Marla Sarris of Paleo Porn … You’ve Been Stalked!

If you saw our review of Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan earlier this week, you know that I used to “stalk” people from the world of paleo.  That world is getting bigger and better all the time and we now have hundreds of incredibly talented contributors.  So it’s time for more stalking and Marla Sarris is our next victim!

Marla Sarris Author PortraitMarla Sarris is the “paleo porn star” and head chef at Paleo Porn (don’t be alarmed, we’re talking food porn). Marla is also the Chicago based author of the Paleo cookbooks Pigskin Paleo: Game Day Recipes and Los Paleo: Mexican Paleo Recipes.  Aside from spending time in the kitchen and cooking up new Paleo recipes for her and her husband Jeff, she also manages projects and shoots people (and food) at SPYR Media.  She’s been a regular contributor to Chowstalker since July 2012 and the variety of her recipes and her professional looking website really caught our eye.  So since real stalking is actually pretty creepy, we got to know Marla better by asking her the following questions:

When and why did you start following the Paleo diet?

When my husband Jeff and I were in college I started going to the gym with him. At that time I became more SAD (Standard American Diet) health conscious – although I didn’t know that term at the time. I would read women’s health magazines, follow big media health trends and read from authors such as Jillian Michaels. It wasn’t until Jeff found Mark’s Daily Apple in 2008 and I read The Primal Blueprint before everything really started to make sense for me. We went Paleo later that year.

For us it wasn’t a flip of the switch, I mean we didn’t change everything immediately. We made slow changes and transitioned our way from SAD to Paleo and now we follow 80/20 Paleo. 80% of the time we’re 100% Paleo and 20% of the time we may have a non-Paleo food off of the Paleo Diet food list, such as white rice, cheese or ice cream. Most of the time I prepare our meals and that makes up the 80%. When we eat out, we are more relaxed with our choices, although you won’t see us eating pasta – that is, unless we’re in Italy and immersed in the culture.

What’s the biggest benefits of doing so?

Unlike many people’s experiences I fortunately didn’t have any health issues to recover from. Aside from the immense benefits in terms of feeling better, the excess weight that I carried gradually vanished. Over the course of 3-4 years I lost a total of 60 pounds and have now hovered around a nice set point for my body.

I’ve always loved being active. I was a baton twirler and swimmer since the age of 5. One benefit for me from losing weight was that I felt comfortable trying new fitness regimens. When I found Zuzka Light I became a huge fan of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and my new fitness goal was to beat Zuzka’s score with every workout routine she released. It was especially helpful that all her workouts could be done from home, which is where I work out. I tried CrossFit and really enjoyed it but it became an obsession that took up all of my time & energy, so I had to stop after a few months. I still enjoy HIIT but I’ve now transitioned into adding heavy lifting (deadlifts, squats, etc.) to my weekly regimen and Jeff & I have built up a great little home gym, thanks to Craigslist.

The biggest benefit, aside from having my body at a more comfortable weight, would have to be awareness. I’m fully aware of the reactions that every food has on my body. I know exactly what to expect in the days following when I chose to eat a slice of non-Paleo pizza, cookies or ice cream. I now know anything sweet has a major affect on me. It’s super helpful to know how foods react with my body and that is truly what I think Paleo is all about. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle, but it’s different for every single person. In it’s essence it’s a framework to get started on a very personal trial and error experiment. What works for me, may not work for everyone else but I’m happy to share my experiences in hopes that it will help others.

Your website is really beautiful and I see that that it’s part of “SPYR Media” What’s that?

Thanks! I really love my constantly evolving online home. SPYR Media is our main business, our bread and butter if you will… well maybe that was a poor choice of words, but definitely grass-fed butter 😉

SPYR is me, my husband Jeff and our business partner and close friend Dave LaTulippe. We’re a boutique branding agency, with a focus on web design, who work with a handful of select clients every year. Building brands is our thing, though in simplest terms we’re a boutique web design agency.

Paleo Porn is a perfect example of our work. We designed and developed my website, produced and published both of my cookbooks and shot and edited my cookbook trailers, all in-house. Everything Paleo Porn has the SPYR Media seal of approval. :)

When did you start cooking and what/who influenced you?

Technically my first cooking experience was in middle school and it was a disaster. It involved baking a cake, buttering the bottom of the pan (literally) and my mom almost peeing her pants from laughing after walking in the kitchen to find my pan sitting upside down “waiting to dry”. Needless to say I am no baker, Paleo or otherwise :)

When I was in high school I wanted to eat different foods than what my mom & dad brought home so I sectioned off my own drawer in the refrigerator for “my food” because they would always eat what I bought. At that time it only consisted of lunch meat for my sandwiches, but as I started to read more health magazines during college that space in the fridge transitioned into holding my meat, fish and vegetables. Jillian Michaels was one initial inspiration for my diet changes before I found Mark Sisson.

When Jeff & I moved into our own home in 2006 I became the head chef for the first time and that’s when I really started cooking. Being a teacher I didn’t watch much TV but up until that time Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay was one of my favorite shows. I would watch and pick up little cooking technique’s with each episode.

Tell us about your cookbooks. What prompted you to write them and which one came first?

Pigskin-Paleo-RecipesLos-Paleo-Mexican-Paleo-Recipes

Prior to going Paleo I would get recipe inspiration from allrecipes.com and Martha Stewart’s FOOD magazine. I continued to use those resources as rough inspirations in my kitchen experiments to turn Standard American Diet recipes into Paleo diet recipes. After a while Jeff came up with the idea that I should compile all my cooking creations into my own Paleo cookbook. I thought it was a fantastic idea but at that time I was still teaching and had absolutely no time or energy to devote to a personal project.

After I quit teaching, I had more time to devote to gathering all my notes, recipes and photos from all my recipes and as my site grew I kept the cookbook in the back of my mind, always earmarking recipes for it’s eventual release.

Pigskin Paleo: Game Day Recipes was my first Paleo cookbook and it was published on September 5th, 2012 which was also the launch day of the NFL season.

My second cookbook, Los Paleo: Mexican Paleo Recipes was published on Cinco de Mayo 2013.

What’s your favorite recipe from each of the books?

Pigskin Paleo is my first love. Having devoted so much time in preparation for that book I truly love every single recipe, which makes it quite difficult to chose a favorite. If I really had to chose one I would have to choose Apple Pie in a Bowl. It’s ALWAYS a crowd pleaser and the quickest dessert you’ll ever make.

With Los Paleo, again, there are a lot of recipes that I really enjoy but my favorite above all the rest would have to be the Mexican Stew.

What do you have planned next?

There’s always something new coming out of my kitchen. Since we work from home I’m constantly creating new recipes but the transition from our plate to the blog is much slower than I would like. I’m currently working on streamlining this process, if I could duplicate myself that would make things so much easier.

Aside from creating a more consistent posting schedule, I’m also working on my next Paleo cookbook. If all goes as planned it will be released on the very concrete date of “soon”. 😉

The SPYR team is also working on some other awesomeness for Paleo Porn, but that will all be revealed in time.

Thank You Marla!

We all look forward to more great recipes from you and can hardly wait to see what happens next in your paleo kitchen!

And look for our next “YBS” (You’ve Been Stalked) victim in the near future.

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