Louis' Literature: Paleo Planet
Becky Winkler ’07 did not expect to publish a cookbook when she graduated from Brandeis with a bachelor degree in Psychology and Latin American Studies. While working as a part-time speech therapist, Winkler published her first book, “Paleo Planet,” in 2015.
Winkler’s journey to publication started with a food blog, even though it was originally comprised of mostly home-made desserts. Her enthusiasm for dessert can be traced back to her time at Brandeis. When she worked at Sherman Dining Hall during her freshman year, “[I] ate a lot of waffles with ice cream on top,” Winkler said in an interview with the Justice.
However, as she continued to share more desserts online, she found herself “gain[ing] a bunch of weight” and was cognizant that she had to make a change in her eating habits.
“So I decided [that] I would make my blog a healthy blog with paleo recipes,” Winkler commented. The paleo diet is structured to mimic the food that would have been consumed by cavemen. The diet is high in fat with moderate amounts of protein and minimal carbohydrates. After blogging paleo recipes for a while, Winkler was contacted by an editor. He asked her if she would be interested in writing a cookbook featuring paleo recipes, an idea he had been thinking about for a while. Winkler was excited by the idea and agreed to help.
When Winkler collects ideas for a new recipe, she utilizes different tools to help her brainstorm. Sometimes she is inspired by “something I tried at a restaurant” or simply by “Googling different ingredients.” On occasion, Winkler explained, “I just had an idea about flavors that might go well together … or made a paleo recipe of something that already exists.”
For Winkler, a paleo recipe is not merely guided by sticking with an arbitrary calculation of calories but rather includes a mingling of travel memories that add a touch of different cultures. With 125 recipes in total, her book includes the cuisine of different regions of Asia, Europe, South America and the U.S. This is part of her plan as she wants “the book to have most of the continents represented and a lot of the major cuisines that people might be looking for.”
Besides an opportunity to gain exposure to different cultural dishes, Winkler hopes her cookbook will inspire readers in other ways.
“I hope that people can use it in a variety of ways. I hope that people will thumb through it when they’re feeling bored and looking for inspiration. I hope it helps people get a healthy dinner on the table. I think that the main point of cookbooks is to help us be well fed, you know, without getting bored,” Winkler said.
When asked for easy steps to pursue a healthier diet, Winkler responded that a great start would be to obtain local food, especially vegetables. Winkler revealed that her cooking is inspired by local vegetables and her meal planning starts “around the vegetables [she has].”
Winkler also expressed her opinion of local and organic food. Both of them are important to Winkler, but she noted that “it is about knowing the way your food is raised.” Winkler gave an example of organic food transported from California, which might have traveled for a long time and which might not have been processed in an environmentally friendly way. Local food can be “a support to local farming in the area,” with fewer traffic needs. It also can incorporate “all organic practices.”
At the end of the interview, Winkler offered advice for current Brandeis students —keep your eyes open and find your passions. “What I studied at Brandeis has nothing to do with what I’m doing now or with my cookbook. Don’t limit yourself. Even if something wasn’t in your plan, if something exciting comes up, you can give it a try,” Winkler concluded.