Perspectives: Kelly Boyer of Paleta
For Executive Chef and Licensed Integrative Nutritionist Kelly Boyer, this is the health-minded career she never knew she always wanted.
In 2006, Kelly Boyer started PALETA in her kitchen, delivering nourishing twists on trendy cuisine with ingredients sourced from local farms, cruelty-free ranches and responsible fisheries. A survivor of late-stage terminal ovarian cancer, Chef Kelly’s mission is to introduce the world to a healthier lifestyle through the convenience of her daily home meal delivery service.
Let’s talk a little bit about the personal history behind PALETA. What inspired you to create the brand?
I experienced a life-changing event when diagnosed with a rare and advanced form of terminal ovarian cancer at the age of 21. I beat the cancer and altered the course of my life forever. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to introduce the world to a healthier lifestyle. After graduating with honors from the Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts program, I decided to apply my cooking techniques to create more healthful fare. Friends started asking me to cook for them, and then referred me to their friends, relatives, physicians and personal trainers. Thus, my little passion project became my life’s calling.
What is the one thing that makes it easier for you to push through those very real entrepreneurial struggles?
My favorite part of the job is when clients tell me about their successes. I love hearing that they’ve reached a particular goal – whether that be losing weight, being properly nourished while going through chemotherapy, having a healthy pregnancy, lowering their cholesterol, gaining muscle mass, or just having time to enjoy their lives outside of the kitchen.
You have a unique philosophy when it comes to recipe development. Tell us about that.
I’m a classically French-trained chef who reverted back to healthier ways by adjusting the cooking techniques I learned in school to apply to more nutritional recipes. I became licensed as a nutritionist to have an even deeper understanding of how and what is best to eat. I truly believe that healthier eating saved my life. I KNOW that what we put into our bodies really matters. And because of my love of food, I knew I could create clean recipes.
What are you proudest of in your journey as the founder of PALETA and what was your hardest-earned lesson?
The thing that I am most proud of is that I started PALETA on my own steam. I’m 100 percent self-funded and really wanted to build something on my own. And I wanted to do it with the highest integrity, meaning the best ingredients in the most eco-conscious ways. With lofty goals come a lot of lessons! My passion project turned into a business I never expected or planned for.
I’ve had to learn to really train people well, provide detailed direction and ultimately trust others to delegate some of the workload to. This is something I still struggle with, because I love to be hands-on and do things myself, but a team is necessary to get the big work done.
Is there one piece of advice you continuously give to your clients, friends and family?
Every person is unique, so having to decipher what is best for YOU at any given point in your life is not simple. It’s also incredibly important that women understand how our bodies need different types of nourishment at different points in our lives. From hormonal shifts to bone density, things change from one decade to the next. Learning how to feed your body properly as you grow older can prevent diseases and other unnecessary complications.
Let’s stay on that theme for a bit. How can we stay on top of our nutritional needs as we age?
In your 20’s you need to know…
Our bodies are actually still growing and require hefty building blocks of protein. Complex carbs like quinoa and sweet potatoes are also desirable to sustain energy in what is likely a pretty fast-paced time of life. Think of this decade as a time to invest in your health; what you consume now can have a direct impact on your health 25 years from now. Calcium-rich foods are ideal! They will strengthen your bones to keep you active for the rest of your life.
In your 30’s you need to know…
It’s all about maintaining and strengthening the foundation we’ve laid for good health in our twenties. One of my favorite new sources of nutrients is organic bone broth, which supports a healthy gut, immune system and joint health, and helps to decrease cellulite. At this stage of life, brainpower can be pushed to the limit and balance can be a struggle. I reach for superfoods that are rich in polyphenols, which are powerful brain protective antioxidants. Good examples include coconut oil, blueberries, turmeric and wild salmon.
This is also the time when you might begin to see more subtle signs of aging. Fine lines and gray hairs might start popping up. I don’t like to use the term “anti” aging because aging is not a bad thing. I’m grateful every day to be “aging;” clearly it’s better than the alternative! But, I do believe in slowing down the process by eating loads of antioxidants like those found in berries, tropical fruit, rainbows of produce and leafy green vegetables.
And remember that you start losing bone mass at 35, so be calcium-conscious! We also start to see a slowing down of our metabolism and an increase in stress levels, so we have to make some life adjustments. I choose yoga and meditation to help me combat high cortisol levels and fat storage from stress.
In your 40’s you need to know…
…what’s coming down the pike. This is when digestive problems can start to show up, especially if you have a history of eating a lot of processed foods. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir or live culture yogurt can help balance your gut bacteria. It might be the right time to start taking a probiotic supplement to support the good gut bacteria growth.
By the time you reach your forties, estrogen levels are dipping. Eat more foods that are natural phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen) like organic, unprocessed soy and cruciferous vegetables to help balance your hormones. We’re also continuing to age, so we want antioxidants to promote skin elasticity. An easy way to get them is by eating tons of colorful fruits and veggies. General rule of thumb: the brighter the fruit or veggie, the more antioxidants. Snack on loads of blueberries, strawberries, oranges, beets and bell peppers.
Awesome and so helpful! Alright, so let’s finish this up with you telling us…what’s yet to come for you and PALETA?
My wish to nourish the planet is somewhat limited by sheer geography, so I’m in the process of penning a health and nutrition-based cookbook to help everyone understand how unique and individual we all are and how we all need different things. While there is a foundation of “basics” that we all need to lead a healthy and vital life, there are many ways to “get there.” One size does not fit all. I plan to provide recipes and tips for not just anyone, but for those with unique needs. I am creating a single recipe, but with multiple versions to suit many palates.