Sean Coonce & Suzanne Robertson are the creative minds behind the Paleo recipe & lifestyle blog, Pastured Kitchen. Sean initially began Paleo to treat his epilepsy & improve his health, finding a passion for changing one’s life with food. Suzanne found Paleo through Sean, while dealing with multiple food sensitivities, as well as recovering from multiple eating disorders. She finds rediscovering a healthy relationship with food one of the most important tools to a healthy lifestyle. You can stay connected with Suzanne & Sean on their blog, PasturedKitchen.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Q: How did you get involved in cooking to begin with? Was it something you learned to love early on or did you come to it later?
Sean learned how to make pasta from scratch when he was in kindergarten & continued cooking until he hit college. In college, his diet wasn’t great — surviving on pizza & frozen meals. It was discovering Paleo that reignited his love of cooking and spurred him to unleash creativity in the kitchen.
Suzanne also has been in the kitchen since she was a kid, concocting various dishes — some not so edible — and trying to make up recipes on the fly, seeing how different ingredients work together. She’s always had an adventurous side when it comes to cooking. After struggling with eating disorders and a near-decade long stint as a vegetarian, Suzanne rediscovered a healthy relationship with food through connecting to the source.
Q: Why is eating grass-fed meat and sustainably-caught fish different? How does it affect your cooking?
We both find that knowing your farmers, knowing where your meat comes from and having a relationship with your food is important. We’ve become too far removed from the source, and thus disconnected from our food. Developing relationships with your farmers and sourcing your meat & fish connects you to your plate. The more connected you are, the more love transfers into your cooking. By doing so, you’re paying respect to the animals and fish that are nourishing your body.
Q: Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?
For Sean, it’s very much about health. Sean has battled epilepsy since childhood, and making the right prescription cocktail only did so much in alleviating his symptoms. After only three months of following a Paleo diet including grass-fed meat Sean was able to cut his medication in half. And now, after four years of the diet, Sean had reduced that down to 75% of the initial doses, including cutting out one of the medications completely. Talk about food as medicine!
It’s not just about health. Suzanne was vegetarian partly for animal-rights reasons; however, now as a conscious meat eater, she’s more aware of animal rights than before. Yes, the animals are consumed in the end, but ensuring that they are humanely raised & properly treated connects you to your food in a way that can’t be done otherwise.
Most importantly, do your best. If you can’t always afford the highest quality, that’s OK — doing what you can, knowing your meat has a face, thanking the animal for giving you energy.
Q: How did you learn about grass-fed meat?
Sean found about the Paleo Diet through a CrossFit challenge in the beginning of 2010. And it was through Paleo, Sean — an avid hunter — learned about grass-fed meat. As a former smoker, Sean can’t ease in or ease off something. He quit smoking cold turkey — and goes all in on things like diet. So, when he started Paleo he went with full gusto.
Suzanne learned of paleo through Sean, and had recently started eating meat again when they met in late 2010. She has always been concerned with humanely raised animals, and paleo fit with her. The mindset of becoming a conscious meat-eater as best she can is exactly what Suzanne is about.
Q: What are the most important keys to success for the home chef?
For one, don’t be afraid to experiment and fail. Find recipes online, try them out, and put your own spin on classic recipes. I feel too often people get tired of the same meals every week, and dine out more often out of boredom and convenience. There are plenty of easy, quick recipes in books and online to make it a bit easier. And if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, that’s OK! Our recipes don’t work 100% of the time; in fact most require some sort of tweaking. Failing is the quickest way to figure out that something doesn’t work; it can also lead you in a totally different direction!
Q: What are your best tips for home cooking?
If you have the space, invest in a chest freezer. They’re fairly inexpensive (ours was about $300 new, but you can find used ones for cheaper) and pay for themselves in no time. This way you can stock up on quality meats and frozen veggies and have a place to store them.
Also, redefine your idea of what is to be eaten at each meal. Growing up, I (Suzanne) remember when we’d have “Breakfast for Dinner” night and how excited I was to eat eggs at the dinner table. Same goes for repurposing leftovers for breakfasts!
Prepping meals for the week really helps. Making big batches of meals on the weekend (or off day) can help you stay on track. Create a menu; add in one new recipe to your standards. Make one of your recipes something in the crock-pot or other “set it and forget it” method to cut down on your workload. Pre-chopping veggies for scrambles, salads and stir-frys also cuts down on time!
Q: What is your favorite recipe using grass-fed meat?
Nothing beats a good grass-fed burger or steak on a grill: salt & pepper, simple and so delicious. You can dress up meat however you like, but having just a good steak is hard to beat.