By Randee Iles
Monica Bravo was 16 years old when disaster struck.
That’s when her dad was diagnosed with heart disease. Looking for a way for both of them to be healthier, they decided to adopt the paleo diet, and both have been going strong ever since.
Four years later, Bravo is bringing paleo to the shadows of Death Valley.
Bravo is a 20-year-old pre-med biology student at LSU, and if that weren’t enough on her plate, she also runs a successful blog called “Bravo For Paleo,” which gets about 120,000 views a month. There, Bravo posts tasty paleo-inspired recipes to help others become healthier.
“The reason I write this blog is just to inspire and help others,” she said, “and I think it’s just a meal by meal thing.”
Bravo’s description of a paleo diet consists of anything humans ate “before the agricultural revolution.” This means the diet eliminates grains; a strict paleo diet will also eliminate diary, but even the less stern will exclude milk.
Bravo says the diet has changed her health a lot.
“I’ve gotten tons of results,” Bravo said. “Energy, more focused, I can exercise longer, I sleep better, everything.”
After a recipe for a chicken salad wrap got very popular on her blog, Bravo had the idea to bring this food to the LSU football games.
“I was just sitting there eating one of the wraps,” Bravo said, “and I thought this would be so perfect on game day, and I really want to bring this to our campus.” Bravo had this idea only a few weeks before the first LSU game, so she knew she would have to act fast.
After being told she was crazy and running around to different people with little luck, Bravo finally found Larry Wallis, the Director of Tiger Concessions. Bravo said Wallis liked her email pitch and wanted her to come present her idea.
Meeting secured, Bravo realized she needed to find someone to produce all of the food. So she turned to a friend: Chef Robert Vasquez, whom Bravo had met and befriended over the summer at the local farmers market. When Bravo presented the LSU concessions idea to Vasquez, she said he immediately liked the concept and wanted to be involved.
“My blog is called ‘Bravo for Paleo,’ and their restaurant is Vive Foods so we combined it to make Bravo for Vive,” Bravo said. “They’re doing all the production and it was just my idea; it’s my baby.”
On Saturday, Sept. 6 Bravo for Vive made its Tiger Stadium debut at the LSU vs. Sam Houston game. They had both a stand outside the stadium before the game and as well as an in-stadium set up in the LSU student section.
For their first run, Bravo for Vive offered two different wraps and multiple other snacks, but they are open to change throughout the season.
“All of our meat is antibiotic hormone free and locally sourced,” Bravo said, “and our ingredients are top quality so it just kind of depends on what’s available at the time. We may change some of the menu up depending on that.”
The home opener was a good trial run for Bravo for Vive, and while they won’t return to the student section, they’ll still be cooking up healthy options on game day. As the season continues, healthy and hungry Tiger fans can stop by the Bravo for Vive tent outside the LSU PMAC for the freshest food at LSU.