Michelle Norris – PaleoFX and Ancestral Momentum
Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor coming at you with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast and really looking forward to today’s show. We have with us a gourmand of sorts as well as the co-founder of Paleo f(x) and the proprietor of AncestralMomentum.com as well as the proprietor of InstinctCatering dot – no that is an actual – it’s like there is an actual business anymore, it’s not everything is dotcom, yes it’s an actual business where she makes actual food, not digital food, Instinct Catering, chef Michelle Norris, welcome to the show.
Michelle: Thank you, thank you and that was quite an intro there.
Jonathan: Yes, it was unnecessarily long, but you know sometimes – sometimes you got to have fun.
Michelle: Thank you very much, thank you for having me on Jonathan.
Jonathan: Michelle, thank you for joining us and could you, just in brief, tell us a bit about your journey to eating a more whole food nutrient dense and at the same time delicious lifestyle.
Michelle: I have been probably in this lifestyle for about eight years, almost nine years. My husband, Keith, started eating this way probably for about a year before I did. My specialty as a chef previously was Italian food and so as you can imagine, I wasn’t real happy about it, but he for probably closed to year. He is not one to like beat you over the head or anything like that, but he kept saying “I really had a lot of problems, I had every kind of conceivable diagnosis you can imagine, I had IBS, I had fibromyalgia, I had oh gosh I can’t even think of everything that I had, I had chronic fatigue syndrome, you name it I had it, every time I ate, I got sick.”
He kept saying, “You know, I really think that you have this celiac thing, I really think you got to check it out” and I made my own pizza dough and I my own pasta, I have my own pasta maker. Of course, we have kids and that was our kid’s favorite and so one night – it had been close to a year and he was of course not partaking and this was his favorite too. He was not partaking of our dinner and I said to him “You are like never going to eat my pizza and pasta again, are you?” He said, “No, I’m not” and he said “I really honestly believe you have celiac and I think you need to get it checked out.” I was like “Okay” and then I finally took him seriously and so I went and I had it checked out. Of course they don’t test the right antibody so you don’t – so I came back with a negative screen and my doctor was talking to me and he is falling asleep while he is talking to me, I kid you not and he is telling me that he wants to biopsy my colon and I am thinking to myself why in the world would you want to cut into my colon just to find out if I have the – why not just remove this from my diet and let’s check that out.
I thought this is insane and so I went home, told Keith about it and we decided let’s remove gluten from my diet, let’s start there and let’s see what happens and in three weeks – three weeks, I kid you not everything was gone and now see my family has rheumatoid arthritis or at least that is the diagnosis and so I just assumed I had it early. I had swelling in all of my joints and everything. I just assumed that’s what I had. It was all gone, none of it was there. I didn’t have rheumatoid arthritis, I had – it turns out I did get tested later and I do – I am borderline celiac. I came into it a very not happy way because I was not happy about it and so we – I don’t know how – I know you talk more about real foods and everything, we are Paleo, Primal, we do have dairy in our diet, raw dairy.
I didn’t come into it really happily, I came into it in – I was angry that I had to give up all these foods that I loved to be healthy, but it’s what happened and then I finally realized it took a good year or so and then I finally realized it’s not that bad. I found other things like I absolutely love zucchini pasta, like making pasta from zucchini and making spaghetti squash and using that as pasta and that it’s so much healthier and I don’t have that food coma afterwards and I don’t have that – just that whole, the bloat and everything that you feel after you eat food like that. That’s kind of – in a very tiny nutshell that’s my story.
Jonathan: Michelle, what I love about your story is two things, one you mentioned about some things being gone, they had to be gone, but then if we look at your work and if we look at your life, we see that there’s also a lot of stuffs that isn’t all gone and that’s delicious food and in fact you got something added now where before you would eat something that was let’s call it pasta like and it might be enjoyable while you are eating it, but then afterwards it really wasn’t and now you are in a world where you got things that are also pasta like and they are really enjoyable while you are eating them and you feel really great afterwards. It’s a little bit like having your cake and eating it too, although it’s not all full of that sugar garbage.
Michelle: Right, exactly, and the thing is that yes I did, I learned new – got to learn a bunch of new tricks, a bunch of new things about food and really it really tested my limits of creativity as a chef and that was exciting for me to be able to get into the kitchen and really start playing with things and really start having fun and just thinking okay if I did this with some whatever food – anything. It was just like could I do this and it be similar to that or whatever and it not replacing things not like trying to – it’s not like trying to replace the junk food, but it’s trying to have some of those comfort foods because Italian food is comfort food and Italian food – I was married to an Italian and my kids are part Italian and that’s all part of the family culture and part of the family dynamic, it’s food and when you start talking about being able to replace some of those things with something healthier, that’s really a great thing actually because I think that there are some things that we do in this where we’re trying to replace some things in an unhealthy way and then there is in my opinion some of these things can be replaced in a very healthy way and it not be done improperly, I don’t know how else to say that, but I think that…
Michelle: I think we go overboard with treats and stuffs like that. I think some of that gets taken little bit to the extreme where we need to scale back on some of the treats just because something has the proper whole foods ingredients or Paleo friendly ingredients or whatever they may be doesn’t necessarily mean we should eat them everyday, treats should still be taken as treats and that kind of things. In my opinion when you are replacing an entrée dish like that and you get to go in the kitchen and you try to replace an entire entrée, for me that’s a pretty cool thing. I like playing in the kitchen and trying to replace an entire entrée and do it the right way and do it in a very healthy way.
Jonathan: Michelle, there are two points you made that I really, really like and that is sometimes people can see – let’s call it constraints for lack of better terms as stifling creativity or reducing joy and you know what, ask any person who is professionally creative about how constraints can actually prompt creativity, like think of just go write something versus go write a Haiku. When you put structures or when you put constraints in some ways that can unlock possibility, sometimes I do this little experiment with people where I say “Okay, name as many things that are white as you can. Go.” Then you say “Okay, now name as many things that you find in your refrigerator or freezer that are white. Go.” and you will often find that although the set of things in your refrigerator or freezer that are white is much smaller than all the things in the world that are white, you can list them off just as fast because your mind actually says “Okay, I have clear constraints, I can operate within these” and it can kind of become a fun game to come up with these swaps that still lets you have your delicious main dish and not die.
Can you tell us a little bit about as someone who is a gourmand and loved Italian food, what to you were some of just the key swaps you found that enabled you to stay SANE while also stay healthy?
Michelle: Probably the key swaps are the swapping out the vegetable pastas because pasta is the big deal in Italian cuisine; it’s just a big deal. Honestly, I still haven’t found that pizza dough, I have played around and played around and played around and still haven’t found that pizza dough that I think that is still healthy and that is still – I think one of the ones that gets close is probably the cauliflower crust pizza dough, but I think those are good wholesome swaps that really – they test the boundaries of your creativity and they are – these are really good swaps for – they are healthy and they taste delicious and you can do a lot of things with them and they are fun.
I don’t know how many people have a spiral slicer or whatever, but it’s fun to play with that thing. I like playing with it. I recommend highly everyone get on and if you don’t know what I am talking about, you can go on my site, I have it on the sidebar of my site on AncestralMomentum.com and it’s on Amazon, you can get them pretty inexpensively and they are fun. You can make all different kinds of pastas with them.
Jonathan: Absolutely Michelle, what I think sometimes we undersell, when I say “we” I mean just collectively as a culture not necessarily you and I, but we undersell the fun that can be even for example eating a plate of pasta is like it’s one color, it’s kind of soggy versus like if you had this rich diversity of zucchini noodles and some spaghetti squash and you got all these different colors and flavors and textures – I mean the traditional American diet is not one that is full of variety and color – I mean soda, pizza, pop, a hamburger, soda, pizza, pop, a hamburger – that’s not – that is monotonous and that has a lot of constraints on it, so in some ways we are lifting constraints, aren’t we?
Michelle: I totally agree, I completely agree with that and like you said the color and I don’t know but if you go through and you start looking at some of these sites that have the great food porn with all of the good wholesome whole foods, you can’t beat that, I mean give me that any day of the week over any kind of hamburger or – yes, absolutely that food is not only tastes delicious, but it looks great too.
Jonathan: Yes and that for me Michelle has been like really of the two or maybe three I don’t know of the few high level just dismissive rebuttals I have heard for eating a more nutrient dense whole food base diet. There is – it takes more time and that again we have answers for that, that takes more money and it’s like okay, we have answers to that, then there is it doesn’t taste as good, like that one just – that’s just false. If you go to any…
Michelle: Yes, absolutely false.
Jonathan: Even if you go to high-end French restaurants like gourmet cooking is not sugar saturated with a bunch of like hydrogenated blah-blah-blah, so like of those three it doesn’t taste good is just not at all.
Michelle: That one kind of blows me away. No, one thing that I – and what’s interesting is that for the thing – okay the only thing I can say as far as maybe prep, maybe cutting is – maybe cutting is the time consumption thing here, but there are things that you can do – I strongly recommend anybody that wanting to eat healthier, I strongly recommend go to your closest either a school that’s close by, usually a community college, a Whole Foods. If you are in Texas Central Market, they usually will have a knife skills class. I highly recommend anybody take a knife skills class because when you know how to cut properly, you cut faster, you are much – and you waste less product, but the other thing is too – when you start learning how to cut properly, you want to cut everything, you want to do this.
I remember when I took my very first knife skills class, God years and years and years ago, I wanted to be in the kitchen cutting everything and so you want to prep everything and you will prep everything ahead. If you prep everything ahead of time, everything is ready to go, I mean it’s simple to throw – that’s the one thing I love about this type of food is actually when everything is prepped, it’s simple to come together It doesn’t take a lot really to make this food taste good doesn’t take a whole lot, that’s the thing.
Julia Child, her show is an hour long, but really when you really watched what she did and sometimes she would have really long drawn out recipes, but a lot of times she was cooking a lot of food and most of those things were so super simple and such great tasting food and – but it was real food and this is the thing, there are all different kinds of tricks for – you can do cook-ups where you cook up on the weekend, you do everything on a Sunday and you have everything ready for the week, you can prep everything and have everything ready so you can come home super quick and put things together, but this is the thing, you’ve got to make the choice of whether or not you are worth that time, whether your body and your health because you only get one shot at this.
When your health is gone, for the most part, when your health is gone, it’s gone and it’s hard to get it back and you have to make the decision that you are worth that. That’s a decision only you can make and I know for me and for my husband we’re worth that and the other part of it too is you are going to pay on the other end. You are going to pay going to hospitals, going to doctors, paying for medication, paying for all that. You choose do you want to pay now or do you want to pay then?
Jonathan: Absolutely and I love your point about once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can use that as an analogy of knocking over a glass of water, right? Once the water has spilled, you can get a rag and wipe it up and try to like strain the rag back into the cup and you can get some water back into the cup, but once you have diabetes, the water is kind of out of the cup already and that’s not to say lose hope, not by a long shot, not by a long shot, but I think so often Michelle, we equate diseases that are so diet related as being somehow unique from, for example like lung cancer, which is caused by smoking, like we don’t – once if you smoke you get lung cancer, once you have lung cancer you are kind of – that’s why you don’t want to smoke because it will give you lung cancer and you can’t just take a pill that makes lung cancer go away. [indiscernible 18:42] doesn’t make diabetes go away, it just prevents it from killing you right now.
Jonathan: The water is out of the cup, I love your point about like you got to make that time now or you are just saying I will make time later once I am already sick.
Michelle: Yes and the thing is that it’s not going to be anymore convenient then, it’s going to be way less convenient and it’s going to be not very much fun.
Jonathan: Yes, then the water and then your floor is all wet because the water already spilled out of the cup and the cups cracked on the side and you are like damn it.
Michelle: Exactly and I can say the whole idea of my thought process is and maybe this is my point of view because I love to cook and anything, but I would rather spend that time in the kitchen enjoying myself making food that I enjoy and that’s going to make me healthy now spending that time than spending my time in doctors offices sitting and waiting for doctors that have triple and quadruple booked themselves because that’s only going to get worse and then sitting in hospitals waiting for whatever – God knows how much worse that’s going to get because it is that’s going to get worse. Then trifling with insurance and all of that kind of stuff and that is if you are lucky enough to have insurance. Then of course if you are not paying the fees because you don’t have the insurance and then you are paying all of the – I mean you need to start thinking about all these. This is all going to add up and it’s going to cost way more than the food costs now.
Jonathan: Absolutely and you can spend some time now and smile during that time spent and smile afterwards or you can spend a lot of time in the future and you’ll be frowning throughout because it’s not an enjoyable process, right?
Michelle: No, not to mention, God only knows what kind of things you are going to have to be put through once you finally do get in to see the doctor; tests, and every kind of conceivable horrible thing I can imagine having to deal with as far as a doctor is concerned. That’s just stress tests and you name it and drinking nasty contrasts and I mean all of that whole idea – no thanks I would pay now and take my time putting together my food and making sure that I stay healthy so that I don’t have to deal with that on [indiscernible 21:14] end.
Jonathan: Absolutely and it’s such an uplifting thing, it’s instead of drinking contrasts and taking all these pills, you can just eat some freaking glorious spaghetti squash and some delightful meatballs that are not processed but are made at home with your all natural pasta sauce, I mean there are all kinds of – I mean it’s not like we are talking about take this pill now versus that pill later, we are talking about eat some yummy food now so you don’t have to take that pill later which I am all about.
Michelle: Right, exactly. Take the time now to make yourself healthy, keep yourself healthy. The other thing is that think of all the things that you could be doing then when you are sitting in a doctor’s office. What all could you be doing then, you might have grandchildren that you would rather be spending time with instead your sitting in a doctor’s office or you might have a trip that you would like to go on then, instead your spending money at a doctor’s office instead of going to Greece or going to Japan or to France or whatever and instead you get to spend it at a doctor’s office.
Jonathan: Spend it in the kitchen now instead.
Michelle: Yes, that’s my motto.
Jonathan: I love it Michelle. What’s coming up next for you? Obviously, you are doing your great work with Paleo f(x), you have got your Instinct Catering business rock and rolling and over at AncestralMomentum.com, what’s next?
Michelle: We have Paleo f(x) is going on the road of course and we let people know that we will be heading to Denver next. Our big show – our big Paleo f(x) show is staying in Austin. It will be in Austin every spring, that’s the plan. I think a lot of people misunderstood us and thought that okay we are going to have the Paleo f(x) show in Denver next year. Denver is probably going to be towards the end of this year, we are – that’s coming up and then we are going to be probably moving our – rolling our site Ancestral Momentum into the Paleo f(x) site probably soon and we have a lot of things going on.
Keep your eyes on our Paleo f(x) site and our Facebook page and we have just got a lot going on and our Twitter – my Twitter is @EclecticKitchen and Keith’s is @KeithNorris. We do a lot of twitting and then we have our @PaleoFx Twitter as well. We have a whole lot coming up and a whole lot going on.
Jonathan: I love it. I appreciate all the work you do to help people understand that eating a diet that supports your mind and body can also support your taste buds simultaneously, so keep up the great work Michelle. I really do appreciate it.
Michelle: Thank you so much. I enjoy it for sure.
Jonathan: Again, her name is Michelle Norris. You can learn more about her over at AncestralMomentum.com. She runs Instinct Catering and she is also the co-founder of the wildly successful conference Paleo f(x). Michelle, thank you for joining us today.
Michelle: Thank you so much Jonathan. I appreciate you have me on.
Jonathan: My pleasure and listeners I hope you enjoyed today’s show as much as I did and remember this week and every week afterwards; don’t starve yourself and you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill, just eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better.