Rehoboth Beach resident Denise Vansant gets excited when she talks about the cave man diet. So excited, she launched Cave Girl at the Beach, a paleo-to-go business offering organic and often raw cave man diet inspired food, packaged as easy grab-and-go snacks.
For a little more than five years, Vansant has been preparing foods based on what she believes Paleolithic people would have eaten before grains began to be produced. She focuses on raw foods, including roots, nuts and grass-fed meats, .
"It's vibrant, colorful, delicious food," Vansant said. "I love doing this stuff, and I love talking about paleo because it has made such a big difference in my life."
She discovered the raw food diet while on a mission to help boost the immune systems of family members battling cancer and coping with arthritis.
Vansant said she soon discovered eating this way gave her more energy and enhanced her own sense of all-around well-being, so she began to share more snacks with friends and family.
Before long, the "cave girl" said she developed a bit of a following with athletes and members of the extreme gym culture.
"This area, in particular, has a lot of elite athletes, marathon runners and triathletes who are very conscious of what they eat and are very aware of what they put into their bodies," Vansant said. "If you steam, if you boil or even roast, if you are cooking anything it compromises the nutrient and mineral value."
A relative newbie to the paleo lifestyle, Selbyville resident Rachel Burwell said before she tried Vansant's food, she was on the fence about the raw-food diet. Then she tried some.
"I'm exploring paleo," Burwell said. "I gotta tell you, to say I was pleasantly surprised was an understatement."
She said the food she sampled through Vansant’s Paleolithic snacks to be fresh and filling.
“Everything is very, very fresh, and there is a deceiving richness to everything,” Burwell said. “I certainly didn’t feel like I was depriving myself in any way. It feels like a treat.”
With the continued success of her paleo-inspired snacks on a small scale, Vansant said she recently decided to share her food outside this smaller circle of family, friends and athletes to offer her spreads, crackers, kale chips, hummus and almond butter cups at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market and Good Earth Market.
On Tuesday, May 13, Vansant debuted Cavegirl at the Beach at the Rehoboth Beach Farmer's Market and said said she hopes to introduce many more people to this lifestyle.
Keeping the health issues that brought her discover and adopt this dietary lifestyle at heart, Vansant said Cavegirl at the Beach donates a portion of profits to the Tunnell Cancer Center in support of respite care for cancer caretakers and patients.
"I want to dispel a lot of misconceptions about what paleo is, and what it is not," Vansant said. "I think paleo is about eating real, clean food."