Happy Friday! Today I’ve got a very special guest post for you with the wonderful Arsy of Rubies and Radishes! Arsy and I connected via our blogs and she has truly become one of my favourite go to paleo bloggers and she’s also just super sweet! I recently asked Arsy if she would be interested in doing a Q&A type guest post for me and she kindly said yes! So get to know the face behind Rubies and Radishes… enjoy!
Welcome Arsy! Before we get into the questions can you give Cinnamon Eats readers a brief background of who you are?
Sure! First of all I want to say thank you Naz for inviting me here today. I am a huge fan of your blog and I’m excited to connect with your readers. What can I tell you? I’m Armenian, my parents are from Iran. I grew up in a very traditional culture with lots of traditional food. In my teens I believed all the media hype and thought my parents lifestyle was unhealthy, so I adopted a vegetarian diet which caused a whole host of health problems for me. I spent the later half of my 20s trying to understand them and recover.
Your blog, Rubies and Radishes (p.s. I LOVE the name) is focused on living a paleo lifestyle. Can you tell us how you came to paleo yourself and what has come out of this journey for you so far?
I started Crossfit in 2008. Shortly after some friends and trainers at the gym started talking about the paleo diet. When they described this “caveman” diet I thought it sounded strange. But being an information seeker I picked up Dr. Cordain’s book to read up on it and instantly a light bulb went off in my head and I understood the cause of all of my health problems.
You also have a beautiful daughter, Indyanna. I don’t have kids myself but hope to do so in future and I’m sure some of my readers would be interested in this also. What has it been like raising a paleo baby? Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to share with us?
It’s great! She never gets sick, she’s never had a diaper rash and is always happy. Having a baby that is well nourished makes your life much easier. My words of advice would be to work on your diet before you even get pregnant, which I’m sure many of your readers are already doing. Besides avoiding the typical non-paleo foods, focus on getting lots of nutrients into your diet, particularly the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Eat lots and lots of healthy fat! Vitamin K2 makes cute babies! I’m kind of joking, but it’s true, it actually impacts the bone structure of a baby’s face and body. Vitamin K2 can be found in grass-fed butter and possible bone marrow.
Not only do you run a successful blog and have a family to take care of but you have also authored a cookbook, ‘The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way‘. Where did the inspiration for this book come from and when you were developing the recipes did you have a particular group of people in mind?
Yes, I started the paleo diet while I worked a full-time job with a brutal commute. The slow cooker quickly became my biggest ally in following this way of eating. I wanted to create a book that could be a tool for all busy people, like those with demanding jobs, school loads, stay at home parents and generally anyone that doesn’t want to be in the kitchen all day but wants to eat paleo. I wanted the recipes to be easy but interesting. I love ethnic cuisine so the book has a lot of international influence.
So you live in California… can’t say I’m not jealous ;). I have visited a couple of times and my husband and I always say if we were ever to return to the States it would most likely be to California. So I want to know as a foodie myself, how do you go about sourcing the ingredients you use to create your wonderful recipes?
I am very lucky to not only live in California but to live in Santa Cruz. We have an abundance of fresh farms and ranches. I purchase the majority of our meat and vegetables directly from local farmers. We also have a Farmers Market going on almost every day of the week here.
Speaking of food, I believe you and I connected because we both grew up eating Middle-Eastern food. Is there any specific dish you miss from when you were growing up and how much of an influence does the food you ate then influence what you eat now?
Yes! I believe we connected because I posted a photo of kookoo thinking no one would even know what it was. What I love about Armenian and Persian cuisine is that much of it is very paleo friendly. We actually even eat white rice on occasion, which is an essential part of our cuisine as you know! I think paleo has made me appreciate Middle-Eastern cuisine more as now I’m aware of how healthful a lot of it is, particularly all of our stews!
Let’s just say that someone who was brand new to or thinking about joining the paleo world is reading this post right now. What are the top 5 pieces of advice that you would give that person?
- Get educated! It is easier to follow if you know WHY you’re doing it.
- Focus on being very strict for 2 weeks. I know most paleo people say 30 days, but my first Crossfit trainer told me this. First of all, 2 weeks seems less daunting and the first 2 weeks are usually hardest. If you get through those first couple of weeks without cheating, chances are you won’t want to cheat.
- Be prepared. Preparation is the key to this lifestyle, especially in the beginning. Hence why the slow cooker is so helpful! If you have some meat cooked already you can whip up a quick and healthy meal.
- Eat simply. It can get overwhelming if you try to make a new recipe every night. Pick one or two nights a week for a fun and new recipe and the rest of the week eat simple meals like roast chicken, sautéed vegetables or a crock-pot roast etc.
- Don’t go crazy on treats. I believe there is room in the paleo diet for treats as part of celebrations or occasional indulgences. But if we include them in our diet regularly chances are we won’t see as much improvement in our health and composition as we might have hoped for.
When we make any kind of change in our lives, whether it be the way we eat or in some other way that goes against the status quo we can often be faced with people questioning or disapproving our choices. There’s a quote by Desmond Tutu that I really appreciate which says “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” What’s the best argument you have used when someone has questioned your lifestyle choices?
I’m happy to share my experience or knowledge but I never take part (anymore) in arguments over nutrition, I’ve found that it is hard to convince people that way. I just tell them that I feel great and I recovered from health issues that doctors could not diagnose for 10 years. It seems like when I first started paleo people would question if it was “healthy”. But now I get a lot more people telling me about their ailments and wondering if it will be helpful for them. The paleo movement has come a LONG way in the last couple of years!
And finally… can you please share with us one of you favourite recipes that you have created so far?
I had been working on a chicken mole recipe for years. I just couldn’t get it quite right. I finally realised that I was making it too complicated! I simplified it and came up with this ‘Chocolate Chicken Mole’ which is one of my favourite recipes.
Arsy Vartanian is the founder of the paleo recipe and lifestyle blog Rubies and Radishes and the author of the cookbook ‘The Paleo Slow Cooker’. In an effort to achieve optimal health and wellness she discovered Crossfit and the paleo diet in 2008. Arsy started feeling better than ever and was eventually able to recover from health issues that she had struggled with for almost a decade. She is also a home cook that deeply enjoys spending time in her kitchen and creating healthy, grain-free recipes for her family and blog readers. Arsy resides in the quaint beach town of Santa Cruz, CA with her wonderful husband and amazing daughter.