We feel lucky to have met Ciarra from Popular Paleo. Not only does she have an awesome blog with amazing recipes and photography but her philosophy about eating real food and avoiding Paleo-elitism is a great message for all people striving to be healthy and fit.
This interview is packed with useful tips and tricks to live a healthy lifestyle. You'll also get some links to Ciarra's favorite recipes and you'll find out what snacks she carries with her to keep her on track.
Let's talk with Ciarra!
Paleo Blogger Hot Seat with Ciarra of Popular Paleo
[PrimalPal] Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you're from, what your hobbies are and where we're likely to find on the interwebs.
[Ciarra] My name is Ciarra and I live in the Pacific Northwest near, but not in, Seattle. Yes, it rains as much as you hear…maybe more!
While I wish I could be outside enjoying normal weather, we tend to have to get creative. So I fill my days running my kids around to different activities, CrossFitting--my new love, and dedicate a fair amount of time and energy into managing my Paleo food blog.
You wouldn't believe how many times I go to the grocery store a week buying ingredients for new food ideas! Popular Paleo can be found at www.popularpaleo.com, on Facebook and on Twitter (@PopularPaleo).
[PrimalPal] Why did you decide to go paleo/primal with your nutrition?
[Ciarra] I have been gluten-free for a couple years now and had heard about Paleo through CrossFitting friends. It sounded like a ridiculous lifestyle to manage at first, if I'm being honest. But after reading a compelling book on thyroid health, I came to terms that what my body needed was real nourishment--and for me to avoid the foods that were working against me, not for me.
I became a nutrition nerd, reading everything I could get my hands on. For me it's not necessarily about weight loss, though excess body fat tends to release when the body is properly nourished. I was tired of the endless symptoms that I was battling--from abnormally fast weight gain, depression, fatigue, digestive issues, fogginess--and did not have much confidence in the way my thyroid was being managed by my doctors. Enter Paleo. I'll put it this way: I feel normal again.
[PrimalPal] What has been the biggest challenge with going/being paleo/primal? How do you overcome this challenge?
[Ciarra] My challenge, ironically, is staying ahead of the food curve. You wouldn't believe the amount of good food in my area, so it is very tempting to go out and grab something when I've fallen behind on food prep at home.
We tend to keep hard-boiled eggs and/or Scotch Eggs, apples and almond butter, veggie slices and lots of leftovers on hand for this reason. Oh and I usually keep Larabars, organic all-fruit leathers or a small stash of nuts and dark chocolate in my purse so that I don't bonk while I'm out and about.
[PrimalPal] What's your go-to kitchen tool/gadget/appliance that you couldn't live without?
[Ciarra] This is a tie between my dutch oven and my silicone baking sheet. Both make Paleo magic happen! I often make strange things out of cauliflower and would be lost in a sea of parchment paper if it wasn't for that silicone sheet. However, I love to braise meats. Since it's often wet and rainy outside, grilling is not usually an option. So I fell in love with my dutch oven, especially for making my favorite dish...
[PrimalPal] What is you're favorite paleo dish/recipe to make and eat? Why?
[Ciarra] CARNITAS! I could eat carnitas three times a week! So much flavor, works for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and uses affordable cuts of meat.
Also, because I feed a non-Paleo husband, a 9 year old and a picky-eating 3 year old, this is something we can all agree on. I love to eat mine on top of Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, avocado slices and hot sauce!
[PrimalPal] Who inspired you to start blogging?
[Ciarra] No question, Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make The Girl! First off, she's awesome. Secondly, her food is killer--and it follows the strictest Whole 9 perimeters, very impressive. Third, she's a CrossFitter who also manages a thyroid issue.
I relate to her perspective. Her cookbook "Well Fed" showed me how approachable and delicious Paleo can be. I knew I could do it too. Popular Paleo was launched in November of 2012 as a result!
[PrimalPal] What do you know now that you wished you knew then (when you first committed to Paleo)?
[Ciarra] I wish I knew that people get sick of hearing about "Paleo". It's become such a buzz term, especially in the CrossFit circles, that I fear it's going to start to lose much of its credibility at face value.
Paleo-elitism and, conversely yet equally, pseudo-Paleo practices are alienating people from the concept of eating whole foods--real foods--that meet nutritional needs without compromising gut and hormone health.
The message may be getting lost in all the caveman talk. I wouldn't have named my blog Popular Paleo if I knew then that the term carried some baggage with it. I want people to choose their health and eat in ways that their individual bodies require, regardless of whatever diet "brand" that practice falls under.
[PrimalPal] Parting Shot: What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far from eating and living paleo/primal?
[Ciarra] Grace. Grace because you will not always be able to eat, let alone afford, grass-fed pastured proteins.
Grace because sometimes sugar happens… as does low-quality dairy. Grace because sometimes you think that maybe beans aren't all that bad and you have yourself a hefty plate of hummus and veggies (which, of course, backfire).
Grace because not everyone understands--and it's not my job to convince them. Grace for myself, when I'm tired and can't stand the idea of heading back into the kitchen again.
I do not practice Paleo perfectionism. I live a real life with a cranky toddler, a fourth grader who tells terrible jokes, and a husband who still eats at least one bowl of sugary cereal each night despite all my lectures! But grace is the word of the day, for them and for me.
"I came to terms that my body needed real nourishment, to avoid the foods that were working against me, not for me." -Ciarra @PopularPaleo [Tweet This]
Big thanks to Ciarra for taking the time to answer our questions! Make sure you head over to Popular Paleo to say "hi" and try some of the awesome recipes on the blog.
If you would like to include recipes from Popular Paleo in your own custom paleo meal plan you can sign up for a free trial of PrimalPal. Once you plan your recipes PrimalPal will create a shopping list for you automatically. Get started today creating paleo meal plans that fit your nutritional needs.