Carly Paige shares the healing power of home cooking

Carly Paige’s father was dropping her off at school one day when she was around 12 when he said something she will never forget. “I really hope one day you realize you don’t have to wear so much makeup,” he said.

Looking back now, at 32, Paige knows what her dad meant: she didn’t need to cover up so much. She is naturally beautiful. He was simply a father trying to support his teenager.

Carly Paige enjoying a smoothie. Photography courtesy of FitLiving Eats.

During her college years, acne hit Paige hard. As a student at tiny Orangewood Christian School in Maitland, Florida, Paige felt it was hard to hide from the world. She spent her days covering her face with her hair and leaning on her palm in class. She tried antibiotics, creams and chemical peels. The worst involved two-month treatments with Accutane, a powerful drug used to treat severe acne, which wreaked havoc on her body. “I’ve literally tried everything under the sun,” Paige said.

Try Paige’s Simple and Refreshing Green Goddess Power Bowl Recipe

After graduating from Palm Beach Atlantic University, Paige worked as a digital media manager, but soon wanted something different in her life. She took jobs at a fitness studio and a juice bar. For the first time, Paige began to focus on the quality of the food she ate, and her skin reaped the benefits. Not only did her complexion clear, but she felt better than she had ever felt before. It was then that she adopted the mantra: “Food has the power to heal”.

Inspired by her own life transformation, Paige created a healthy eating brand called FitLiving Eats, which offers events, a popular cookbook, and a successful personal chef service in Winter Park. The message through all of this is simple: eating well makes you feel better.

Growing up in the Altamonte Springs/Maitland area of ​​Orlando, Paige said she had a very different take on healthy eating. She always believed that if food was home cooked, it must be good for you. “As long as my mom put dinner on the table, it was healthy,” she said. If a package had the words “low fat” or “low carb” in it, she figured that was good for you too. She remembers sitting on the kitchen counter watching and helping her grandmother make pancakes and chocolate chip cookies and helping out her mother with pizzas. homemade and confetti pasta with meat and red sauce. In high school, she cooked with friends, and in college, while her roommates survived on quick meals, Paige served complicated dishes like butternut squash risotto.

These Moroccan-spiced quinoa and cauliflower burgers are packed with protein

While working at the juice bar and fitness studio in Winter Park, Paige signed up for a health coach program. She learned about the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods and whole grains, good carbohydrates and fats, and nutrient dense foods. “I’ve had people walk into the juice bar and comment, ‘Wow, your skin looks so good. It’s so clear. It’s so brilliant,” Paige said. “I really had my eyes opened to get back to basics, back to unprocessed plant foods.”

She started cooking more vegetarian and vegetable-based dishes, which still defines her cuisine today. With juice bar ingredients, she boosted the health factor of her meals by adding things like nutritional yeast, replacing dairy with cashew cream, and replacing traditional sweeteners with coconut sugar. coconut. “It’s about knowing those substitutions that you can cook with that change the value of what you put in your body.” Feeling better and looking better has helped Paige shake off the insecurities that have plagued her since her old acne days. She realized how many of her decisions — like the boy she dated in high school with a propensity for stealing — were made simply to fit in, to feel valued.

At Carly Paige’s Simply exchanged every day cookbook offers 75 simple plant-based recipes. Photography courtesy of FitLiving Eats.

Hoping to expose others to what she had learned, Paige started FitLiving Eats six years ago as a health coaching program that would teach people how to eat better. She has given cooking classes, posted recipes on social media and published a plant-based cookbook, Simply exchanged every day, which emphasizes the benefits of swapping healthier ingredients that increase the nutritional value of a dish. But she realized that most people wanted quick fixes, and they constantly asked if she would just cook for them. Paige resisted at first, fearing that a lack of experience would set her up for failure. She gave in three years ago and pivoted her business to include a personal chef service, where she and her team cook healthy meals in customers’ homes.

The pandemic forced Paige to change again, as entering people’s homes was suddenly no longer an option. She opened a ghost kitchen in Winter Park, preparing meals for takeout or delivery. Her mom, always an accomplice in her kitchen, came to help and together they developed some of Paige’s most popular recipes: tomato basil soup, double chocolate sweet potato brownie muffins and spinach black bean enchiladas. Drawing lessons she learned from her days at the juice bar, Paige incorporates easily-hidden ingredients into tasty recipes, like brownies that contain sweet potatoes that you can’t taste but boost the nutritional factor of the treat.

I really had my eyes opened to get back to basics, back to unprocessed plant foods.
—Carly Paige

A team of six now works out of the kitchen, preparing meals for an average of 25 customers per week. Unlike many meal preparation services, FitLiving Eats is completely personalized, with each customer’s meals tailored to their tastes and dietary restrictions. That means the team bakes “anything and everything,” including chicken parmesan, zucchini-stuffed lasagna, black bean and spinach enchiladas, energy bites and healthy chocolate chip cookies for the children.

It’s clear that Paige isn’t the only one craving cleaner eating. She has a waiting list for new clients and is looking to expand, perhaps expanding to more locations. “He grew beyond my wildest dreams,” she said. “It’s not something I thought I wanted, but now that I have it, I can’t imagine going without it.”

Despite her success in business and improving her own health, Paige is open that she still struggles with her insecurities and doubts. “Even now,” she says, “I’m still working on not defining myself by imperfections.”

Treat yourself to these gluten-free sweet potato double chocolate brownies

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