I’ve done plenty of reviews on this blog over the years, but never a cookbook review! I’m super excited to tell y’all about possibly the single most fantastic cookbook out there – because it’s so much more than just a cookbook!
Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper, the authors of the Coconuts and Kettlebells cookbook and health guide, are two amazing women who (no exaggeration) have changed my life over the past three years. Three years ago I was introduced to their podcast, The Well Fed Women (formerly The Paleo Women), by my equally amazing and life-changing sister-in-law Margaret. At that time I was newly married, had just begun living the gluten free/dairy free/grain free life and was desperately trying to figure out what “health” even meant. I had considered myself healthy my entire life – I never dieted or counted calories. I just ate in moderation, walked on the treadmill, tried to restrict “bad” foods and was pretty darn good at following the current health guidelines. I should have been happy and healthy, but I wasn’t. I thought about food from morning till night, was almost constantly hungry, and thought that if I could just be a little more disciplined with my food and exercise I could finally be happy with the way I looked. As you may have guessed, it never worked.
Just before I got married, my constant nausea, trouble sleeping, physical weakness, frequent colds and general fatigue couldn’t be ignored anymore. My doctor told me to stay away from dairy and grains (gluten in particular), and the nausea finally went away. I also was introduced to T-Tapp workouts at this time. I was avoiding the foods my body couldn’t handle and doing workouts that truly made sense. I still didn’t feel right though. I was inflamed all the time, had trouble sleeping and just generally felt off. Even though NOW I was being ”truly” healthy (doing better workouts, avoiding “bad” foods, etc.) and was more fit than I’d ever been before, my old arch nemesis still loomed. I still hated my body.
Enter The Well Fed Women podcast! Noelle (a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner) and Stefani (author and founder Paleo for Women) rocked my world. Both of these ladies had gone down the same path of conventional “health” that I was on, only they had gone all the way down – and eventually hit rock bottom with eating disorders and a slew of health problems. They discovered the simple yet revolutionary truth that the secret to health doesn’t lie in eating less. It lies in eating more. By focusing on nutrient dense foods and making sure that they got a minimum of 2,000 calories a day, they finally made their way back to health and balance. They grew to appreciate and love their bodies the way they were – working with them instead of fighting against them.
I loved the ideas Noelle and Stefani presented in their podcast, but wasn’t 100% sure their message applied to me. I “just knew” I was eating enough. And besides, I still had “weight to lose” so that definitely meant that I was eating plenty and not overexercising, right? It wasn’t until I was 3 months postpartum and my milk supply was drying up that I finally counted calories for the first time in my life. I was horrified to find that I was eating an average of only 1,300 calories a day. That’s sufficient for a small child, but I was a fully grown woman, still healing up from birth and feeding another human being! I knew then I had to make a change and did so immediately. I doubled my food intake overnight and over the next few months I finally learned what health truly meant for me.
The Well Fed Women podcast helped me more than I can express through this whole process. Their relatability, scientific accuracy, humor and (most importantly to me) focus on mindset around food and body image combine to make a powerful resource for women trying to get out of the “eat less and exercise more” trap. There are nearly two hundred episodes on everything from hormonal issues to postpartum health to rethinking societal norms regarding weight. I highly recommend checking it out.
But for those who aren’t into podcasts or would prefer to have all this awesome info laid out in written form, there’s the Coconuts and Kettlebells book!! So much more than just a collection of recipes, this book tackles mindset first. It flips the script on traditional health advice and sets minimum caloric goals instead of the traditional maximum limits. It then includes a plan for taking the most problematic foods (grains, dairy, vegetable oils and refined sugar) out of your diet for four weeks, to see which foods work for your body and which don’t. The latter half of the book is full of delicious, nutrient-dense recipes and workout plans (although honestly, I still exclusively do T-Tapp and highly recommend it above any other workouts). For $20 on Amazon, it’s so much good information for such a good price!
That was a lot of backstory, but I really can’t explain how revolutionary and helpful their book is without sharing how much they impacted me personally. I now eat freely (and frequently!), exercise gently in a way that helps my body, I feel fantastic and perhaps most importantly, I am no longer mentally consumed with food and body image. I still have a ways to go before I can stop hearing the lies in my head for good, but now I’ve got solid truth to combat them – and the clear evidence of how healthy and free I feel on a daily basis. I wouldn’t be at this point today without The Well Fed Women (or Margaret, who introduced me to them and whose blog is also chock full of truth!). I highly recommend their new book not only as a cookbook but as an introduction to a new way of life and a guide to health and freedom around food for good.
Are any of you readers interested in hearing more about this topic of food and body image freedom? As you may be able to tell from this post, I’m pretty passionate about it and would love to write more if it’s something y’all would like to read. Let me know in the comments – and also let me know if you get the Coconuts and Kettlebells book and what you think of it!