What is your food philosophy?
You have 21 meals in a week, each one is an opportunity to nourish or deplete yourself. Keep them simple, “Ideal Plate” them and make them count.
My “Ideal Plate” template is: have a good a balance of cooked and raw vegetables (at least one fistful of each), adequate protein (up to one palmful) and enough beneficial fats (about two thumb's worth).
How did you get into cooking?
I grew up in the kitchen with my grandmother. She’s a very straightforward and minimalist cook who places value on ingredients. As much as I’ve tried to be a “recipe” cook I keep coming back to her principles: it all starts with the goods.
How do you start the day?
I meditate upon awakening, before my family rises, it’s my number one non-negotiable. Following 20 minutes of Vedic Meditation I journal any thoughts that have risen, and then head to the bathroom to dry brush and practice simple Lymphatic Flushing techniques as I change into my workout clothes.
While in the kitchen prepping breakfast for the family I have the holy trinity: a large glass of water with the juice of one whole lemon, a black decaf Americano and of course my signature “Goddess Smoothie”, cacao being my favorite. Once the family is out the door I dive into my movement practice which these days is either a 4 mile walk and or a combination of yoga, pilates and stretching I do in my living room. These days I’m really enjoying moving at my own pace and in my own space.
What's always in your fridge?
Fennel, broccoli, radicchio, endives (I love bitters), some kind of leafy green and lettuces, zucchini, beets, eggs, cashew milk, good grass fed butter and a handful of good hard cheeses like Manchego and Parmigiano. And olives of all kinds like Botija and Castelvatrano. I love olives.
What’s always in your pantry?
CAP Beauty Togarashi and CAP Coconut Butter, 2-3 types of olive oils and vinegars and spice, lots and lots of spice. I love Burlap and Barrel Royal Cinnamon, Smoked Paprika, Black Lime and Buffalo Ginger.
What do you turn to, to make you feel your best: food and all the other practices?
Following the principles of my Holistic Nutrition Program “The Journey” helps me feel my best (yes I do walk my talk lol):
- Nutrition: I have my smoothie for breakfast, and an “Ideal Plate” lunch and dinner. Skipping meals is an easy way out, one which we pay for in the end. Please eat.
- Stress Management: Breathwork and meditation are medicine and support my body in processing daily pressures.
- Lymph Work: flushing the system is a must. The Lymphatic System is the toilet of the body and we are not flushing it daily.
- Movement: I move my body daily. This doesn’t have to be intense, moving energy has many faces. Some days I love a good sweat and others a 20 minute walk does the trick.
- Sleep: As a mother of two I didn’t sleep for many years. Since I reclaimed that gift I treat it like a precious diamond. No sleep, no recovery. Imagine loading your dishwasher in the evening and forgetting to hit the start button.
Favorite kitchen tool?
I’m really enjoying my OurPlace Always Pan, you can truly cook anything in it. And I’m loving my Beast Blender, it makes my Goddess Smoothie taste like a milkshake!
What would we be most surprised to find in your kitchen?
So many bottled sauces! I love a good hot sauce and bbq sauce, and as much as I love making my own everything (and I can make a killer roast tomato salsa), sauce is not my expertise so I leave that to the pros.
What ingredient are you most excited about right now?
The CAP Beauty Togarashi on everything! My 8 year old son eats it right out of the jar.
How do you like to eat?
I love breakfast with my kids, their conversations are intriguing. Spending alone time with them at this age is very special (8 and 10), I can see their personalities develop daily. When alone I eat in complete silence, no phone or distractions, a beautiful ritual that captures all of my attention.
Where did you learn your eating habits?
We always ate together as a family growing up in the Dominican Republic. Food took time to prepare and we honored that by taking our time enjoying it. I did lose that for a while when I first moved to New York and had to cultivate it again after I became a mother. I want my children to grow up with the understanding that food is a gift, and that our bodies are precious, and that they both need our devotion and attention.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks?
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Salt, Acid, Fat, Heat By Samin Nosrat
High Vibrational Beauty the CAP Beauty bible
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Where Cooking Begins by Carla Lalli Music
Go-to meal that you make for yourself more often than not?
A good frittata, loaded with veggies and topped with a little cheese.
How do you end your day?
In the late afternoon, once I finish work, I have my second Vedic Mediation sitting, it makes such a difference to bookend my day with it. I love preparing dinner for my family, we all sit in the kitchen and catch up as I cook. My son is very into cooking these days so he’s been helping me a lot. I always play music while in the kitchen, I want the kids to learn to enjoy making food for themselves and eventually for their own families. Once we clean up I have a cup of hot tea, it’s a new ritual that I’m cultivating, nettle and chamomile being my current favorites.
PAOLA’S CACAO GODDESS SMOOTHIE
1 1/2 cups nut milk of choice
2 T raw cacao
Pinch of Himalayan Salt
Pinch of Cinnamon
Handful of frozen spinach
Handful of blueberries
1 scoop Vital Proteins collagen peptides
One whole date
Blend and enjoy!