09/16/2013 12:20 EDT | Updated 11/16/2013 05:12 EST

Paleo diet gluten-free, with no processed ingredients, refined oils or sugars

Cookbook author Judith Finlayson says she became interested in "food as medicine" when she was working on "The Healthy Slow Cooker" cookbook, which came out late in 2005. (She's currently revising that book.)

But with her most recent book, "The 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes," it's personal.

Finlayson discovered by trial and error that adhering to the principles of the paleo diet resolved several health problems she was experiencing in a way other treatments had not.

The basic tenets of the paleo diet are that the recipes contain no grains or legumes and are, therefore, all gluten-free, no refined sugars, no refined oils and no processed ingredients.

For sweeteners, Finlayson's book recommends natural sugars such as maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Extra-virgin olive oil is her oil of choice and she says properly rendered lard (not grocery store lard) and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) fit into the diet.

Unlike some followers of the diet, Finlayson believes peas, sweet corn, potatoes and some properly fermented and lactose-free dairy products do not contradict the diet's restrictions.

The name "paleo" comes from the idea "that we should follow a diet very similar to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, eating food that is as close to its natural state as possible."

Source: "The 163 Best Paleo Slow Cooker Recipes" by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose Inc.,, 2013).