So what exactly is paleo cooking? Created in 1975 by Walter Voegtlin, the Paleolithic diet (aka “caveman ” or “stone-age” diet) utilizes foods that post-Neolithic Revolution humans are presumed to have consumed: fruits, vegetables, roots, nuts, and meat. That excludes grains, gluten, sugar, dairy products, legumes, processed oils, salt, and (sorry, hipsters!) coffee and alcohol.
Like a culinary Tim Burton, Walker doesn’t merely replicate a traditional dish; she “re-imagines” it. Omitting dairy and sugar doesn’t have to mean obliterating taste, according to Walker, who has done wonders with this otherwise atonal cuisine, conjuring up everything from beef stroganoff to Asian fare. People attending Walker’s Bacara’s demonstration will learn to prepare lamb gyro pasta, with spiralized noodles made from zucchini.
A sensei of sensible cooking, Walker has a backstory as dramatic as a Grey’s Anatomy episode. For months, she had suffered drastic weight loss, joint pain, malnutrition, and countless doctor visits before being diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis, which begot multiple hospitalizations and blood transfusions due to low hemoglobin levels.
Facing surgery or an off-putting lifelong treatment, Walker successfully engineered a diet that yielded results. Then she began developing flavors and textures.
After Walker shared her recipes on her Against All Grain blog, they began resonating with foodies suffering from allergies and autoimmune diseases. Her online success (729,339 Facebook likes can’t be wrong!) led her debut cookbook to log more than 60 weeks on the New York Times Best-Sellers list in 2013 and inspire a 2014 sequel. (Her third drops this September.)
Though it was a medical nightmare that led Walker to adopt it, paleo offers benefits for the average person. “People on this diet tend to have more energy, and they sleep better,” Walker said.
Paleo has improved her system, although she does not sugar … um, honey coat it: “I’ve had ups and downs. I have not been in the hospital since 2010, which is a huge accomplishment.”
In a past professional life, Walker worked as a CEO’s executive assistant. So how does it feel to be the CEO of her own successful company? “It’s very nice to have more time at home for my family,” she said. “I’m doing something I’m passionate about and helping hundreds of thousands of people.”
Paleo Cooking Demo, Sat., Apr. 16, 11:30am-12:30pm, $35