Book Review & Giveaway: The Zenbelly Cookbook by Simone Miller

Diane Sanfilippo Book Reviews, Contests & Giveaways 317 Comments

I first met Simone Miller when I learned of her desire to open a gluten-free kitchen space in San Francisco, and subsequently that she was hosting Paleo pop-up dinners in the city.

simone-shifnadel-sf-1Though I wasn’t living in SF anymore at the time, to my surprise, her dinners were happening on a weekend I had planned to visit.

I was so in!

I quickly shared the link to her pop-up events, and found out not long after that the multiple events went from pretty solid attendance rates to nearly sold out in a matter of days. I was psyched that you all (my amazing readers) responded so positively to this dinner presentation, and also that I could help out this obviously awesome chef – though, at the time, I hadn’t tasted a bite of her food.

I was pretty confident Simone’s food would be awesome.

I was right.

Not long thereafter, Simone graciously offered to bring some snacks to my book signing event at Omnivore Books in San Francisco when I was on tour with “Practical Paleo” in late 2012 or early 2013 (I forget which). I don’t remember exactly what she served, but I remember for sure that it included bacon jam. Which is ridiculous. Make it, it’s in the book.


As a caterer, Simone has served up her tasty treats to tons of folks at events including the Paleo book-release parties around the Bay Area for Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain, Michelle Tam & henry Fong’s Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans, and Chris Kresser’s Your Personal Paleo Code.

And, amidst all that work, she wrote a book.

Recipe_Shareable_TemplateI can’t even fathom how people write books and do other jobs at the same time. It sounds impossible to me.

She did it.

Simone’s food is simple in presentation – enough so that you can totally make it yourself. It’s also elegant and rich in flavor profiles – so much so that you’ll feel like you’re eating restaurant food in the comfort of your own home.

I don’t usually cook from cookbooks.

See, that’s the thing about being a cookbook author. You rarely use cookbooks when you are so accustomed to creating recipes. But, I knew Simone’s book would lure me in.

Simone’s style is very much along the lines of flavor profiles and techniques I would use on my own, so it was pretty easy to pick a recipe to make from her book: Crispy Braised Duck Legs  with Melted Shallots and Roasted Plums.

ZenbellyBookReview-4Except, my local Whole Foods didn’t have duck legs this week. Or plums. But, they did have chicken legs. And pluots – go figure. So, I did what any home cook should do – I improvised using similar tasting/similar “functioning” ingredients. No big deal.

Knowing how to swap out ingredients you can get for the ones you had on your list, well, this is probably one of the most important rules in cooking, especially from cookbooks!

Your grocery store may not always cooperate with your plan, and you need to know when veering a bit off-plan is going to work out just fine.

In this case, I used a similar cut of another bird and a similar stone fruit. I could also have used a different cut of chicken or even peaches or nectarines I’m sure. All would have tasted great.

I made the recipe after lunch, planning on enjoying it for dinner – and that we did! It was super rich in flavor from the braising liquid that included both chicken stock (I used homemade, as always), and red wine.

One thing I did a bit differently since I had chicken instead of duck was to sear the chicken legs in a couple of tablespoons of duck fat. This not only added that ducky-licious flavor, but it also added the fat I really needed in the dish. I know that searing duck legs would have rendered a lot of fat, but chicken won’t do the same thing. This is a great tip to keep in mind when swapping chicken in for duck in recipes.

Recipe_Shareable_TemplateThe ingredient list was pretty short, and I though wasn’t able to find fresh thyme at the store either, I used dried. No biggie. It was fantastic.

I highly recommend checking out The Zenbelly Cookbook.

It’s filled with richly flavored recipes that use few ingredients but leave you with palate-pleasing dishes your whole family will enjoy.

That’s not all! I’m also excited to announce that I am giving away 3 copies of The Zenbelly Cookbook to 3 lucky winners!

And, since I want to help you guys spread the word about Paleo, each winner will also get a copy of Practical Paleo to gift to a friend – you know, since I know you already have it 😉

Be sure to enter to win 1 of 3 prizes I’m giving away below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • http://www.scdforlife.com Sherry

    I just saw this book at my local bookstore the other day. I haven’t picked it up yet because I wasn’t sure about it. Thanks so much for this review!

  • Maggie McCoy Pogue

    I would like a copy of Practical paleo gifted to my friend Kimberly Oliver because her family is new in trying to eat whole foods and I think it would be a great resource for her.

  • Cait C

    I would love to give a copy to my best friend, Brey Mathias. She loves the paleo lifestyle and tries so hard to make it work for her family. A new cookbook would really help her out.

  • http://www.theenchantedcook@blogspot.com Veronica Culver

    Nice! I’ve bought copies of Practical Paleo for several members of my family already. If I win, I can start giving them to my friends, too!

  • http://insertrealfoodhere.com Amanda

    Hi! I would gift Practical Paleo to my friend, Mary. She’s been on a journey to relieve fibromyalgia pain for several years, and has been struggling with a gluten-free approach (a huge step for her!). Practical Paleo’s comprehensive, customized meal plans would really help her support her body in this process. Thanks!

  • http://www.theunlikelyhousewife.com Elisa

    This is such an awesome giveaway! I have Practical paleo on my Kindle but would love to get a hardcopy too :-) Is that selfish? I might lend it to someone 😉

  • Richelle Runyon

    I would LOVE to try these! I’m new to the whole paleo thing, so I need guidelines. I would give the other to a friend who is starting the journey, also.

  • Carrie

    Would love to win!

  • Beth van Duzer

    I would love to give Practical Paleo to my mom. My younger brother has Crohn’s and I really think that this could change his life – just need to get him eating the right way for him to see it.

  • Grace

    I love Practical Paleo and have gifted it to family members…would love to gift another and add Zenbelly to my collection!

    • Pat Wright

      Would love to have the Zenbelly cookbook. I am new to the paleo diet but would love to pass it on to family and the cookbook would be so helpful!

    • Vanessa

      Your book Practical Paleo has now released in Germany. Whoop! :-)
      I think, we need more Paleo-books like yours in Germany. Thank you!

  • Sadia K

    I have cooked yummy recipes from Practical Paleo. Love love giveaways!


  • http://thetastyremedy.com Suzie

    I love Practical Paleo and I have a person in mind I’d really like to give it to. Very excited to get my hands on the The Zenbelly Cookbook too!

  • Michelle

    I live in Berkeley so I will definitely keep an eye out for future pop-up dinners! I can’t wait to try her recipes!

  • http://www.swisspaleo.ch Lisa

    Yes, I do already own a copy of Practical Paleo and I already gave a copy to my mom and to a friend. This one would be for my daughter, who is a “recovering vegetarian” 😉 She’s totally on board with Paleo, but needs all the help she can get. But the Zenbelly book? That is for me :-)

  • Katherine

    I would gift a copy to my best friend Estela, who is an amazing cook and who works to be healthy.

  • Amy Hemple Hurd

    Practical Paleo has me on the road to recovery from Fibro/CFS/ME and Lupus. Thank you! Without your help I’d never be healing myself.

  • Kymber

    I want to give a copy of Practical Paleo to a couple of different people. First, would be my sister in law who has MS. I keep telling her how going Paleo would help with symptoms…but she is frustrated with “where to start”. I would also love to give one to my son’s best friend’s mom. She has a few auto immune issues and when I let her borrow my copy of Practical Paleo, she LOVED it…and shocked she didn’t rush out and buy her own…finances have been tight for them though.

  • Abigail

    I would love to win this book for my dad! I let him borrow my book and he loved it so much that I basically had to steal it under cover of darkness from his house.

  • Mary

    The paleo diet has been a life-saver to me. New cooking ideas from amazing cookbooks is always helpful. It would be exciting to win!

  • Marielle

    I’d give a copy of Practical Paleo to my cousin. We spoke about the Paleo diet a while back and this would give her great insight.

  • Teresa Novak

    I love Practical Paleo, and I’m dying to get my hands on the Zenbelly Cookbook. :)

  • http://familyofmyheart.wordpress.com HEATHER BRANDT

    My friend buffy :)

  • Angie

    I would love to gift Practical Paleo to my mom or sister. This book explains paleo in such a great way and the recipes are the best! Of course, I want Zenbelly for myself 😉

  • Faith

    I have the digital copies of Practical Paleo and Zenbelly, and would love to own the paper editions!

  • Alyssa

    I think I would gift a copy to my boyfriend as he learns to cook in a Paleo way.

  • Cristina

    I have suffered from IBS-C symptoms my entire life and was recently diagnosed with Hashimotos. This book has absolutely changed my life and has become my health Bible. I already gifted it to my best friend who is severely overweight and has a host of health problems because I believe it is so user-friendly even for someone who is not interested in health. If I had another copy I would gift it to my sister-in-law who dabbles in the Paleo trend and would like to get her weight/health in check.

  • Chelsea W.

    As an aspiring chef and current holistic consultant student (at Bauman, thanks to you!) I would just absolutely LOVE to get my hands on a copy of this book! Also the copy of practical paleo would be awesome to give to my sister, as she’s currently in the transition of eating healthier along with her family. I’ve lent my copy to her before and she loved all the recipes she tried so it would be great to be able to gift her her own copy as well!!

  • Jenny

    What a great idea!

  • http://www.forthejoyofrealfood.com Liz

    I would love to give Practical Paleo to a friend who is trying to better health choices.

  • Donna

    Ooh. I have borrowed Practical Paleo from the library so many times, I really should own one, right? Zenbelly’s pizza crust recipe change my Saturday night s forever!!

  • britt

    Would love a copy of zenbelly. Her pizza and apple pie is the best! Not sure who’d be lucky enough to receive your book.

  • Mikki

    I’m still working on the paleo lifestyle. I could sure use some more help. :)

  • Manette Gutterman

    I would love to give this to my sister! She has taught me a lot about eating Paleo as well as following your blog. I’m starting to embrace the lifestyle!

  • Carly

    I follow Zenbelly on instagram and all of her recipes look amazing! I can’t wait to get my hands on her new book!

  • Lindsey

    Wonderful opportunity to own these amazing books! I would definitely share the love with my sister!

  • chanin

    LOVE your books, they make this so much easier. Definitely want to check out Zen’s book!

  • Giovanna Bravo

    I absolutely love your book Practical Paleo. I want to give it to my sister. She is 46 and suffering from so many health issues, like diabetes, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, obesity… I will keep Zenbelly for myself! I already tried the plantain taco shells and I’m in love!

  • Stephanie

    I would give Practical Paleo to a family member.

  • Jeanna Roy-Rogers

    I would gift this to my Aunt Cathy. She is always learning more about eating foods that make your body feel better, and I think this educational book would be wonderful for her!!!!

  • Amy Martin

    I would love to give a copy to my mom!

  • http://paleopunzel.com Mary

    I want to give a copy of Practical Paleo to a friend who had had IBS symptoms for years. She’s tried going sugar free and gluten free, but gave up in a few days. I’m hoping the science in the beginning, the meal plans, and all the recipes will help her!

  • Kim Lemburg

    I would love to gift practical paleo to my mom! She has type 2 diabetes and struggles to think of new things to cook! All your recipes I have enjoyed, I think she would too.

  • Katrina

    There are so many people I have already loaned my book to, but probably my aunt as she suffers from severe skin ailments that I believe are due to her diet.

  • Andrea Johnson

    I would love to gift this book to my mom Camille! We recently found out she has stage 2 ovarian cancer & I’m hoping clean eating regimen will nurture and heal her body..

  • Dana

    I would love to give this book to my Grandma! She is gluten free but doesn’t know what Paleo is.

  • Ann

    I’d give Practical Paleo to one of my friends who has got Hashimotos

  • Jennifer Vina

    What an exciting combo gift package!!!