It Starts With Food isn’t the only healthy eating book coming out of our community this year – there are a ton of new cookbooks, too. We’ve just seen the release of Stormy Sweitzer’s Paleo Power Lunch, are anxiously awaiting Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook in September, and looking forward to Chrissy Gower’s Paleo Slow Cooking sometime later this year (or early next).
The most recent release is part Paleo 101, part cookbook, part 30-day meal plan – called Practical Paleo, by Diane Sanfillipo. So today, we’ll share five little-known facts about Diane Sanfilippo and her new book, Practical Paleo.
1. Many years ago I opened an organic, gluten-free meal delivery business called Balanced Bites. Several the recipes in the book are some of best-sellers from those days.
After studying nutrition independently for many years and then working with a nutritionist for athletic performance goals I had in 2007, I decided to open my meal business. During that time, I created healthy meals for people that were balanced to their specific needs and based on many factors, not the least of which was their level of activity. I sourced local, organic, grass-fed/pasture raised meats and wild fish and cooked only whole foods for my roughly 15-20 weekly clients. It was after several months of working in a kitchen, slaving away and burning myself out that I realized through one of those lightbulb moments that I was fishing for people rather than teaching them to fish. I decided to go back to school to study nutrition formally and the rest, as they say, is history.
Interestingly enough, I recall my father clearly recommending to me at the time that I save my recipes, “someday maybe you’ll write a cookbook.” True story. Balanced Bites “Greatest Hits” meals to be found within “Practical Paleo” include the Balsamic Braised Short Ribs, Chinese 5-Spice Turkey Lettuce Cups, Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, Italian Style Stuffed Bell Peppers, and the Cumin Spiced Pork Tenderloin.
2. I almost never cook from recipes. Baking is a totally different story.
I buy ingredients I like or that look new and interesting and worthy of a try, then get them home and mix and match them, sort of like outfits, until I find a handful of combinations that I like with a new food. As a creature of habit, I generally stick to what I know, but I am inspired by a walk through the farmers market or by a wide variety of cooking shows on the Food Network. I take pleasure in reworking recipe ideas in my head to plan out how to make them free of ingredients I’d rather avoid. While a large majority of the recipes in “Practical Paleo” have been in my personal, go-do arsenal and developed over many years, many of them were based on simply what I found in the market as fresh that day and made into something fun, new, interesting, or that simply seemed easy and tasty. I think that while baking requires a lot of science in measurements (you can thank Hayley for the fact that the muffins in my book are fluffy and moist) and ratios, cooking is an art form – to be managed with creativity and an open mind rather than precision and science.
3. I was a graphic designer who worked in small business marketing in a “former life” and am an extremely visual-based learner and teacher.
In my years as a designer, I developed skills to help communicate large amounts of information visually with type and graphics. While I researched and designed all of the free PDF download guides that have been available on my website for years, I hired Graphic D-Signs, Inc. (my previous employer) when it came time to get these guides spiffed up for their entry into “Practical Paleo.” I have found that people respond very well to the information I share when it’s in various formats – from blog posts, to the Balanced Bites Podcast, and especially via the signature 1-page guides on everything from Paleo foods, to finding hidden gluten, learning all about leaky gut, and even decoding your poop! “Practical Paleo” contains about a dozen of my 1-page guides, eight of which are duplicated as tear-outs in the back of the book for ease-of-use around the grocery store and in the kitchen.
4. If you asked me to follow a specific 30-Day Meal Plan, I’d probably go nuts.
That said, it was one of the elements of my book that I felt was so strongly missing from the collective of Paleo books that exist out there today – and people have been asking me for them for a long time. While the 30-Day Meal Plans are created to keep someone covered with ideas for a month each, making use of the nutritional plans in “Practical Paleo,” or any plans for that matter, often takes much more time and patience.
I have created 11 different plans in this book, ranging from one for a strict Autoimmune Protocol for those suffering with specific conditions, to one that’s for anyone simply looking to get started with a Squeaky-Clean Paleo Diet for those who want to eat “100% Paleo” (but aren’t quite ready for the Whole30 – this meal plan still includes some Paleo “treats” like pancakes).
While I provide a full 30 days of meals along with lifestyle and supplement recommendations, I want to motivate people, especially those with chronic health conditions, to give it a lot more time than that month and not to get discouraged. For many, a month can bring about astounding changes in both their physical and mental well-being, but for some, more time needs to pass before your body “believes” that what you’re doing is for real. I’ve had several clients following the meal plans in this book, whether it’s Squeaky Clean, Athletic Performance, Fat Loss or Thyroid Health, and each one reported improvements within a month in their health, but that their progress slowed and then restarted again as the months passed. Trust in the fact that real, whole, nutrient-dense foods will support your body on its path to optimal health. Know that the secret to creating a healthier body in the long-term is consistency and creating an entirely new lifestyle that supports healthy goals.
While I would have loved to place shopping lists for every meal plan right within the book, at 432 pages, it’s a monster already. Shopping lists for each meal plan will be available within the book resources pages on my website.
5. Eating your way through cookbook recipes is hard work and often requires many impromptu dinner parties.
Imagine that you cooked more than three full entrees with sides per day for two weeks straight. Then multiply that times three! I cooked all of the recipes for “Practical Paleo” in three, two-week stints at the lovely home of The Food Lovers (Bill Staley and Hayley Mason). So not only did Bill and Hayley help with photos (mainly Bill) and prepping recipes (mainly Hayley) in the book, but they ate literally everything in this book with me! But the three of us weren’t enough to chow down on all that tasty grub, despite our abilities to work up solid appetites in their basement gym (appropriate dubbed Pork Belly Fitness). We often invited over several of The Food Lovers’ local Pittsburgh friends to dine and dish with us. They happily obliged, even when it meant eating an entire dish of something that was once piping hot but became lukewarm after about 20 minutes perfecting the shot for the book. A small price to pay for a plate of tasty food for free, don’t you think?
Find out more about “Practical Paleo” on the book FAQs page and within the book resources pages on BalancedBites.com. Nutrition Facts for all of the recipes in the book are also available there, as well as information about upcoming events, book signings, and workshops. You can also connect with Balanced Bites on Facebook and Twitter.