Monya Kilian Palmer is a culinary chef, web designer, and author. She is based in the UK but is originally from South Africa. She started in graphic design but eventually ended up being a professional chef and writing three keto books. She started her journey with keto in 2018 and wanted to bring light and help people with their keto journey and show how accessible this diet can be.
Having all the knowledge and creativity helps her explore both of those areas and this has helped her to become an author and write three books!
In 2020 she published her first book called “Keto Kitchen”. A year later, she published her second book “Lazy Keto Kitchen”. And just recently, in June 2022 she published her third book called “Budget Keto”
How did it all start?
One of the reasons she started writing keto cooking books was because people overcomplicate keto. They think there is a special aisle in the supermarket where keto products are available or they delve straight into baking using natural sweeteners and ingredients that they are not familiar with. The truth is, that it is great once you are in the swing of things but, initially, it's simple to do keto. Monya often gets people on her Facebook community group saying “ where can I buy keto products” to which she just replies: “right there in the supermarket”, to show them that it’s very simple to get access to keto products. Monya says that keto is really about what you should not be eating rather than what you should be eating and she advises starting simple.
Monya was a graphic designer for almost 10 years. Before moving to England she completely switched careers and went to culinary school and started working at the Fat Duck Group with Heston Blumenthal (a British celebrity chef.) She was there for many years and now she is self-employed and has a consulting business. She creates content for clients all over the world. She edits recipes to publication standards for clients and tests recipes for really high premium brands here in the UK. And in her spare time, she writes her books.
Why did Monya start doing keto in the first place?
She started at the same time as her husband, to be more specific, she decided to start, and in her own words “I can be very convincing”. So, naturally, he came on board. She says it makes it easier because they live in the same household. They started at the end of May in 2018, Monya explains she had been dieting for most of her adult life and that she always lost weight, but eventually, the weight always came back and it came back worse than before.
She was losing weight using calorie-restricted diets, but that just made her feel utterly miserable. When she heard about keto, it suited her way of eating as she still got to eat the things she liked. Although she felt like she was cheating because she could eat and enjoy mostly every food she loved!
The benefits experienced while doing a keto lifestyle
Besides the weight loss, the thing that blew her mind was the utter endless energy and mental clarity. She says she gets so much done in a day and that is because of all the good nutrition she puts in her body.
Being a chef and writing recipe books, people might think all the recipes are going to be of a high level.
She has managed to find a middle ground where you are going to be able to get really big bold flavors. But she explains the method and the ingredients she uses are all accessible and that an average home cook will be perfectly capable of doing the recipes. She knows how it feels. Throughout her life, she has been both: the regular person that liked to cook and often misunderstood recipes and bought the wrong ingredients and tried to make shortcuts and, the professional chef that got to study culinary school and worked in an incredible restaurant group.
She has worn both hats and it reflects in the book, you don’t need to be a genius in the kitchen to replicate the recipes.
What exactly can we find in her books?
Snacks, meals, desserts, a little bit of everything. The books are part of a series but they weren’t initially going to be. When you write a book you are never guaranteed a second book deal. So, in the first book, she covers all the basics of keto. There is a list of what to eat, what to avoid, etc. In the second book, she touches briefly on what keto is all about but first and foremost it's a cookbook so there are snacks, meals, and breakfast ideas.
Her most recent book, Budget Kitchen, as mentioned before, uses ingredients that are accessible to everybody, but she also gives examples of what to do with all the leftovers: half packets of vegetables, herbs, etc.
When asked about where to find keto products, Monya responds “On any aisle at the supermarket”.
She says that when doing a cookbook you have to have in mind your end user. She can’t be writing books where people get the ingredients from Amazon. She wants the products to be accessible to everybody, so she recommends shops like Tesco, which is where she buys most of her groceries and products such as natural sweeteners like Erythritol. Her books are globally available, so she can’t be listing things only accessible in the UK.
Monya says that keto is moving fast and that more people are beginning to be familiar with the Keto diet. The supermarkets are a perfect place to buy keto products although, sometimes can be a little bit pricey. But her main goal is to make keto accessible for everyone because she knows all the benefits it has brought her and as she says “you can’t put a price on health”
- Blog: Fats of Life: you can find a lot of low-carb, keto recipes that are not in the book
- Keto Kitchen, 2020
- Lazy Keto Kitchen, 2021
- Budget Keto Kitchen, 2022
Monya's social media accounts
- Instagram - @mkilianpalmer
- YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/monyakilianpalmer
- TikTok - @mkilianpalmer
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