The Ancestral Table

My debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle features over 115 delicious, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly recipes.

When trying to come up with an idea for my first cookbook, I kept returning to the same concept: I didn’t need to create a single recipe out of thin air. There are tons of delicious dishes that have endured for hundreds, even thousands of years, and mankind has tweaked them to perfection throughout history. My book is a celebration of dishes that we can enjoy in the same way that our great-grandparents enjoyed them, with only minimal adjustments made to honor my belief that foods should be healthful, nutrient-dense, and immensely satisfying.

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The dishes in The Ancestral Table are inspired by traditional meals found throughout many world cultures today, and I’ve worked hard to develop recipes that are both exotic and impressive without being overly difficult or intimidating.

The book is full of brand new dishes, but I’ve also re-developed many of the recipes already introduced on this site. There are also quite a few firsts in here, including a couple dessert recipes, something I haven’t tackled on this site yet. I’m very happy with the quality of these recipes, and I think you will love having a perfect mix of classics and new favorites to add to your collection.

The recipes in The Ancestral Table are aligned with my belief that safe starches (white rice, tapioca, potatoes) and some forms of dairy have a place in the modern interpretation of the Paleo diet. Essentially, this is the first Perfect Health Diet cookbook – so it’s only fitting that Paul Jaminet graciously provided the foreword.

If you follow a more strict interpretation of Paleo, never fear! The Ancestral Table is mostly filled with strictly Paleo offerings, and the book includes a thorough substitution guide for anyone wanting to convert the other recipes to a more conventional version of Paleo while maintaining maximum taste.

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More info:
Full recipe list
Why I wrote the book
List of tools and ingredients needed to cook through the book
List of dishes that are Autoimmune Paleo compatible

The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle is out in all major bookstores and available online:

Here are some nice things that people have said about the book:

“If you’re tired of boring or overly restrictive Paleo recipes, this book is for you. Russ’s love of traditional and international cuisine and culinary experience shine through in his delicious and satisfying recipes.”

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.AC, author of Your Personal Paleo Code and the blog

The Ancestral Table is a feast of lovingly crafted recipes that make the most of bold tastes and traditional cooking methods. The recipes — a world tour of international flavors – flex the paleo template to include quality starches and some dairy, while remaining true to a well-reasoned, real food philosophy. It’s clear that Russ takes good food and good health seriously – but he infuses the primal acts of cooking and eating with undeniable pleasure and joy.”

Melissa Joulwan, author of the cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and the blog The Clothes Make The Girl

“I absolutely adore cookbooks that give me a sense of place, history, and flavor—along with deliciously authentic recipes. By weaving together a vibrant tapestry of words and photographs, Russ Crandall’s Ancestral Table offers all of this and more, transporting and nourishing readers in both mind and palate. Bravo!”

Michelle Tam, co-author of Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans and author of the blog Nom Nom Paleo

“In The Ancestral Table, Russ Crandall dispenses with the typical Paleo prohibitions against white rice, potatoes, and dairy products, choosing to embrace the wisdom of ancient culinary traditions instead. Nutrient dense broths, fermented vegetables, and layers of flavors are featured prominently in recipes that are approachable, healthful, and, perhaps most importantly, absolutely delicious. This is the kind of food that can truly be enjoyed for a lifetime!”

Tony Federico, B.S., author of Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking with Fire, host of the Paleo Magazine Radio Podcast, and author of the blog Live Caveman

The Ancestral Table contains a beautiful collection of dishes that will really get you excited in the kitchen. Russ’s recipes are in the true spirit of slow food, covering the basics to the more advanced cooking techniques. If you’re a foodie, this book is for you!”

Diana Rodgers, NTP, author of Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go and the blog Sustainable Dish

“The Domestic Man is an absolute stand-out chef in the ancestral health community. No one combines classical cooking techniques, outstanding and broad flavors, and international flair quite like Russ. With unique and unctuous recipes, The Ancestral Table is a book that will find a prominent place in our home: open, splattered, and next to my stove.”

Stacy Toth, co-author of the cookbooks Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog and Eat Like a Dinosaur, and the blog Paleo Parents

185 thoughts on “The Ancestral Table

  1. After living with a very bland gluten free diet for almost 10 years now, It’s so exciting to find a cookbook written by someone else with an auto-immune disease that can understand the challenges that I’ve had to endure! Thank you! Can’t wait to get it!


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  3. Hey Russ! I met you at your Glen Burnie Crossfit visit. Great presentation and your book has been been ordered… I can’t wait.


  4. Russ, I came across your website when I was searching about Trader Joe’s tomato sauce. I actually make sauce like yours HOWEVER, what I have learned this year is that you do not want to use canned tomatoes of any kind. The reason is that tomatoes are highly acidic and the BPA from the inside of the cans leaches into the tomatoes. It is not so bad with other canned items, however, the more you buy products that are frozen, and fresh or in glass jars rather than canned the better. Just wanted to let you know. Yes, Trader Joe’s is putting soybean oil in their jarred sauce…probably just as bad. I am going to send this information over to TJ’s headquarters b/c apparently, someone there thinks soy is good for you!


    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for the comment. About a year ago we transitioned to Muir Glen canned tomatoes, which have been made without BPA since October 2011. I agree that BPA lining in tomatoes is especially bad!


  5. I’m very new to gluten free/paleo type eating due to allergies… I kind of found your book difficult though. I found the recipes a bit complicated for someone who is very new at this. I’m sure there are a lot of people who will appreciate the book tremendously, but I’m not one of them :/ You did a great job with it though.


    1. Hi Lilly, thanks for the comment and your feedback. You’re right, the goal of my book is not to provide shortcuts or quick meals. The book is designed to make you a more confident home chef. There is a bit of a learning curve, but I believe that by cooking through my recipes you’ll be given the tools to tackle cooking and recipes for the rest of your life. If that’s not where you are right now in your life, I understand and that’s totally cool – I encourage you to try an introductory Paleo cooking book like “Practical Paleo” or “The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking” – both are wonderful books geared towards new cooks. But be sure to keep The Ancestral Table handy, as it’ll be a great resource when you’re ready to tackle more involved and traditional recipes. Here is more info on why I wrote the book the way I did:


  6. I love your blog and want to reach you to ask permission to feature you and then maybe syndicate some of your entries in my magazine. How can I reach you? Please email me contact info. Thank. -Alex


  7. Would it be possible to order a pdf version in the near future? I don’t have a kindle and my home is small and already full with a lot of books. It would be great if I could by a pdf version of the cookbook :) (although I really love books, but I’m getting out of space in here…)


  8. Russ, I just bought your wonderful, gorgeous cookbook and looking forward to making all the recipes. The photos make my mouth water.
    I do have a question about one of the rice recipes, the one with the potato slices on the bottom of the pan. My question is, when the rice is done, do you mix the potato in with the rice or is the potato there to keep the rice protected from the bottom of the pan? I’ve never had potatoes and rice together.

    Looking through the book I’m struck by the uniqueness and gourmet qualities of the recipes. Yet, they don’t look too difficult to tackle. I like the organisation of the book and the handy substitution guide. Great job!



  9. Russ, I’m a little confused on the broth recipe instructions. I am not an experienced cook so I don’t understand why after broiling the bones then boiling them you discard both the pan juices from the broiling and the water in the pot. Is there a particular reason for this that I am missing?


    1. Hi Dana, good question. In my broth recipe I call for boiling the bones, which is a common practice to remove potential pathogens from the bones. I goofed in editing the recipe – the bones should be broiled after boiling (not before) in order to add a roasted taste to the broth, and then added directly to the pot and filled with water. I’ll be rearranging the order in the second printing of my book.


      1. Thank you. That makes more sense. LOL The Cajun in me couldn’t figure out why you would discard those heavenly pan juices from the roasting and rinse off all the flavor.


  10. Russ, Thanks for giving us back pizza night! I am new to your blog and just bought your cookbook– both have been wonderful finds!


  11. ordered! I’ve missed a cookbook perfect health friendly. There is nothing like this in my country.

    greetz from Germany, Jane


  12. Russ you have produced a great book. I like the fact that your recipes are not hacks or re-imaginations. They are rooted in history and culture. I love researching food and culture, and I use your book as inspiration as I plan my weekly menus. Love to see more from you soon! (Any advice you might offer to an aspiring food writer would be great).


      1. Brian, thanks for the feedback, I’ll add Bollito Misto to my list of dishes to tackle! My best advice for food writing would be to practice. A lot. I started blogging in earnest in 2007 and it took several years of writing daily until I found the voice that suited me best. Editing is also important – I typically write up something and then come back to it a couple days later for edits using a fresh set of eyes. Best of luck!


  13. May I recommend that you also create a donate option for your blog. I have seen other writers do this and dont know if it is worth your time. I believe they use a paypal service.


  14. Russ, I love your cookbook and the attention to detail about which ingredients and why vs others.
    Maybe you can help me. I’m pretty good at making key lime pie and I’m getting a lot of requests to make it again for Christmas. All of my key limes are juiced and waiting in the freezer for me to make the pies.
    Problem is, I have a really great recipe that I morphed from several that I’ve found over the years, but I’ve gone ancestral since then. Can you help me with how I can modify this to make it work?

    The crust is gingersnap cookies and unsalted butter (melted). That part I think I can handle by adding fresh and powdered ginger and either honey, maple syrup or maple sugar to the crust. Even going with coconut flour and coconut sugar might be good since the pie is tropical. But if you have any thoughts on that I’d love to hear.

    The difficult part though is the filling. Mine was simple before: 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup fresh key lime juice, 2 whole eggs, and zest of 2-3 regular limes. But what to do now that I don’t eat sugar?
    I’m fine with dairy, so whipping cream, creme fraiche or sour cream would be great subs, but I’m worried its still not as thick and binding as the sweetened condensed milk? I’m also open to coconut milk, but that’s probably my second choice since it might be too coconut-y in flavor?
    Most importantly I need to figure out the right ratios of everything, especially if I’m going to be adding a liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup. The recipe calls for baking the crust for 10 minutes, then cooling, and then baking with the filling at 325 for 15-20. Then refrigerating for at least 2 hrs.

    Can you help?


  15. on the soy issue – which I info on why not good for you from reading the “maker’s diet”, if you read ingredients in any processed foods, 90% of time they will have soy oil (or corn oil, which I find excessive in foods). How do you meet the challenge of not getting soy oil in mayonnaise, salad dressings, etc at the stores? Seems you have to make from scratch. Not easy with busy life styles.


  16. Love your Ancestral Table cookbook. Every recipe we’ve tried is great. One note: we made the Banana Cream Pie and found the filling a tad bland. Upon closer scrutiny, there are two filling ingredients (2 tbs butter and 1 tbs maple syrup) that are not mentioned in the cooking instructions! Were you aware of this? Presumably, we can add both to the banana puree as it cooks? Thanks.


    1. I added them in with the filling ingredients because I noticed that too and couldn’t figure out where else they would go. It’s not like you’d toss two TBs chopped butter with fresh bananas or something. Maybe cooking the bananas in butter and syrup might be nice. I found it a little bland too, but it didn’t keep me from devouring the pie. I had to give it away because that pie and I were not in a good relationship! Every time I passed the fridge, I wanted to go with a fork and bury my head in pie. I don’t think I’ll make it again. I don’t really need any reason to eat half a stick of butter and a mountain of cream in a day! Perhaps if I had more restraint, or more friends to share with, I might do it again, but not if I am 8 months pregnant and my husband is away. Of course, my kids were impartial to it, so I ate their slices too :-). Sigh! Hopefully cream will make for a pudgy baby and not a big headed baby! I love the other recipes in the cookbook though–just need to stay away from ones that include white rice and cream. I find those two foods particularly challenging to eat in moderation while pregnant!


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  19. Hi Russ, I have your Paleo Takeout book and cook from it often. I’m pretty confident in the kitchen … I’ve been home cooking meals for more than 30 years and cooking Paleo for about 6 years. Recently I tried your flatbread recipe. The results were edible but only just. The mixture was more of a very thick dough rather than a batter and so it was awfully difficult to shape resulting in puck like discs rather than anything resembling flatbread. I tried adding another egg and doubling the coconut milk to thin the mixture. It seems the 1.5 cups of tapioca flour is just far too much. I measured using cups rather than weight (although I love that you include weights … so much easier to work with!!). I understand the plantain ripeness and size can also make a difference. Are there any misprints in this recipe or any recommendations you would make for my next try? Thanks!


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