Nicole Hellendoorn from California Paleo Kitchens is a woman on a mission to bring clean Paleo eats into your household! She’s the founder of CPK, a California-based business specializing in helping people ease the transition into a Paleo way of eating. I recently had the distinct pleasure of getting to chat with her over lunch and learn more about her passion for all things real food related.
What first brought you to eating Paleo? How did you find out about it? What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed with yourself since you’ve adopted the Paleo lifestyle?
My transition to Paleo was definitely gradual. My awareness of food allergies, and a Paleo way of eating came about in two ways. First, about three years ago my dear friend and HLP (Hetero Life Partner) Mary Shenouda (Yes, The Paleo Chef Mary) was diagnosed as a Celiac. At the time, we were roommates and we both started to team up to work on becoming healthier with all kinds of experimental foods and cleanses. Paleo made more and more sense, so we started developing CleanEats as a way for people to have access to allergen free, Paleo friendly meals and snacks. It was also around this same time that I began to learn about Crossfit from some of my guy friends. I began using Crossfit style interval training to lose about 10 of the 15 pounds I had packed on in my post college city living partying days.
Then, in March of 2012, I did my first “Whole 30” but took it further and did six full weeks in preparation for a girls’ trip to Las Vegas. My motivations were equal parts wanting to look smoking in a swimsuit, but I also felt it was important to “walk the walk” given the concept we were developing for CleanEats. I was also curious to see how far I could push myself and what magnitude of change I could manifest. I haven’t looked back since, and consider myself about 85% Paleo all the time. The physical changes I noticed were dramatic – no more puffiness in my face and stomach or discomfort after eating a big meal. My skin, eyes and hair all become more vibrant. People commented that I just looked “healthier” (geez, how gross was I before?!) I easily fit into clothes much smaller than my regular dress size fluctuations. Mentally, I felt like I had found the golden ticket – I didn’t have to worry as much about portion size, calories, or striving for “thinness” after years of being broader and at times a bit chubbier than a lot of other women. I further embraced my natural ability to put on muscle and worked out more, which obviously led to increased confidence. My energy levels stabilized and I didn’t experience crazy late afternoon crashes at work anymore. It was amazing to know what “great” felt like when before I thought that I felt pretty good most of the time.
Within a month or so, friends and family began to notice the changes I had made and began to ask me what I was doing, what CleanEats was up to, and what this Paleo business was all about. I started coaching just to help people I knew, and it’s turned into a full-fledged consulting business that I could not be more proud of.
You’re a Paleo coach…what’s the philosophy you use when guiding clients toward better health? What’s your favorite service that you offer?
My philosophy can be summed up by the late, great Roy Orbison: Anything you need, you got it. I will do practically anything to help a client be successful in their journey to better health – I’m constantly available to them for the most minor questions and any food related emergencies. If you got stuck at work and have nothing in the house for dinner, it’s not unheard of for me to drop off a bag of veggies or emergency protein on your doorstep to keep you on track. I take a lot of pride in getting to know my clients, and making personally tailored recommendations that I think will resonate with them. No two people are the same, and people face unique challenges in adopting healthy food habits. Paleo is not a one size fits all philosophy in my book.
As far as a favorite service, I think it has to be the Kitchen Clean Out and Pantry Raid. I love physically going into client’s homes and getting rid of anything with gluten, grains, dairy, soy, sugars and any other processed junk. It creates great rapport with the client and really helps you get to know them and what obstacles they personally face during their transition. Taking it a step further, it gives the client a clean slate, literally and figuratively. Plus, I love organized kitchens and it’s so fun to experiment with food when you’ve got brand spankin’ new ingredients and treasures to play with.
Project out 10-20 years from now. How do you think Paleo / the real food movement will have changed by then?
It’s certainly not going anywhere, that’s for sure. The dramatic improvements in health and body composition that people have and continue to experience are too big to ignore. The past two years have been huge in terms of mainstream media recognition and I see that trend continuing, albeit an uphill battle given the current state of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. I’m hopeful that in 10 to 20 years, we will have entirely new generations of doctors and healthcare practitioners that will be more attuned to preventing disease with lifestyle recommendations and food rather than treating it with pharmaceutical drugs. Hey, a girl can dream). I see those of us in the community now looking exactly the same (we haven’t aged a day – thankyouvermuch), and continuing to help people that still haven’t gotten the message. I also think that grocery stores and markets will have produce sections that are 90% organic vs. the average 25% we see now, particularly in California where agriculture is king.
What’s your favorite recipe from your arsenal of yummy Paleo eats?
Ooooh, girl, now that’s an impossible question – I’m a former fat kid that loves to eat. I can’t pick just one, so here are a few:
- Spaghetti Squash Florentine, especially leftover the next day once the tomatoes have time to really soak through everything. Recipe by request – no tab on my site for recipes yet.
- BLAT Salad – arugula, tomatoes, bacon, avocado and a medium boiled egg, seasoned with sea salt, cumin and hot sauce.
- Eggs in any form. Anyone who follows my stuff knows my favorite hashtag is #PutAnEggOnIt – makes anything better!
- Half an avocado sprinkled with sea salt and hot sauce
- Meat. All kinds particularly carne asada/flank steak and pulled pork. Slow cooker Kalua pork (pictured) is a staple in my kitchen.
If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?
Definitely a French Bulldog. I have one, and they are the most adorable, coveted, spoiled, fawned over and delightful creatures of leisure I’ve ever met. They have a TON of personality and sleep all day. My pup’s also a totally grain free Paleo machine so I guess not much would change for me. Bunny, my dog, will also start popping up in some memes and posts soon.
Here’s how you can connect with Nicole and California Paleo Kitchens through social media: