Today, I am excited to have Ashleigh VanHouten and Beth Lipton joining me on the show to talk about their new book, Carnivore-ish! Ashleigh and Beth are both powerful women who are helping to rewrite the narrative around the carnivore-ish diet.
Ashleigh is a health coach, speaker, podcast host, and author of the only nose-to-tail, organ-meat-centric cookbook It Takes Guts. She is also the host of the Muscle Maven Radio podcast.
Beth is a recipe developer, food and wellness writer, and cookbook author. She is an incredibly talented woman, and I was honored to have her working with me on my book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation.
Some problems exist within the weight-loss and weight-management industry, especially with how food, fitness plans, and ideologies get marketed to women. When it comes to making money, Beth and Ashleigh prefer to empower people and teach them what food does for them and how to eat it, rather than asking them to keep on signing up for workout plans and diets. In this episode, Ashleigh and Beth discuss their book and dive into the weight-loss and weight-management industry. They explain how mindset impacts food choices- particularly with women, and the need for more nutrient density and protein. We unpack plant-based versus animal-based diets, discuss the benefits of a carnivore-ish diet, and Beth and Ashleigh explain how to eat nose-to-tail and create a strategy to integrate more organ meat into your lifestyle. We also debunk some common myths around protein consumption and talk about spices and ways to jazz up your meals.
Carnivore-ish is an inspiring book! It will have a huge impact on anyone considering following a more animal-based diet, particularly those who would like to learn more about organ meats. You are sure to learn a lot from listening to this episode, so stay tuned for more!
“One of the major barriers for anyone looking to improve the way they eat is that we think we have to suffer to get healthier.” –
“If you eat in a way that is supportive of your body, the weight issue becomes less of an issue naturally.” –
IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
- Ashleigh discusses the red flags within the weight-loss and weight-management industry and explains what she and Ashleigh are doing differently.
- Ashleigh and Beth debunk the myth that fun, delicious food cannot be healthy.
- Things that work best for your health are usually not sexy. They are often things your Grandma taught you.
- Some sustainable first steps that will help you to improve your health.
- Beth and Ashleigh want to help women understand that eating nutrient-dense animal protein is excellent for their health, particularly pregnant women.
- The benefits of following a varied omnivorous diet.
- How you will benefit nutritionally from eating a lot of animal protein, particularly organ meats.
- Why should plant-based protein not be your primary source of protein?
- Beth explains why she encourages people to try a carnivore diet to cleanse and reset after eating a lot of sugar or drinking more alcohol than they usually do.
- Ashleigh talks about the value of eating organ meats.
- Ashley and Beth share some tips for getting into eating organ meats and making them taste delicious.
- Beth talks about her favorite spices and seasoning blends.
- Beyond Impossible, on Amazon or iTunes, or you can pre-order it. It will be out in early January 2022.
Beth and Ashleigh’s bios:
Ashleigh VanHouten is a health coach, speaker, podcast host, and author of one of the only nose-to-tail, organ-meat-centric cookbooks in existence, called It Takes Guts. Her new book is called Carnivore-ish. She is the host of the Muscle Maven Radio podcast, downloaded more than 1.5 million times, where she interviews some of the leading minds in exercise and nutrition methodology and overall wellness. Ashleigh is also a consultant in the fitness industry, helping others build their brand and communicate their messages to the world. She has developed a range of coaching programs and workshops aimed at improving physical strength, overall wellness, and a deeper understanding of our bodies and optimal health, including Muscle Science for Women and the Jacked Back Pull-Up Program. Connect with Ashleigh on Instagram @themusclemaven or her website, ashleighvanhouten.com
Beth Lipton is a recipe developer, food and wellness writer, and cookbook author. Her recipes and writing have appeared in Clean Eating, Paleo magazine, FoodNetwork.com, Travel + Leisure, Epicurious, Furthermore, The Kitchn, Clean Plates, and more. She’s also developed recipes for brands, including Butcher Box, Primal Kitchen, and You Theory. Carnivore-ish, written with Ashleigh VanHouten, is Beth’s third cookbook. Previously, she was the food director at Health and All You magazines. She is a frequent public speaker and has given talks about nutrition, sleep, stress, and other wellness topics at companies including Chanel, Samsung, KPMG, Boston Consulting Group, and Warner Music. Beth is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute health-supportive culinary school, as well as the pastry arts program at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, and she studied journalism at the University of Southern California.
Connect with Ashleigh VanHouten
On her website
Connect with Beth Lipton
Connect with Cynthia Thurlow
- Follow on Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn
- Check out Cynthia’s website
- Check Out Dry Farm Wines: www.dryfarmwines.com/cynthiathurlow
About Everyday Wellness Podcast
Welcome to the Everyday Wellness podcast with Cynthia Thurlow! Cynthia is a mom of 2 boys, wife, nurse practitioner, and intermittent fasting and nutrition expert. She has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and cardiology, but pivoted to focus on food as medicine. She loves to share science-backed practical information to improve your overall well being and is grateful to be interviewing leaders in the health and wellness field. Her goal with Everyday Wellness is to help her listeners make simple changes to their everyday lives that will result in improved overall wellness and long term health.
Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health, and wellness goals, and provide practical strategies that you can use in your real life. And now, here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow.
Cynthia: Today, I had the honor and privilege of connecting with two really dynamic women that are helping to change the narrative around the carnivore-ish diet. Beth Lipton is a recipe developer, food and wellness writer, and a cookbook author. I’ve had the honor of working with her on my own book, Intermittent Fasting Transformation, IF 45. She’s incredibly talented. She is joined by Ashleigh Vanhouten, who is a health coach, speaker, podcast host, an author of the only nose-to-tail organ meat centric cookbook, It Takes Guts. She’s also the host of the Muscle Maven Radio Podcast. I have the honor of connecting with them earlier today to dive into their new book, Carnivore-Ish.
We spoke about the weight loss and weight management industry, the impact of our mindset around food and food choices, especially as women, the need for more nutrient density, especially with protein, conflicts between plant-based versus animal-based diets, what actually encompasses a carnivore-ish diet, what are the benefits, how to go about integrating more organ meat into your lifestyle, specifically how to eat nose to tail, and strategize about how to find a methodology that affiliates with your own lifestyle. We dove into some of the myths surrounding protein consumption, we did touch on favorite spices and ways to liven up your meals. I hope you will enjoy our conversation. I think this book will be hugely impactful for individuals that are looking to be inspired to lean towards a more animal-based protein diet, and especially for those that are interested/curious about organ meats, I certainly learned a lot and I know you will as well.
Today, I’m delighted and excited to have Beth and Ashley here with me to talk about their new book. But before we dive into your book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading, I would love to really unpack a lot of the diet culture that we have that is so pervasive here in the United States, obviously, most Westernized cultures. A recent statistic that I pulled up is that the weight loss and weight management industry is $192.2 billion industry, which is staggering and yet I think on so many levels as a clinician, as a woman, I just think if we were teaching others how to eat a nutrient dense diet, there wouldn’t be the need for all these concepts of quick fixes and strategies that are not sustainable. I’m curious to start the discussion there that, you both come to this platform from different backgrounds and what you’ve seen, actually, obviously you’re in the fitness industry, you have an incredible podcast, Beth you have this proliferative food industry background, and you’re a chef, what your own perception is that the things that we’re doing right per se or not doing right in terms of looking at food as medicine, food as nutrition as opposed to the quick fix concepts, which I think have really become pervasive and are just an active component in our culture?
Ashleigh: That’s a huge question.
Ashleigh: We could do a whole podcast on that one. Beth: [laughs]
Ashleigh: Yeah. Beth, I’ll try to start here really quick. I think that one of the tough things is, we try not to vilify one entire massive industry. Because all three of us are part of this industry. To say that it’s deeply problematic, especially how we market food, and fitness plans, and ideologies to women, it is problematic, but there are lots of people out there trying to do it. I think present company included, maybe I’m biased, but I think we’re trying to do it the right way. I think one of the biggest issues from a purely capitalists like making money standpoint is that, the way we’re trying to do it versus the quick fix way is that ideally, if we can teach you, and empower you, and get you to get it, you won’t need anybody’s help anymore. You don’t need to keep signing up for work out plans, and diet, whatever. You can just understand what food does for you, and how to use it, and how to enjoy it, and go on with your life.
Whereas the industry is set up for the cyclical effect of doing it, seeing some results that are really exciting, plateauing or falling off, and freaking out, and starting again, and on and on into eternity. I think that’s one of the main red flags for me is if I’m looking to work with a coach or work with somebody on my nutrition, which I do. Somebody, who has clients forever or is continuing to try to work this cyclical effect, that doesn’t work for me. I want to instead of just being told what to do, and then do it, and hope that I can sustain it, I want to be taught. Why? Maybe, they’re recommending I do something, and really learn, and empower myself. I think that’s what we’re trying to do with the book, too. Because really, there is no quick fix that wording is right there. It’s quick fix. It fixes things quickly, but not permanently and not sustainably. So, it’s an uphill battle but that’s what we’re here to do.
Cynthia: Yeah. No, and I think it’s really important for people to understand that we want to help educate people. The whole concept of that parable of, you teach a man to fish, they’ll be able to feed themselves forever as opposed to just giving them a handout. I think that’s very aligned this whole education platform that we all stand from. We want to empower women and individuals to be able to go out on their own and to be able to make a sustainable strategy that I’m sure you have some insights, and you’re coming at it from an equally different viewpoint and perspective as someone that has been in the industry to creating delicious recipes. Obviously, you’re the person that I selected to create the recipes for my own book. For full transparency, I always say, I’m grateful for these platforms, because it’s allowed me to connect with individuals like yourselves, but I’m sure you probably have some ideas, or suggestions, and/or opinions about this as well.
Beth: Well, yeah, you can always count on me for [unintelligible [00:06:26].
Beth: Well, thanks so much for having us, Cynthia. We really appreciate it. I’m already a huge fan of your podcast. I’m really honored to be a guest. I would say that, I come from the world of women’s magazines, which I have to say as much as I love that industry and have loved working in it, it is very guilty of always trying to sell the latest and greatest diet plan. I’ve been part of that. I can’t say that I haven’t. But I think what Ashley said about this book is really true. One thing that we really wanted to put forth in this book is that, we have this notion in our culture that there’s fun, delicious food, and then there’s healthy food, and that they’re not the same thing. For us, this book is really a celebration of delicious food that is good for you. That for me, that’s my entire mission in life is to bring that message that it’s not a question of whether or not you are going to enjoy your food. You have to enjoy it.
Then from there, it’s like, how do you enjoy the food that you’re eating and also eat food that is supportive of your health that’s going to help you reach your goals? Not just your aesthetic goals, but also your life goals of wanting to show up in your life, and have energy, and be well, and not sick. And also, not be overweight. But I feel if you eat in a way that’s supportive of your body, the weight issue becomes less of an issue just naturally. But one thing that Ashley and I are always talking about is how any really good advice around your health is not sexy. It just isn’t. Get plenty of sleep, have good relationships, manage stress, eat lots of protein. None of this is revolutionary advice, but it is what works. So, I think if someone is selling you some brand-new bright, shiny object, you definitely have to approach that with caution because what really works is what your grandma told you.
Cynthia: Yeah, right.
Cynthia: I think it’s really interesting. I call it the bag of crap but I have a-
Cynthia: – friend and I won’t call out this company, and she was participating in this company and thought that this [unintelligible [00:08:40] product had really helped her harness her middle age body composition that she was struggling with. She very nicely shared and I affectionately shared this with her as a bag of crap. Then, she shared the bag of crap with me, which the ingredient profile’s like, “There’s no way I would eat this.” But I started to understand that we’ve gotten so far off base with what nutrition really is, that for a lot of people, it’s eating that good, better, best. For some people, if they’re going from a standard American diet, that’s highly processed, devoid of fiber, very nutrient depleted, and highly inflammatory that the bag of crap is probably better than what they have been eating before.
Really trying to not place judgment and really coming from a place of love all of us genuinely want women to be able to find sustainable lifelong strategies, and to your point, Beth about eating like our grandmothers did, I think about our grandparents and they made everything from scratch, and they just thoroughly enjoyed that cooking was a demonstration of love. I think in many, many ways a lot of our culture we’ve lost the pastime of passing cooking skills on to our children. I think in many ways, the grab-and-go culture has made it so easy. First, we don’t have to make things at home because there’s always something that’s portable that we can throw in our bags that we can eat whether it’s a bar or a shake, and by no means am I saying I never have a shake or bar. But generally, I like to have food cooked in my kitchen as opposed to buying things from the outside world.
When people are really starting from the very beginning that they’re going from a more processed standard American diet transitioning over to a more nutrient dense diet, what are some of the things that you choose to focus on with your clients in terms of sustainable first steps that will help them to start to see the improvements that they’ll see in their health. Certainly, the listeners know, I come from this cardiology background where I saw the sickest of the sickest people, and I used to always say it all starts with food, and my colleagues would chuckle, they thought it was cute, but they chuckle and I would say, You’re missing opportunities.” They’re like, “We don’t have time to talk about nutrition,” but we really all need to make time to talk about nutrition. This is really the platform we all stand on.
Ashleigh: Well, I think before we even talk about the specific recommendations we give, I feel a lot of the communication is about psychology more than it is about food really. I think that one of the major barriers for anyone looking to improve the way they eat. But I think specifically with women, and I say this just because of my own personal experience coaching and working with women over the years is that we think we have to suffer to get healthier. We think it has to be this dreaded slog through this food that we don’t really enjoy, and these workouts that are just horrible, and we just think it has to be suffering. A lot of times when we will tell someone, you can and probably should eat more food. You should eat more, you should work out less. Relax a little bit more. They’re like, “That doesn’t compute, because I’ve been taught my entire life that you have to grind, and hurt, and struggle to make health improvements,” which when you really break it down and think about, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Breaking yourself down and depriving yourself does not to me sound like an equation for vibrant health, but that’s what we’ve been taught.
Oftentimes, it’s about being very, very like you said, meeting people where they are and being very progressive and slow with the approach. Instead of day one, what so many of us might want to say, “Here are all the things you should eat, here are the things you shouldn’t eat, here’s all the ways you should move your body, and workout, and fix your life.” That’s overwhelming, it’s too much, and nobody really makes changes that way. Being really, really picking low hanging fruit that can make a big difference. I think very often stuff that Beth and I will talk about is just thinking about improving, like adding protein, more protein to the foods you’re already eating. If you eat a salad every day for lunch, maybe think about chucking in some chicken, or some steak, or some shrimp. Normally, add maybe some chickpeas and three shrimp, maybe have a handful of shrimps in there, up it a little bit.
Protein is the centerpiece of everything we talk about when we’re talking about eating healthier and more nutritious food. I guess long story short, it is just having some conversations about the idea of what eating better means. It doesn’t mean being restrictive, it doesn’t mean counting every single thing that goes into your mouth, and then from a practical perspective, I would say, the first thing I tell everybody is just focus on protein, eat protein first, eat more protein.
Beth: I totally agree with that, and obviously, [laughs] and I think also that people make food, and cooking, and eating very complicated. They watch a show on the Food Network, and I’m not knocking the Food Network, I love the food network. But they watch a show, and they think everything they make has to be three courses, and garnished, and it has to be made in a giant, pristine kitchen. I just think there’s a lot of pressure. In Instagram, certainly, there’s a lot of pressure to make everything photoshoot worthy. The fact is, all you really have to do is cook yourself some scrambled eggs and you’re good. I think taking some of the perfection, we as women especially expect so much of ourselves. Everything has to be perfect. Let’s take some of the steam out of that, and just relax a little bit, and just make yourself something really, really simple to eat. Just make yourself great. Like I said, some scrambled eggs. I mean, what’s easier than that?
Whatever you’re doing, as Ashley said, just add a little more protein to it. I think also at least one of the hurdles that I run into with people is just getting the idea across that animal protein is healthy for them. There’s such a pervasive message that going plant-based or more plant based, and eat less meat, and eat better meat, and all of that, but especially eating less of it that is such pervasive message. Trying to break through that which is why we wrote this book in the first place. It’s not designed. We’re not here trying to be all contrarian and that isn’t the idea. The idea is that this is something we feel really passionately about something we have looked at the science around, something that has worked for both of us and for a lot of people in our community. So, we want to help people to get past the view that, especially people who want to eat animal protein, but think they’re not supposed to.
If somebody is vegetarian or vegan, and they have like a religious reason or something like that, we wouldn’t dream of telling them that what they’re doing is not the right thing. But there’re so many people, so many women, especially who would feel better and who do feel better, and they say it almost sheepishly like, “Oh, when I get my period, all I really want is a burger and they feel bad about it.” We want to strip away all of that guilt and make it a good thing, show people that this is a good thing for your health. That eating more animal protein is okay, it’s good for you. Your body is designed for it, we evolved eating it. To me, that’s the biggest thing is getting through people’s notion that they shouldn’t be eating animal protein and then helping them to see that sometimes the simplest approach to feeding themselves is the best one and the right one.
Cynthia: So much to unpack of what you both said. I want to touch on both things that you mentioned. I think when women are so hard on themselves in that part of our culture, it’s part of the conditioning, even if we had healthy relationships with food growing up, but just the socialization piece being around other women in high school, and college, and beyond, whatever was modeled for us at home. I think a great deal about nutrient density and satiety, and I think a great deal about this calorie counting culture that we’re buffering against. I know even in the fasting space, women will very innocently ask, “How many calories to eat a day?” I was like, “I really genuinely have no idea. I don’t count calories, I never enjoyed doing that, and that’s not what our body recognizes.” I think it’s also giving ourselves permission to look at food a little differently.
All of us share a wonderful friend, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, who I talk a lot about on this podcast, because muscle and animal-based protein, Muscle: The Organ Of Longevity, when we’re talking about increasing your protein intake that increases satiety so, so important especially as women are getting older that we’re maintaining the muscle mass, because that keeps us more metabolically flexible. In fact, I love that you’ve touched on just keeping our meals simple. If anyone sees what I put on Instagram, it is nothing except for holidays. There is nothing about my photos that are super intricate in terms of meal preparation. I’m very straightforward. They’re definitely things I lean towards, but I keep it really simple, and actually, that’s how my family likes their meals. We can decide to flavor things if we choose to. I’ve got two people in my household who like spicy, two of us that like a little less spicy. There’re always adjustments that are being made, but the message of keeping things simple and making slow and steady changes, I think are really helpful.
But let’s pivot a little bit and talk about the whole concept of this plant-based versus animal-based narrative that is ongoing. I recently had the honor of bringing Vinnie Tortorich on the podcast that will be released this month. His new documentary talking exactly about this. It’s very timely that we’re having this conversation. For those people, who are feeling conflicted, there is a lot of misinformation. Obviously, there’s a lot of propaganda that is employed by a lot of different things that we don’t need to dive down the rabbit holes that are there. They’re giving people permission to eat nutrient dense, animal-based protein is really important. I feel like our bodies for the most part really thrive best when we’re focused on hitting those protein macros, I guess if you hit your protein macros, everything else will fall into place.
But let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of this dietary philosophy where we’re omnivores. We’re eating meats animal-based protein, we’re also eating non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. What does that look like in your lifestyles? I know, Ashley, obviously I’ve had a huge influence on all of us looking differently at organ meats and looking at nutrient density, obviously, back and come around with a lot of these amazing recipes that you’ve worked on together for the book. But let’s unpack that a little bit because I think there’s still some mystery about how all this works together. Yet, it should be fairly simple, I mean, really that’s what we’re advocating for that all of us are not making our lives more complicated, but maybe perhaps slowly introducing different types of foods, maybe unique things we’ve never tried before, and doing it from a thoughtful place.
Ashleigh: The plant-based marketing people should win an award. They’re so good at convincing people that that’s the right approach to the point that we will even disregard our own body’s signals, strong signals in favor of what the mainstream trend is telling us. Because I have had, at this point, countless women reach out to me on social media or through different channels saying, “I went plant-based because I was told it was healthier, it was better for the planet, it was better for me, and this litany of health issues eventually showed up. All I wanted was a steak, and I craved it, and I felt so guilty, and I just want to know, Can I start eating meat again, how should I start eating? If I want to eat a little bit of it,” it’s mind blowing, right? I have to say because this is topical. This is a really interesting look at how we as women treat our bodies and our health.
I’ve just had a baby recently. He’s five months old now. But when I was going through pregnancy, I was reading all the things, doing all the things, I’m researching everything. I was, by the way, eating the same as I always do, which was organ meats, and meat, and nutrient dense foods. I was listening to podcasts, and I was listening to all from a variety of backgrounds and across the board, everybody, who had anything to do with prenatal nutrition was saying, “If you are plant-based and you are willing to eat animal products, now is the time to do it. If you are pregnant and trying to grow a human in your body, you should be eating the most nutrient dense foods possible, the most bioavailable nutrition possible, because that is going to best support your baby’s growth and development.” I even heard this from plant-based professionals.
Step back for a second and think that, to grow a human being we are recommending you eat animal protein because it’s best for their health and their development. But when you aren’t growing a baby, when it’s just you, whatever, just need some chickpeas, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. That’s how we feel about our own person. That’s the amount of effort, and I guess love that we give ourselves is like, “We’ll do what’s best for our children. But for us, “Yeah, whatever, will make us skinniest is what we should go with.” I just thought that was just mind blowing to me that I was hearing again, and again, even plant-based people saying, “Hey, if you’re willing to eat some eggs and some steak, do it now.” That was really, really eye opening for me.
Anyway, I’m running off on a tangent now, but I just thought that was really, really crucial because even the people who aren’t really meat-based advocates are telling you that I think that’s eye opening and it’s something to think about.
Cynthia: I think it’s incredibly chilling, and for many people perhaps that aren’t eating as much animal-based protein, I know when I was pregnant, I ate a lot more animal-based protein. That’s just what my body craved. I think those cues and the suppression of those cues, a guilt that people feel whether they say themselves, “Okay, well, I’m pregnant, I’m willing to consume animal-based protein. But then when I’m not pregnant, I’m not willing to do that.” I feel in many, many ways, a lot of the women that I work with, they’re surprised that they’re really woefully under eating protein.
Once they make that adjustment and really focused on animal-based protein, their satiety cues are cued in or not, feeling they need snacks or not, searching for chips in the evening or not, looking for chocolate during the day, they feel much more satiated, they sleep better that I’m sure you probably see this with your work as well that in many ways, if we’re listening to cues of our bodies, it’s telling us something. I think the suppression of hunger cues or the concept for a lot of women is like, “I’ll die to be thin, or I’m fixated on the scale, or that’s the focus of why I want to be thin.” I remind people, we want to be strong, we want to be satiated, we want to be happy, we want to make good neurotransmitters by giving ourselves really healthy, good nourishing food.
For those that are listening, we make both of our neurotransmitters in our guts if our guts healthy, we’re going to have a better mood, less depression, less anxiety, have you found that to be the case as well. I’m sure you work one-on-one with clients, where people are terrified to gain weight. Even if they’re underweight, it’s like, they’re so undernourished, but they don’t recognize that. Even patients who are obese, oftentimes they’re just incredibly undernourished that they don’t realize that.
Beth: Oh, 100% and I think what you’re both saying about suppressing our cues and tamping down what our bodies are telling us is very much something that we have to deal with women and something that we really have to fight against. Because I get asked these kinds of questions as well. You were saying, Cynthia, about how many calories do you eat? I get that question a lot like, “Well, how much do you eat, and how many calories, and what do you eat in a day,” those kinds of things? I always say, “Look, I’ll tell you what I eat in a day because nothing I like talking about more than food, but it’s not really useful to you to know what I eat.”
The other part of this is that, it’s much easier, going back to what we’re talking about initially about marketing and selling quick fixes, it’s much easier to sell that. Ashley and I have been laughing about the name of our book is Carnivore-Ish. It’s much easier to sell a book that’s called carnivore, because that’s something that’s, it’s just like, eat meat all the time, the end. But that’s not what we’re selling here and not what we’re offering, not carnivore. Carnivore is appropriate for some people but I think for the vast majority of us, what works, and what we’re designed for, and what we thrive on is a varied diet, a diet that is as varied as possible. You read the stats all the time that, I’m making this number up, but we only eat 1/100th of the plant matter that our ancestors ate. Obviously, our ancestors ate way more organ meats than we do. They tended to eat different types of cuts of meat than we do.
The more we can vary our diet, it’s better for us. It helps us to avoid boredom in what we’re eating. I think the reason why we get bored when we eat too much of the same thing is because that’s nature pushing us to vary our diet, so that we will get a different set of nutrients. It’s not that it’s bad for you to eat broccoli every day, but think of how much better you’ll feel and how much happier you’ll be if you eat broccoli on Monday, and on Tuesday, you eat kohlrabi, or spinach, or whatever it is that you like, and just try to open it up. Certainly, with animal protein, there’s just a world of things that people tend to not eat because it’s intimidating or they just know what they like, and they stick to it. I don’t blame people for that because most people are not food obsessed like we are. Food is just not something they think about that much. They’re in the supermarket, and they’re in a hurry, and they know ground beef works, so they buy it. I don’t fault anyone for that.
What we’re hoping is that with our book and with this message in general with all of us is that, people will say, “Oh, I’m at the supermarket and they have duck legs. I wonder what that would be like or they have, here’s this fish I’ve never heard of before. What if I ask the fishmonger or the fish seller at the supermarket? What do I do with this fish?” If you don’t like straight, don’t want to eat a piece of liver on your plate, maybe you can chop it up, and put it into your burger, and get those nutrients without it being scary. Just trying to open up people’s minds and their palates, not in a punitive way, but in a celebratory way, you get to eat all these delicious foods, and you get to discover and share all these amazing foods. We have vegetables in the book, we have desserts, we have cocktails, we have all kinds of things in there trying to, like I said, be happy, and celebratory, and also nourishing, and nourishing on every level.
Nourishing your body but also nourishing your mind and your spirit, you can eat these foods and enjoy them, you can give them to your family and they’ll enjoy them, there’s holiday meals you can share them with your loved ones, trying to bring us back to that place where we’re eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods that are healthy for us, that also are delicious and easy to make, and then we can feel really good about eating and sharing with others.
Cynthia: I think it’s so important the whole concept of carnivore-ish is what I would definitely describe. That is the methodology behind how I eat and the full disclosure, this past year, especially with the looming pandemic, which I hope in 2022, we are talking about the past two years and we’re not continuing to look forward seeing the impact of the pandemic. But we use it as an opportunity to try a lot of different protein, and I’ll be perfectly frank and say, some of them were winners and some were not. We did wild boar, we did ostrich, we did elk, sometimes the elk can be a little too elky. I don’t know how to describe it but there were definitely winners. I would say ostrich hot dogs not so much. They were a little dry. But with that being said, we’ve tried a lot of different proteins, and I love that there’s a lot of encouragement in this book, and for many people that are looking at, I’m scared of organ meats, I’m scared of trying new things. I would say, maybe trying bison. Ground bison, I think is a gateway to some of the more “exotic” options that are out there. I found a lot of my patients actually like bison more than beef, and they’ve been surprised to see that. Even most of the grocery stores and certainly in that part of the country that I’m in, bison is becoming more readily available. It’s not quite as exotic now. Elk, and duck, and maybe ostrich, and wild boar, you may have to order specifically from particular vendors depending on where you are in the United States or abroad.
But let’s unpack some of the benefits of a carnivore diet. Now, I think it’s important and the listeners probably remember that when I got sick almost three years ago, the first nine months after being in the hospital for 30 days, I had to eat carnivore because my gut was wrecked by a 30-day hospitalization, six weeks of antibiotics, antifungals, and my body couldn’t handle any fiber. What I found interesting was I dreamt of juicy hamburgers. The second week, I was in the hospital, in fact, I was obsessed. That was the only thing I wanted was a juicy medium rare hamburger, and ate a lot of them moving forward. But the point where I’m sure there can be a lot of beneficial reasons why people will gravitate towards carnivore reducing inflammation of the gut for a lot of people can be healing from an illness, what are some of the benefits you all have seen from working with clients, if they’re leaning in that direction? Certainly, less processed food is going to be hugely impactful, but what are some of the things that you’ve seen that have really improved someone’s health profile by leaning into that animal-based protein?
Ashleigh: Hmm, yeah. Well, first of all, I love that you say you tried a lot of different meats, and some were winners, and some are losers because I love that. We wrote this book with that concept in mind. I wrote an entire book about organ meats. I don’t like every organ meat. I almost feel sheepish saying it sometimes but there’s a couple that I’m not in a rush to eat every day but that’s the joy of it. If you try something and you don’t like it, you learn something, you move on. If you try something and you do like it, you have something completely new to enjoy in your life. It’s a win-win situation either way, right? Wild boar is delicious, by the way. [crosstalk], so good.
Ashleigh: Yes. I would say and Beth, you can I’m sure you’ll have some more to add to this, but two of the things that come right off the top of my head when I’m talking to clients about the benefits of eating animal protein. One is just that it is science backed, it’s bioavailable nutrition in larger doses that you’re going to get with vegetables. If you want to get all of your vitamins, and minerals, and amino acids, which are the building blocks for our entire body, and growing muscle, and our bodies function, everything that our body needs to thrive, and operate well is available in meat, and in higher doses and organ meats, which we can talk about if we want to. But it’s our body readily accepts that. Whereas it doesn’t always with plant foods, and plant foods are usually not complete sources of these amino acids are they’re just smaller amounts. If you want to get all that stuff you need from plants, you have to do so much more like alchemy of mixing, and combining, and eating a bunch of stuff to try and match what you’re going to get from animal sources. Just from a purely nutrition standpoint, animal protein is the best.
Then I would also say from a practical standpoint for women who are looking to get off this dieting, yo-yo rollercoaster nightmare that so many of us are on, where we’re hungry, we’re restrictive, we’re binging, we’re thinking about food all the time, there is nothing that is more satisfying. Again, from a physiological perspective than protein. We all know that we can overeat carbs. Name a carb source, we can sit there and eat it all day long, because it’s just not as nutrient dense, our body burns through it quicker. You eat a carb-filled meal, you’re hungry a half an hour later and even fat. A lot of women express that they don’t find the strict ketogenic diet as easy to follow maybe as they expected, because you have to eat less amounts because fat is more nutrient dense and more calorie dense. Oftentimes, they’re going from eating this super high carb diet to a high fat diet, and their meals are shrinking, which is unpleasant for a lot of people.
But protein is so satiating. It’s very hard. When I’ve tried to overeat a plate of steak, or ground beef, or fish, your body sends you very, very strong signals that you have had enough, that you are satisfied, that you’ve eaten enough. That helps people be nourished from their meals, be satisfied from their meals, not have to think about food every 20 minutes. That’s why I tell women too, if you are a snacker and that’s fine. Eat protein for your snacks because we can always find room for a cookie, or chips, or crackers, or pretzels. But if you are thinking about a snack, and all you have in your fridge maybe is, I don’t know you’ve got beef jerky, and leftover chicken, and whatever and you’re like, “Mm, I don’t really want that right now.” Maybe you’re not that hungry, actually. You are just looking to eat for another reason. So anyway, in summary, very, very satiating and very nutrient dense are my top two reasons.
Cynthia: I think that’s really important for people to understand. I love when people consider bingeing a higher carbohydrate diet, thinking about lower carb, keto, if appropriate. But I agree with you that there are some pitfalls in keto, whether it’s the blessing/curse that fats are more calorically dense, they’re more nutrient dense. I remind people, you can’t just have unwanted or unfettered access to nuts and cheese, although delicious. That’s where sometimes the women getting into trouble. But also, just the fact that not everyone breaks down fats the same way. I know for myself and this is bio individuality, I do better. This is one of the very few times you heard me say this sentence, plant-based fats like olive oil, olives, or coconut oil, I do better with those and I do with duck fat, and tallow, and lard. That is just what you need. To me, my body does better with lower, I would say less dense plant-based fats.
But I find for a lot of women, it’s either that or they just don’t digest their fats well, and they don’t recognize some of the cues that their body’s trying to tell them. I think that’s so, so important. Also, the carbohydrate piece. We’re not saying carbs are bad, but we will oftentimes not have that shut off, that satiety switch will not be triggered when we’re consuming just a bunch of whether popcorn or tropical fruits. We were just in Costa Rica, and one of the things I loved was that, there was little to no access to anything processed. But if you’re out on a hike, if they gave you anything. they would come up with a piece of pineapple or some watermelon, which was delicious. It completely ravaged my CGM. Although, my glucose spike went up and came back down appropriately, I was shocked. I was like, “Okay, my blood sugar never goes that high.” But it’s in response, it’s higher sugar tropical fruits. But for most women, they really are looking to change body composition get healthier, and so they have to limit some of those types of foods.
But what has been your experience as well, when you’re working with your clients and devising menus really encouraging women to incorporate more animal-based protein into their diets and to not feel encumbered by it? I think when someone’s thinking about whether it’s an egg white omelet, that’s one of the common misnomers, people are afraid to eat those types of healthy fats. They restrict and I remind them, when you start hitting those protein macros, your satiety cues, and your stomach and your brain communication is not a mismatch. You will naturally comfortably just stop eating. You’re like, “I don’t need to continue eating because I really am genuinely full.”
Beth: Well, I think one of the things to keep in mind and something that I encourage people to think about is this notion of, so you’re trying to get enough protein. You have to start there. You want to get enough protein, so that you feel satisfied. Then when I get the message from another person that like, “Oh, but I want to eat more plant based,” I always say like, “The best-case scenario, let’s look at a complete protein that’s plant-based, something like quinoa.” You have to eat three or four cups of it to reach the same amount of complete protein as you would get in four-ounce piece of steak. Even though it’s a complete protein, it doesn’t have the level of all the essential amino acids that a piece of steak does and the other nutrients that a piece of steak has. Plus, I just personally don’t want to sit down and eat three or four cups of quinoa. That just doesn’t appeal to me. Whereas you put a steak in front of me and I will devour it pretty much anytime of the day.
I feel that’s always the sort of pushback that I give is, yeah, we can talk about incorporating those plant-based proteins if you want to, but that can’t be the main source of protein for you. If body composition is your goal, which is perfectly fine. If weight loss or body composition is what you’re going for, then yeah, you really have to look at– even though we’re not counting calories, you still have to look at what the caloric load is of those foods, and also just the basic appeal of those foods, because I really think that you have to enjoy what you’re eating, otherwise you won’t stick with it. If I give you a meal plan and it’s full of three cups of quinoa per meal, you’re just not going to stick with that, because that’s not going to speak to the primal eater in all of us that really wants that animal protein. Again, I think that’s nature pushing us toward the food that’s better for us. it’s fine to mix that in if you really are sort of attached to having plant-based protein in your diet. You can incorporate some of those foods, but you’re just not going to get where you want to go, I think.
Of course, there are always going to be outliers. I’m sure we’ve all had the person who says, “Look at this star athlete who is vegan, or look at this person, or that person.” There’s always going to be an example. There’s always going to be an outlier somebody who’s able to do that. But first of all, look at all the people who have done that, and then turned around a year later, and said, “You know what? I’ve gone back to eating meat.” And also like, “Are you a super Olympic athlete?” No, I know, I’m not. Just because that person can do that, yeah, that person can also swim 800 meters in 10 seconds but you can’t do that, I can’t do that.
Beth: And also, if you don’t want to spend your whole day focused on food, if you don’t want to be constantly worrying. and tracking, and trying to manage your diet in a super clinical way, the easiest way to get out of that is to eat more animal protein. I don’t mean exclusively animal protein. The original question you’ve asked was about the benefits of the carnivore diet. To me, there are some people for whom a straight carnivore diet is appropriate. There’s no question. But for most of us, I think an animal protein forward approach is a better one, where you are incorporating all kinds of vegetables, and a little bit of fruit, and all these other things. Carbs are definitely not the enemy, just in the right proportions. But there are times when even the average person can benefit from a carnivore diet in short bursts. Sometimes, I find I do it sometimes without even realizing it. A couple of days will go by and I’ll realize like, “Oh, I’ve only eaten animal protein for the last two days.” I didn’t even mean to except for coffee.
But you always hear people talking about these juice cleanses, or these seven-day cleanses or whatever, and I feel if that appeals to you, if the idea of having a cleanse for two days, three days, a week, whatever, if that is something that you think will benefit you, just reset, you’re coming out of the holidays, and you drink a lot of alcohol, or you ate a lot of sugar, or whatever outside the norm you’ve been traveling, whatever it is, maybe try a carnivore reset for a few days. Without being too anxious about it, just make your meals a few scrambled eggs for breakfast if you eat breakfast and a plate full of a nice piece of cooked salmon for lunch, and maybe a burger patty for dinner, and just try it for a day or two, and see if it doesn’t help you get rid of the cravings and just help you feel a little better. If not, then bring back the vegetables. But it’s something interesting that can be worth trying.
Cynthia: I think the power of the N of 1, meaning each one of us as bio individuals, may need something a little bit different. I know there are a plenty of people that are doing, like you mentioned, cleanses, or they’re doing a week of a plant-based diet, or week of carnivore coming out of the holidays. I remind people that more often than not, it’s the change in our diets that will recalibrate our palates that will allow us to make better choices in moving forward. We were away for the holidays, I came back and I said, “Okay, [unintelligible [00:42:27] going to enjoy this delicious steak dinner.” I did make two desserts for my family, I enjoyed a little bit, and I woke up the next day, and I was like, “Okay, it’s January 1st, we’re back in the saddle, we’ve got all these other things coming up in early 2022.” I think so many times, we have to focus on a goal in order to get ourselves recalibrated. But more often than not, changing up what we’re doing can allow our bodies to reduce the level of inflammation, get our hormones better aligned, get those satiety cues recalibrated, so that we’ll make better choices, but always acknowledging that. For each one of us, that could look a little bit different and that’s totally okay. Now, I want to make sure because I got a lot of questions from listeners that wanted to talk about organ meat, also called offal. I want to make sure that I’m pronouncing that– [crosstalk]
Ashleigh: Things like offal, offal, it’s like tomato, tomahto thing.
Cynthia: Yeah. I want to make sure if I’m properly pronouncing that. But for me growing up with an Italian mom, my mom lovingly, I always to say lovingly, my brother and I were required to have a liver dinner. It was liver and onions, and my mom would throw in bacon. Of course, as kids what we’d do, we would eat the bacon, maybe we ate some of the onions that we found liver to be terribly metallic. But I’ve come to find out that we’ll use Pluck, which is this wonderful creation by a colleague of mine [unintelligible [00:43:50] anything, and it’s a gateway into the indoctrination into the curiosity of organ meats. Let’s unpack that because I think for many people, they’re fascinated/not sure how to cook these things. On the barometer or if we’re looking at a propensity of organ meats, let’s talk about the ones that are a little more mild, maybe less texture all the way to the heavyweights. So, I’d love to have you unpack that because I’m fascinated by this. I enjoy looking through your recipes and thought to myself, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question because I want to know where would be the place you would start if you’re new to organ meats?
Ashleigh: Hmm, very good question. We do touch on organ meats in our book. That’s not the main thrust of it, because again, we really wanted to aim for things that seemed at least somewhat maybe familiar, maybe healthier, more meaty versions of meals we’re already making, things that are an easier sell than organ meats. But we do include some because we think they’re important and they can be delicious. But shameless plug, I wrote a whole book behind me dedicated to organ meats. I believe that they are very, very important, I believe that they’re undervalued in our modern society. By that, Western modern society, everywhere else in the world, everyone’s still doing this. I would get so many comments when I was writing this book from people all over the world who are like, “I eat organs, I eat nose to tail, this is not new to me.” So, I think it’s really just in some select places on the planet, where we have the odd privilege of wasting so much of our foods, so we just pick what we consider to be the choices to cuts.
But I would say that if I’m just going to give a really quick elevator pitch on how to get into organ meats, and this is for meat eaters, who are already open minded, because it will be a much harder sell. I’m talking to vegans right now, but you already eat animals, if you recognize that they’re very– it’s a nutritious part of your diet, and you appreciate it, you respect it, and you want to get the most out of the meat that you’re eating, but you’re a little nervous understandably so about organ meats, because they aren’t talked about enough, they aren’t shown enough, and pretty much everybody has that one story of when they were kids, and they ate liver and onions, and it tasted like leather and it was gross.
To which I say, look, I grew up eating like boiled Brussel sprouts. I hated those too, but no one says never eat those, they’re terrible. People say, eat your vegetables, because they’re healthy. So, we need to start telling people eat your liver because it’s healthy. But anyway, I would say that some things to do to start getting into it are to– First of all, have a professional if you’re fortunate enough and you’re able to. Have a professional make you some stuff. Go to Beth’s house, she’ll make you something delicious.
Ashleigh: Or, go to a restaurant, and go to a Mexican place and get beef tongue tacos, or go to an Asian restaurant and get Fa that has all kinds of organs and stuff in the soup. Have a professional who knows how to make organ meat dishes make them for you, so you know what it’s supposed to taste like, which invariably is delicious. Do that, start with that. I would also say start small in terms of small animal organs. The smaller the animal generally speaking, the milder their organs are going to taste. A chicken liver is a lot milder, dare I say almost sweet and delicate compared to a buffalo liver, which is going to be a pretty strong tasting cut of meat. Same goes for hearts, gizzards, like anything, just start smaller animals, work your way up. Even a lamb liver, lamb tongue, lamb heart, I think, tastes better and lamb-y which is good compared to these larger animals.
Then lastly, and Beth you can finish up for me here, but I would say that another practical thing to do is to start with heart, the organ heart, as opposed to liver, or kidney, or spleen, or some of these other, more texturally challenging and also stronger tasting organs. When people think of organ meats, they think, “Okay, I have to eat liver and I just have to choke it down because that’s the healthiest cut.” Yes, liver is the top in terms of its nutrient density, your best bang for your buck. But heart is also very nutrient dense, it’s also a muscle meat, so it’s very similar in texture to beefy, steaky food that you’re already probably eating and it’s very versatile. You can do so many things with it. You can stuff it and roast it, you can chop it up and do a stir fry, you can make it into jerky, you can do anything you can think of that you could do with any other meat really you can do with heart. They’re pretty easy to get. Usually, if you have any butcher shop, or farmers market, or anything generally you can find hearts. So, yeah, those are my main tips.
Beth: We were talking before we started recording about how Ashley really challenged me to get into organ meats because I think I have a pretty varied palate and I’m pretty fairly adventurous as an eater. But I grew up in a household where we did not have organ meat and I found it really intimidating. But Ashley really encouraged me and she said, “You are going to develop some of the organ meat recipes for this book,” and I’m so grateful because I did it, and I’m so glad I did it, and I discovered all these foods that I didn’t know I like, and I really do. I would echo what Ashley said about heart, especially I developed a beef heart recipe for the book that is my version of a Peruvian street food called anticuchos. It’s just basically skewered meat, it’s grilled, and then it’s marinated, and then it has this delicious herby green sauce that goes with it. It’s really easy to make. The hardest thing about the dish is cleaning all the pieces of the heart off the organ to prepare it. If that freaks you out, which I get because there I was in my kitchen holding a heart in my hands. It’s a strange feeling if it’s not something you’re used to and I definitely wasn’t. You can ask your butcher to do it for you. Start there and ask them to clean it for you, and prep it for you, and they will do it. Then all you have to do is cook it. It really is a lot like cooking steak. It looks similar, it has a similar texture when it’s raw, it’s very easy to work with, and it’s very forgiving. So, definitely ask for help.
The other thing I would say and another thing that I learned from Ashley is to chop up liver really finely and mix it into your ground beef with a little bit of bacon. Again, I tried this a few times for myself, and it didn’t really work the way I wanted it to. I like the taste, but just chopping it super finely, I had trouble with, so I asked the butcher to do it. I asked them to make me a mix that was 80% grass-fed ground beef, 10% liver, and 10% bacon. There was a minimum. They wanted me to do three pounds. But we go through a pound of meat in no time in our house. I was like, “Yeah, sure.” I did it. Not only was it like fantastic, and my 12-year-old, who is not an adventurous eater really liked it, and eats it, and is totally fine with it. I’m telling you, this kid is, she’s a good eater, but she definitely does not want to go outside her comfort zone, and I absolutely told her what it was because I don’t believe in hiding what you’re feeding your kids from them because it’s a terrible way to make them not trust you. I was very open with her, and she ate it, and she really liked it.
Then you just use your ground beef, however you use it. Make burgers out of it, or meatloaf, or whatever your uses for ground beef. It’s delicious. You don’t really taste the liver. It tastes just like meatier meat, if that makes any sense. But ask for help, have a butcher help you. If you tell your butcher, if you have a good butcher in your town or your city and you ask them to help you incorporate organ meat, they will love it. They will have ideas for you. First of all, they want to sell those organs that they keep in their shop. But also, they love meat. The butcher shop that I go to, they see me coming in, and they’re like, “Oh, it’s you,” because they know I’m always going to ask crazy questions, and they love that. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Definitely try it in a restaurant first and then experiment at home, but ask the butcher to help you with whatever you’re struggling with around it.
You were saying before, Cynthia that with your family, you had, with the game meats, some successes and some not so successes. But you probably laugh about that, right? That’s probably a good memory. Even though, you didn’t like the food or someone in your family didn’t like it, and I think that’s budget questions aside, because many of us are on a budget, and I don’t mean to make light of that. But for the most part, if you have to have a failed meal every now and then, and Lord knows I have them, too. We all do. You just have to laugh about it because it happens. Then open a can of tuna and be done with it, forget about it. But those are often some of the most fun memories that we have with our families or those meals that didn’t go well. They usually don’t remember the chicken that you make all the time that they love, which is fine to make. What they remember is like, “Oh, my God, remember that time you tried that crazy elk, it’s so weird,” but you laugh about it. I feel there’s nothing to lose. Organ meats tend to be inexpensive too. So, even if budget is a concern, you tend to not lose anything by trying it. There’s also a chicken liver recipe in Ashley’s book, It Takes Guts, which is the perfect place to start. If you find liver intimidating because you cook the chicken livers and a bunch of butter, and you mix it with alcohol, and you turn it into a dip, and it’s luscious, it’s so good [crosstalk].
Ashleigh: Listen, when all else fails, you add some booze, and some butter, and you’re good to go.
Beth: Yeah. It’s really good.
Ashleigh: I do want to add just one thing because Beth, you’ve reminded me of it when you were speaking about some other benefits and things. I just want people to know about the organ meats if they’re listening again, and they’re a little intimidated, a little interested, but maybe feeling overwhelmed, you just said don’t hide what you’re feeding to your kids and that’s probably good advice. But I will say, be fine with the organ meats being just an addition to your meal. You don’t have to suddenly eat a 12-ounce kidney with something on the side. You can mix these things in subtly with the foods that you already like. We have a lot of recipes like that in both books that are like, let’s just take this burger, or these goat cheese-filled meatballs, or whatever that are already delicious. Let’s just add a little subtle nutrient density to it. You don’t have to feel it has to be this major massive change and you have to suddenly start liking the texture of kidney or whatever.
Then lastly, you also don’t have to eat a ton of it. Because they’re so nutrient dense, you can eat a couple ounces of liver once or twice a month maybe, and you are getting noticeable significant amounts of these nutrients. People ask me all the time, they’re like, Jeez like, “I can get onboard, but do I have to eat this?” Maybe they think because I post about it a lot that I’m eating it all the time. I probably do eat it more than the average person but I’m not eating organ meats every day. I’m making an organ meat related meal maybe once a week. I have noticed a drastic improvement in just my overall level of health and wellbeing. So, you don’t have to eat a liver steak every day to get the benefits.
Cynthia: Well, I love that you both have made this so approachable. I do have a couple questions that came from listeners that I haven’t incorporated into our discussion as of yet. Number one, people wanted to know, Ashley, what got you so interested in organ meats? Was it just being open-minded at a restaurant that dove you down the rabbit hole? Obviously, you’ve got a whole other book devoted to this. If you haven’t checked out that book, you definitely want to, but obviously, Carnivore-Ish is the super accessible gateway to integrating some of these nutrient dense foods. Especially, for myself, I now feel invigorated to be able to take this on and not feel quite so intimidated.
Ashleigh: Yeah, I think looking back, I was always like Beth, really into food, just really into it. But mostly, I liked eating it. I never ever thought I would write a cookbook, I never thought of myself as any chef or adventurous in the kitchen personally. But I always like to try new things. That was just one area of my life that I felt, it’s such a low-risk endeavor to be adventurous. Because what’s the worst that could happen? You try something and you don’t like it. Like, did you die? No, you’re fine. You tried something new. Also, looking back before I thought about food or cared about nutrition, I did always gravitate towards rare steak, and strong-tasting fish, we just stuff– In a world where we eat skinless chicken breasts, I was eating the gnarly bits of the turkey. You know what I mean? I always had that propensity. Then when I was an adult, I graduated university, I moved to New York, I lived in New York for a while on and off, and that’s of course, where I made friends with Beth. I just went to a lot of different restaurants, and if there was something on the menu that I didn’t recognize, that’s the thing I ordered. That was just my approach to eating was I just wanted to try everything.
Then coincidentally with that, I was also continuing in my career as a journalist, and as a fitness and wellness and health professional, and I was learning about ancestral eating, and paleo eating, and Whole Foods eating, and it just seemed the next iteration for me, eating whole foods, caring about where those foods come from, being more mindful about where my food comes from, it was the next step to then really pay attention to the sustainability part of it, and the honoring the animal part of it, and to make use of every little bit that I could. It was just being open minded, and wanting to try, and wanting to learn more about it. Then as I got into it, I realized I wasn’t just doing this for show or for an experiment, I actually really enjoyed it. There were enough people responding to me and being interested in it, but I was like, “Hey, maybe there’s a small weirdo community out there for me that is interested in this and we can learn about it together.” So, that’s how it happened.
Cynthia: I love hearing that because it definitely gives me some insights into how this has been this beautiful extension. Beth, questions for you. Your three favorite pantry items that you use to season meat with?
Cynthia: I love those kinds of questions.
Cynthia: [crosstalk] hits you on the spot.
Beth: Yeah. No one’s going to like this answer, but my top answer is really good salt. You and I use the same salt. I use Redmond Real Salt. To me, the most important thing is that you use good salt and use a lot of it, more of it than you think. I read somebody online said the other day, “You should have 30% more salt on your food than you think.” I was like, “I don’t know how they came up with that number.” But I say this all the time, especially if you’re seasoning a steak or a piece of meat before you sear it, put the amount of salt that you think it needs and then do that again. [laughs] Because you need more than you think. Salt is definitely a big one. Beyond that, I also use pluck seasoning. I use that a lot, especially in eggs. I feel it’s just so delicious. I don’t know how to say what my favorites are. I would say a good place to start because I think what the question that this person is probably really asking is, what should they keep in our pantry? What I always recommend to people, if you don’t have a lot of spices, you’re not really familiar with a lot of spices, start with blends. Start with things like curry powder, and Italian seasoning, and taco seasoning, and za’atar. All of these are seasoning blends.
It’s just nice because you get a lot of layers of flavor and a lot of varied flavor, but you don’t have to do the work of combining the spices yourself. I would say, definitely start there, and then if you want to expand beyond the normal, or more pedestrian, or regularly used spice blends, then when you’re in the store, look for the ones that seem less familiar and look at what they have in them. If you really like Italian seasoning, you may like herbs de Provence, for example. It’s a slightly different mix of herbs and there’s some overlap. But then that’s another blend, but it may be a different flavor profile than you’re used to. With Middle Eastern spice blends, there are thousands of them. Same with India, and there are thousands of them. You can expand from there. Definitely keep a lot of blends in your house.
The other thing I’ll say about spices is that, if you can only buy what you’ll use. If you shop in a place that has bulk spices or if you’re lucky to have ethnic markets around you, buy a small amount because after about anywhere between three and nine months, your spices will lose their potency. They won’t go bad and won’t hurt you, but if your spices have lost their color, their bright vibrant color, and if you open the jar or the bag and the smell doesn’t hit you in the face, they’re not as fragrant, that means that they’re just not at their peak, they’re not at their best, when you really want those spices to make your food sing. So, I hope that answers that question.
Cynthia: No, it’s so valuable and I probably sound like a weirdo, but I travel, anytime I leave the house, I have a little thing of Redmond’s in my purse because I’m such a salt snob. I jokingly it comes everywhere. Every time I go on a trip, I always take a photo of it wherever I am. I know the Redmond’s, people they find that hilarious. Well, ladies, I want to be super respectful of your time. Let the listeners know how to connect with you, how to purchase your book, which I already have on preorder, and when it officially is available on Amazon and elsewhere?
Beth: It’s available for preorder now. The book is called Carnivore-Ish. It’s available wherever you buy your books. The best place to find me is on Instagram, my Instagram is @cookiepie0402. Cookie pie is what my mother called me until the day she died [laughs] So, @cookiepie0402 is the best way to reach me.
Ashleigh: It’s the cutest Instagram handle of all time.
Ashleigh: I love how we just talked about steaks all day. Your Instagram handle is cookiepie, it’s so cut. Yeah, so same thing. I’m mostly on Instagram. My handle is @themusclemaven, and you can also learn more on my website, which is just my name, ashleighvanhouten.com. Yeah, Carnivore-Ish comes out, February 8th is the plan, and my book that’s already out there called It Takes Guts. You can get that wherever books are sold as well.
Cynthia: Awesome. Well, so grateful for both of you. Thank you for carving time out of your busy schedules to come on the podcast. I can’t wait to see your new book. I know it’s going to be amazing. It’ll be incredibly valuable to listeners.
Beth: [crosstalk] Our pleasure.
Ashleigh: Thank you.
Beth: Thanks, Cynthia for having us.
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