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When and how did you become interested

in a paleo diet?

I found out about it through my GP, who is

also a naturopath, about three years ago. I

was battling a thyroid condition and adrenal

fatigue and he suggested it. I was cooking high

quality rich food with lots of creamy sauces,

butters and red wine – completely the opposite

to paleo. I was the only chef who brought

her own lunch box into work! It was very

conflicting. Then I met Mark (Rockley, owner

of Primal Pantry) and got to cook what I love

at work and at home.

What is a paleo diet?

It’s not full-on ‘let’s eat meat’, which is what a

lot of people think it is. It is a balanced diet of

predominantly fresh fruit and vegetables and

a portion of protein with that. In our cooking

we try to eat nose to tail, not just the muscle

meat, and it’s also about using the lesser cuts of

meat like beef cheeks, liver and offals and doing

interesting things with that.

Generally there’s no grain, no dairy, no

sugars, no processed food, nothing that’s been

genetically modified; there’s an acronym we

like to use, Just Eat Real Food (JERF). We use

the highest quality produce and we open no

packets. We even make our own baking powders

because they can have additives in them. We do

everything from scratch so we know everything

about where our food is coming from and how

it is prepared.

What have been the benefits for you?

I lost 25kg in weight, came off my thyroid

medication, am sleeping well and training hard.

What has been the biggest challenge in

switching to a paleo diet?

For me it was baking. I had to do a lot of research

and there is a lot of trial and error because there

are so many things you can’t use and you have

to change your mindset. However, the biggest

revelation for me was that my tastes changed,

everything tastes cleaner and clearer, and there’s a

heightened sense of taste and smell which is very

exciting from a chef’s point of view.

What do people learn at a paleo cooking


They learn that there are alternatives to common

diet staples such as rice, pasta and bread. We show

people how to change their eating habits with

great recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinners.

We do a dinner party from start to finish, sauces,

broths and braising and sweet treats as well.

What’s the most popular class?

Baking; everyone wants treats. We could sell

that one out over and over. Basics and baking

together is a popular combination.

What else can people find at Primal Pantry?

There’s a grocery section, paleo-based products,

a lot of things we use in the kitchen. There’s a

bread mix and a pancake mix we make and then

all you have to do at home is add the eggs. It

makes life easier because people are time poor.

We also do takeaway.

Primal Pantry, cnrMacquarie andFlorence Sts,

Teneriffe and newcafés nowat 1 Aspinall St,

Nundah and 18Hill St, Toowoomba. Open 6.30am

to 4pm, 7 days. Se

Executive chef

Primal Pantry


This chef swapped her

creamy rich cooking for a

paleo diet and now shows

others how to do it





4 eggs


cup coconut sugar

2 tbsp almond butter

2 tbsp coconut butter

1 vanilla pod, cut, scraped



sp bicarb soda

1 tbsp cinnamon


tsp allspice


tsp cardamom

1 tbsp raw cacao



cups hazelnut meal or almond meal

2 shots espresso



cup currants


cup sultanas


cup raisins


cup chopped figs


cup chopped dates


cup cranberries



cup apple juice


4 egg whites


cup warm honey


tsp vanilla


To make cake: combine all dried fruit and

marinate in apple juice overnight or longer

if time permits. Blend together eggs,

almond butter, coconut butter, bicarb,

vanilla and coconut sugar. In large bowl

combine marinated fruit, spices, cacao,

hazelnut meal and espresso. Stir in egg

mixture and pour into prepared cake

tin. Bake in pre-heated oven at 160° for

approximately 40 minutes.

To make icing: whisk egg white to soft

peaks, slowly add warm honey and

vanilla. Mixture should stiffen and turn

glossy. Decorate the cake with icing and a

selection of seasonal fresh berries.

Kitchen confidential

BNE December 2014/January 2015 |


Tracy Hirst’s paleo

Christmas cake