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November 05, 2014 / Nicole Villeneuve

Read the Blog, Eat the Meals: The Clothes Make the Girl

After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and seeing food as the enemy, Melissa found the Paleo diet in 2009 and has been happily following it ever since. Her blog, The Clothes Make the Girl, chronicles her triumphs and failures in the gym, in everyday life ... and my favorites, in the kitchen.

Melissa's first cookbook, Well Fed, brought together many of those successful recipes. Her new book, Well Fed 2, was named one of the best books of 2013 by and was a Washington Post best-seller. We're thrilled to share some of her favorite recipes on PlateJoy, for Paleo and Paleo-curious eaters alike!

Try meals from The Clothes Make the Girl and Well Fed and get $10 off your first order! Check out the menu here.

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What's your healthy eating philosophy?

After a three d Melissa Joulwanecades of "being on a diet," my philosophy now is to "just eat." I don't have strict food rules anymore, but now that I know how non-Paleo foods affect my mood, energy, and digestion, I eat them on only rare occasions. A few times a year, I make a conscious choice—"maybe I'll get a tummy ache, but I'm OK with that"—and indulge in non-Paleo foods. I savor every bite! Then I go back to the way I usually eat, which is pretty strict by most peoples' standards, but feels good and delicious to me.

How did you start cooking?

I grew up in a food-focused family, and I think this best summarizes the role food played in our lives: Our favorite breakfast topic was what we were going to have for dinner.

My family is a mini melting pot. My dad’s side is Lebanese and Dutch; Mom’s heritage is Italian and Slovak. That means as soon as I could reach the stove, I was learning how to make Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves and Italian Meat Sauce. My grandfather owned one of those beautiful stainless steel diners from the fifties, and my dad ran The Country Squire Restaurant, a combination coffee shop, formal dining room, and motel. I learned my way around a spice rack at the same time I learned the alphabet. My family ate stuff, like plantains and escargot, that none of my friends had ever tried, and “international cuisine” was our home cooking.

My family is happiest together in the kitchen: one of us chopping parsley or mincing garlic, another one manning the stove, and all of us talking over each other, giving order, and trash talking. There’s a feature of my cookbooks called “You Know How You Could Do That?” directly inspired by my family. When we eat in a restaurant, we try the food, then we say, “It’s really good, but... you know how you could do that?” After that, it’s a free-for-all of ideas that build on the chef’s starting point.

Tell us the story behind The Clothes Make the Girl . How did it start and where has it gone since then?

greenola_pan (1)My blog started out as a way for me to write to amuse myself, and I thought I was going to write about fashion. If you go back to my early days, I wrote about my favorite black boots, men in hats, and dressing like a French spy. But eventually, what really interested me was documenting how I was transforming my body and mind with clean food and smart exercise, so I started focusing on that.

Little by little, I realized my recipes were my most popular pages, and we wrote our cookbooks Well Fed and Well Fed 2 in response to the huge number of requests we were getting from blog readers. My blog is the place where I share the experiments I'm doing on myself with food and training. I joke that I’m on a mission to be a superfit, well-fed, dressed-to-kill, glossy-haired, rock-n-roll, tart-tongued detective. What that means in practice is that I lift heavy things a few times a week, walk/run outside as often as I can, meditate every day, and eat a fairly strict Paleo diet most of the time.

How do you treat yourself?

I feel really indulgent when I lie on the couch and watch "Jeopardy!" or a "Law & Order" re-run for the umpteenth time. This activity may or may not include eating in front of the TV. I'm very, very (very) fortunate that I work for myself now, which means most regular days feel like a treat. I work out. I write. I cook. I meditate. But if I really need to create a sense of comfort, I put on squishy clothes, grab a blanket, and watch something silly on TV.

What are some of the meals you can find on PlateJoy?

Comfort zucchini noodle bowl with eggs and almond breadcrumbs; Grain-free kale granola; Paleo egg foo yong; Sweet potato soup with bacon and chives; Stir-fried Thai beef with basil and cauliflower "rice"; Beef bibimbap with cauliflower rice and fried egg; Cucumber, smoked salmon and avocado sushi rolls; Smoky pear and bacon bites; Caramelized coconut chips; Cardamom-spiced cantaloupe.

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Nicole Villeneuve

Nicole Villeneuve is a certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. A graduate of Yale University, she previously worked in book publishing, with a focus on cookbooks and health, and ran the food blog Paper and Salt. Her writing has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Daily Beast. Nicole lives in San Francisco and loves cooking, reading, exploring new restaurants, and running by the ocean. You can (very occasionally) find her on Twitter.

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