125 Lightened-Up Healthier Meals For Your Family
By Brooke Griffin
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast, with me, Suzy Chase.
Brooke Griffin: I'm Brooke Griffin, and my cookbook is Skinny Suppers.
Suzy Chase: Skinny Supers is 125 lightened-up, healthier meals for your family. You tested and developed these recipes with skinny swaps. Explain skinny swaps.
Brooke Griffin: Yeah, so this is how I started making these recipes and it was just little tricks that I came up with. A couple of the tricks were, one, I cut out all heavy cream, and I learned to make sauces using non-fat milk as a base.
Another skinny swap is I do often in the recipes is I actually swap out mayo for non-fat Greek yogurt pretty often and regularly when I'm cooking. I also love to use real butter and extra virgin olive oil and actually even cheese, but I've just learned to use less of those. And I've found that you can really have good flavor and good tasting recipes without having to use so much.
Another little trick that I like to do with skinny swaps, I do what I call fake frying, and it's really just a method of taking a poultry like chicken and adding a lot of seasonings on it and breadcrumbs and seasonings and then using it, baking it, excuse me, in the oven, instead of frying it in a deep fryer or on a stove top.
These are just some swaps that I've started cooking and now it's kind of become a way of life and become a lifestyle and that's really how I cook now. Every day.
Suzy Chase: What are your five strategies for balanced meals?
Brooke Griffin: One of the main ones is just it's all about portion control and making sure that regardless of what you're eating that you're mindful of your portions. I like to pack up my plate, and if it's my son's plate, with veggies and fruits first, and then adding your main course next, so you have a lot of filling, fiber-packed foods, so you can eat a lot, but you're eating a lot of the right things.
And then another that I've done, you know, since I've started this journey, is of course, water. You hear that all the time. But if you will actually drink water before you have your meal. Just having a water bottle on hand, and while you're cooking your meals, just go ahead and sip that, drink water. You're going to actually eat less, naturally. Because a lot of times we eat, we think we're hungry, but we're actually thirsty.
One of my favorite tips is when you start cooking healthy and your family responds well to a dinner that you make, be mindful of that and start making that meal a couple times a month. If you have two or three dishes that your family just loves, when you get out your meal planning, add that to the calendar every month, and that's going to make it easy on you. And you're also going to have a great meal that's healthy on your calendar every month for your family.
Suzy Chase: You do have a handy calendar in the cookbook.
Brooke Griffin: Yes. Meal planning was really important for me to talk about in this cookbook, because I grew up with that saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." And it's no different with dinner time. So, there's a 30 day meal planning calendar and there's also great tips on how you can make your own and really make this a part of your healthy living plan for you and your family.
Suzy Chase: Now, can you tell us how your life changed in 2011 and you started your journey with Skinnymom.com?
Brooke Griffin: Yes. 2011, I look back, it's a pretty bittersweet time for me, because it was the difficult point in my life. I was going through an unexpected divorce. I had just had my son, so I was a brand new mom. But during my pregnancy, I had gained over 60 pounds and I was battling depression and anxiety at this point. Really trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
One of the first things that I did is I said, you know, I really want to reclaim my health. I want to start working out. And so, I started a blog called Skinnymom.com, where moms get the skinny. Started posting the workouts that I was doing and also started really cooking a lot more of my meals. I quit eating out as often as I was before and I started taking a lot of family recipes, a lot of recipes I would see and making these skinny swaps and posting those online, and that was the start of my journey. Friends and family started coming to the blog. And then a few hundred moms, a few thousands, and now it's read by millions of moms every month. Which I'm ... bigger than anything I could have imagined at this point. They keep me encouraged and committed to keep going.
Suzy Chase: You have such a great story. How did this cookbook come about?
Brooke Griffin: Yeah, so the cookbook came about actually as a surprise. In November 2014, it was just an ordinary day. I was checking my email and I had received an email from an editor of a large publishing company asking if I had ever thought about writing a cookbook. Immediately, I was really excited about the opportunity. What's so interesting, back in 2011, when I was going through that difficult point in my life, I started journaling and it became a daily practice for me. And one of the things I had journaled in 2011 is that I had wanted to write a book.
Suzy Chase: Really?
Brooke Griffin: A couple years later, it's coming true. Very unique in how it happened, because they really came to me.
Suzy Chase: I think this cookbook is both an amazing resource and an inspiration for moms out there who may feel like there's no hope and no way to accomplish their dreams, whatever they may be. Do you have any advice for that mom?
Brooke Griffin: Yeah, you know ... being in that place, i would encourage anyone, especially because I think a lot of us have dreams and so maybe your dream isn't to write a cookbook, but maybe it's to take a class or go back to school or adopt a child. Whatever that dream is, I would say hold onto it. Write it down. I think that's os powerful when we write down our goals and our dreams, but trust timing.
I think timing is everything, and so even if the door's closed today, just have hope that it's going to open up in the future. And I would say the biggest thing for me is people oftentimes say, they throw this out there and they say, "You're so fearless in how you go about things." And I'm like, "No, if you only knew. I'm actually scared to death most days, and there's little voices of doubt that come up." But I think when you set out to live your dreams or things that you want to do. It's not required that you're fearless, it just requires that you show up everyday. Show up, keep going. You may not see the success right away, but if you keep being consistent and doing it, I believe that good things come.
Suzy Chase: I call that walking through the fear.
Brooke Griffin: I love that. Okay. I've not heard that. I actually have a pen, I'm taking that down, I don't care. Walking through the fear.
Suzy Chase: Yeah.
Brooke Griffin: yeah.
Suzy Chase: 'Cause you always get to the other side. Nothing's permanent.
Brooke Griffin: Absolutely. And yeah, the fear i think is what holds so many people back.
Suzy Chase: You have a motto. "Never eat a bad meal twice." What does that mean to you?
Brooke Griffin: This motto came about during that time, because I think when you talk about dieting or changing your lifestyle, there's a lot of fad diets. There's a lot of lose it quick type things, but I think when it comes down to it, having that attitude that it's not going to be all or nothing, and that making it a lifestyle. For me, I had to give up on saying, "Okay, if I ate bad today, I'll start tomorrow." Or worse, I would sometimes say, "I'll start next week," 'cause I like, started on Sunday.
Once I started repeating that and getting that in my head, it allowed myself to forgive myself. We're all going to want to enjoy food. It's all about balance. I would, if I ate great for breakfast and then, maybe we had cupcakes at the office and I wanted to enjoy that, I just made sure to eat a healthy dinner. Once you start doing that regularly, it becomes your lifestyle. And you'll be so surprised at how healthy you are eating over time.
Suzy Chase: What is the one kitchen tool that you can't live without?
Brooke Griffin: I have to cheat and say two. So, I have to have my slow cooker and I also have to have the spiralizer that I have. And I bought her book and I try to spiralize everything these days.
Suzy Chase: Now what exactly is spiralizing?
Brooke Griffin: Take vegetables, so think potatoes and beets and zucchini and it will actually make them into zoodle-type shapes. You can use those as bases for, I swap it out for pasta. Oftentimes, I'll use zucchini in place of whole wheat pasta when I spiralize it. It's really fun. Your kids will like it. I would say that that's the hot tool in my kitchen right now.
Suzy Chase: So, I saw your Fitness Universe Championship routine and you were so strong. How do you stay strong without bulking up in terms of nutrition and fitness?
Brooke Griffin: Well, thanks for watching that video. I look at it sometimes, and I'm like, "Wow, you did that back then." What I think it's all about for me at least is I'm very big on functional fitness, and so I love to do moves with my own body weight. So, a lot of push ups. A lot of Burpees and squats. And I believe when it comes to working out, I usually use weights. Handheld weights, that are less than 10 pounds, believe it or not. I just do a lot of repetitions. That's kind of my philosophy.
I think it's all about the way that you eat. That's going to be about 70% of staying in shape. At least, based on my experience, that's what I've learned. It's all about balance, portion control, and making sure that you get a great balance of fat, protein, and carbs, because you need all of it. You can't cut anything out exclusively, I've found.
Suzy Chase: The other night, for dinner, i made your recipe for chicken fried rice on page 121. So this makeover of a Chinese favorite was a hit in my house. Everyone loved it. And I noticed that the recipe didn't call for any salt or pepper and I'm a huge salt and pepper fan, but it turned out to be so flavorful even without adding salt or pepper.
Brooke Griffin: That's very encouraging to hear, Suzy. Oyster sauce naturally has a lot of sodium, and so that's one reason I didn't add salt to this dish, because that was already so salty. That's encouraging to hear that you didn't think you needed to add anything, that it had really good flavor.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web?
Brooke Griffin: You can definitely find more information at Skinnymom.com or on all the social accounts @Skinnymom and then on Instagram, I'm also on Instagram, @brookejgriffin.
Suzy Chase: Thanks, Brooke, for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Brooke Griffin: Thank you so much, Suzy!