You might have noticed a bit of a healthier living trend on the blog recently, and not for nothing! Some of us in the office are embarking on a #TeamPaleo challenge next week, and we’re very much looking forward to enjoying some of the delicious and nutritious recipes in our new book Plant-Based Paleo. So we’re thrilled to have its author, Jenna Zoe, here on the blog answering some of our questions about her new book and the ideas behind it. She even has a few tips for us! And definitely keep an eye on the blog next week to hear all about our experiences, see some photos and try some recipes yourself!
Paleo is a bit of a nutrition buzz-word at the moment. Could you explain the ideas behind it and how they work?
The word ‘paleo’ is short for Paleolithic, which is an era when humankind lived in the wild and survived on what nature provided. A paleo diet therefore, is simply eating the way our ancestors ate: focusing on fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds with very little processed food and no dairy or grains. My concept of 'Plant Based Paleo’ is a bit more flexible - it’s the idea that some people thrive off a meat-based diet, where some people digest dairy very well and others need grains in their life. So my guiding principle is, make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of your diet and add whatever else it is that suits your body.
Of course, there are some die-hard paleo fans who follow the diet to the letter, but for me, good health is about eating these unprocessed food about 80% of the time - total restriction from modern delicious foods that surround us is near-on impossible, so it’s important to be realistic about our consumption. If we expect total abstinence we will always feel like failures.
Where do you get your recipe inspiration?
I get inspired by all the flavor combinations from our favorite foods. So for example, I used to love Terry’s Chocolate Orange as a child, so I tried to translate that into a healthier dessert and got the Raw Chocolate-Orange Pie. Essentially - I get inspired by my own junk food cravings!
What is your favorite part of putting together a book?
I love all of it, but my favorite part is conceptualizing a recipe and then challenging myself to see if I can make it a reality. It’s always so rewarding to see that idea in your mind come to life.
Who are your foodie heroes?
The foodies I admire most are those super busy people who still somehow prioritize eating well and being healthy. I am in awe of them! Hearing stories of single mothers who get up an hour early to prep food for their kids or working women who devote their sundays to making lunches for the week - it doesn’t get more inspiring than that for me.
What three things are never out of stock in your kitchen?
I always keep avocados on hand because they’re my favorite fatty food and eating enough fats ensures you stay satisfied. To me, preventing that feeling of being deprived is key to sticking with a healthy path.
The other thing I love to have on hand is fresh herbs which help to add flavor without the need for salt. Red onions, spring onions, garlic and powdered spice mixes are great for this too.
Lastly, dark chocolate. I have at least a little bit each day after lunch which again stops me from feeling deprived.
What would your one desert island foodie item be?
Probably cold smoothies with raw cacao in them, topped with lots of almond butter. I could live on those. My current favorite combination is coconut water, protein powder, ice, spirulina and raw cacao powder.
What is your favorite Plant-Based Paleo recipe?
I have lots of favorites but the one I use (and eat) most often is the Tahini Caramels. They always satisfy my 3pm sweet craving but are actually sugar free, plus they’re filled with protein and fat so they’re satiating. The Asian Kale salad is also a staple for me, as are the Green-a-colada smoothie and the Snickers Cups. I mostly like easy things that don’t take a lot of time to make, but deliver a ton of flavor. The whole idea of the recipes though, is that they’re blueprints for people to play around with - if you want to add berries, or sub quinoa for some salmon, or you don’t like avocado - you can’t really go wrong with experimenting.
Do you have any top tips for those of us in the office embarking on a plant-based paleo diet next week?!
Yes! If you can, try to 'warm up’ to eating a fully pant-based paleo diet a few days before by easing into it. Physiologically speaking, when we go cold turkey overnight it can be tough for our bodies to adapt. You’ll feel a lot better if you start building up to it by say, having smoothies for breakfast the week prior and making lots of healthy treats to have on hand. Also, drinking water during any dietary change is essential because your body will start to release stored toxins. I make hydration a little more fun for myself by brewing big pots of ginger tea and adding lemon juice to it, or doing a chilled peppermint tea with some stevia in there for sweetness.
Lastly, the most important thing to remember about embarking on positive changes is to remember your initial motivation and excitement! Often we sabotage ourselves halfway through any kind of self-improvement because we don’t see instantaneous change. We start to doubt ourselves. We get bored. We start to question the process. Before you start, get clear on your desires and hold them close to your heart all the way through. Put post-its on your bathroom wall, doodle it in your notebook, set reminders on your phone - whatever it is that will help you remember the big picture.
Plant-Based Paleo by Jenna Zoe is available here.