About Allan & Emily

Allan Taylor & Emily MacKenzie of Hunt&Gather Blog

We are Emily MacKenzie and Allan Taylor, an Edmonton-based couple who are passionate about food and cooking. We believe in healthy, natural, local, ethically grown/raised foods that are delicious and nourishing. We love supporting local businesses and the amazing community of like-minded foodies in our area.

What We Eat

We essentially follow the “paleo” diet, which is up for a bit of interpretation, but is essentially an attempt to recreate the kind of diet that prehistoric man ate,
working on the idea that the foods we evolved to eat, and survived off of for almost all of human history, can act as a good template to what we should be eating
today. I am not an authority on the finer points of why or how to eat this way, but I’ve certainly done a lot of reading on the matter, and you should too (see blog
recommendations at the bottom of this page). We sometimes eat foods that are not typically counted as paleo, mostly cheese and yogurt. We love cheese and yogurt, tolerate them well, and have not found any compelling reasons to cut them from our diet completely. And sometimes we completely throw caution to the wind and enjoy a nice “cheat” meal out, because we are not healthy-eating robots 🙂

Here’s the gist of our diet, though:

EAT LOTS OF:

Meat – Most of our calories come from meat. We buy from local farmers who treat their animals humanely, give them access to open pasture, and raise the animals more or
less organically (not necessarily certified, but certainly not pumping any animals up with hormones and antibiotics). We eat meats of all kinds, because they are
delicious.

Fats – Another (large) portion of our calories come from fats. Mostly animal fats (incuding butter and ghee), coconut oil, olive oil, and sometimes macadamia or
avocado oil.

Eggs – We eat a shocking number of eggs for 2 people. Only from free range chickens. Also ducks.

Vegetables – Meat may be most of calories, but vegetables are most of the volume. We eat a ton of vegetables. Again, we strive for local and organic, but we are much
less strict here than with meat.

Fruit – I try to exercise moderation and only have fruit with meals, but Allan would gladly eat all fruit all day given the chance. We end up eating quite a bit, if
I’m being honest. It doesn’t seem to be doing any harm or hampering any weight loss efforts. We’re WAY more lax on the local thing here, because an Edmonton deep-
freeze is not the best environment for fruit most of the year. We sure do take advantage of it when it’s in season, though.

Nuts – Small amounts, anyway. Preferentially cashews and macadamias. No peanuts (you’re not a real nut, peanut! stop pretending!)

DON’T EAT:

Sugar – I will sometimes use small amounts of honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. I try not to make a habit of it. Refined sugars are eliminated completely. This
includes artificial sweeteners.

Grains – Wheat, corn, rice, all of ’em. When I do “cheat”, I still try to avoid wheat, as I don’t tolerate gluten well. But sometimes a slice of wood-fired pizza is
worth the tummy ache, I’ll admit.

Legumes – Beans, lentils, peanuts, soy. These are just barely edible, and not extremely rewarding. No big loss. Exception is made for legumes that are mostly green plant matter (green beans, snap peas, snow peas). Soy is not terribly tempting but weirdly difficult to avoid.

Seed oils – Canola, soybean, grapeseed, sunflower seed, etc. Processed until they taste like nothing. Heavily prone to oxidation. None of these oils can hold a candle
to a tub of duck fat, flavour-wise. This is not a big deal when cooking at home, but it is a HUGE deal when trying to eat out, and is actually the biggest reason for
me not even trying to eat elsewhere. These are in everything.

For more information on why we eat the way we do, check out these excellent blogs, written by people much more dedicated to research and nutrition than I am:

marksdailyapple.com
whole9life.com

Emily’s Story

I grew up, I guess like most girls, with a complicated relationship with food. I loved food, especially junk food, and ate it compulsively, but never without guilt and
shame. I was always overweight. I got bullied badly for my junior high school years (I clearly remember a period where I couldn’t eat around other kids, because they
found it way too hilarious) and struggled with anxiety and depression, as well as constant stomach pain. I underwent all kinds of unpleasant tests to get to the bottom
of the stomach pain, only to be told by a matter of elimination that it must be IBS, and the recommended treatment was psychiatric treatment for my emotional issues.
Unfortunately, psychiatric drugs had a tendency to make me way sicker, even if they did negligibly improve my emotional well-being. I certainly did not feel “well”
while being treated with psychiatric medication (I tried several, on an ultimately fruitless quest to find one that worked well enough to justify the side effects).

I decided as an adult that I was fine with being a little overweight. People were way less cruel to me in the “real world” than in school. I managed to snag a husband
that seemed to be way out of my league. I got my mood disorder more or less under control, eventually coming completely off of medication. I still got sick to my
stomach pretty often, but nothing to send me running to the doctor. Things were ok. I told myself I was maintaining a slightly chubby figure, somehow in denial about
the fact that I was well into obese territory and gaining. Little by little, all the “boundaries” I’d set for myself got pushed. I would never weigh more than 200 lbs.
I would never be larger than size 14. I would never have to shop at plus size store. I had all kinds of excuses for abandoning all these little promises.

I couldn’t tell you exactly why it happened, but abruptly, at age 25, I decided that I’d had enough of being “the fat girl”. I was leaving what should have been my
physical prime, and I’d never really been healthy or fit. I saw myself as a very bright young woman who could do anything I put my mind to, but somehow I was failing
at something as basic as keeping my body in good shape – something that all evidence suggested did not really take a rocket scientist to do. I was sick of crying in
fitting rooms, deleting pictures of myself, and avoiding the doctor. So I went on a low carb diet and stuck to it for several months. I joined a taekwondo class and
took up running. What had always seemed so daunting before – “oh god, it’ll take me YEARS to lose all this weight!” – ended up seeming like an impossibly rapid
transformation. 1-2 lbs a week added up quickly. For a while all that denial caught up to me (“didn’t I ALWAYS look this way? how did I have to lose 40 lbs to look the
way I had already pictured myself?”), but eventually was overtaken by genuine surprise with how I looked. I’d see photos of myself and wonder if they’d been
photoshopped to make me thinner. My own body was a strange curiosity to me, a fun experiment without all the emotionally-charged drama attached. A major switch had
been flipped. Already 60 lbs down, I learned about the paleo diet and transitioned gradually into it. On the surface it seemed like a small shift from the low carb diet we’d been on before, the major changes being abandoning legumes and embracing some more starchy vegetables like squash, carrots, and sweet potato, and fruit. Sweet potato and fruit are way tastier than legumes, so no issues there! But as we got more into it, we had to face the finer points. The more I read, the less I could justify things like artificial sweeteners, industrially processed seed oils, and low-quality, factory farmed meats. So we jumped in with both feet and cleaned up our diet entirely, drastically cutting back on meals out, eliminating all but a few particularly high-quality prepared foods, and cooking at home from only high-quality ingredients. And things got even better. I lost more weight, yes, even with the increased carb consumption (from fruits/vegetables only). But in addition, my stomach problems vanished. My mood problems very nearly vanished, and became entirely manageable. Other things that I figured were just going to be little problems that bugged me forever, like acne and mild psoriasis, went away. I started out just wanting to be thinner, and ended up finding a world of health I never expected. 70 lbs down now, I still have weight to lose, and I thought I’d never say this, but I don’t even care. Weight loss at this point is incidental, a happy side effect of a life well-lived and a body well taken care of.

I’m thrilled that my husband has decided to embrace this diet like I have, enjoys my kitchen triumphs, and chokes back my kitchen failures with tact. I’m excited to
have a long, healthy life to look forward to with him.

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6 responses to “About Allan & Emily

  1. Pingback: About Allan & Emily | Edmonton Food·

  2. It’s great that you’re both working together on your diet and health – I’ve found it so much easier to have someone that supports me at every single meal!

  3. Pingback: Reconnaisance at Someone Else’s Book Launch | Jennifer Quist·

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