Simple French Paleo Cookbook Review & Sample Recipe: Nightshade-Free Ratatouille

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cookbook cover with title, photos of recipes, and photos of Provence France“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”
~ Julia Child


A Taste of France in your AIP Kitchen

Sophie is one of my favorite bloggers in the paleo autoimmune community. She has a beautiful blog called A Squirrel in the Kitchen, which combines gorgeous food photography with delicious, approachable recipes, as well as straightforward advice for living a healthy autoimmune life. She herself used the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) to put her Hashimotos into remission. With this cookbook, she combines her French Belgian upbringing with her knowledge of the AIP to bring a whole new flavor profile to our kitchens. I love how the cookbooks for our community are expanding. Each new offering is completely unlike the ones that came before.

Meet Sophie

photo of Sophie smiling with red hair in her kitchen

You mention that this cookbook was inspired by the food you grew up eating in Belgium. Describe a typical meal from your childhood and what you had to change to make it AIP.

My grandmother on my father’s side had a farm back in Belgium where she raised animals (lamb, chicken, rabbits) and grew her own vegetables. I remember being a little girl and eating fresh lamb liver, seared in a large cast iron pan with a huge blob of butter, salt, and pepper! I was inspired by this memory when I created the  Chicken Livers with Fresh Figs recipe (Simple French Paleo, page 156). To make it AIP compliant, I replaced butter with olive oil, and took the pepper out. I also added some of my favorite herbs to give it a flavor boost, as well as fresh figs to counterbalance the earthiness of the liver with the delicate sweetness of the fruit. As you can see, eating AIP is not bland or boring! There are many herbs and spices at your disposal to complement and bring out the natural goodness of real, simple food. Plus, you get extra bonus points for nutrient-density with this recipe!

You took a trip to Provence, France when you were writing this cookbook, and people always love to hear travel tips for the AIP. Was it easy to eat AIP in Provence? What steps did you take to stay on your healing diet?

Our entire extended family got together in the south of France (we were over 30 altogether) and in order to house everyone, we rented a big “mas” (traditional farmhouse) in the countryside. I had my own little kitchen and fridge where I was able to keep my food separated from the others to avoid contamination.

Since I was busy during the day and didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking, I purchased a slow cooker on amazon.fr and had it delivered. I used it to prepare my evening meals while I was roaming the countryside, enjoying myself and taking pictures! As a bonus, I ate the leftovers for breakfast. For picnics during the day, I had brought with me from the US a big load of coconut wraps to prepare “sandwiches”. I would load them with cold meats, lettuce, and avocado. I wrapped these in aluminum foil and packed them in a small cooler that I had also purchased in Europe. I never lacked fresh fruit and vegetables during my vacation. You can find all you need to stay AIP in local grocery stores or at local farmers markets. I had made a search on Google ahead of time and I knew exactly where and when to go to find these farmers markets. While we were in France, we went out to eat at a restaurant one time. I ordered a beef kabob (brochette de boeuf) with cooked vegetables and a salad on the side. I asked the server for olive oil and vinegar for the dressing. My plate arrived with tomatoes but I simply pushed them on the side and ate the rest ravenously!

What I love about your cookbook is that the recipes are unique and flavorful enough to bring something new to the kitchen of expert cooks, while also being simple enough that beginners can make them, too. When you first started AIP, were you already an expert cook or was there a learning curve?

When I started AIP, I knew my way around the kitchen but I was no Julia Child! In fact, at the beginning of my healing journey, I was simply too exhausted to spend much time in the kitchen. I needed to keep things quick and simple, and at the same time I had to feed my husband and children. So I turned to the traditional French cooking of my youth and I rediscovered how simple and honest food could be. Even as I was struggling with an autoimmune condition, I could still enjoy the pleasures life had to offer! I began developing tasty AIP-based meals that were nutritious and satisfying enough even for those not suffering from an autoimmune disease.

You cook these meals for your entire family. What’s your favorite recipe? What’s your husband’s favorite recipe? And what recipes do your daughters love?

What is my favorite recipe? That is a really hard question to answer because every single recipe in Simple French Paleo is deeply rooted in tradition and they bring up a lot of memories. You see food is not just fuel for me, it is also an emotional experience! For example, when I savor a simple artichoke with a shallot vinaigrette (page 64), I am immediately transported to my mother’s kitchen a long time ago. I see myself as a little girl, eagerly eating the petals, the succulent vinaigrette dripping on my chin! Each time I prepare a lamb roast (page 152), I think lovingly of my grandmother who was raising lambs on her farm. And the French crèpes, of course, were a staple growing up not only for special occasions (we would have “crèpe parties” with a gazillion different toppings), but also as an after-school snack.

My husband’s favorites include the French onion soup, brandade express, bouillabaisse-inspired seafood stew, and chocolate mousse.

My daughter’s favorites include the slow cooker chicken soup with avocado and scallions, colorful, fruity fennel salad, gingerade, vanilla ice cream and chunky black olive tapenade with oregano crackers.

You have a very thorough introduction to your book, which I love. It covers your personal story, details about the autoimmune protocol, and also the importance of aspects of healing beyond food. What’s one area that people often forget to focus on when it comes to healing, that you think is essential?

I know from personal experience that managing my stress is as important as the food I am eating (or not eating). When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease in 2009, I was suffering greatly from anxiety, panic attacks, and severe insomnia. These symptoms were debilitating and I couldn’t function as a “normal” person. So, anxiety and stress reduction were, and still are, a top priority for me. With practice, I have developed an awareness of my stress level and as soon as it goes into the red, I switch into zen mode! I will stop everything I am doing and focus on my self-care. From the outside, this might look like I am a slacker, or lazy. But in fact I am listening to my body, making myself a priority. I see it as an investment in the future, my own health insurance. So, not only is it important to recognize the first signs of anxiety and stress, but it is also important to be willing to do something about it.

10 Things to Know About This Cookbook

  1. It contains 90 recipes, including appetizers, soups, salads, vegetables, meats, seafood, desserts, drinks and condiments.
  2. Check out these mouthwatering examples: Avocado Mayonnaise, Bouillabaisse Seafood Stew, Chicken Blanquette, Vibrant Pork Belly Salad, Herbed Roast Lamb, Garlic and Herb Stuffed Mushrooms, Nicoise Salad, Chocolate Mousse, and Layered Raspberry Crepe Cake. And those are just a few!
  3. Every recipe is 100% AIP.
  4. The author knows the paleo autoimmune protocol inside and out, having used it to  help put her Hashimoto’s into remission.
  5. The cookbook introduction provides a concise overview of the AIP, including tips for choosing the most nutritious food, as well as advice for making good choices when it comes to sleep, stress and self-care.
  6. I especially like her AIP Pantry chapter, letting you know which shelf-stable ingredients come in handy in an AIP kitchen.
  7. The recipes are based in the Provencal tradition of simple, honest, seasonal, flavorful food.
  8. Whether you are a new cook, a busy cook, or an experienced foodie, these recipes will appeal.
  9. If you eat with your eyes, you are going to love this cookbook. Not only is the food photography amazing, but the travel photos of Provence will make you want to travel to France yourself.
  10. It’s available in Paperback through Amazon, or as a PDF ebook.

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photo of cooked recipe served on white platter

Sample Recipe

I was lucky enough to taste-test this recipe when Sophie was writing her cookbook. I think it’s the perfect example of what her cookbook represents. It’s simple to prepare, full of flavor, focuses on fresh ingredients, and is absolutely delicious.

Print
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Nightshade-Free Ratatouille (Paleo, AIP, GAPS, Wahls, Whole30)


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  • Author: Sophie Van Tiggelen
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium golden beets (about 1/2 pound), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion (about 3/4 pound), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash (about 1/2 pound), chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium–low heat. Add beets, carrots, and garlic. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add onion, yellow squash, zucchini, oregano, rosemary, and sea salt. Continue cooking, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Check seasoning and adjust salt to taste. Serve hot or cold.
  4. Bon appétit!

Notes

  1. Add 10–15 minutes to the cooking time if you prefer your ratatouille well-done over crisp-tender.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Side Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop

More Delicious Recipes & Resources

Update: A giveaway was held to celebrate the publication of this book, and the winner was chosen with a random number generator. Congratulations to Jennifer Cvelic! If you didn’t win, don’t despair. You can buy your own copy here.

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107 comments on “Simple French Paleo Cookbook Review & Sample Recipe: Nightshade-Free Ratatouille”

  1. I just started the AIP diet for an autoimmune disease I have per my Doctor. Along with her expertise in treating autoimmune disorders I believe I will be healthy in a year – which is the time frame she gave me for the turn around. Excited you’re having this giveaway!

  2. This cookbook sounds wonderful! I have Hashimoto’s and my daughter has many allergies plus migraines. These recipes could really inspire us! Thank you for writing this book!

  3. I would love to win this amazing aip book! I use to love trying new ingredients and food from all over the world. When I got sick I felt like that got taken away from me. I’m finally at a place emotionally where I’m playing with food flavors again and boy have I missed this. Aip cooking can be so fun and flavorful! Thank you for the opportunity to win this book!

  4. Just received my copy yesterday. Even my husband and children loved it. This is the cookbook that convinced them to go AIP (with a few extras, like eggs), since the recipes look that good. This is a huge step for them, as they only rarely shared my meals before. It will be so nice for me to only cook things I can eat, and have nearly everything in the fridge and pantry be fair game. No more feeling left out for me, and more exquisite meals for them. So thank you for a cookbook that doesn’t feel overwhelmingly difficult to follow, and looks almost too good to be true. I love all my AIP cookbooks, but there is something just so normal and wonderful about this one that doesn’t seem like it is copying normal food in an AIP way, but rather just creating amazing dishes with AIP ingredients. Perhaps this is because I am unfamiliar with French cuisine, but whatever it is I am just so glad that it was created. Thank you.

    1. Dear Tiffany, your testimonial really touched me 🙂 Thank you for this! I would like people to know about your experience and your story! Would you consider leaving a similar review on Amazon please? You can definitely just copy and paste. Thank you so much!

  5. I can’t wait to eat my way through this book! I loved this piece and can’t wait to read more from you and her!

  6. Out of ideas cook needs help! Simple then that’s for me. Limited ingredients I think I can do it. Hopeful and hungry.

  7. I would love to be the owner of this fine book! My husband lived in Brussels during his high school years. Might bring back some memories. I’m sure AIP frites are VERY different.

    1. Ouch! No AIP frites in this cookbook! Regular frites are made with white potatoes, which are off limit on AIP (nightshades). And any replica I have tried never came close enough to the original that I thought they would be worth it.

  8. Your recipe above looks so tasty!
    I would very much like to win your cook book!
    I have been on the AIP for 3 months now, and my severe psoriasis has improved much with this plan. However, it is slow, as well as covers 75% of me. I know good recipes will help me to plan my meals better. Thank You.

  9. Hello Eileen, Sophie, and all! I have been regularly checking and enjoying all of the wonderful recipes, podcasts, and information that the AIP community provides. As a young girl with Chrohn’s, this info makes life easier and more fun.

    A message to anyone struggling with their health: DO NOT LOSE FAITH. One year ago I was having difficulty, and had to give myself time to recover. I lost 10 pounds, which for me was a lot. Long story short, I got my healthy weight back, and through dedication to diet and healing, have decreased my symptoms almost completely without any use of medications, only with REAL FOOD.
    I genuinely hope this message will inspire anyone who is struggling to not lose hope. Be patient with yourself. Find support from others, from your family and/or online. It can be done!

    P.S.:
    Thank you Eileen for creating this great haven where we can come together and heal as a community 🙂

  10. Hi Eileen and Sophie. I’m an American living in Nantes, France. I discovered your blogs about 4 months ago (when I started on the AIP to try to put my Hashimoto’s into remission), and am so thankful for your generous recipes, advice and inspiration ! I didn’t have any books when I first started the protocol, but then read Dr. Amy Myers “The Autoimmune Solution” and just finished reading Sarah Ballantyne’s incredible “Paleo Approach”. I love cookbooks and was just about to delve into Sarah’s companion cookbook. Sophie, your cookbook looks amazing and I can’t wait to try your recipes as I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. My husband is Breton and is all about galettes and crêpes ! He makes them every week with our daughter, but I’ve had to abstain since being on the AIP, but am soooo excited to try your crêpe recipe !!!

  11. This book sounds great! I love French cuisine, but have problems with butter. Glad to hear that the recipes replace butter with olive oil. I have to check it out.

  12. This cookbook looks beautiful and delicious. I love trying recipes from all over the world, so I would love to win this book.

  13. This book sounds great! I did AIP for awhile, hoping to heal my RA and kind of fell off the bandwagon after getting pregnant again! Have been looking for inspiration to start again. I’d love to win this book!

  14. I love the sound of Sophie’s cookbook and would love to win – bonus of no postage as it would be coming to New Zealand! Thank you Eileen and Sophie for all your contributions to the AIP community worldwide.

  15. I really appreciate all that you do for the Paleo AIP community. It’s lovely to think about an AIP cookbook with French roots. I’d be very grateful to win a copy.

  16. As a Hashimoto’s sufferer I would love this cookbook! Thank you for your dedication to finding help for our plight.

  17. I have loved Sophie’s recipes on the Round Table when she contributes!
    Her new cookbook should be a treasure : )

  18. I just read about this book on your site yesterday! It sounds amazing, and I love french food (well, I was obsessed with everything french for the longest time – movies, culture, books, the works. Now it’s a more healthy relationship haha). I would love to win this book, and cook while listening to Edith Piaf 😀

  19. I have been in an AIP rut, this book looks great! As a former WAP group leader, Frech philosophy of food really speaks to me. Thank you for writing this book and offering it here!

  20. I would love to win her cookbook! I’ve been AIP for about 9-10 months and am working towards healing my psoriasis and a couple other issues.

  21. Having just finished easing into the Protocol with Angie Alt and her team (SAD to AIP in 6), I am inspired by all the fantastic cookbooks that are out now. I am in the process of replacing all my cake decorating cookbooks that I have removed from my kitchen bookshelf to all AIP inspired ones. Sophie’s book has a space on my Mac or on my shelf to keep me inspired on my continued AIP journey.

    1. Robin, that’s a great idea! There are so many wonderful AIP cookbooks now – it would be great to have the whole library. And for anyone who doesn’t know about SAD to AIP in 6, it’s an online class that make the transition to the AIP much easier. It combines peer support with professional health coaching and guides you step-by-step over 6 weeks. By the end of the class, you are fully prepared to do the AIP successfully. 🙂

  22. Hi Eileen! I’d absolutely love to win Simple French Paleo! Although I have a great collection of compliant recipes on Pinterest, I’d love to have a fully AIP cookbook!

    Thank you for hosting this give away, the great review, and all you do for the AIP community!

    – Krys

  23. I would love a copy!! My boyfriend has French heritage but I’m totally unfamiliar to French food and cooking. Would make a great surprise for him! 🙂

  24. I would LOVE to win this book! I’ve tried some of her A Squirrel in the Kitchen recipes and they are wonderful!

  25. I’d love to win this book! I’m about 15 days into my healing journey and, while there are many easy AIP recipes online, it would be a blessing to have a book that I can open to quickly find simple, delicious recipes that will make this transition a little easier.

  26. I love how your recipes have ordinary ingredients! I find so many recipes with foods that are hard to get in stores or have to travel so far to reach me that I feel they are unsafe to eat.

  27. Thank you Sophie for writing this book. Many AIP cookbooks are very American taste & custom oriented. Being a European, I am looking forward to these recipes. Will buy if I do not win, but hope to get lucky

  28. Along with all the rest I would love to win a copy of this beautiful cookbook. Still eating 99% AIP although I reintroduced white wine tonight so will see how that goes.

  29. This book sounds amazing! I would like to try several recipes, and just looking through it sounds like a treat.

  30. I’ve been on AIP for over a year and a half now and I could really use some inspiration. I’m stuck in a cooking rut and would love a copy of this book!!

  31. I would dearly love to win this cookbook. I’m thrilled with it already. So lovely and so full of wonderful recipes!

  32. I would LOVE to win this gorgeous cookbook–especially for the AIP crepes! Crepes with wild Alaskan blueberries used be our special birthday dinner for my daughters, but converting my egg recipe to gelatin eggs has been a major flop for us. 🙁

  33. Hi! Thank you both for all of the information you provide ~ I’ve only recently discovered I needed the paleo AIP to solve my hasimoto’s instead of taking meds but I’m really struggling with recipe & meal ideas ~ This cookbook would be invaluable! Def going to make the Ratatouille! Looks wonderful & I do love to cook 🙂

  34. Being of French origin I really would like to win this aip cookbook. I am just learning about AIP diet and the more resources the better. By the way, your Breakfast cookbook is a real treasure! Recipes are so different and original! Love how you blend sweet and savory in several recipes!

  35. Have Hashimoto, used to love making crepes and need to get a good aip version, would love winning and cooking from the book!

  36. I would so LOVE a copy of Sophie’s new book!! I’m very drawn to French cooking, and this is exactly the book my library needs! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy. Crossing my fingers I’m the lucky winner 🙂

  37. I would, like so many readers,love to win this book!:) AIP is new to me but I hope to heal my UC by following it so thank you to all the AIP bloggers out there you are all great inspirations!!

  38. I’ve been seeing so many people from the paleo and AIP community who I follow on Instagram post recipes from Sophie’s cookbook and they look so good! Would love to win a copy 🙂

  39. Ratatouille is one of my favorite veggie dishes! I can’t wait to try this recipe and would love to win the cookbook.

  40. I am terrible at cooking & trying so hard to make AIP recipes. I would love to have this book. Thank you so much.

    1. Jennifer, the random number generator picked you! Congratulations! I’ve let Sophie know. Expert an email soon with the download link. 🙂

  41. I would be grateful to win. Like most of your readers, I struggle with finding delicious recipes that will help to put my Hashimoto’s into remission as well. These recipes would take the guess work out of it for my novice self. The recipes also sound delicious and nutritious enough for the whole family to enjoy……a nice change from fixing multiple dinners!!

  42. Thank you for introducing me to Sophie! I’m new to your blog and I’m already over the moon – so much great info. I would love to win a copy of the cookbook 🙂

  43. This sounds like a lovely and inspiring book. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, I too would love to win!

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