Our Health in Action series profiles people in the community who are living Actively Northwest. Follow along each week as we profile new people who are committed to living active, healthy lives through fitness and food.
Back in September, we profiled Kelly Bejelly in our Portland Food Blogs Every Foodie Should Follow. The Portland-based blogger from A Girl Worth Saving drew us in with her great grain-free and vegan recipes as well as her extensive database of tutorials and “how-to” guides for cooking newbies. One of our recent favorites includes this tasty fall gem – a healthy Shrimp Sausage Creole Stew. By sharing a glimpse into her family history and teasing our taste buds with a great photo, Kelly has us gearing up to make this new dinner recipe.
Learn more about Kelly’s journey to be healthier and happier, and hear how embracing the Paleo diet has completely changed her life.
ANW: For those who don’t know, what does it means to eat a Paleo diet?
Bejelly: The Paleo diet is based on eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. Meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and fats make up the foods you can eat on the diet. However, it is rather multi-faceted and within the community, some follow a Primal diet where high-quality dairy is allowable. There are even more subsections as most people make the diet fit their lifestyle and health goals.
ANW: Is it the same thing as a grain-free diet?
Bejelly: No, grain-free and Paleo are different, as a grain-free diet allows for dairy and legumes, which are not part of the Paleo diet.
ANW: When did you decide to start blogging about your family’s grain-free lifestyle?
Bejelly: I started the Paleo diet in 2009, but didn’t start my blog until 2011 when I became a stay-at-home mom. When I started the diet, I was afraid of giving up foods like bread and sweets, but I found that you can easily recreate these foods with nuts, coconut flour and several other ingredients allowable on the diet. I wanted to share the recipes I had created in my kitchen.
ANW: Do you find blogging about your experiences makes it easier to follow the Paleo lifestyle?
Bejelly: I haven’t had an issue sticking to it because it dramatically improved my physical and mental health. I can’t even imagine going back to my old ways of eating.
ANW: Was there an “aha” moment that caused you to commit to eating healthier?
Bejelly: In early 2009, my husband and I started talking about starting a family. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, so I started to learn more about insulin resistance and effects on the body. I was really unhealthy and it was getting to the point where it was painful for me to walk. I also developed Acanthosis Nigricans, which was a sign I was pre-diabetic. It was the first time I recognized that if I didn’t get my act together, I was going to end up taking insulin every day. This pushed me to try the Paleo diet. I found Mark’s Daily Apple, a health and fitness blog, and bought his book “The Primal Blueprint.” The rest is history.
ANW: Do you ever have difficulties cooking Paleo meals for your son?
Bejelly: My son has grown up on the diet so I’ve never had to deal with taking away his favorite foods. I’ve also never had an issue recreating toddler-friendly meals on the diet. I won’t lie – this is a time-consuming diet since everything is made from scratch. However, you have so much more control over what is in your child’s diet. With a little creativity, I can make pizza, chicken nuggets and cookies. What kid won’t eat that?
ANW: You have so many great tutorials on how to make delicious foods – everything from chicken broth to coconut milk. How do you decide what foods to profile?
Bejelly: I often ask my readers what they want help with and build tutorials around that. I also try to create helpful tutorials for those just starting out with the diet who may have never made anything from scratch.
ANW: Who taught you how to do all of this?
Bejelly: I’ve been cooking since I was 12, so I know my way around the kitchen. Most of what I’ve learned has been from my mother, books and other online resources.
ANW: What is your favorite Paleo/grain-free meal?
Bejelly: I have so many favorite dishes that it’s hard to pick just one. Right now butter chicken with cauliflower rice is at the top of my list.
ANW: Do you have any suggestions for grain-free desserts as the holiday season approaches?
Bejelly: There are so many incredible Paleo recipes available online and in numerous cookbooks. You would be hard pressed not to find a dessert for your holiday meal. As you’re searching, keep in mind that every white flour substitute has a unique taste. Coconut flour is something that most newbies have trouble getting used to, and some never like it. My husband is not a fan, so I’ve crafted my recipes to hide it in the background of the dish.
Tags: Health in Action