#82 | Healthy Meal Prep
Healthy Meal Prep
Time Saving Plans to Prep and Portion Your Weekly Meals
By Stephanie and Adam of Fit Couple Cooks
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery By The Book Podcast with me, Suzy Chase.
Stephanie&Adam: Hey guys.
Stephanie: I'm Stephanie.
Adam: And I'm Adam.
Stephanie: Of Fit Couple Cooks, and we just released our book titled Healthy Meal Prep.
Suzy Chase: On your Fit Couple Cooks Facebook page you wrote, "This book is not here's 1,000 recipes, good luck." Or "Make blah blah chicken with 36 ingredients." Or "Eat my weight-loss starvation diet recipes." No. This is food, real food. Okay, so I'm glad you're on my podcast, because prepping and portioning intimidate the heck out of me. Tell us how this cook book can encourage us to prep and portion in the new year.
Adam: The cool thing about the book is that we do the heavy lifting for you, in regards to the portion control. So, it's really easy step by step to just follow exactly the ingredients that we give you, and just have faith that the portions are exactly what you need.
Suzy Chase: Where do you get your recipe ideas?
Stephanie: I think we mostly come up with them just by thinking about, "Well, what's a popular food right now?" Or not even just right now, just a classic food. Something like lasagna, or buffalo chicken, and then we turn it into a meal prep version so that you can still eat all of your favorite foods, and not just get stuck eating the same old boring chicken and rice all the time.
Suzy Chase: So, what if we get bored eating the same thing every day for lunch? What can we do?
Adam: Well, the book helps you fix that problem, because it gives you, not only a lunch and a dinner, but it also gives you a third option, so each day you're swapping in a recipe. So, you might have chicken for lunch one day, beef for dinner, and the next day you might have fish, and then back to chicken again. So, you're always moving through different recipes so you don't feel bored.
Stephanie: So, for the full week you're gonna be prepping three main courses so that you can interchange. I mean, you're gonna have the same breakfast every day, but then you'll be interchanging your lunch and your dinner every day so that you're not eating the same exact three things every single day.
Suzy Chase: So, I find that breakfast is the hardest meal to plan. Give us some breakfast tips.
Adam: So, in the book we do a lot of things that can last a long time. So, we have overnight oats, and chia seed pudding, and things like this that are really nutritious and they last a long time, and that have a lot of great flavor in there too, so you don't feel bored eating the same thing every day, and it's very wholesome, and keep you full for long time.
Stephanie: And you don't always have to have a giant breakfast. I think some people feel like they have to make so many things for breakfast, but really just like a small chia seed pudding will be packed with nutrients that you need, and then you can have a snack sometime shortly after your breakfast, and then get straight on to lunch. So, it's not like you have to think about, "Oh, what am I gonna make for breakfast?" It can just be something as simple as overnight oats, which can take five seconds to prepare.
Suzy Chase: It's the beginning of the new year, and lots of folks are thinking about joining a gym. Talk about your own fitness journeys.
Adam: Sure. So, back in 2010 I was 230 pounds, and I'd kind of made a conscious decision, my 21st birthday I wanted to lose 70 pounds, and get to 150 pounds. I did that successfully, and did it through meal prepping, and consciously knowing what I put into my body, and then from there I realized that the scale didn't really matter. The scale weight wasn't as important as how I felt, and so I went through, then, a transformation in building strength, and building my physique, and becoming a stronger version of who I was, and not really worrying about the scale.
Stephanie: Lifting some heavy weight.
Adam: Lifting some heavy weight. Now the goal is to enjoy a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain, and your end goal is not to have to worry about your weight. You wanna be happy, healthy, and be able to maintain your body, and not stress about it.
Stephanie: Yeah, and for me I grew up, I was always overweight, and then when I got to college I was still overweight, and very unhappy. I think the heaviest I was was 210. In college, I started to cook for myself once we had our own apartment, because of course, freshman, sophomore years you were eating a lot of bad food in the dining hall. Then once I had control over my own food I was learning how to cook, and I would call my mom, and my grandma and I'd say, "Hey, I just bought a piece of chicken, what do I do with it?" That's how I started to cook. Just by cooking my own food I started to naturally lose weight, and then I started to get really into fitness a few years ago. For the first time ever I was going to the gym, I was technically a gym rat. I was waking up every day and going to the gym, and doing some crazy things, and I had a personal trainer, and that's how I got really into my fitness journey, but that coupled with my nutrition journey at the same time.
So, that's why we do what we do now, because your nutrition is even almost more important than just working out all the time. That is the key focus here so that when people are ... it's the start of the new year, and people are wanting to join the gym, they also really need to be meal prepping, and eating healthy foods in order to see results, and feel results.
Suzy Chase: So, your YouTube channel is called Fit Couple Cooks. Give us a little background on you two as a couple, and how it played it out on YouTube.
Stephanie: Sure. So, I actually started making my own channel before I had even met Adam, back in 2013, and I called it Classy Cookin' with Chef Stef. I had a really cool jingle. I was just doing it because I had come home from ... I had graduated with my master's degree, and I came home, and I didn't know what to do. I was like, "Hey, you know what I love to film and edit, I think I'm gonna show people how to make healthy food." I was just trying to ... I had always done recipes with very few ingredients, and they always taste amazing. I mean, if you just saute garlic that immediately tastes amazing.
So, I was making all these recipes, and I wasn't gaining many followers. Then once I met Adam, one of the first things I found out about Adam was that he was a personal trainer, and a professional chef and I was like, "No way, you fit in so well with my life." My YouTube channel was all about helping people, but I was not a chef. It was just recipes that I was making on my own, I was self-taught. Then, so Adam started to appear in videos, and it got awkward being called Chef Stef, because it was always like, "And this is Chef Adam."
Adam: The early videos were, "This is my friend, Adam."
Stephanie: "I got this recipe from my friend Adam." Then once we decided that we were gonna end up eventually together, we decided to re-brand, and it turned into Fit Couple Cooks just by tossing back ideas of, well we wanna make it about healthy food, and we wanna make it about gym videos, and nutrition tips, and all these kinds of things. Once meal prep took off we got kind of side tracked with doing gym work outs, but we do have a few that Adam made videos of, so we do wanna get back into showing people what to do at the gym as well, because there're a lot of people who walk into a gym and they don't know what to do. So that's kind of how it started.
Suzy Chase: On YouTube you also gave us a glimpse into your personal life, and the whole immigration process. It looked so frustrating.
Adam: Yeah, it was a little bit back and forth between me coming to America, and back to Australia. We're so grateful now that we're back together, and I can stay here in the US, and we haven't got to be separated.
Stephanie: It was definitely a struggle, and we always shared everything with our followers, because sometimes Adam wouldn't be in a video, and I would have to say, "Well, Adam is in Australia trying to work through the visa process." But we always kept videos up, even if we were separated, and I think our followers really enjoyed going through the process with us, and they were all so excited. It was one of our top posts ever, in the history of Fit Couple Cooks, when Adam finally got his permanent resident visa. Yeah, it's been fun keeping everyone up to date on the journey.
Adam: Yeah, we even got to show them the wedding, we had the original wedding in Australia, we posted that so people could join with us on our special day.
Stephanie: Yep. We showed videos from the first wedding, and tons of pictures from the second wedding, and it's really awesome, this community that we're building.
Suzy Chase: You talk about macros in this cookbook. What are those?
Adam: Okay, so macros are the ... macronutrients is the big word for macros, which break down into proteins, carbs, and fats. These are the nutrients that you're eating every day, and calories is what most people concern themselves with when they're thinking of losing weight, they think of, "How many calories should I eat? I probably should eat less calories to lose weight." And that's totally not what we're about. We're about understanding that macros equal calories. So, for each protein and carbohydrate that you eat, one gram equals four ... so four calories, four protein, and four carbs, it's nine calories for fat.
So, what we do is we get people to figure out their base metabolic rate, which is how many calories that you burn per day, because your body burns between 12 to 1,500 calories a day, just if you laid asleep all day, you didn't move, your body is burning calories, because it has to function. Your heart has to pump-
Stephanie: Which is exactly why girls, or anybody who are eating only 1,200 calories a day have a problem losing weight, because all they're doing is eating what their body needs just to be breathing. Not even including them walking around, or working all day, or exercising, or doing anything like that.
Adam: Yeah, so we make sure that in each meal there's enough protein, carbs, and fats that are going to give you the fuel that you need, because calories are simply fuel for your body, so you don't wanna be lacking energy. You wanna be refueling your body, you don't wanna be starving yourself like we put in that Facebook post. It's not about eating a very restrictive diet, it's about eating the right amount of macros, and that's what the book helps you do, so you don't really have to think about it, you can just trust the portions that we give you, and they're gonna be right for you.
Suzy Chase: I have a couple of random ingredient questions for you.
Suzy Chase: Coconut oil, is it really healthy?
Adam: Yes. There's heavy debate about is saturated fat good for you, is saturated fat not good for you? So, the coconut oil statement comes from just that saturated fat, so there's a lot of debate on both sides, saying it's healthy, some saying is definitely not healthy, but it's the saturated fat issue. We're firm believers that plant-based fats are good for you, and we don't stray away from putting coconut oil into our food. Most of our recipes do include coconut oil, and we encourage people to use plant-based fats over animal fats for cooking, which is why we use a coconut oil, an olive oil, and things like this, flaxseed oil, but the encouraging thing is for people not to avoid fat. The big stigma, you know that's come out of the '70s and '80s is that, you know, fat is bad, fat makes you fat, which is totally false, that's not how fat works. Fat is just another fuel source. So, we encourage people to use the coconut oil, and all the fats.
Suzy Chase: Yeah. I saw Stephanie on one of your YouTube videos, and you were at the grocery store, and you showed us fat-free yogurt, and how much sugar it had in it. It was crazy.
Stephanie: Oh yeah. Everything that is labeled fat-free, or low-fat, or anything like that, you should totally stay away from, because they're just replacing the fat, which is natural, they're replacing it with chemicals, and sugars, and things that your body just can't process, and shouldn't be having anyway.
Adam: Yeah. So minimal ingredients that we wanna go for, and then you stray away from things that contain no fat.
Suzy Chase: What is palmitate?
Adam: So, palmitate is an extract from the palm tree, which is a fat substance. Basically what it's used for here in America is milks. Instead of using the milk solids, or the fat from the milk, they're using palmitate, so they strip the milk from the fat that naturally comes from the milk, and they replace it with palmitate. I don't know why they do this, it's not really heavily found outside of the US. We found in the US that it's quite common, it's hard to find a full fat milk, that's something hard to try and find here in the US.
Stephanie: Yeah, we noticed a big difference between Australia and the USA, well I noticed especially, once I've been to Australia a few times, that when you go to the grocery store everything is different. Like if you go and look at their almond milk, you'll find almond milk, the ingredients are almonds, and water, and salt, or something like that. If you come to America, they always have carrageenan in them, and vitamin A palmitate, and all these extra ingredients that are just not necessary.
Suzy Chase: What's the difference between cacao and cocoa?
Adam: Oh, great question.
Suzy Chase: Cacao.
Adam: Cacao. So, cocoa and cacao are different. Cacao is the raw form of chocolate. So it's the raw cocoa bean, and so once they apply heat to it, and heat treat it, then it becomes cocoa.
Stephanie: So when a doctor tells you to go eat chocolate every day, he's actually talking about cacao, not a Hersey's Chocolate cocoa bar.
Suzy Chase: Oh.
Stephanie: Because those have been processed and treated and everything. So, cacao is just the natural form of chocolate. The raw-
Adam: It's very raw, very raw, very bitter, very hard to take on its own, normally you have to pair it with some sort of sweetener, or some sort of natural sugar.
Stephanie: Which is why when in the book we have the overnight oats with cacao, and bananas, and the bananas sweeten the cacao. We don't add sugar into the overnight oats, because the bananas help it with the sweetness, but the cacao is in there too for added benefits, and to make it a little chocolatey.
Suzy Chase: In your world, the biggest question of all time is ... drum roll ... how do I reheat my meal prep if I'm at work or school?
Adam: It is, it's one of the biggest questions.
Stephanie: Every day. Okay, so for reheating ... well, Adam and I actually eat a lot of our food cold, because a lot of our recipes can be easily eaten cold, but if you do wanna reheat your food, go ahead.
Adam: So yeah, we are home a lot so we just reheat ours in a pan. We'll quickly put it in on high heat, and just bring it back to temperature, or we use a really cool product called Hot Logic, where it's like a mini portable oven, so if you're on the road, or you're not at home, you put your meal prep container straight into the Hot Logic, and then you zip it up, and then within an hour it's reheated your food. So, it great. I use it when I train for jujitsu, I'll plug in before I start my training, and then by the time I'm finished, I come back and I have a hot meal ready to go.
Stephanie: It's like a personal, portable mini over they call it.
Suzy Chase: That thing is brilliant.
Stephanie: Yeah. It's like a little lunch box. It's very small, it fits perfectly just one little meal prep container. You can take it around anywhere with you. They even have a car jack for it, so if you're EMS, or if you're a truck driver, you can always have a hot meal on the road. It's the most brilliant product.
Suzy Chase: So, last night I made your recipe for one pan spiced beef with chick peas and arugula on page 25. I have to say that I was worried that this dish would be bland, because at first glance it's basically beef, chick peas, and arugula, but the cumin, mustard powder, smoked paprika, and tumeric really did the trick.
Adam: That's right. This recipe is actually old, this is a 2013 recipe I created when I was ... it's one of my original recipes I ever created. So, when I was personal training I would make this in huge batches, and exactly, it's my little secret spice blend in there that gives it the trick. [inaudible 00:16:35] it's probably one of the most under utilized recipes, is because in glance it kind of doesn't look like that's super appealing, but you try it and you're like, "Yeah, it hits the spot."
Suzy Chase: It's amazing.
Suzy Chase: I love how you make flavor the focus along with the nutrition planning and prepping too.
Adam: Absolutely. So, having a chef background, that's kind of the key right hook we have is that being able to balance everything, and put the right flavors with stuff that was the cool bit in the start when we were creating recipes, and when I first met Stef it was like, I was always like, "You should try putting that in there. Try putting that in there." And that's how most of the recipes got created is just knowing what flavors to go where. Exactly, you don't want everything to be bland, and you wanna be able to not get bored. To be consistent you wanna make sure that food is ... you really wanna eat it.
Stephanie: Yeah, we mesh our two minds. His chef brain versus my very practical non-chef brain, and those two come together perfectly where he'll say, "Let's do this, this, and this." And then I'll say, "Well, this has to be a little bit more practical, and we have to make these into one pan instead of just using two pans." So, it's kind of the magic ingredient that we both have different backgrounds.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web, and social media?
Adam: Sure. So, the main platform we have is YouTube so you can go to youtube/fitcouplecooks that's the main hub, but we also have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, you can find us there as well.
Stephanie: Yeah. Everything is just Fit Couple Cooks, and yeah, we have almost a following of almost half a million people.
Suzy Chase: Wow.
Stephanie: Which is pretty cool. Changing lives everywhere. All over the world, literally.
Adam: All over the way. Some of the countries we see analytics, we're not even sure that-
Stephanie: We don't even know how to say them.
Suzy Chase: That's really impressive.
Stephanie: Yeah, and people from all over the world are sending us pictures of the book too, which is really cool. They'll send us a picture and be like, "Oh your book is here in Switzerland, and your book's here in France." It's pretty cool.
Suzy Chase: As you say on YouTube, "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." Thanks Stephanie and Adam for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Adam: Thank you so much.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Suzy Chase: Follow me on Instagram @cookerybythebook, Twitter is IamSuzyChase, and download your Kitchen Mix Tapes, music to cook by on Spotify at Cookery by the Book, and as always subscribe in Apple Podcasts.