Sarah Deuweke's new book Primal Kitchen offers tasty twists for paleo fans
The primal lifestyle has turned Sarah Dueweke's life around, allowing her to eat more and exercise less without worrying about her weight.
The American-born author of Primal Kitchen, published by Penguin Random House New Zealand, talks about how the word "diet" has always been in her vocabulary.
From a young age she tried many diets, mostly low-fat or fat-free options, later becoming a gym junkie and eating next to nothing, eventually winding up with an eating disorder.
Then the trained chef discovered paleo upon joining the CrossFit craze in the United States and immediately ditched the fat-free options, diving instead into what she describes as the primal lifestyle.
"Primal is eating meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds rather than processed foods and refined sugars, it also allows me to eat dairy products in moderation whereas paleo doesn't, so I can eat omelets with avocado, steak salads with fatty feta, butter and bacon.
"It was scary at first, eating food I had never really eaten before, realising that fat wasn't going to kill me and that I wasn't gaining the terrifying weight I was afraid of.
"I immediately felt so much healthier. I had been in a really unhealthy place with my diet and mentally, I thought I was eating really well but I wasn't taking care of myself at all.
"Now I sleep well, I'm physically more active and energetic, and I never get sick anymore, but mostly it's been a mental and emotional transformation, getting past that obsessive need to be thin and really focusing on how I can be healthy."
After moving to New Zealand in 2011 Sarah took up CrossFit in Wellington and introduced them to her primal lifestyle.
As a chef, she'd cook the primal recipes she developed with family and friends but her dream was to go that one step further and publish a book.
"I wrote the book ages ago actually, it kinda sat around on my hard drive for a while until I sent it to Penguin on a whim, I wasn't sure they'd want to print it or publish it, but they have, it's a dream come true."
For the novice, in her book Sarah talks through the primal lifestyle in detail, listing ingredients that are allowed, what should be eaten in moderation or not at all.
Her recipes are true to her own daily rituals, like her favourites, the "tex-mex breakfast quesadilla", the "kitchen sink salad" for lunch or one of her slow cooker gems, like the red wine braised short ribs with sauteed mushrooms and leek, for dinner.
Let's not forget the sweet treats, chocolate chip and walnut cookies, another favourite of hers.
"I'm definitely not a saint though. On my birthday I'll go out and have birthday cake, it's not about completely cutting everything on, it's about finding your own balance, what works best for you, and making healthy choices.
"You've also got to break down what you think meals are supposed to be. People think breakfast is toast or cereal and lunch a sandwich, but going primal means you could have leftover lamb from last night's dinner for lunch and eggs with avocado for breakfast.
Above all, Sarah can't stress enough how important it is for people to just listen to their bodies, eat when they're hungry and give in to what is often described as "the evil fat".
"We grow up being told fat is bad for you, most of us have heard fat is the enemy, but the truth is fat isn't a bad word.
"I've found the right balance eating primal, I go to the gym less and eat more, it's a lifestyle that definitely works for me and I couldn't be happier or healthier."
By Sarah Dueweke
Photography by Elizabeth Clarkson
Published by Penguin Random House NZ
I used to work in a cafe where occasionally I would have to make corn fritters for the lunch menu. I can still feel the burn of those exploding kernels as they burst in the hot oil, out of the pan and into my face. The lesson from this? Corn is dangerous. Healthy, tasty paleo fritters are the way to go – no corn necessary!
2–3 medium-sized courgettes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 brown onion, finely diced
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, finely diced
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup almond flour
2–4 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
lemon wedges to serve (optional)
Using a large-holed grater, grate courgettes, eggplant and carrots into a large bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, onion, parsley, garlic and eggs. Mix well to combine. Slowly add coconut flour and almond flour, stirring so that no clumps form.
Heat oil in a large frying-pan over a medium-high heat until very hot. Spoon heaped tablespoons of the fritter mixture into the pan, a few inches apart.
Cook the fritters for 2–3 minutes on one side, then flip and continue cooking for another minute on the other side.
Transfer fritters to a plate and continue cooking the rest of the batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
Serve garnished with fresh parsley and lemon wedges, if using.
WIN A BOOK: To be in to win one of four copies of Primal Kitchen write your name, address and phone number on the back of an envelope and post to Great Taste, Book Giveaway, Supplements Dept, The Dominion Post, PO Box 3741, Wellington, 6011, or go to dompost.co.nz/win and enter your details. Draw closes at 5pm on June 26.