About Me

Ciarra Colacino 1 | The Colacino Kitchen

Hey! I’m Ciarra Colacino.

The Colacino Kitchen is an expansion of my former blog, Popular Paleo, that was available from 2012 to 2018.

After my son was born in 2010, my thyroid took a big hit. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and very much not happy about it. I read every book on thyroid health, inflammation, digestive health, and alternative nutrition I could get my hands on. I was determined to solve this.

Paleo made sense to me—remove foods known to trigger inflammatory responses, nix the soy to help hormones stay in balance, and no sugar… obviously. But do you remember what Paleo food was like back in 2010? Spoiler alert:

It was not good.

So I thought going vegan would be the answer. The food was by far more appealing! But man, I’m definitely a carnivore. And I learned from reading all those books how an excess of carbohydrates can be problematic for anyone managing a hypothyroid, which certainly proved true for me. A year later… ugh.

Back to Paleo.

Thankfully I discovered Michelle Tam’s blog, Nom Nom Paleo, Melissa Joulwan’s blog and cookbook, the original Well Fed, and Chef Simone Miller of Zenbelly. These women can cook! This was the Paleo I could get into.

But being raised in the kitchen by an Italian grandmother and a Chinese grandfather, I wasn’t content with being a passenger on this new journey. I wanted to play around with my own ideas. A friend casually suggested, “hey, why not start a blog?”… The easy answer was to brush off the idea, because I had zero idea how websites worked. But I took the leap anyways and Popular Paleo was launched in 2012. (YouTube videos for the win!)

Ciarra started cooking | The Colacino Kitchen

Health became my life.

I ran 10 miles a week, did CrossFit four days a week, spent most afternoons cooking and writing recipes, and chased my young kids around day-in and day-out. (Oh, to be in my 20’s again…) I loved blogging and loved the Paleo community that was taking shape.

And then I had a crazy opportunity: to write a book of my own. I knew that the frugal approach to managing Paleo was the right fit for me. I grew up, um, without means, shall we say. And thanks to being raised in a Chinese and Italian family, I learned right from the start how to eat very well without leaning on expensive ingredients.

The secret was in the how to cook, not the what to cook.

The Frugal Paleo Cookbook was published late 2014. It debuted on Amazon.com as a best-seller and stayed there for waaaay longer than I could have imagined. [*A second, expanded edition will be released this July!]

Ciarra wrote The Frugal Paleo Cookbook in 2014

People really loved this book! I mean, normal people like me who had finally resigned to giving up grains, dairy, legumes, soy, and sugar—often reluctantly so—raved about the recipes and how they became better cooks along the way. People who had picky partners, young kids, budget constraints… we were all in it together. You guys sent this book to #1!

And, as it turns out, those women who were my Paleo Guiding Lights in the beginning of my journey also became fans… and later friends.

“Stuff it, naysayers; saving money doesn’t mean skimping on taste. Eating nourishing food can be affordable, accessible and inventive, and Ciarra proves it with her amazing recipes.”– Michelle Tam, New York Times best-selling author of Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans

“Reading and cooking from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook is like hanging out with a confidante in the kitchen, swapping favorite recipes and dishing the dirt on the fantastic meal you just ate. So relax… and get ready for recipes and advice that will make Paleo more affordable and more delicious than you imagined it could be.”– Mel Joulwan, best-selling author of the Well Fed cookbook series.

“Ciarra offers approachable recipes, money-saving shopping tips and all the tools you need to prepare good food for your family. Even if budget isn’t a concern, the recipes in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook make it worthy of any food lover’s shelf.”— Simone Miller, author of The Zenbelly Cookbook

And then I went on a book tour.

A friggin’ book tour!

2015 Book Tour with Steph Gaudreau for Frugal Paleo Cookbook

And not just any book tour… We covered Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, Boston and New York Goddamn City!

Ciarra & Steph in NYC on tour | The Colacino Kitchen 2015

And the best part was that I got to do ALL of that with my dear friend, Steph Gaudreau of the famed StephGaudreau.com and the Listen to Your Body podcast. (That’s us fresh off the subway after landing in New York.) It’s remarkable the number of friendships made during those years… so many kind, smart, hard-working people who write recipes, push content to social, host podcasts and author books — all to help each of you have access to better health.

And on that note, we met hundreds of people across America. Each stop included a presentation about our two books: hers, The Performance Paleo Cookbook, and mine, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook. It was 20-minutes of valuable information on how athletes can eat in a nutritionally sound way plus guidance on how to accomplish it pragmatically and affordably. We’d take questions, chat, and hang both before signing books and after. We loved every minute of it. Except for Dallas. Dallas was bust. (Y’all are really not into Paleo there…)

We even had a sold out event at Book Passage in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA. That was almost as awesome as the meat cone we discovered after the event. A. MEAT. CONE. So good.

After having the time of my life on a book tour, real-life started to get a little stressful. Who am I kidding? It went from scary to miserable and back again. The details aren’t pretty. But a couple of years later, I found the light again.

I got my third act in life. Paleo was in the rear view mirror, but there was a kitchen full of opportunity straight ahead.

First stop: Marrying the love of my life.

Ciarra & Stephen get married | The Colacino Kitchen

Second stop: Returning to the kitchen.

Together, we cook and cook and cook….

I’m teaching him how to make homemade pasta, he’s teaching me how to take risks with flavors. I’m trying to explain the “rules” of diet, and he’s reminding me that life is short. (PS: buy stock in Lactaid, cause this former-Paleo girl can’t handle all this dairy!)

If you knew me from Popular Paleo and The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, then you still know me and the kind of food I’ll write about. And if you’re just now meeting me, then you should know that I love to write recipes for every diet, every occasion. Anything that hits my blog or feed is there because I believe it in. It’s not always going to be the squeaky clean Paleo I became known for, but…

Life moves.

And in the morning, he makes us killer breakfast sandwiches.

Steve's Breakfast Sandwich | The Colacino Kitchen, May 2020

It’s a little ridiculous, actually. Our version of a chill Saturday night is cooking til there’s no more counter space and we can’t feel our feet anymore… We had to get a second refrigerator. We have two of every kitchen device. Our shelves are stacked with cookbooks.

We have so many cookbooks, guys.

Right now we’re loving Cooking Meat by Peter Sanagan, Heritage by Sean Brock, and our cookbook crush, Mozza by Nancy Silverton. Fact: her Panna + Fennel Sausage Pizza is the single best bite of pizza either of us has ever had.

Panna Sausage Pizza from Mozza | The Colacino Kitchen

The Colacino Kitchen is fueled by a love of food and the time spent preparing it.

So, if you read cookbooks like they are novels…

If you’ve ever daydreamed about your next ragú while on a Zoom meeting…

If you’ve ever Googled anything in realm of explaining what makes one salt different from another, then…

connect with me on Instagram because we should be friends.

Ciarra Colacino & SMFB | April 2020

Life for me is rooted in Tacoma, WA with my tribe — Stephen, Mia, Eli, and Walker (and his wonderful mom, Rebecca). My day job is in marketing and e-commerce. And my joy is to make food and write recipes. Any day that it’s not raining around here runs the risk of us skipping out for a day on the boat…or prepping for an evening in the kitchen.

Follow me (ahem… us!) on Instagram for inspiration, recipes, and pretty pictures of food. And feel welcome to contact me if you’re promoting a product or service that would be a good match.

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