Thanks for visiting Eat Drink Paleo – my love and passion since 2012. I am Irena and I am a full time recipe developer, cookbook author, amateur food photographer and a self-proclaimed web geek. When I’m not travelling the world or hiking through the bush, you can find me in my small kitchen in London or Sydney or in a local cafe typing away the latest post.
I started Eat Drink Paleo in 2012 to provide inspiration and tools to people who want to achieve better health and wellbeing through Paleo nutrition and lifestyle. I also wanted to showcase the diversity of Paleo diet using beautiful fresh produce and flavours inspired by many cultures and cuisines; and to help unleash your magical powers in the kitchen.
My mission is to make PALEO FOR EVERYONE! It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from or how much ‘into paleo’ you are – my recipes and the information I and my team create for this website are for everyone.
My personal approach to paleo is 80/20 and I draw knowledge and inspiration from different food philosophies and disciplines. I like to geek out on the latest research and studies and I never stick to one view or opinion – my own framework keeps evolving. I eat a bit of white rice and full fat dairy like butter kefir and yoghurt and I enjoy wine. I think my flexible approach and easy going attitude is what made Eat Drink Paleo the popular website it is today.
You can find more information about the paleo diet and lifestyle here. To learn about Eat Drink Paleo team, go here. For more paleo resources check out this page and all my recipes can be found here. Check out my books and ebooks here. And please read the disclaimer here. You can also follow Eat Drink Paleo on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Irena’s back story (we go a long way back so grab a coffee)
I was born in Ukraine, in a small city in the Carpathian mountains region called Chernovtsy. I come from a family of doctors, engineers, economists, athletes and very good cooks. My dad got qualified for the 1980s Olympic Games in Moscow and I remember having a real Olympic torch lit up on my birthdays – just a bit of useless trivia. Having active parents made me a pretty active kid – I did swimming, played tennis, climbed trees, ad ice-skated of course.
Our family had a huge garden and a small patch of land called Dacha where we grew vegetables, fruit trees and berries. Most of the food we ate was purchased whole from the local markets or gathered from our garden and a nearby forest. We often went mushroom and berry picking, or fishing in the lakes and rivers. My grandmother was an amazing cook, the best of them all, and my childhood was spent watching and helping her in the kitchen. My love for food and cooking definitely developed from a very young age and I had a pretty sophisticated palette by the time I was a teenager.
I moved to Australia with my mum when I was 16. I remember tasting my first avocado, mango and oysters and thinking what a marvellous cooking playground this country is. We are so lucky to live in a place busting with fresh, local produce and amazing multicultural flavours and ingredients. I developed my cooking skills over the years filling my repertoire with recipes and ideas I acquired through travel and other gastronomic adventures. I’ve cooked in a small kitchen in Tokyo, in a beautiful sun-lit Tuscan villa, and while camping in remote mountains near Transylvania. I haven’t been to the Antarctica or the Amazon but I am pretty sure I’d find something to chop, sauté and caramelise.
Many people ask why I didn’t become a chef. I guess for many years I didn’t think of cooking as a possible career option. I graduated from university and spent eight years building a career in digital media. I enjoyed my work but kept a passionate affair with food on the side. My friends often suggested I should enter the Masterchef competition or open a wine bar but I stuck with my 9 to 5 job, ‘working for the man’ and feeling rather incomplete.
Then something happened. I’ve always had that voice in the back of my head telling me I should follow my dreams and passions – I think it’s known as ‘the calling’. All of a sudden it started growing louder and louder each day. It became impossible to ignore, which combined with constant work stress, lack of sleep and general ‘what the fuck am I doing with my life’ thoughts, lead to a letter of resignation and a decision to follow my dream. I wanted to cook and inspire people; to ignite their curiosity and passion for one of life’s best gifts – food.
So, what has all of this got to do with Paleo? One would think that as a mad cook I should be embracing all food groups. I sure did until recently. A couple of years ago I watched my mum, an otherwise healthy and active woman, go through two cancers…back to back. That sucked. Going through an illness with someone so close made me much more aware of my own health. I wanted to find the best nutrition and lifestyle to sustain optimal health and a long, happy life. I’ve always been a bit of a health nut, trying out the latest health products and trends, but I didn’t discover Paleo until late 2011. Like many others, I questioned and doubted various aspects of the diet – removing grains sounded completely crazy to me. But, after doing lots of my own research I grew to understand and love Paleo philosophy and approach to eating and living.
Paleo questions the traditional concept of good nutrition – it turns the whole food pyramid upside down. It also looks at many other factors, like sleep, stress and movement, which work with each other to foster good health and wellbeing. Besides switching to Paleo way of eating, I also left my stressful job, became more active, and decided to improve my sleep. I feel much happier and healthier, and I have lots of energy throughout the day.
I am not a scientist or a doctor, I am simply sharing my journey as a cook making delicious, wholesome Paleo food. I don’t want to preach about Paleo, that’s not what this site is about. I think there are enough resources and literature to get you familiarised with the subject.
What I like about Paleo eating:
1. Nutrient dense, real food – I find that by eliminating grains, legumes and refined sugars, I end up eating a larger variety of nutrient dense foods like vegetables, lean meats and fish, eggs, some nuts and seeds and plenty of good fats like olive oil, avocados, coconut and good quality butter. I’ve always eaten lots of vegetables and salads but I definitely consume a lot more these days.
2. Satiety – I never have to count calories or feel hungry. By consuming more protein and fat, I feel satiated for much longer and don’t often have the need to snack between meals.
3. My energy levels are very consistent throughout the day, and unless I am under the weather I feel bright and chirpy pretty much until bed time. I wake up naturally at the same time each morning. I also feel quite focused and clear in the head, which is most likely due to reduced stress and better sleep patterns.
4. I don’t get bloated and tired after I eat. No more crazy food crashes and no cat naps required after lunch. I also feel less puffy and groggy in the morning, which my friends call ‘having a carb or sugar face’. There is a general feeling of lightness and vitality as well.
5. Cheeky Paleo – I know there are some seriously strict Paleo followers, who can sometimes be a little over obsessive about the restrictions they put on certain foods, caffeine and alcohol. I find that approach a little hard to sustain long term. I will happily have my favourite full fat dairy, fruit, dark chocolate and wine in small doses. I’ll even have a cupcake if I really really want it. Again, everyone’s approach depends on their personal needs and goals, and as I have always been a naturally slender person I can get away with a little more. Each to their own, I say.
Enough about me, I hope you enjoy my recipes and stories. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment below (please play nice). I would love to hear your Paleo stories and experiences. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.