My name is Karen Frazier. I am an author, artist, writer, musician, wife, mother, and volunteer who loves to spend my free time in the kitchen. For me, cooking has always been about love and creativity. I pour love into the foods I feed my family. I love spending hours twiddling away time in the kitchen, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that.
For nearly three decades, I struggled with chronic illness, obesity, and debilitating pain. During that time, I tried virtually every type of diet from low-carb to low-fat to vegan in an attempt to heal myself. As I went from diet to diet, I grew sicker. A few years ago, I finally found the perfect way to eat that works for me: a minimally processed, paleo-ish, low-carb diet that calmed my inflammation, allowed me to lose 145 pounds, and helped me feel better than I had in years.
After my own struggle with finding a way to eat that supported my health, I arrived at the philosophy that the path to good health went directly through the foods we put into our bodies. However, I’ve never believed one single diet works for every person. Rather, I feel people need to customize their diet to meet their own unique nutritional and health needs.
The idea food should serve as only fuel is a common one, but it was never a philosophy that worked for me. Food is an ingrained part of our culture, as well as our social and family structure. Because of this, it takes on special significance that makes it far more than just fuel. We have an emotional connection to food; we socialize with food; we show love with food; we celebrate with food. It is deeply ingrained in our cultural, familial, and social identities, and I believe just because you’re on a special diet doesn’t mean you have to give all this up. There’s no need to sacrifice flavor in pursuit of health. With this firmly in mind, I’ve written multiple cookbooks for people on different types of special diets using my knowledge of flavor, texture, nutrition, and cooking techniques.
My Evolving Food Philosopy
You may notice as you peruse the recipes on this cooking blog, it appears I have a nutritional identity crisis. In fact, what is here is part of my evolving philosophy about food. I’ve been writing this blog for years. Some of the older recipes don’t have any food philosophy at all other than deliciousness, while later recipes fit within certain diets, such as gluten-free, low-carb, or ancestral style eating.
I have always believed in using the freshest, highest quality ingredients possible. To that end, I love farmers’ markets and CSAs, which provide fresh, local, organic ingredients. In a world with fast, processed, packaged, and convenience foods, I believe people have forgotten what “real” food tastes like. I love to cook for my family and friends, showing them just how good simple, home-cooked food can taste.
I have a casein allergy, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and celiac disease, as well as multiple chemical sensitivities. In the past, there were times I cooked things for my family I couldn’t eat myself. Unfortunately, this often lead to cross contamination, which irritated my celiac disease. Resultantly, I was sick a lot. Then, I started to adapt recipes so they were gluten-free and dairy-free. In my older recipes, you will notice I show traditional and gluten-free/dairy-free adaptations whenever possible.
Currently, my husband Jim and I follow a more ancestral style of eating. I suppose you could call it paleo or primal. For us, it isn’t about following a specific template exactly. Instead, it’s about our health. You see, with my multiple issues (autoimmune diseases) and Jim’s recent heart attack, we both realized what we were eating was affecting our health. I began to study nutrition intensively, monitoring the latest studies on eating for autoimmune disease and heart disease. In my research, I determined that this low-carb, ancestral style diet was the best way for us to eat.
Now my goal is to offer deeply nourishing foods that promote health. Gone are processed foods, sugars, conventionally grown produce, factory farmed animal proteins, grains, legumes, and chemicals. Every meal is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. I seldom use canned ingredients (with a few exceptions). My philosophy is if we follow this type of a plan 90 percent of the time, then our health will be benefit. That means you may occasionally find ingredients many don’t consider paleo in some of the recipes, such as wine, dairy, and sriracha. Most of my meals are also primarily low-carbohydrate, which means you won’t find a lot of paleo baking on this blog. I am pretty sensitive to the presence of any type of sugar – even natural sugars – in food, so I avoid it as much as possible. So far it seems to be working. We are both healthy and thriving.
This type of cooking takes a bit more effort, but I’ve found ways to make it work. I cook in batches, and we eat two meals per batch plus extras to freeze. I use my slow cooker a lot. I make casseroles on the weekend that Jim can take to work for breakfast/lunch during the week. These simple strategies allow me to make delicious meals without spending every waking minute in the preparation of food.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Etta Kirk, my kitchen mentor. Etta was an important part of my life for 47 years. She was a second mother to my sisters and me, as well as a surrogate grandmother to my children. From her I learned a great deal about more than just cooking.
In the kitchen, she taught me how to be an adventurous chef. She shared her passion for cooking with me and was always one of my biggest cheerleaders.
In life, she taught me to be a positive person who throws myself into things with a passion. She also taught me how to be a gracious hostess. Everyone was always welcomed at Etta’s table. She made visitors feel special and at home.
While she is missed greatly, Etta will always live on in me and all of the others whose life she touched.