Featured Chef - Real Simple Good
Featured Chef Recipes:
Meet Justin and Erica the creators of the Real Simple Good blog. A Paleo food and living blog that shares delicious, healthy recipes made with real, whole food ingredients inspired by the abundance of fresh, local ingredients in the Pacific Northwest. Growing up on a small farm, Justin returned to his roots with the Paleo diet. Erica has Multiple Sclerosis and adopted the Paleo diet to reduce inflammation and prevent further neurological degeneration related to her autoimmune disease. In the process of changing their diets, they both fell in love with the Paleo lifestyle and now share their passion with others! We are grateful to Justin and Erica for taking the time to be this month's Featured Chef. They have shared some of their favorite recipes. We hope you enjoy them!
Q: How did you get involved in cooking?
Justin learned the basics of cooking from his Mom who always made home-cooked meals. One of his first jobs was a cook at small cafe in his hometown, so he’s been cooking ever since. While Erica enjoyed cooking since she was first living on her own after college, it wasn’t until changing her diet and going Paleo that she really found her place in the kitchen. Together, we are happiest in the kitchen working on recipes together and cooking up meals.
Q: Describe your cooking style?
We are most focused on using quality ingredients; then we like to keep it simple. We believe you don’t have to have complex ingredients or a multitude of steps to create a healthy, flavorful dish.
Q: How did you learn about grass-fed meats?
Justin’s family raised beef so he grew up with homegrown grass-fed beef. Erica discovered grass-fed meats when she began to follow the Paleo diet, and we’ve both found a deep appreciation for the health benefits and flavor of grass-fed meats.
Q: What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?
While we can both appreciate a grass-fed steak or pastured bacon like most folks, the most frequent recurring recipe we enjoy is from Pete’s Paleo. His smoked BBQ cider can chicken with a pasture-raised chicken must be our all-time favorite.
Q: You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and must-have kitchen tool. What are they?
The top five ingredients we’d be hope to have are pastured eggs (Justin eats them nearly every single day), grass-fed ground beef and pork because of their versatility, some organic greens, and sweet potatoes. A close sixth staple would be plantain chips, if we’re being honest!
Hands down, our must-have kitchen tool is a cast iron skillet. We use ours all the time, definitely more than most of our other kitchen gadgets and tools.
Q: What is the best cooking secret, tip, or piece of advice you’ve learned?
Since embracing the Paleo lifestyle, the most important thing we have learned is to be conscious about what you are putting into your body. Understand where your meat and vegetables come from, and know how they were raised. Also, read the ingredients on labels. You are what you eat, and eating high quality ingredients gets you the most optimal nutrition from your food. Choose organic when you can afford it, and just do your best.
Q: What is your favorite quote or song for culinary inspiration?
While there isn’t a standout quote or song that comes to mind, we definitely have a tradition of turning on country music while we are in the kitchen cooking. We sing while we cook, and sometimes Erica tries to get Justin to dance around the kitchen. Mostly, she just makes him laugh with her killer dance moves though.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share?
From a health standpoint, we’ve learned that it is far easier to maintain health and nourish your body with healthy food than try to fix things after our bodies fail. Also, anyone can learn to cook. You just have to keep doing it, and for us, the more we cook the more we love it and appreciate quality food.