Danielle Walker is the author and creator of the grain-free recipe blog, Against All Grain. She is first and foremost a devoted wife and loving mom to her wonderful husband and rambunctious toddler, but finds joy in her spare time developing tasty recipes for those on restricted diets. Using grain-free flours such as coconut and almond flour, she creates familiar comfort foods that leave people with food allergies feeling satisfied rather than deprived. Her passion is to share with everyone that eating a diet of real, healthy foods does not mean living in a world of bland and uneventful food.
All of the recipes on Against All Grain are grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and low to minimal dairy.
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?
I grew up in an Italian family that loved getting together for meals and parties. My grandmother has cooked for crowds of 30-40 people ever since I can remember. I cooked here and there growing up and always enjoyed it, but I didn’t really start experimenting with recipe creation until about 4 years ago when I went grain-free. Making such a drastic diet change forces someone to re-learn how to cook, no matter if they are a professional chef or a simple home cook! Now there’s nothing I love more than being in the kitchen and working at a recipe until it’s perfect and ready to share with everyone.
Q: Why is eating grass-fed meat and sustainably-caught fish different? How does it affect your cooking?
I’ve just started learning about the benefits of grass-fed meat within the last couple of years. Even so, it took me a bit to adopt the idea and to accept the higher grocery bills! At first I didn’t realize how important it was, and continued buying meats with hormones and additives just to save money, but now that I’m much more cognizant of what goes in my body or the tummy of my little 2 year old, I realize that the money is well spent. And with sites like U.S. Wellness Meats, the meat and fish are so much more accessible and affordable. I haven't had to change much in the way I cook since switching, which is a big relief.
Q: Is it just about health? Or is there more to it than that?
For me, it’s mostly about health. I have a severe auto-immune disease that is triggered by a lot of the additives that most meat companies add to their products so having access to real, wholesome foods is really important to me.
Q: How did you learn about grass-fed meat?
My husband and I first learned about it around 3 years ago from the various documentaries that are out there. Like a lot of people, Food Inc. and King Corn had a big impact on us and made us want to dig deeper into researching the matter further.
Q: Why is it so important to have the right ingredients?
I like to know what goes into my food, and what goes into the mouths of the things that are supplying my food! I’ve seen that there is a serious correlation between what I put into my body and my overall health and well being, and I can’t imagine it’s any different for the animals we consume. Who wants to eat meat from a sick animal that’s not functioning on their own but through the use of hormones or other chemicals?
Q: What are the most important keys to success for the home chef?
Oh there’s so many! First and foremost, have fun with it! Accept failure and then get back on your horse and try again! There are plenty of dishes I make that don’t turn out, but I’m never defeated and continue experimenting until I get it right.
Q: What are your best tips for home cooking?
Branch out and don’t get stuck making the same thing over and over again. Boredom to me is one of the biggest gateways to falling back into the standard American Diet, so I always try to keep it fresh and exciting. This is especially true for people on restricted diets like myself, because it takes some creativity to ensure you’re not just eating a plate of boring meat and vegetables day after day.
Q: What is your favorite recipe using grass-fed meat?
Funny that this is the toughest of the questions for me to answer!! I love all things food, so it’s so hard for me to chose just one. My purest side enjoys just a simple fillet grilled with a little salt and pepper, but I think my second favorite would be the intensely flavored and juicy lamb gyro burgers I shared!