There are so many bloggers, writers, and smart “paleo-people” out there! I thought it might be fun to ask some of them a few questions to see what is going on in their “neck of the woods.” I am hoping to make this a weekly element on my website… If you are a blogger, and would like to be featured on EasyPaleo.com, be sure to comment on this post so I can contact you.
This week we’re talking with
Author of Well Fed
I am Melissa’s biggest fan. Period. She is an amazing Paleo Powerhouse with more creativity than most of us have in our pinky fingers. If you have never tried her recipes, you are missing out!
Melissa was kind enough to agree to an interview, and I have been SO looking forward to sharing it with you! What fun!
Easy Paleo: If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?
MJ: She is relentless, in spite of herself.
Easy Paleo: How did you discover Paleo, and what is the BIGGEST difference it made in your life?
MJ: I’d been eating grain-free Zone for about a year when I started working with Melissa Hartwig of Whole9 (http://www.whole9life.com). She suggested (insisted?!) that I give up dairy for a week to see how I felt and gently encouraged me to eat a little more fat. That was in 2009, and I’ve never looked back. The biggest difference it’s made in my life is that food is no longer the enemy. I spent over 25 years of my life on a “diet” of some kind; that is not a loving way to treat oneself. Now, I know how to eat healthfully and it’s made food a pleasure instead of a source of stress.
Easy Paleo: Do you have an all-time favorite recipe?
MJ: To this day, my favorite food is buttered popcorn — the tiny white kind, not the big, fluffy yello kernels. But my favorite paleo recipe? I really love the Rogan Josh in Well Fed, and I’m proud of the grain-free Chicken Bastilla recipe (http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/08/02/paleo-chicken-bastila/) I created because the traditional Moroccan dish is both stunningly tasty and packed with non-approved ingredients. It felt like a pretty big triumph to figure out an acceptable alternative.
Easy Paleo: What has been your biggest Paleo challenge, and how did you overcome it?
MJ: Socializing is one of the hardest parts of paleo, and I still work on it. When I’m feeling optimistic and energetic, it’s not a big deal to pack food or skip cocktails or say ‘no’ to an invitation to go out for pizza. But on those days when I “wish I could just be normal,” it’s still a challenge. I get over it by reminding myself that “normal” in the modern U.S. is now overweight, unfit, unhealthy, and probably, unhappy. I don’t really want that!
Easy Paleo: What do you wish EVERYONE knew about Paleo?
MJ: You will not feel deprived; the food is delicious and you can make it work without always feeling like the weirdo in the room.
Easy Paleo: Paleo-eating does not have to be difficult… how do you make this lifestyle an easy element of your life?
MJ: One of my biggest success factors is that my husband Dave is 100% supportive. I do all the cooking and he has never once complained about missing non-paleo foods. In fact, if a meal comes out boring in my opinion, he usually defends it and thanks me for cooking. That makes it easier to stick to the plan. Preparation is also essential for me. As I explain in Well Fed, I always do what I call a “Weekly Cookup” so there’s grab-and-go food available. I’m a terrible decision maker if I’m hungry, but I will always choose healthier foods if they’re ready for me before I reach the point that I want to gnaw on my own arm.
Easy Paleo: If you could go back to eating a particular food that you choose not to eat now, what would it be?
MJ: POPCORN! And feta cheese. Sometimes I really miss feta cheese.
Easy Paleo: How did you come up with the name of your cookbook? It’s super-creative!
MJ: The book title is the result of gathering some of my favorite people around our dining room table, feeding them a bunch of food made from recipes included in the cookbook, and plying them with wine. Then we had a brainstorm of names that ranged from silly to rude to terrible to boring… and eventually found a gem: Well Fed.
Easy Paleo: If you could drop everything right now and take a month-long vacation, where would you go, and which recipes would you want to be sure and make while there?
MJ: Right now, I think I’d pick Paris because I just read Julia Child’s book My Life in France and I’m inspired to follow in her footsteps. I think it would be really fun to make some Moroccan and African food since there’s a France-North African connection. When we were Paris last Fall — for a few days, not a month! — I ate some traditional Ivory Coast snacks cooked to order by the most regal, friendly African woman… in an outdoor market in a residential neighborhood in Paris. The market was amazing! It was like the world had shrunk down and come to that street to sell everything delicious to us. I would love to be in that environment with some great recipes and my knife.
Easy Paleo: Is there a food item (Paleo or not) that you absolutely can’t stand? Or are you pretty “equal-opportunity” when it comes to grub?
MJ: I really don’t like capers, and I don’t like cilantro in Mexican food. I can only eat cilantro in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Also, chicken hearts; not a fan. Although I do love chicken livers.
Easy Paleo: Tell us about the success of your cookbook! It has done so well!
MJ: I didn’t set a sales goal before the book was published. I wanted to force myself focus on the project being its own reward. But the response has far surpassed anything I could have imagined!
It’s been so rewarding and so much fun to see people fall in love with Well Fed. I’m very happy that readers are finding the Weekly Cookup and information about how to streamline cooking to be helpful. I got email from a woman who said she was able to spend more time playing with her kids because she got all of the “heavy lifting” cooking out of the way at once. That made me feel successful.
But… we’ve had sale success, too! Well Fed has been out for a little less than three months, and we’ve sold over 12,000 copies.— but the cookbook has made it possible for me to resign from my dayjob so I can focus on writing full time. That is a tremendous gift!
Easy Paleo: Tell us why your blog is called “The Clothes Make The Girl.”
MJ: I know that, really, it’s what’s inside that counts, but I love fashion: little black dresses, stompy black motorcycle boots, sparkly things. Sometimes I wear all black just so I can pretend to be a spy who might need to outrun a bad guy.
I started my blog in 2008 to write about clothes, but I also started CrossFit around that time. Before I knew it, the changes taking place INSIDE my body were more interesting to me than what was hanging on the outside. I kept the title as a snide reminder that it’s what inside that counts — and if you work on the inside with solid training, clean eating, meditation, and yoga, the outside will look great.
Easy Paleo: What is your FAVORITE kitchen tool or appliance, and why?
MJ: This is totally unsexy, but I have a sauté pan that I use for almost every meal, every day, and I love that workhorse. I also couldn’t get very far without my food processor, and right now, I’m in love with the julienne peeler because I had a very tasty batch of zucchini noodles for dinner last night. It’s also essential for any cook to have one very good, reliable knife that makes them feel confident; keep it sharp!
Easy Paleo: How did you learn so much science behind Paleo/food?
MJ: I just look like I know a lot because I trust other smart people: Melissa and Dallas of Whole9, Robb Wolf, and Mark Sisson are the experts I rely on to help me understand enough of the “why” so I can focus on how to translate that into things that taste really good.
MJ: Smudge started life as a stray cat who wandered into our neighbor Stefanie’s pottery studio and refused to leave. Stef asked us to “babysit” her for one afternoon, and that was pretty much it. That little cat totally tricked us into loving her, and now, she’s the boss of the household. We named her Smudge because she has a black patch on her nose. She reminds me every day to be glad to be alive and to make time to have fun. She likes to hide around corners to play hide-and-seek with us. It’s the most delightful thing ever. I have destroyed whatever meager punk rock cred I might have had by posting Smupdates (http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/tag/smupdate/) to my blog; Smudge has made me the crazy cat lady.
My Blog – http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/melicious11
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/melissajoulwan/