You're still here? I can proceed to tell you why this is such a great cookbook.

First, it's organized by season and menu, so that you can (but obviously do not have to) put together an entire meal that's well-balanced in flavors and theme. For example, a backyard picnic (which includes teriyaki country ribs; no'tato salad -- using turnips and hard boiled eggs; creamy fennel slaw with carrots & apples; balsamic tomato and peach salad; lemon blueberry muffins) has a "shopping and preparation" page that helps you plan the menu one or two days ahead (e.g. make the muffins the day before; these use coconut flour, coconut milk, maple syrup, palm shortening). The accompanying photos are pretty enough to inspire you to make the effort, too.

The recipes are themselves solidly GOOD, with clear instructions. I made a few dishes from this cookbook for Thanksgiving, and all were excellent: Fried plantain chips served with a guacamole that included asian pear (yum!), and a simple roasted lemon green beans with shallots. Earlier, I made the pizza margherita: the crust uses almond flour and arrowroot, and the sauce is both homemade and easy to put together. I haven't yet met a _great_ paleo pizza dough, but the sauce in this cookbook is among the best-AND-easiest from my extensive collection.

Many of these recipes scratch my "I miss eating..." itch. I haven't gotten around to making the "takeout fake-out" menu yet, but I'm looking forward to it as it includes: steamed spring rolls (using cabbage leaves); shrimp fried cauliflower rice; long beans with mushroom sauce; General Tso's chicken (using a cup of arrowroot as the "breading" flour). I'm also thinking about my New Year's menu: It might be "A taste of Cuba," with Yuca and garlic sauce; Cuban baby back ribs; grilled fish; saffron "rice," coconut flan. Sounds good, doesn't it?
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on August 12, 2013
First and foremost, this is a beautiful cookbook. Well done to the authors, it is clear that a lot of love and hard work went into this. I ordered this book on pre-order which is the last time I will do that. I will wait until I can see the recipes in person at a store before ordering. I have to adhere to paleo due to serious health issues. There were more recipes than I would have liked that contain ingredients that are verboten. In a world of stuff I can't have, when ordering a cookbook with paleo in the title it was disappointing to see "too many" (my opinion, may not be yours) recipes with ingredients I can't have. I had been hearing all about the general tso's chicken and was hugely saddened to find out it used quite a lot of maple syrup (yes, I know it is meant to feed a crowd, but when I'm not supposed to have any maple syrup...). There are recipes I can make with "clean paleo" ingredients only, but overall as I kept turning the pages of this book, my face fell further and further. If you are healthy and eating paleo as a precautionary measure and part of a healthy lifestyle, you may love this book. For me, who is trying to stay strict paleo in order to be around 10 years from now, in totality, this book missed the mark. If I had it to do over again, I would have borrowed it from the library to try a couple recipes rather than shelling out the the cash for it.
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on April 30, 2013
I have never wrapped my two hands around a more beautiful and inspiring cookbook. You will be in awe from the moment you lay your two eyes on the front cover. If this cookbook does not inspire you to cook your first meal made with fresh, real food or to cook your first Dinner where you are entertaining guests, then nothing ever will.

Gather is organized by 17 different party themes and goes by season beginning with Spring. Do you want to host a Spooky Supper or a Midsummer Garden Party? Both are inside. Perhaps you no longer eat chinese food because you dismiss grains but have been eager to make your own but just don't know how. The Takeout Fake-out menu is for you. You will be sure to please your guests.

There are even menus for a Springtime Tea Party and a Backyard Picnic. If you are not used to entertaining guests then you have no worry. Bill and Hayley walk you through the preparation that needs to be done in advance and the day of for each menu.

And you don't have to entertain to enjoy this book! There are more than 100 mouth-watering recipes for you to experiment with.

It does not matter if you avoid grains or not. If you eat "Paleo" or not. This cookbook absolutely must be in your kitchen. It is for all palates. Once it is in your kitchen, you'll have no excuse to create awesome meals and then to soon entertain others.

Just remember, this is book is beyond GORGEOUS and it will inspire you like no other cookbook has. Promise.
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on August 26, 2014
Paleo entertaining means non-dairy in my book, there are a multitude of recipes in here that include heavy cream, goat cheese, etc. I was looking for great recipes that are paleo-focused, I like being dairy and grain free and don't need it to be full of traditional food made differently. I also know how to entertain so the focus in the book on telling me how to entertain was a waste for me. For the price, I didn't feel there were that many menus or great ideas to take away.
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on May 10, 2013
This book was beautifully written and photographed. The meals seem to jump off the page and into your mouth, or at least that's what I kept wishing would happen! It takes a daunting task - preparing a solid, and sometimes fancy, menu for a group of people - and makes it a simple, easy to conquer task. And, on top it all, it keeps the food clean, fresh, and Paleo. I've already begun to make grand plans in my head for inviting friends over, especially non-Paleo friends, to join in a delicious meal with me! If you're interested in stepping up your game with Paleo meals, for holidays or special events, this is definitely the book for you. If you're wondering if Paleo is "right" for you, or how eating grain-free could be tasty, this is definitely the book for you. If you love cooking/food related books that show the beauty and simplicity of providing a good meal for your family and friends, this is definitely the book for you.
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