This is it: my last post before the limited edition hardcover version of The Heritage Cookbook is no longer available for purchase. This special edition shop will only be open until midnight Sunday, June 30th, because after that I must submit my order to the printer in time for an October delivery. We’ve sold a little over 500 copies at this point, which means I’ve reached my target goal and won’t be losing money off this endeavor. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders! Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy for yourself or a loved one — your support means a lot to me, and I think you’re going to love the finished product.

So to celebrate this milestone, I’m sharing one of my crowning achievements from this book’s recipe development: a recipe for Cantonese roast duck that rivals the versions you’ll find in restaurants. I found that the trick to getting that crispy-all-over texture comes from lots of exposure to air: air out the chicken in the fridge, then brush on the glaze while airing it out with a fan, and propping the duck upright using a bottle so that the air hits every part of it.

Be warned that there are a few unconventional ingredients in this dish, but a) most Chinese markets will carry them at a fair price, b) you can find on them online for a little bit more (links below), and c) because they are all shelf stable, you won’t need to reinvest in these ingredients for some time. While you’re there at the market, pick up an extra Chinese rice wine bottle, the ones with a squared base — they’re the best bottles for keeping the duck solidly upright (see the picture above).

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Here we are, folks: less than two weeks left to order the limited edition physical version of The Heritage Cookbook! I’ve been busy putting the final touches on this print edition, which I’ve redesigned from the ground up. I’m very proud of how it’s progressing, and I think you’re going to love it. Mark your calendars: the hardcover book will only be available for purchase until June 30th, and won’t be available in stores or on Amazon (after that, the digital edition will be the only version available).

Speaking of loving things, here’s a recipe from the book – one of my favorites. This curry noodle soup has a hefty ingredients list, but most of these can be tucked away in your pantry for other creations, like Thai Red Curry, Thai Green Curry, or Chicken Panang. So it’s really like an investment in deliciousness.

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I’ve received a few questions concerning the Table of Contents for The Heritage Cookbook, which is completely understandable. There is a lot to digest. Since the book covers such a variety of topics, it’s difficult to summarize all of its material in a sentence or two; I wish I could promote the book by saying “just do this one trick and all your health woes will disappear!”. But that’s never really been my gig in the first place — nutrition is exceptionally complex, and therefore there is a lot of nuance in the book.

So let’s walk through how the book is laid out. It took me several months (and many mistakes) to figure out how to make it flow just right for the reader, but I think it falls into place fairly well now. (Please note that the page numbers reflect the PDF version of the book.)

Chapter 1: Who We Are
Introduction // 21
Discovering Your Heritage // 33
My Ancestry Journey // 35
Genealogy Research // 43
DNA Testing // 46

In this chapter, I discuss my personal journey in discovering my family history and traveling to some of my ancestral homelands. As part of my book research, I spent a couple years investigating my genealogy, and undergoing a number of at-home DNA tests. I compiled the results and present each service’s pros and cons so that you can decide whether you’d like to do the same.

Chapter 2: What We Eat
Basic Dietary Principles // 55
Human Genetics and Diet, in a Nutshell // 56
Plant and Animal Foods: Now vs Then // 59
Plants, Meat, and Gut Bacterial Genes // 63
Macronutrients and Micronutrients // 66
Commonalities and Staples Across All Cultures // 69
Examples of Genetic Variation // 73

Here, we set the foundation of historical eating patterns, and how genetics can influence your dietary health. Topics include the disparity between historical and modern foods, and our microbiome. Additionally, we discuss common staples across all traditional cultures, and examples of genetic variation (specifically how the genes LCT and CSN2 interact with dairy).

Chapter 3: Our Collective History
A Brief History of Humans and their Migrations // 80
Our Recent Evolutionary Past // 86
Genetics and Race // 90
The Data: Cultural Representation and Annual Food Consumption // 90
Europe // 97
North America // 112
Latin America & the Caribbean // 123
Africa // 135
Middle East & the Mediterranean // 146
Central & South Asia // 160
East Asia // 175
Southeast Asia & the Pacific // 187

This chapter is where the rubber meets the road: we’ll look at the history of humankind, from our appearance as a species to the migrations that placed us around the globe. From there, we’ll look at some genetic adaptations that developed as we encountered a variety of environments, and discuss the fundamental flaws of using skin color to assume genetic diversity. This chapter also explains how I calculated cultural representation to define our common ancestry groups, and which data I used to get an idea of traditional eating patterns. Finally, we’ll look at each major region of the world, and break down their cultural history, historical foods, meal customs, staple food groups, and recommendations based on all of the above.

Chapter 4: Plants
The Origin of Cultivated Plants // 198
Plant Fat and the FADS Gene // 201
Starchy Roots & Fruits // 203
Breads & Grains // 248
Rice & Beans // 315
Vegetables // 391
Fruits & Sweets // 462

This is the first of two chapters that include The Heritage Cookbook’s recipes. This chapter highlights all things related to plants, including the origin of our modern crops, and how some of us are better adapted to digest the fats found in some plants. As with the following (“Animals”) chapter, each section contains a history of the food group, its historical consumption rate for traditional cultures, and recommendations.

Chapter 5: Animals
Animal Fats and the LCP Gene // 491
Red Meat // 495
Pork // 584
Poultry & Eggs // 630
Fish & Seafood // 697

Like with the Plants chapter, the Animals chapter breaks down major food groups from a historical perspective. We also investigate genetic adaptation to meat (and animal fat) consumption.

Chapter 6: Putting it All Together
In Conclusion // 758
References // 770
Acknowledgements // 787
About the Authors // 789

Finally, we put it all together to briefly cover some lessons learned from the book, and provide an exhaustive list of references if you wish to keep digging into the research.

That’s it for now – if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. See you next Tuesday, with another recipe from the book.

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Ajiaco is a soup found in both South America and Cuba. Its name comes from the word aji (“pepper”), originally traced to the indigenous Oto-Manguean family of languages that were prevalent in present-day Mexico as far back as 7,000 years ago. Today, the aji pepper refers to a specific pepper fruit (Capsicum baccatum) popular in South America, and is also known as the “bishop’s crown” pepper throughout the Caribbean. This aji pepper serves as the flavor base for the soup, giving it a subtle intensity and unexpected bite.

Another signature element of this dish is the potato. Nearly 10,000 years old, potatoes originated in the Andean mountain regions of present-day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and it is estimated that over 4,000 native varieties of the tuber exist in these regions. This dish is traditionally prepared with a variety of potatoes, a testament to the diversity of potatoes available in South America.

This recipe is modeled after the Colombian version of Ajiaco, which always features chicken, corn, and potatoes (and the aji pepper, of course!). Like peppers and potatoes, corn is native to the Americas. The Colombian version is also spiced with guasca leaves, which are in the daisy family and native to South America. If you can’t find these dried leaves at your local international market, you can easily find them online.

The Cuban version of Ajiaco, also very popular, is a bit thicker (more akin to a stew), and features chicken, beef, and pork – what a feast. The Peruvian version is quite different from these soups, in that it isn’t served as a soup at all, but ran even thicker dish of braised potatoes and peppers (often without meat). And while all of these dishes now include ingredients that weren’t native to the Americas, such as garlic and onions, they still capture the spirit of the original (and likely forgotten) native dishes that inspired them.

And last but not least, a gentle reminder that the limited edition print version of my latest cookbook, The Heritage Cookbook, is only available for purchase through June 30th. Once they’re gone, they’re gone – they won’t be available in stores or on Amazon! These physical versions are really special to me; because I am publishing and shipping them myself, I can make the book look exactly how I envision it to be, and can sign/personalize each copy as I ship it out to you. CLICK HERE to learn more and to grab a copy for yourself!

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Hi, sending out a quick note to let you know that my friends at ButcherBox are running a deal where new customers receive a pack of BBQ favorites – baby back ribs, 2 lbs of ground beef, and 2 NY strip steaks – free with your first box (and in addition to everything else that comes in it!). This is a pretty great deal, and much better than what they usually throw in for new customers.

We have enjoyed our monthly ButcherBox package for the past couple of years now: they ship 100% grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, heritage-breed pork, and wild-caught sockeye salmon directly to your door. They offer two main types of boxes – the first is a mixture of cuts selected by the team to help get your creative juices flowing (which comes bundled with recipe cards!), or an a la carte box where you can pick exactly what you receive. They also have two different sizes so you can customize your box to meet your family’s size. We like the value of ButcherBox (it comes out to less than $6/meal per person) and the fun of opening a box of new surprises each month — plus they let us specify the type of meat we want each month (all beef, or beef + chicken, and so on), which makes their service even more user-friendly.

Click here to learn more about their service and to sign up. This deal ends on Monday, June 10th (midnight PST), and please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below — happy grilling!

Here it is: my first recipe published on the blog that features dried beans. Well, technically, I posted a recipe in 2013 for Cow Heel Soup which featured split peas, but I made them optional. If you’re wondering why I incorporated beans into the recipes for my latest book, be sure to check out this post from last week – but long story short, the recipes in The Heritage Cookbook are historically accurate for a reason. The book investigates the link between traditional foods and health, with the underlying idea that we may have specific adaptations to the foods our recent ancestors relied on as staples. So to omit historical ingredients, prepared in traditional ways, undercuts the entire premise of the book. And just maybe, if eaten in a traditional context, some of these foods might not be so bad from time to time.

So yep, beans. We’re going to use fava beans or lima beans, which are nice and meaty. And like with all of the recipes in the book that feature beans, we’re going to soak them overnight, which increases their digestibility and makes them far easier to cook (plus, this is the way they have been traditionally prepared for thousands of years). One interesting note: while they have a similar appearance and taste, they are from two different corners of the world. Fava beans are part of the pea family, from the eastern Mediterranean, and have been cultivated for 8,000 years; lima beans, on the other hand, are a New World bean, discovered in Peru about 4,000 years ago. There’s an easy way to remember the origins of beans: peas, chickpeas, and fava beans are Old World, and everything else is from the Americas. Pretty cool, huh?

Oxtail stews are found all over the world, and were recorded as far back as the Roman times (but definitely eaten before then – it’s just that nobody was writing about them). This dish in particular is modeled after the Caribbean (specifically, Jamaican) version of this dish, developed at a time when slaves had to make do with lesser cuts of meat, like oxtails. This oxtail stew uses a healthy dose of allspice (native to the Americas) for its base flavor, and the meat is coated in a bit of sugar before being browned. This technique caramelizes the stew nicely, and is likely a remnant of sugarcane plantation cookery.

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A few readers have asked whether The Heritage Cookbook should be considered a Paleo or Primal book, like my previous two books.

While I didn’t deliberately tailor the book to any specific diet, the fact that the entire book relies on whole ingredients means that it is mostly adherent to many popular healthy eating trends. Flipping through the 303 total recipes in the book, I count 176 (58%) that are naturally Paleo or Primal friendly without any major adjustments, and the majority of those are also Whole30 compliant (you may have to omit or substitute a bit of butter, honey, or alcohol here and there). If you consider white rice to be okay, that’s another 26 to add to that list (so a total of 67%). Finally, 175 of the recipes are also low in starch and sugar, making them Keto or low-carb friendly. The rest of the recipes either feature some amount of traditionally-prepared corn and/or beans, or call for gluten-containing grains.

The presence of gluten in the book may throw you off, since this blog is 100% gluten-free. I continue to avoid gluten in my diet, but this is a good example to help describe the foundation of The Heritage Cookbook. The book investigates how genes affect our interactions with certain foods – including those that contain gluten (wheat, barley, and rye). Cutting out entire food groups can undermine the principle of the book, in that people with specific ancestry may be at an advantage to eat the historical ingredients of their ancestry group(s). But that doesn’t solve the issue we have with food interactions today outside of genetic predisposition – for example, my ancestors have a long history of wheat consumption, but learning that fact doesn’t make me able to eat wheat again without any adverse effects. After all, dietary reactions are the result of many factors, and genes are only one of those factors–albeit a very fascinating one! And since gluten reactions are one of the most prevalent digestive issues Americans face today, I made it a point to include gluten-free substitutions in every recipe (except a couple that specifically rely on bulgur or durum/semolina wheat).

Given the sheer volume of recipes in the book, another way to look at it is that these numbers nearly justify a cookbook of their own. For example, most Paleo cookbooks feature less recipes than the 176 that are found in this book (and same for the 175 keto recipes!). So there is still a lot of value to be had in these pages – and we haven’t even started talking about the 200+ pages of genetic and nutritional research, food history, and cultural observations found within the book!

So to recap:
58% of the book is Paleo/Primal friendly, and most of those are Whole30 compliant
67% of the book is Paleo/Primal + white rice (e.g. Perfect Health Diet) friendly
99% of the book is written to be adaptable to gluten-free
58% of the book is Keto or low-carb friendly

In answer to this article’s main question: is this book Paleo/Primal/Gluten-Free/Keto-friendly? I would say yes. But also no (way to make a decision, Russ). I’m not marketing it as aligned to any specific diet for a reason – and honestly, the variety of traditional foods found in our ancestral diets lean more towards eating a bit of everything around you (provided they are made from scratch and in a traditional context) than to eschew entire food groups. And that context matters; nowhere in the book do I call for someone to use wheat products (or really, any food product) as their main source of calories. Instead, I encourage the reader to eat along historical trends. Take a look at this graph below:

This indicates the changes in poultry consumption from the first year that global figures were calculated (1961, a time when more people were eating traditional foods than today), versus 2013. You can see that the landscape of food consumption has changed significantly over the past 52 years (I approached it as two generations, since generations are typically calculated as 25 years). An American looking at modern consumption trends around them may assume that eating 70kg/year of poultry meat is totally normal, but in 1961 the average was more like 17kg/year. Same goes for ingredients like corn, beans, and wheat – at the very least, the 1961 figures are a better indication of historical eating patterns than 2013 figures. But the key will be to look at the historcal eating trends of your ancestral origins. Are you an American of Italian origin? In 1961, Italians ate only 5kg/year (a little over 11 lbs, or 22 8oz servings a year!)–a far cry from the 70kg/year consumed by contemporary Americans.

And that’s one of the many insights and tools you’ll find in the book to help you figure out the best diet for your unique heritage.

More to come in the following weeks! And don’t forget that you only have until June 30th to grab a physical (hardcover) edition of The Heritage Cookbook!

With the release of The Heritage Cookbook last week, I’m ready to get back to how it all started–blogging. And honestly, it feels pretty great to be back in the saddle, fiddling with my old writing tools and codes. We’ll start pretty light for now, with recipes from my new book. I figure that since there are less than two months left to put in your order for the special print edition of the book, you won’t mind if I share recipes and stories from the four years it took me to get it into your hands!

Dimlama is a stew popular in Central Asia (especially Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), made during that short window when vegetables are in season. It’s hard to grow vegetables above the ground on the Central Asian steppes, because constant winds are disruptive to the growing process; that’s why Central Asian cuisine has historically relied on underground vegetables like onions and carrots as their source of vegetables.

Preparing this dish is relatively simple: grab all the vegetables you have available, and layer them over meat (usually lamb, but sometimes beef or horsemeat), cover and simmer until everything is tender. No need to add water – the vegetables will release their own liquid. And it turns out that this dish is actually a bit of a revelation to cook, because it really brings awareness to the vegetables’ subtle flavors. Plus this meat-to-veggies ratio makes the rare chunks of meat that much more pleasurable. When first developing this recipe, I assumed that this wouldn’t be one of my favorites from the book; I was totally wrong.

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Click here to learn more about the limited edition print version

Hello everyone. After several years of research, writing, and designing, I’m ready to release my third cookbook. It’s called The Heritage Cookbook, and it combines genealogy and genetic testing with nutrition and cooking. The book is both a comprehensive dive into ancestral nutrition, food, and cultural histories, and a massive cookbook with 300+ historical and traditional recipes from around the world.

The digital version of The Heritage Cookbook is available for purchase today, with a variety of options. The simplest option is a PDF version of the book, which can be enjoyed on any home computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you prefer to read your books on Kindle or Apple Books, I created those versions as well. I designed each version from the ground up, so they all look pretty great no matter which format you prefer. All digital editions are $14.99 each.

Initially, I was going to limit this book to digital formats only, because it’s nearly too big to print (780+ pages!), and I am no longer affiliated with my previous publisher, so I don’t have the resources to print and distribute physical copies through bookstores or Amazon. But after a lot of positive response from friends and family, I’ve decided to do a special, limited edition print run of the book.

Here’s how the hardcover edition will work:

  • I’ve set up an online store at TheHeritageCookbook.com, where you can pre-purchase the hardcover book for a limited time period (now until June 30th).
  • At the end of the ordering period, I’ll compile and send my order to a small, US-based printer; however many books are ordered is how many books I will have printed.
  • I’ll then personally sign, number, and ship each book by hand with an expected October 2019 delivery date.
  • Shipping is included in the price and you will also get an instant download link for the digital (PDF) version of the book, so you can enjoy the recipes immediately.


The hardcover book price is $60, and I have to limit shipping to US and military (APO) addresses only, but I am positive that the stunning hardcover copy and included perks (free shipping, digital edition included, signed and personalized) make this version truly special.

This limited edition version of The Heritage Cookbook will only be available for purchase between now and June 30th. After that, they’re gone forever! Click here to read more and to purchase a copy for yourself. I’m especially excited about the hardcover’s unique cover, which is taken from a beautiful, custom painting made by one of my favorite artists, Martin at Continuum Watercolors. The physical version will also be the same dimensions as my previous cookbooks (although much thicker!), so they’ll all sit nicely on the same shelf.

If you’re not able to purchase the physical edition, never fear: the digital edition contains all the same content, and is super convenient to take with you on your phone when grocery shopping. Be sure to visit the digital edition landing page to see some more pictures from the book!

I think this is a really neat way to wrap up this chapter of my life. I really hope you love this book as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I think that the recipes you’ll find in The Heritage Cookbook are by far the best I’ve ever written, and the photos are the best I’ve ever taken–I’m very proud of this book. If you have any questions, I’ve also made a handy FAQ page that has all sorts of information. Or leave me a question in the comments below. Enjoy!

click here for the digital edition:

also available on:

Click here to buy the limited edition print version

Adobo is one of my favorite dishes; my original Pork Adobo recipe has lived on this site for over six years, and I published an updated, streamlined version last year (see: Oven Roasted Pork Adobo). And while I initially assumed that folks would seamlessly adapt those recipes for a chicken version, I’ve had several requests over the years. So voilĂ , this week’s recipe.

Adobo, often considered the national dish of the Philippines, is a method of stewing meat in vinegar. The word adobo itself is linked to a Spanish method of preserving raw meat by immersing it in a mixture of vinegar, salt, and paprika. When the Spanish observed an indigenous Philippine cooking method involving vinegar in the 16th century, they referred to it as adobo, and the name stuck. The original name for this dish is no longer known.

One last note – don’t forget about this month’s offer for Free Ground Beef for Life from my friends at ButcherBox. The deal expires at the end of this month, so be sure to check it out by the end of the week!

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