+ the healthy chef +


  • By
  • Teresa Cutter

My first experience with the Palaeolithic Diet or what’s also known as the  primal or Paleo Diet was about 20 years ago when I started competing in fitness figure competitions. I was working as a chef at the time and needed to lean up and get down to about 16% body fat in order for me to compete for my first competition.

My trainer told me to cut out all processed foods (basically anything in a can, jar or packet) as well as grains, which included foods such as bread, pasta, rice and refined sugars that would hinder my fat loss goals.  My eating plan consisted of lots of green vegetables, salads, fresh fruit, lean protein sources such as fish, organic eggs and grass fed meat or game meat PLUS raw nuts, seeds and and  small amounts of heart healthy fats.  It was basically a whole food diet that allowed me to nourish my body and maintain a positive nitrogen state to allow my body to build lean muscle, recover fast from my training and get lean.

I tailored my diet to suit my body and my eating style and I eventually found the perfect balance that worked for me.  Focusing on eating a plant based diet and making vegetables the main component of my meals, then adding quality protein, some fruit and healthy fats to compliment my eating plan and training regime. It was quite Mediterranean which I loved and consequently, traditional Mediterranean diets are low in what I call ‘the terrible three’ — saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar. At that time I was training 6 days a week  so I needed enough protein for recovery and to keep me energised. I made sure I had quality  sleep and enough rest to help me recover properly.  I felt fantastic, strong and full of energy. I never felt hungry and leaned up ready for my competition.

Since then, I’ve pretty much structured the way I eat and how I cook based around a primal / clean eating lifestyle – I’m not fanatical and I always give my diet the the 80/20 approach. The great thing about cooking this way is that it’s automatically a gluten free and whole food diet which is wonderful for celiacs or those who are sensitive to grains or who have gastrointestinal issues. I  enjoy the journey that exercising and healthy clean eating takes me on. I have quality rest and days off and try to maintain a healthy balanced routine.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that after only ten days on a paleo diet subjects experienced both physiological and metabolic benefits that included reduced blood pressure, lower levels of total cholesterol, lower fasting insulin levels as well as a lower insulin secretion after ingestion of glucose. In another three-month study the paleo diet improved glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with Type 2 diabetes, compared to a conventional diabetes diet focusing on grain-based carbohydrates. The diet also has anti-inflammatory benefits, due to its high levels of mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m not an extremist when it comes to my food and diet and enjoy everything in moderation  80/20 style. The recipes I cook on this web site are all foods I love to eat.  I enjoy  what you may call my modified primal eating plan – A BALANCED DIET SUITED TO MY NEEDS and focus on plant based food sources that make me feel healthy and work for my body.

I remember when I used to have my healthy chef cafe,  I thought I could try and please everybody with my menu – this task was basically impossible, I remember at one stage I developed 3 types of banana bread for customers to enjoy – but I soon found out that still wasn’t enough – some can’t eat eggs, some are allergic to nuts etc. For me primal living IS NOT about loading up on meat at the dinner table – my personal diet focuses on vegetables, fruits and plant based whole food sources that are complimented with quality clean proteins (animal or plant based). Everyone has their own version of a healthy diet that suits them and thats fine…so it’s important to find out what works best for you.



Start guide to paleo:

1 Sort out your pantry:
Throw out all the junk, packets of chips, processed foods, cereal, bread, pasta and sugar.  Processed foods are generally high in salt, sugar, fat, preservatives and flavour enhancers such as MSG — all of which have been linked to disease, obesity, headaches, bloating and your body just basically feeling sick and lousy. Manufacturers add these to foods intentionally to make them taste better, so you’ll eat more of their product, make them more money, and along the way become addicted, sick and fat. The answer? Eat fresh! And if you can’t make it yourself then at least know what’s in the food you eat.

2 Shop Smart
Buy plenty of  vegetables and fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy fats such as avocado as well as healthy protein sources like fish, grass fed or game meat and organic eggs.

3 Eat Healthy:
Just by making a few simple changes to the ingredients you choose, how you cook them and your portion size you can make improvements to your health and wellbeing that last a lifetime. Make sure you include a little protein in every meal and combine with plenty of fresh green salad and veggies. The RDI (recommended daily intake) for protein basically covers the need for building, repairing and maintaining the body. It varies slightly depending on your age, weight and activity level. The average male would aim to eat around 0.84g per kilo of body weight per day, while for women it’s 0.75g per kilo of body weight per day. For athletes, children, pregnant women or the elderly the RDI is higher. Athletes in power sports or football, for example, may need up to 1.7g per kilo of body weight per day to aid in recovery. You can check out what you need by using my protein calculator.

4. Keep it Real
I’m not an extremist when it comes to my food and diet and enjoy everything in moderation 80/20 style. The recipes I cook on this web site are all foods I love to eat.  I enjoy  what you may call my modified primal eating plan – A BALANCED DIET SUITED TO MY NEEDS and focus on plant based food sources that make me feel healthy and work for my body. Everyone has their own version of a healthy diet that suits them and thats fine…so important to find out what works best for you.


5 Exercise
You don’t have to train like a CrossFit Olympian or Spartan warrior, the Greek physician Hippocrates believed walking to be man’s best medicine. It supports health in every sense both physiologically and mentally. This also includes incidental exercise such as walking to work instead of catching the bus or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

6. Sleep Well
Good-quality sleep is essential for the body and mind to revive, repair and recharge. Experts say that if you want to lose weight, you need to get enough sleep. Specifically, researchers have reported that those who sleep for 5 hours or less per night generally weigh more than those who sleep for 8 hours per night. People who sleep for 5 hours or less per night also have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome), which can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.


Paleo pumpkin bread
Gluten free banana bread
Power Porridge
Bircher Muesli
Fish in a Bag
Chilli Con Carne
Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potato
Naked Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Crumble
Green Vegetable Minestrone
Strawberries + Cream Smoothie


22 Responses to “PRIMAL CLEAN LIVING”
  1. Sussan says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Your blog articles and recipes are fantastic. I am currently back to training 6 days a week building to my 3rd marathon in July. I am adjusting my eating to follow exactly what you wrote about in the above article. My issue is though I have a sweet craving after my evening meal and was wondering if you have a suggestion on how to curb this?
    Thank you! Sussan :-)

    • Hi Susan – when I crave sugar I enjoy fresh fruits that always satisfies – sometimes blend with almond milk, coconut water and add protein – maybe a fresh whole date with my cup of green tea – my chocolate WPI mixed with coconut water which makes it taste like a bounty bar…lots of things…make sure you get enough rest and recovery too :)

  2. Linda Roberts says:

    Hi Teresa, my diet has slowly been changing the last couple of months towards more paleo without me actually realizing it. Your recipes, and way of eating really resonates with me. I train 6 days a week, running is my thing. Last year I did Oxfam Trailwalker, and wish to better my time this year. I am also doing the six foot track run in March. I have never felt healthier, or fitter. I am amazed and fascinated that I do not actually need carbs from grains, pasta, rice, etc to give me energy for endurance. How did we (as a society) get our ideas of food so wrong? Thanks for your inspiration. x

  3. Caitlin says:

    This article is really interesting, it seems to becoming a more popular way of living. Just wondering if beans, buckwheat, raw honey and raw cacao are concidred ‘paleo’? I’m clueless!
    Thanks :)

    • Hi Caitlin – there are so many variants of a paleo/primal eating plan you just need to adapt to your lifestyle and how you feel…Personally I am not a huge meat eater like may paleo enthusiasts and love my beans – they are great sources of protein that make me feel awesome. You can see by the recipes I design for my website – it’s the food I love to eat and enjoy. :)

      • Caitlin says:

        Thank you for your reply! I absolutely love my beans and not a fan of meat buy eat it it a few times a week (mainly being fish). I basically live a 90% paleo lifestyle, with oats being my fav and non paleo food. All your recipes are delicious, please post some more bean recipes! :)

  4. Sussan says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Many thanks for your reply and advice….they all sound yummy and I will be trying them to see if they curb the craving! Will also order some of your chocolate protein powder to try. I do have one more question re coconut water as I have never used this before. Is this fat free? How does it rate as far as calorie content goes?

    Many thanks
    Sussan :-)

  5. Melissa Ryan says:

    Thankyou Teresa for sharing this. I always love your recipes :)

  6. Sussan says:

    Hi Teresa,
    Apologies for all the questions but am very interested in way of living/eating. 2 of my concerns are; as a long distance runner I have been very used to having carbs i.e. pasta before a long run. What would you suggest is a old substitute for this? Secondly I have had issues with low iron and had been encouraged by a sports nutritionist to increase my intake of red meat. I am not a huge red meat fan but Laos don’t want to be on iron supplements long term. Do you have a suggestion for this?

    I really love the idea of the paleo lifestyle…it makes so much sense.

    Thank you for all your advice and wonderful recipes.

    Sussan :-)

    • AM says:

      Hi Sussan
      I’m a distance runner as well and eat according to a paleo lifestyle. The running community focuses heavily on carbs in the form of pasta/ bread/ rice/ cake/ SUGAR… which I find annoying, because I still get all my complex carbs when I need them through vegetables and fruit and without the help of the abovementioned (simple example- make a bolognese sauce and put on mashed sweet potato instead of pasta- much healthier!). I also incorporate quinoa and buckwheat where appropriate. My pre long run breakfast is quinoa flakes with almond milk and banana… found through trial and error to sustain me best through anything from a 15k to a 40k long run (often at a fair pace). I use my training times to test what works for me… Also, a book called “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” is an interesting read- basically, eat the nutrients as recommended by the book immediately before, during and after training and eat normally (ie: clean and paleo) for the rest of the day! Also make sure you’re meeting protein requirements (I had to see a nutritionist to ensure the balance was right). I hope this helps- just sharing my experience as I sometimes find the ‘bad carb’ minefield in the distance running community hard to deal with!!

    • Hey Susan
      Your sports dietician should be able to give you a list of iron rich healthy foods that you could easily incorporate into my healthy recipes and that includes both haem and non haem sources. (animal or plant based) beef, game meat, eggs, nuts, green leafy vegetables (I regularly make a large green vegetable juice every morning consisting of kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach,lemon,orange or kiwi – Vitamin C can help it’s absorption during your meal. )

      There may be many reasons for your low iron stores – (diet – gastrointestinal issues – foot strike haemolysis or just poor absorption)
      Your sports doctor and dietician will be able to assist with the best plan of attack for you and sometimes sups or intramuscular injections may be necessary.

      Your sports dietician will also be able to give you a list of plant based healthy carb sources such as sweet potato, peas, beetroot, pumpkin, fruit etc…. The amount of carbs you need will vary based on your size, frequency and intensity of your training so they should be able to work out the best individual plan for you.


  7. Glenn says:

    Excellent article with a sensible view on the whole paleo thing (though I can imagine some paleo extremists may come on board here and criticize some of the recommendations). So many people take on board the “paleo” trend by ingesting massive amounts of animal protein and lowering fruit and veg intake, or no fruit at all. What I see in your article is similar to my take-drop the processed rubbish, eat a sensible amount of protein, eat naturally. I think however, your views are respected enough without having to “brand” them as paleo. Let’s just call it eating healthy food! Cheers

  8. Shelly C says:

    Thank you Teresa, your blog posts and recipes are always so inspiring and informative and I love how REAL you keep it! I love that you don’t have Extremist all in or nothing views and encourage your readers to listen to their own bodies. I have learnt more about food and nutrition from you than from reading any book or signing up to any program. I owe a lot of my good health to learning from you! Thank you!

  9. Jo says:

    Thank you for such an informative and balanced explanation of paleo living. I have been paleo for 6 months now after reading every website, book and many journal articles on the topic.. Never hungry, leaner than ever and heaps of energy. Also vast improvements in dermatitis and sinus headaches that have plagued me for years and years. People often criticise my diet as extreme, i think using pharmaceuticals to mask all my past health issues was extreme!

    I will be showing this article to anyone who queries my way of eating in the future.

    PS. Your banana bread recipe is AMAZING!

  10. Melanie says:

    Hi Teresa, firstly happy new year! I really enjoy your recipes and modify where necessary to suit the family budget. However, I notice that my face is really sagging, despite the healthy diet I have. Lots of fruit, vegies, and lean animal protein and your protein powder every morning. Does what you eat really affect your appearance? I’d love to see you write an article on this subject, as it’s really affecting my self esteem despite my best efforts. Your skin always looks so full and healthy, I look like a emaciated mess in the face! (I’m at my perfect weight, definitely not skinny!). I’d really appreciate some input and ‘face food’ suggestions for this. Thank you, Melanie. :)

    • Nice idea Melanie – I’ll work on that for the blog. Look at other things in your life such as stress levels – sleep – environment – get a full check up too and get a full idea on your health status. These can all impact your health as well as the way you look. :) x

      • Melanie says:

        Hi Teresa,

        thanks for acknowledging my comment, much appreciated :) I can’t wait to read your upcoming article on the blog. I just got blood test results back and I super low in a lot of hormones, so I’m guessing that may be largley to blame! If you could also include some suggestions on how people like me could balance out the ‘hormone wars’, that would be awesome as I’m sure I’m not alone on this. Thanks again, Melanie.

  11. Kaye says:

    Hi Theresa – thanks for this article. I follow a similar daily diet but am not as good as I could and probably should be, especially over a weekend. However its working for me right now, and I’ve managed to lose weight, and am able to get my husband and kids (3yr & 1yr) to eat this way too. I also can’t go fully paleo as I enjoy meat, but not too much of it, LOVE fruit, and can’t imagine what I’d eat if I removed beans and legumes from my diet! My question is do you have suggestions for midweek breakfasts? I usually do oats cooked with bananas or apples or I have homemade muesli with plain yoghurt. And then of course we often do eggs etc over weekends. But the oats and muesli do get a bit boring. Thanks!

    • I like to vary it up a bit Kaye – vary your muesli by varying the nuts, seeds and fruit…you put into it….I love my eggs and enjoy then scrambled, poached or boiled or black beans with avo, black pepper and lime… the morning seems to be when every body is rushing around and time poor – so I often make smoothies using frozen blueberries, banana and my protein….check out the breakfast recipes on my site….loads to choose from :)

      • Kaye says:

        Thanks Theresa! I had a look (I should have before posting, whoops!) and they look great. Some really nice ideas. Regarding LSA – do you think I can make this myself if I can’t find in store? The power porridge looks delicious.

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