3 Tips to Have a Happy New Year

3 Tips to Have a Happy New Year

As the year kicks off it’s inevitable to see new years resolutions posts all over the web by bloggers and news corps. This year Whole30 and Paleo has been ranked as the worst diet you could follow. Don’t believe them – I lost over 30 lbs a few years ago and have maintained my weight on the Primal/Paleo/Perfect Health Diet.

Without bogging you down with yet another post about how to start a New Year’s resolution or how to follow Whole30 or how to start the Primal Blueprint 21 Day Challenge – I just wanted to keep this short and sweet with 3 tips you can generally apply at the beginning of the year to help you start off on a better foot than you may have been on in the past. If you’re really serious about a structured plan I suggest you check out Whole30 or The Primal Blueprint 21 Day challenge. I however just want to lay out 3 simple tips you can apply for the new year.

1. Just Eat Real Food

We can get into specifics if we wanted to about what to eat by reading this or this but just keep this as a general rule as you’ve probably seen the hashtag #JERFJust Eat Real Food. If you apply this principal to the food you eat this year, I guarantee you’ll be better off than you were the year before. What’s real food you ask? Well, it’s not Doritos taco shells from Taco bell, it’s not McDonalds, it’s not 99% of the stuff on the inside rows of the grocery store. Real food is all those veggies and fruits in the produce section and it’s all that meat at the meat counter. Just stick to real food this year and you’ll have a happy new year.

2. Move Frequently

The fitness tracker market has blown up like crazy with Fitbit, Apple Watch and Android Watches tracking our every move. But all these really are telling us is that we aren’t moving enough. When we live in a society that generally consists of people sitting in cars, to go sit at a desk to sit back in a car to sit on a couch then to lay on a bed – when is it that people are moving?! Check out this post about how to move more and just keep telling yourself this year to do those things like park further away, take the stairs, take a walk after dinner, go on hikes on the weekend, etc… We were made to move so don’t fall into the trap where we just sit in boxes all day.

3. Sleep More

I was really having to think to myself what are the top 3 priorities of my health and sleep just has to land here (with getting in the sun as a close tie). Sleep plays such a huge part in our lives (obviously) and I’ve written about it here and so have these people. But nevertheless we need to take sleep as a priority this year. The recommended amount is 7–9 hours. If you really look at how much sleep you get every night does it fall into that range? For myself it’s really tough to get that amount of sleep every night but I want to really work on it this year because of how huge of a role it plays in our health and I hope you place it as a priority as well.

There it is guys, I hope you read through this in less than 5 minutes, but that it sticks with you all year. It’s simple: JERF, Move, Sleep. Happy New Year everyone.

That’s So Primal 2016 Christmas Gift Guide

That's So Primal 2016 Christmas Gift Guide

I honestly feel like I just wrote a post about Christmas gifts, but that actually was a whole year ago. Time really does fly, I know everyone says that but I really believe it even more so this year. I think having kids somehow multiplies how fast time flies. Nevertheless I still wanted to put together a list of some gifts you can buy that Primal person in your life or soon to be converted Primal person in your life. I won’t make the list long I promise, but hopefully these may spark some ideas for how you can think of some gifts as a little more useful than just wool socks or prepackaged Axe dopp kits from Target.

Kitchen Gadgets

Instant Pot
Instant PotAmazon
I had this on my list last year but I think it’s worth having on this list as well. Everyone on Instagram is always posting about this pot and raves about how great it is. There’s even great recipes out there that people post specifically for cooking in this pot. It’s great for if you don’t have the time to cook something that normally takes a crock pot – i.e. a batch of bone broth or pulled pork. If you don’t get this this year, make sure to keep your eye on it for next year’s Black Friday sale as the price on Amazon always drops dramatically around that time.

Boning Knife
Boning KnifeAmazon
Now normally I’m the kinda home cook that only needs a chef’s knife and pairing knife, but there is that occasional time that I need a boning knife to cut meat away from the bone on those large inexpensive cuts of meat. I normally cut a pork shoulder that’s relatively cheap to make carnitas, but I always have to cut the meat away from the bone – doing this with a chef’s knife always makes me feel like I’m gonna cut off my finger or arm. Not a good idea, it’s best to use a flexible boning knife like this to tackle those large roast cuts of meat.

This is the same one I have and I love it. To be honest I really wish I could use it more in the kitchen. It’s great for making jerky or dried fruits. There’s a bunch of great recipes out there for homemade jerky, and the best part is that you really get to control your ingredients in your jerky. Say goodbye to added sugar, msg and gluten.

Exciting Books

Well Fed Weeknights
Well Fed WeeknightsAmazon
I did a giveaway for this book after I interviewed Melissa, and I have the book myself, and man I love it! I have always loved Melissa’s books and her approach to meals. They are friendly, easy and practical – and most of all always taste delicious. Be sure to pick up this book!

The New Primal Blueprint
The New Primal BlueprintAmazon
You can read more about this updated book here. In short, if you haven’t read this book yet it would be a great time to because Mark updated it to include his newest research and to update his charts like the Primal Blueprint Food pyramid and the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid. I love the added insight and updated thoughts in this book. Be sure to pick it up.

Practical Paleo Second Edition
Practical Paleo Second EditionAmazon
I loved her first edition of this book and I actually want to pick up this second addition myself. Her charts, illustrations and pure knowledge in these books are amazing for veterans and anyone starting out on Paleo. With this being the second addition I’m sure she just expanded on the things that already make this book a great staple for anyone who cares about their health and food they put in their bodies.

Workout Gear

Weighted Vest
Weighted VestAmazon
Adding weight to your workout and strength training is a great way to switch up what you’re already doing with typical bodyweight exercises. It helps build strength outside of what you can do with just your bodyweight. Even if you don’t pick up a weighted vest you can still just add weight somehow to your workout regimen. This follows the Primal principle of lifting heavy things every once in awhile, and in this case your “lifting” your body plus some. Heck you can even wear it around the house while your cooking.

Pull Up Bar
Pull Up BarAmazon
How many people do you know that can do 5 pull-ups? 10 pull-ups? When I first went Primal I literally couldn’t even do one pull up. Now pull-ups are apart of my typical strength training of pushups, pull-ups, squats and planks. Pull-ups are essential! Pick up one for Christmas if you haven’t already.

Fitbit Flex 2
Fitbit Flex 2Amazon
In the war to end all wearable wars, I bet Fitbit will be the brand to survive potentially. Many have already come along, even the big boys like Microsoft and Motorola have decided to step out of making wearables. If you can’t afford an Apple Watch Series 2, maybe pick up this Fitbit Flex 2 because you can wear it all the time, it’s waterproof and has a long battery life. Maybe not as long as the Misfit Ray, but I think it looks slightly better. It’s good for tracking all activity since you rarely have to take it off and it will give you a good picture of how active (or inactive) you were for the day. All of us need reminders of how great we’re doing or how NOT great we’re doing 😉


This one is simple. Just get a frisbee. They’re great. They’re fun for everyone and they can really get your body moving if you take it out to a large field. Sure they may take a little getting used to if you’ve never thrown a frisbee before or if you’re just terrible at it but once you get the hang of it you’ll have so much fun. They’re also great to just leave in the back of your car for that random time you’re at a friends house or at the beach and you want something fun to do. Trust me, frisbees also come in handy when you’re looking for something fun to do on your lunch break.

Slack Line
Slack LineAmazon
I’ve made progress from last year – I had this on my Christmas Guide last year and I didn’t get one until my birthday last month so I haven’t yet had the time to set it up and make the anchors in my backyard yet. BUT I just can’t wait to use this thing. Our daughter even seems interested in it, though I’m not sure how well she will be able to use it – either way it will still be fun to have set up in the backyard. It’s great to have for yourself or when people are over to test their balance, build your core and improve the functionality of your bare feet. Slack lines are awesome and you should definitely get one already if you haven’t yet.

Primal Snacks

This should come as no surprise to you. I love these bars and I think you should buy some, like now. Don’t worry about the fact that they’re made from crickets, you won’t even know they’re there. These bars are just a great value, they taste good and they fill you up. Read more about them here and pick some up today!

RXBARGet $5 off your first RXBAR order!
My second go to bar. If crickets freak you out just go ahead and pick up some of these bars. They’re made from egg whites and a bunch of other goodies. These too are a great value, they taste great and they have all the right ingredients in them. Read more about them here.


Anything on Etsy. Just a plug for Etsy real quick. If you don’t want to buy traditional things like I have listed above, check out Etsy for amazing handmade things. I just bought my wife a cool copper ring on there for our 7 year anniversary last month. It’s nice to just buy directly from the person making it. I’ve purchased watch bands on there and shoes even. Just check it out for anything that interests you and I guarantee you’ll find something that you’ll want to pick up. Just move fast because since these things are hand made and they may take a little time to get to you.

That’s it guys. Another year another dollar – spent. But hopefully you can feel good about spending your money on the things listed above for that special person or persons in your life. Take hope in the fact that these things listed aren’t just junk that fills up your house, they’re things that can help you take hold of your health and things that can improve the quality of food you’re putting in your body. Merry Christmas everybody!

Roasted Miso Mushroom & Sweet Potato

Roasted Miso Mushroom & Sweet Potato

Still looking for a last minute side dish for your Thanksgiving dinner? Look no further than this sweet and savory Roasted Miso Mushroom & Sweet Potato recipe.

Roasted Miso Mushroom & Sweet Potato

Awhile back my wife and I discovered a restaurant around us called Urban Plates. They have fresh sautéed and roasted side dishes, salads, soups and pastured meats. The food is delicious, but one side dish stuck out to me that they made that was absolutely delicious: Miso Mushroom Sweet Potato Sauté. I looked everywhere online to find their recipe or ingredients but I couldn’t find anything concrete. So I checked out this recipe and this recipe for some guidelines on cooking with miso, so that I didn’t add to much.


If you’re wondering if miso is Paleo or Primal, rest assured that even though it’s soy – it’s fermented soy – which changes things a bit. When soy is fermented it goes from harmful to less harmful/beneficial for your body. Read more about the benefits of fermented soy here and here.

Before the oven
Before the oven

After the oven
After the oven

Roasted Miso Mushroom & Sweet Potato
  1. 2 sweet potatoes
  2. 8oz mushrooms
  3. 1T butter
  4. 1T olive oil
  5. 1T miso
  6. Salt pepper
  7. 1 minced garlic clove
  8. 1t chopped parsley
  1. Heat your oven to 425.
  2. Skin and cut up your sweet potatoes into bite sized chunks. Wash and cut up your mushrooms as well.
  3. In a bowl melt the butter with the miso in a microwave for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Put mushrooms and sweet potatoes onto a baking tray and toss on the tray with olive oil, the melted butter and miso, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place tray in the oven for 30 minutes tossing once at 15 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes take it out of the oven and top with chopped parsley.
  7. Enjoy!
That's So Primal http://www.thatssoprimal.com/

Wilde Snack Bar Review

Wilde Snack Bars

If you’ve been around this blog for awhile now you’re probably aware that I’m always on the hunt for the perfect primal protein bar/snack. And I’d say we’ve come pretty close to some great primal bars out there, ones that are made of crickets, egg whites or straight up real meat. Today though I have another review of some really tasty and surely primal bars for you guys to check out called Wilde Snack Bars (not to be confused with the Wildway Granola I reviewed). For this Wilde Snack Bar Review we’re gonna take a look at how they stack up against other protein bars in regards to Nutritional Profile, Affordability and Taste.

Wilde Snack Bar Review

Wilde Snack Bars come out to be very similar to the Epic Bars that are out there since their protein source is real meat: turkey, beef, chicken, etc… – but Wilde’s unique blend of ingredients make these bars slightly sweeter and crunchier. I first saw them on someone’s Instagram and immediately reached out to Wilde to see if I can review some of their bars and they were more than willing to hook it up – and hook it up they did. They sent a giant box of all their flavors for me to review. So let’s get to it!

Wilde Snack Bars Nutrition

Nutritional profile

Since both Wilde and Epic make their protein bars with real meat, I think it’s only fitting to look at how the two stack up against one another. Epic has a lot of different flavors but I picked out the Bison, Bacon and Cranberry bar to compare with Wilde’s Maple Bacon Blueberry bar.

Wilde’s Maple Bacon Blueberry bar
Total Fat: 1.5g
Total Carbohydrate: 10g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 5g)
Protein: 11g
Ingredients: Free Range Turkey, Cane Sugar, Rice Syrup Solids, Uncured Bacon – No Nitrates Or Nitrites Added Except For Sea Salt And Celery Juice (Pork, Water, Sea Salt, Sugar, Natural Flavoring, Celery Juice, Lactic Acid Starter Culture), Date Paste, Organic Whole Grain Yellow Cornmeal, Vegetable Glycerin, Chia Seeds, Dried Blueberries, Ground Flaxseed, Sea Salt, Quinoa, Maple Syrup, Natural Flavors, Hickory Salt (Salt, Molasses, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor)

Epic’s Bison, Bacon and Cranberry bar
Total Fat: 8g
Total Carbohydrate: 10g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 7g)
Protein: 8g
Ingredients: Bison, Uncured Bacon- – No Nitrates Added (Pork, Water, Brown Sugar, Salt, Vinegar, Celery Powder, Sea Salt), Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Lactic Acid (Not from milk), Celery Powder, Sea Salt.

Wilde Snack Bar Nutrition

Woah, at first glance what do you see? Wilde has a bunch of ingredients and both are pretty low in fat more or less. Let’s focus on the ingredients first. These type of bars are really a take on Pemmican. What’s Pemmican you ask? According to Wikipedia it’s “a concentrated mixture of fat and protein used as a nutritious food. The specific ingredients used were usually whatever was available; the meat was often bison, deer, elk, or moose. Fruits such as cranberries and saskatoon berries were sometimes added. Blueberries, cherries, chokeberries, and currants were also used…”

So that’s pretty much what you see in the ingredients of both bars: Lean Protein, Fats and Dried Fruits. The only things that stick out to me in the ingredients of Wilde’s bars are the rice solid syrups, cornmeal and vegetable glycerin. Rice syrup is basically a glucose syrup like corn syrup, but it’s deprived from rice. Not a big deal, but it’s still a grain, and it definitely makes these bars sweet. Cornmeal, well corn is not a vegetable it’s a grain also, but cornmeal is basically a flour made from corn. Both ingredients still gluten free but not necessarily paleo or primal. Then we have vegetable glycerin which according to this is a “clear, odorless liquid produced from plant oils, typically palm oil, soy, or coconut oil”. I’m not sure what this one is derived from in this particular case, but the package doesn’t say contains coconut or soy so I don’t think it’s coconut oil or soybean oil. So it could be palm oil. Nevertheless the rice syrup and corn aren’t necessarily paleo, but their still gluten free in nature and shouldn’t be an issue because they’re probably such small amounts in each bar.

Wilde Snack Bars Card Back

Compared to Epic bar, their list of ingredients is a lot smaller but contains a similar nutritional profile. Epic’s has a little more fat per bar than Wilde – However I would like to see these bars have much more fat per bar since we know fat is the body’s preferred source of fuel. Once again that’s why I love the nutritional profile of Exo bars because it has such a high fat content therefore sustaining you longer.

All in all both bars are great bars and we’ll get into this in the taste section but it would come down to if you want a bar that is sweeter or saltier. If sweeter – then the unique blend of ingredients in Wilde’s are probably your best bet but if you want a saltier/meatier tasting bar I’d go with Epic’s.

Wilde Snack Bars


As we know by now, food that’s good for you is always expensive. Every affordability comparison I do of these bars comes out way more than a nutrigrain bar I know. But we are’t concerned with those junk bars. We are looking for a nutritious primal protein bar that will sustain us through whatever our day throws at us! So let’s see what it’ll cost us to get our hands (and teeth) on these bars.

Wilde’s Maple Bacon Blueberry bar
Price per bar: $2.96
Price per 15 bar box: $44.53
Buy on Amazon

Epic’s Bison, Bacon and Cranberry bar
Price per bar: $2.35
Price per 12 bar box: $28.31
Buy on Amazon

Both of these bars are up there in price, around $2-$3 per bar. The Epic bars are a little cheaper per bar and may even be cheaper in stores if you see them. I think they are in a lot of grocery stores now. I’m not sure yet how widely Wilde’s bars are distributed so they come out to be a little more expensive. But you are paying for quality ingredients made from a real protein source – lean meat. They are pretty similar in price though to RXBARs or Exo bars. All in all they’re still a great option, price wise, for a quick on the go snack that is made from real food – you’re just going to have to pay for the quality and convenience.

Wilde Snack Bars Taste


Now onto taste! The four bars that were sent to me are listed below and I made some notes about how each tasted. I do believe my favorite was the Maple Bacon Blueberry Bar. All of the bars, however, are very tasty and very moist. Very easy to eat and as I mentioned earlier they all tend to be on the sweeter side so if you like sweet snacks then these are a great option for you, but if you’re a salty snack kinda person I would say check out the Epic bars.

Maple Bacon Blueberry bar
Just the right amount of sweetness and smokiness. It’s a pretty good bar. Not too chewy just the right amount of moisture.

Turkey Cranberry Bar
Really soft and I could taste the peppery and slight sage. Just the right amount of sweetness. Not overpowering.

Peach BBQ bar
Super soft. Perfect flavor. Reminds me of the softness of Krave jerky but even softer. Not overly sweet. Just a little hint of sweet peachy flavor. This one was really good.

Sweet Thai Basil Bar
Once again very soft and sweet. This one has a little kick to it and a nice little touch with the basil. I love the taste of basil and you can pick it up a little in this.

Wilde Snack Bars Card


Thank you Wilde Snacks for sending me these amazing bars. These are all definitely up there on my go-to primal protein bar list as they use a real protein source, they actually taste pretty darn good and they don’t taste like anything out there on the market right now. So be sure to check them out. You can order some online in the links below or their site says they’re available at these stores: Alfalfa’s, Natural Grocers, Bristol Farms, Lucky’s Market, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Market of Choice and Sprouts. Thanks for reading!

Buy some for yourself:

Melissa Joulwan Interview

Melissa Joulwan

Melissa Joulwan is the author of Well Fed, Well Fed 2 and her new book coming out called Well Fed Weeknights. My wife and I fell in love with her first two books because they really helped us make super easy meals that were both nutritious and tasty. I continue to cook recipes from both of these books pretty much every week. I was thrilled to be able to connect with her because of the impact her books have had on my family’s Primal journey.

Melissa was able to answer some questions for me about how she got into Paleo and how her Paleo journey has evolved over the last few years. She even shared some insight to some new things she’s working on. We’re also offering a chance to win a free copy of her new book if you sign up for my newsletter. So go ahead and fill out your email in the newsletter box for a chance at winning her new book: Well Fed Weeknights. You’ll have until October 9, 2016 to enter!

Again, I’m thrilled she agreed to do an interview for That’s So Primal, so here is our interview!

Before we get into it, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Paleo.

From grade school to the day I graduated from college, I was a chubby nerd. My parents are both exceptionally good cooks—my dad brought his restaurant training home and my mom won almost every cooking contest that she entered. By the time I was about eight, I was wearing Sears “Pretty Plus” jeans. My overweight state was mostly because I really liked food but also because I really didn’t like to sweat.

After a broken ankle and vicious playground taunts, I stuck with reading, practicing the piano, and roller-skating to the library. I don’t know how many gym classes I missed because I was “sick” or “forgot” my gym clothes. I do know that my P.E. attendance put my otherwise stellar grade point average in jeopardy. Even though I avoided sports, I secretly admired the athletic kids; they walked taller than the rest of us.

When I was in tenth grade, my dad took me to Annapolis to see the Navy band play a concert, and for about three weeks, I was determined to get in shape so that I could apply to the Naval Academy. I abandoned that dream because I was incapable of doing pushups and situps, and I was too embarrassed and overwhelmed to ask for help.

For most of my life, I was haunted by a deep desire to be different than I was. To be thin. To feel confident. To break the cycle of thinking of food—and my behavior—as “good” or “bad.” I joined Weight Watchers and eventually became a Lifetime Member with a weight loss of more than 50 pounds. I joined a CrossFit gym and learned to love being intimidated by my workouts. I developed a deep affection for lifting barbells. But despite my successes, it was still my habit to celebrate and to grieve and to stress out and to relax with food. Although I worked out regularly, I didn’t feel as strong, inside or out, as I wanted. I had insomnia, allergies, and stomach aches. My body didn’t feel like it belonged to me.

In 2008, I learned I had a nodule on my thyroid. The risk of cancer was high, so I had the nodule surgically removed, and the doctor hoped that the remaining half of my thyroid would continue to function. It held on for a few months but then stopped working. That was a very difficult time. It was like constantly having a case of the blues; I was sluggish, foggy-headed, and desperately worried about re-gaining all the weight that I’d worked so hard to lose.

Then I found Whole9 and the Whole30 and their unique approach to paleo. It was surprisingly easy for me to give up grains, despite my deep affection for toast, but saying goodbye to my standard breakfast of blueberries with milk almost pushed me to the edge. I did not approach the paleo rules with an open heart. But I committed. I followed the eating guidelines. I made it a project to get eight hours of sleep every night. I worked with my doctor to try to find the right doses for my thyroid hormones. I was on track with my nutrition, but my training was all wrong for a girl with no thyroid. The constant physical stress of my sometimes twice-a-day workouts and beat-the-clock CrossFit—without restorative activities like yoga, meditation, and walking to balance it out—took its toll. I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.

So I started over…again.

My routine now includes daily meditation, gentle yoga classes, walking, strength training, and occasional sprints. What’s never wavered is my commitment to and affection for my paleo diet. I’ve been through a lot of self-experimentation in the last half decade to get back to optimal health. The solid foundation provided by the paleo diet makes it possible to measure other health and quality of life markers and tinker with them. After five years, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the healthiest way for me to feed my body and mind—and it is sustainable in a way that no other “diet” has ever been.

Can you tell us about your new cookbook you’ve been working on?

Well Fed Weeknights

It’s called Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes Or Less. The recipes are inspired by takeout classics, food trucks, and cuisines from around the world—all totally free of grains, dairy, legumes, and soy. There are more than 200 recipes in the book, and they’re put together so you can make 128 complete meals: protein, veggies, and fats. It’s super simple to make amazing meals with this cookbook.

Every meal is thoroughly tested and easy to make, with affordable ingredients you can find at your neighborhood grocery store. And all of the recipes include my super-popular “You Know How You Could Do That?” variations, as well as Cookup Tips to help shorten meal prep time. There’s a “Mini Cookup” with step-by-step instructions for cooking six paleo kitchen staples—like cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, homemade mayo, and more— in under an hour. We’re offering a free 70-page PDF sampler that includes 18 recipes so people can check it out before they buy: bit.ly/WFWsampler

How has your approach to Paleo evolved from the beginning of your journey to now, if at all?

I think the biggest change since the beginning is that I eat more starchy carbs now. When I first started, I was very, very low carb. But I had my thyroid removed, and I’m a woman, so I have more energy, sleep better, and just generally feel better when I eat about 30–40% of my calories from carbs like sweet potatoes, plantains, and white potatoes.

Zucchini Soup
Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

I’ve also made a commitment to eating bone broth and a serving of fermented foods every day. It’s really easy to eat a bowl of Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup made with bone broth, and I make homemade sauerkraut, fermented beets and carrots, stuff like that. Also super easy! But if people don’t have time to make their own, it’s easy to buy awesome sauerkraut or kimchi from the farmer’s market or grocery store. (But try making your own! This recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo makes is very approachable.

What is your approach to fitness?

Box Jump

I lift heavy stuff twice a week, I walk at least 10,000 steps every day, and then once or twice a week I do some interval training if my energy level is good. At 49 and without a thyroid, I really have to pay attention to my body signals. But I would also argue that super healthy and/or young people will also do great if they listen to their bodies instead of pushing pushing pushing all the time. I also meditate most days and try to do yoga twice a week, although I’m not as consistent with that goal as I would like.

What would you say a healthy diet and lifestyle looks like for you?

I have excellent habits 95% of the time. I sleep eight to nine hours per night to recover from and prepare for lifting heavy barbells, occasional sprints, and plenty of yoga and walking. I keep the house stocked with paleo ingredients and cook nutrient-dense food so my husband Dave and I can eat real food every day. Then on rare occasions, I indulge. I become a temporary slug and give in to the temptation of corn-based chip products, buttered popcorn, an icy-cold glass of Prosecco, or a shot of Ouzo. I should mention that I have a known whipped cream problem.

After a three decades of “being on a diet,” my philosophy now is to “just eat.” I don’t have strict food rules anymore, but now that I know how non-paleo foods affect my mood, energy, and digestion, I eat them on only rare occasions. A few times a year, I make a conscious choice – “maybe I’ll get a tummy ache, but I’m OK with that” – and indulge in non-paleo foods. I savor every bite! Then I go back to the way I usually eat, which is pretty strict by most peoples’ standards, but feels good and delicious to me.

I have cooked so many recipes from both of your cookbooks, I think I’ve cooked the Shepherds Pie the most, my wife and I absolutely love that recipe! What’s your favorite recipe from your books?

I love them all! But I can tell you that my husband’s favorite from Well Fed is the Chocolate Chili. From Well Fed 2, it’s the West African Chicken Stew.
Chocolate Chili
Chocolate Chili

Two recipes I make all the time because they’re delicious and they’re an easy way to add flavor to meals are Zingy Ginger Dressing and Homemade Mayo. Oh! Plantain Nachos! That’s another good one.

Zingy Ginger Dressing
Zingy Ginger Dressing

Plantain Nachos
Plantain Nachos

What’s your favorite recipe from your blog?

These Pumpkin-Spiced Pepitas are really fun and tasty!

Pumpkin Spiced Pepitas

What does a typical week of meals look like for you?

Breakfast is almost always leftover protein (chicken, ground beef) sautéed with leftover veggies, sweet potatoes, and duck fat. I usually don’t eat eggs for breakfast, only because I don’t like them at breakfast; I like them for dinner. Lunch is usually some kind of salad plate: a pile of tuna salad or egg salad or a pile of cold cooked chicken with a bunch of raw veggies, fermented veg, pickles, olives, some fruit. At dinner is where I usually get more creative and make recipes from my cookbooks, but when we’re busy, dinner is usually grilled or roasted protein—pork loin, steak, burger patties, chicken thighs—with cooked veg on the side, Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup, and a salad with homemade salad dressing. A few times a week, we pick something from the cookbooks and get a little fancier.

How do you do meal planning?

Honestly, I’m not much of a meal planner—but that’s because after eating this way for 7+ years, I have a good idea of how to manage groceries and the kitchen. What I do is less a “plan” and more a “buy a bunch of stuff I like and stock the fridge so I can grab whatever, whenever.”

I think this approach can also be helpful to people who are just starting out because a full week of all new recipes—that could mean 21 new recipes!—is really overwhelming. Rather than planning what to eat each day, you can stock up on the basics that you know fit within your eating template. For example, stock up on lots of veggies and fruits, a variety of proteins, cooking fats like coconut and olive oil, and the extras that make meals special like nuts, dried fruit, nut butters, and fresh herbs. Instead of buying ingredients for specific recipes, you’re buying raw materials that you can turn into spontaneous meals. This is the method I usually turn to when I’m very busy because it removes the thinking involved in eating well. I know my husband and I eat about 2 1/2 pounds of protein per day, so I use that as a guide and load up on pork loin, chicken thighs and breasts, ground beef, little steaks, eggs, canned tuna and salmon, and shrimp. At meal time, I pick a protein, choose some veggies, and throw it together according to what we’re craving that day.

But for people who enjoy “real” meal plans, I 100% recommend the Real Plans service. It will generate a meal plan for you based on the number of people you want to feed, their food restrictions and preferences, and how many days of the week and meals per day you want to include in your plan. Real Plans also provides detailed shopping lists for the grocery store and farmer’s market, and supplies a Timeline that reminds you which tasks need to be performed when. Real Plans includes all of my Well Fed recipes, Whole30 recipes, and Nom Nom Paleo’s recipes, too.

I also have a very extensive 4-week cooking plan on my site that includes menus, shopping lists, and step-by-step instructions to get everything cooked in one afternoon. You can find the first week here.

Every week, I also do a blog post called “Five Paleo Dinners To Cook Next Week” that recommends five dinner recipes, a condiment, and a treat, along with instructions for how to work the recipes into a Weekly Cookup to save time. I send a reminder out in my weekly newsletter about those posts so it’s almost like having free meal planning.

Can you always afford to buy top quality meat, grass fed/pastured? Or if your budget doesn’t afford it do you do conventional meat?

I do both! I get large quantities of meat from a local farm to stock the freezer, but I also buy grass-fed or local organic meat at the grocery store. I’m not militant about it, but I try to make good choices. We always buy organic, pastured eggs, and organic chicken. If grassfed, pastured meat is outside someone’s budget, I recommend they buy the leanest cuts they can because the fat is where the impurities are stored. Plus, then you get to add fat to your protein, which is always fun.

On the spectrum of very strict Paleo to very lenient Paleo where do you fall and why? What foods do you eat that are on the boarder of Paleo-Non-Paleo?

I eat very strictly at home so I don’t have to stress out about questionable ingredients when I eat in restaurants. We generally don’t eat paleo treats unless it’s a holiday or special occasion. I eat white rice sometimes, and I have ½ ounce of 85% dark chocolate most days, but always with other food so it’s part of my meal, not a snack.

What kind of food do you eat when your not cooking something up at home?

I always eat gluten free and avoid dairy, even when eating out. My biggest splurge in a restaurant would be flourless chocolate cake, and if it’s just a regular meal out—not a celebration of some kind—I eat the same things I do at home: eggs, bunless burgers, big salads, Thai coconut milk curries. I have a big blog post about eating in restaurants that might be helpful to you readers.

What are some struggles/roadblocks that you’ve run into eating Paleo?

Once I got over the shock of not eating stuff like pasta and bread and cereal or yogurt for breakfast, the real challenge of paleo began to emerge: socializing. I’m fortunate because many of my friends are at least paleo-aware and some of them are as committed as I am to this lifestyle. I also know and love a bunch of people who fall into the “eat whatever they want” category, as well as the “stay up late” and “enjoy adult beverages every evening” groups. Over the years, I’ve figured out tips that help me navigate social situations and travel. You can read them all here.

What inspires you to try out new recipes and dishes? Are there certain foods you have a hard time experimenting with?

I love to travel and eat local foods, and that’s my biggest inspiration for inventing new paleo recipes. I eat something delicious out in the world, then try to figure out how to recreate with healthier ingredients. Later, it’s a really nice reminder of where I’ve been, and it’s a way to understand more about other cultures by learning how ingredients and dishes fit into their lives.

Do you have any tips for someone who is just starting out on Paleo?

One of the things that was the most difficult to get used to when I first switched to paleo was the sheer volume of food I had to buy – here’s a post I wrote about how to estimate how much food you might need each week – and the amount of time I spent cooking. There are ways to make it all less time-consuming: buy in bulk, do a weekly cookup, get really organized about grocery lists and shopping… but there is no getting around the fact that eating very clean and very well means eating at home. A lot.

For me, switching to paleo became about more than just what I was eating. I realized it meant I had to get my whole life in balance. It is not outrageous to spend an average of an hour a day to feed myself well. But in our hardcharging culture, we’re conditioned to think meals should be fast; we’ve been taught – mostly by the media – that dinner in minutes is not only possible, but required, to have a great life. I say, “Wrong!” It is very satisfying to cook a meal that tastes delicious and nourishes the body. Cooking and eating quality food is among the most caring things you can do for yourself and others. My new cookbook Well Fed Weeknights is the best of both worlds: really delicious paleo meals with very short cook times.

My other piece of advice would be to keep it simple at first: build meals around delicious ingredients and don’t worry too much about recipes. Cook a bunch of protein and vegetables in advance, then mix and match throughout the week to make your meals. For example, browned ground beef can go Italian when it’s sautéed with zucchini, tomatoes, and oregano – or make a quick stir-fry with snow peas, broccoli, ginger, and coconut aminos for Asian flair. You can find more details on how I do that in this article The Method Behind My Madness. There’s also a TON of information about this approach in my first book Well Fed.

What is your favorite: protein, vegetable (leafy or hardy), starch and fat?

Favorite protein: tie between pork shoulder and lamb shoulder

Favorite vegetable: another tie! Zucchini and cabbage

Favorite starch: Zero competition! It’s plantains.

Favorite fat: Duck fat. Always and forever.

What can we expect next from you?

The biggest thing on the horizon in my personal life is that my husband Dave and I are moving to Prague in 2017. I suspect our adventures will find their way into my recipes and my blog posts. On the professional front, our next project is a comic book about nutrition. My husband Dave is a cartoonist, and he’s going to apply his extensive cartooning skills to the tough subject of how we should feed ourselves.

More Melissa Joulwan



Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

Preorder: Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less

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