Vegetable Chicken Curry is a recipe published in “Buck Naked Kitchen: Radiant and Nourishing Recipes to Fuel Your Health Journey” by Kirsten Buck (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28).

Making peace with food

The first thing we learn in Kirsten Buck’s “Buck Naked Kitchen: Radiant and Nourishing Recipes to Fuel Your Health Journey” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) is an indigenous-language word for “eat:” mitchiso. Buck knew that word well growing up in a First Nations Cree family in the small town of The Pas, Manitoba, in central Canada. Later on, “eat” took on a darker meaning: her go-to response for dealing with crippling anxiety that led to massive weight gain and other health issues.

After a decade of failed diet attempts, she adopted a Paleo plan focused on fresh produce and lean proteins, minus grains and processed sugar. Only then did she realize she’d had a role model all along: her grandfather, a hunter and trapper who’d long touted the health virtues of living off the land.

Buck Naked Kitchen
Photo: For the AJC

Now a registered holistic nutritionist living in Winnipeg, Buck channels those hunter-gatherer instincts in “Buck Naked Kitchen” — a blog and now, a cookbook, where she bares her dietary struggles along with delectable solutions inspired by the seasons. The cookbook is the latest of a list of titles by popular young bloggers endorsed by the Whole30 diet program, which she credits with jump-starting her success.

Buck’s simple, free-spirited recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free, mostly Paleo, often vegetarian, and labeled accordingly. But you don’t have to be on a restricted diet to appreciate them. I’d make her creamy, warmly spiced Vegetable Chicken Curry again in a heartbeat (Get the recipe at ajc.com/cookbooks.). And I’d happily start my day with Apricot Chai Pudding Parfait, or end it with Vietnamese Charred-Pork Salad Bowls as the weather warms up.

You’ll find instructions for making dairy substitutes like Creamy Cashew Milk and Coconut Whipped Cream, and cooking gluten-free grains such as wild rice and quinoa. Her On-the-Go chapter offers clever ideas for trail mixes, egg-based muffins, energy bites, and fast-cooking soups in jars suitable for hiking trips or a backyard picnic. Bison Cottage Pie and Strawberry-Rhubarb Coconut Ice Cream harken back to hometown favorites, but with a healthy bent.

Each reveals a lesson in what it means to eat without guilt — only pleasure.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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