Podcast

Episode 87 – Cassy Joy Garcia, Keeping us Fed & Fit

This week we continue our special series dedicated to bettering our minds, bodies, time, and lives! And there may be no better person to hear from than Cassy Joy Garcia. Cassy is the Editor in Chief behind the popular food and wellness website, fedandfit.com.

Listen in as Cassy and Jessica get real and get practical about simplifying wellness though quick recipes, nutrition, fitness, and safer home and beauty products!

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Alright, as most of you know, I have spent the last two years with our house under construction, and I cannot tell you how much joy it brought me to start off the new year in a house that we are not going to work on. It’s pretty much done. So, last year, my husband and I lived in the front yard in an Airstream for most of the year. Needless to say, cooking eventually went out the window. And when it came time to move back into our house and use our beautiful new kitchen, I seriously didn’t know what to do. I was like, “I—I mean like—tacos?” Well, I told you guys about it on Instagram, and 1,000,000 of you tagged @fedandfit. Everyone said, “You’ve got to go follow @fedandfit, she will solve all of your what-the-heck-do-I-cook-tonight needs.”

So, I gave Cassy Joy a call, and Cassy Joy Garcia—she is a San Antonio native, along with me, so we each have a shared love of Mexican food which really worked out. Cassy is on a mission to simplify wellness through quick and tasty recipes, unbiased, easy-to-understand nutrition and fitness advice, and simple swaps for safer home and beauty.

Her most recent book, Cook Once, Eat All Week is a revolutionary way to get a delicious, healthy, and affordable dinner on the table fast. We have such a great conversation. It’s super practical, you’re gonna want to get a pen out. I have her walk us through a really basic meal, I have her cookbook—I’ve used it. Actually, I bought it for my husband for Christmas because he actually does most of the cooking in the family. So, it was my gift to help him create a more efficient evening.

I absolutely love Cassy Joy, and you will hear just what a kindred spirit she is. She truly lives up to her name of Joy. It’s so great to be able to approach fitness and health in the new year. I am someone who has given up big, audacious goals and tried to live a lifestyle of eating and exercise only for the outcomes of what the scale says or how I look. It truly is a journey now, it is a lifestyle for me, and what that means is sometimes we get off and we gotta come back to center. Cassy really shares that approach. I know you’re going to get a lot out of today’s conversation.

I’m curious, what’s your whole take on New Year’s resolutions?

Cassy: I am pretty lukewarm in either direction. I will support folks who want to make them and folks who are … there’s polars, polar opposites, right? There’s folks that are really into their New Year’s resolutions, and they really charge forth with them, and they plan, and they make a detailed, crafted forecast. And there’s folks who are so anti-New Year’s resolution because they’re like, “I’m just going to be me, more me, right, in the New Year.” And I think both are great. I’m happy to support folks in either direction. Sometimes I make them, and sometimes I forget, and I blink. And it’s almost February.

Jessica: It’s never too late. Well, I think so many people … I mean, food. This sounds so silly, but food is an essential in our lives, and it’s an essential part of our humanity and our relationships, and even our relationship with ourselves. And it’s such a massive conversation because, on one hand, it’s so important to literally and figuratively be at the table together. But at the same time, the food at that table may not be serving our bodies well. So, I just wanted to hear what got you started on your journey of nutritious blogger and now a business owner.

Cassy: So, my story started about a little over 10 years ago, I can’t believe we’re at the decade mark, goodness.

Jessica: Crazy.

Redefining Diets: From Yo-Yo to You

Cassy: Time flies, but a little over 10 years ago, I was fresh out of college and knew it all, right? So, I was 22 and had life in the world figured out. And, man, I couldn’t figure out why … I didn’t realize that I was sleepy and my joints hurt. And I had constant headaches and mental fog, right? I thought that was just me settling into adulthood, I didn’t realize that those could be indicative of the fact that maybe I wasn’t nourishing myself very well. But that aside, I also felt like, well, the thing that we do when we graduate from college is we try to shed off whatever pizza and beer had piled on during my college years. And so, I started dieting, and really threw myself into a bunch of these yo-yo diets, and none of them served me, truly served me, right? Why I thought I was looking for. And I would lose weight, and then I’d come back up. And a lot of this, I had a lot of body dysmorphia I was struggling with at that point in time, right? Thinking that my worth was really in how I looked in the size of the pants that I was wearing. And thank goodness. I mean, it’s really neat to tell the story and think about it, just thinking about where I am now, and how heavy that was to carry then and live that every day.

“A little over 10 years ago, I was fresh out of college. … I didn’t realize that I was sleepy and my joints hurt. And I had constant headaches and mental fog, right? I thought that was just me settling into adulthood, I didn’t realize that those could be indicative of the fact that maybe I wasn’t nourishing myself very well.” Cassidy Joy Garcia

And anyways, diets just kept failing me, right? These very, very restrictive 30 days, you’re on or off, and then you’re right back. It didn’t really solve what I thought I was looking for. And who knows what I really…? I think my heart was searching for something more, and I didn’t know what that … couldn’t put my finger on it. So, I thought about it. Professionally, I was pursuing health and wellness. I was curious about nutrition and, eventually, I thought, “Well, I’m kind of a smart cookie. If I just think for myself, if I maybe I dig into the literature, maybe I can figure out what is the right thing for me to do. I’ll take myself on as my first experimental client.”

And so, I dug into some of the nutrition science research available back then, and I discovered this concept of inflammatory foods and anti-inflammatory foods. And that was just enough for me to wrap my head around the fact that, “Oh, my goodness, if inflammation is the root of all disease, and if I can help impact and reduce inflammation in my body, maybe I’ll feel better and see what happens.” So that’s what I did. And I just swapped foods on my plate. I didn’t restrict, I just said, “I’m gonna eat more anti-inflammatory foods and reduce the ones that are probably causing inflammation,” inflammatory oils and grains and really refined sugars, right? Fake sugars, a lot of those things that just we don’t realize they may be causing a little bit of inflammation. And because I was consuming so much, it was a lot.
So, I switched over in about … between six and nine months, which is a nice, long time. And I love that it took that long because it shows that it was real work. My body was really changing. My headaches went away, my mental fog really cleared. I had more energy than ever before. The pain in my knees and my hips went away, and I thought that that was going to be a life sentence, I really did. So, it was amazing. And, of course, my body composition changed, but by that point, I didn’t care, that’s not what I was chasing anymore. So, folks asked better questions about what I was eating, and I went online to share some of the recipes.

“My headaches went away, my mental fog really cleared. I had more energy than ever before. The pain in my knees and my hips went away, and I thought that that was going to be a life sentence, I really did. So, it was amazing.” Cassy Joy Garcia

Other people eventually found me after my mom and dad were reading my website for about a year and a half, and I got that third reader and so asked some great questions. So I went back to become a certified nutrition consultant, and then tried to walk folks through just some of those lessons learned that I had to go the long route through, wanted to help folks really see the forest through the trees.

Jessica: Wow. So, did you go to any health care professionals during that time? Or were you just really like, “I want to optimize how I feel”? And did you ever get a food allergy diagnosis or anything like that?

Cassy: I didn’t. It was all very experimental in terms of I’m just going to stop eating … Now they have a name for it, back then I really struggled to describe it. Now they kind of call it an elimination diet, right, where you just eliminate big categories of foods. Now, honestly, if I thought about it that way back then, I probably still would have thrown me into this diet cycle mindset. But you eliminate these foods, and then, you introduce them a little bit at a time. So, corn is a great example, because I eat a good amount of corn now, and I didn’t then because it was a grain and I thought I’m just going to eliminate and see how drastically I can reduce inflammation. And then, you can’t live in San Antonio, like we’ve been saying, for too long without those corn chips.

Jessica: No, oh my word.

Cassy: So, that was the first one I reintroduced, and I handle it just fine, so…

Jessica: I bet you’re very glad about that.

Cassy: Oh, yes. Hallelujah, between that and the dairy, I was like, “I’m good, I’m set for life.”

Nutrition, Intuition, and Trust

Jessica: Wow. Wow. OK, so I just want to hear a little bit more, because it’s just interesting that you did this on yourself and you didn’t kind of go seek out … I think so many people now go get tested or go get this or that, but you really had this intuition. You decided, you know what? My body’s to be trusted. I talk about this a lot. I talk about dieting culture a lot. And I have a whole chapter in my book about body image, which was kind of shocking to people because they’re like, “This is a business book. I don’t understand.” But it’s because this affects … I think, 95% of women say that they would like to change something about themselves and people aren’t, in general, happy with where they are in their body. So, I’ve been on a long journey, still on it, I wish I could say it was over but it’s not. Some of it is just the travel, when I start traveling and I kind of get off my normal rituals.

But part of that me going on this journey was learning to trust my body, because the diet says, “Don’t trust your body.” Just follow these rules and diets try to be one-size-fit-all. “Follow these rules, do this, and this will happen.” So, how do you think you learned how to trust yourself enough to say, “I’m going to just listen to my body”? Because six months is a … that’s a pretty long time to kind of stick with something.

Cassy: It is. This is also part of my personality. I am one of those very much a “busy hands are happy hands” kind of person, and at that same point in time … so intuitive eating, right, is eventually what I got to. Getting to that point where I went from thinking somebody else had all the answers, had a playbook of my body, and what my body needed, and what it was telling me, to understanding, in my mind, I understood in theory, I guess, that my body actually knows me best, right? I know me best. And then, leaving that out took a lot of practice, so that was that really long timeframe. And so, to help me get there, I did a couple of things. I busied myself with work and studies in school and I got really involved. At the same time, I picked up a new exercise routine. And I’m, by no means, someone who was just a natural athlete or just really drawn to the gym, but I wanted to do something different that challenged me, that kept my mind off of the fact that I wasn’t on a diet because I needed the distraction. So, I did that.

“I went from thinking somebody else had all the answers … to understanding … that my body actually knows me best, right? I know me best.” Cassy Joy Garcia

And then, also, as a way to kind of get out of my head or get some of my thoughts and interpret what my body was telling me on paper so that I could then understand them, it’s like I needed a mediator, right? I needed someone to sit here and say, “Oh, you are thirsty at 2:00 p.m. or you think you’re hungry at 2:00 p.m. Maybe it’s that you should have eaten a little bit more lunch, or maybe you’re thirsty,” right? I needed a mediator to be able to help me negotiate and figure that out, so I journaled a lot. And I was very careful because it’s a slippery slope if you have a history of disordered eating, right? Journaling I ate 27 raspberries for breakfast, right? I didn’t want to write quantitatively what I was eating but qualitatively, right?

If I went to the Italian restaurant down the place from my office, and I ordered a small chicken salad, but I was hungry before dinner, and was eating things that didn’t serve me very well, it probably means that I should have doubled the meat on that salad, right? And I could have added some olive oil to it. And so, I just really learned. Or if I felt great at a workout one morning, I would go back through and I think, “Well, what did I eat yesterday?” And I’d figure out, “You know what? I had a giant sweet potato for lunch.” And I felt awesome in my workout. And I didn’t have any weird, crazy inflammation. That helped me build a little mini playbook that was custom fit to myself so that I could then really start to trust, my body will tell me what I need when I need it.

Nourishment Made Simple

Jessica: It takes a lot of courage, I think, to begin to trust yourself and believe that your body … every single one of our bodies is so unique and individually made. And I love this idea that we can each go and create our own playbook for how we can optimize the best way to eat for ourselves, which is not the message out there. The message out there is, “Follow this, follow that, follow that.” What advice do you give people who want to have a healthier relationship with what they eat? What sort of that beginning journey?
“It takes a lot of courage, I think, to begin to trust yourself and believe that your body … every single one of our bodies is so unique and individually made. And I love this idea that we can each go and create our own playbook for how we can optimize the best way to eat for ourselves.” Jessica Honegger

Cassy: The beginning journey is really to do what I just described. I tell folks to focus on … Funny enough, the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to feeling well is that we actually rest well enough and we hydrate well enough. And then, the food … the things that we’re actually chewing on, that actually becomes … it’s important, but it’s not as important as the other two, because you can misinterpret, right, what your body needs in terms of nourishment if we’re exhausted or if we’re dehydrated. And so, those two are pretty easy, right? We can be really on top but, well, “easy.”

I now have a daughter and a puppy in the house, and so, sleep isn’t always that easy. But we can try to tackle and prioritize rest, and we can prioritize hydration. And so, I would tell folks, it sounds a little backwards, but I would say prioritize that, get on top of your hydration, and do your best to get solid rest at night. And that’s going to be individual. The amount of water you need and the amount of rest you need is also custom-fit to you, right, whatever works best for your life. And then start dealing with foods. And eat the foods that you’re curious about. If you find yourself thinking about a spinach salad and you’re like, “That’s silly, who thinks about a spinach salad?” But every once in a while, I think we all kind of gravitate towards something like that, pomegranates, citrus, right, those kinds of things, then go ahead and give your body that food and see what happens. And so, I would say lean into those curiosities in different kinds of foods.

And also, if you want a cupcake, have a cupcake, right? I don’t think that that single piece of indulgence isn’t … or even if you have it daily, it’s all OK. It doesn’t mean that that’s who you are. It’s just something that you ate. And I think disassociating food with who you are and becoming a future who you are with, it’s just something I did and I’m moving on, and it’s a decision I powerfully made. I know it’s not going to make me feel great. I know it’s going to make me probably want to crave more sugar, and that’s OK. But I’m making that decision. I think that really helps demystify the whole thing, right, when we understand the impact of food on our bodies.

Jessica: It’s so true. OK, tell me this. Because we all have these great intentions and probably, at this time of year, everyone is a little bit more watching themselves because that’s the nature of a new year, a new decade. But then, we go to the wedding or we stress-eat one afternoon or we eat the popcorn or we get the chips and the queso and the margarita, which is my downfall.

Cassy: Sounds wonderful.

Jessica: But then we just keep doing it. You know what I mean?

Cassy: Yes.

Jessica: Wow, I have a crazy … it’s a very social eating, like if I just never left my house or my routine, honestly, I’d be a ninja. When I’m in routine, I can follow routine. But then suddenly I go to a party or I start traveling, and I’m like, “Well, I’m missing out if I don’t eat that,” and then … ah, that’s where I lose all of my ground. So, how can we prepare ourselves for that mentality of just picking it back up again, the healthy eating?

Hacks for Healthy Indulgence

Hydrate

Cassy: Oh, that’s a great topic. There’s a couple of hacks you can keep in your back pocket. Number one is, I would say, let’s say if you have a super indulgent weekend, and you’re really afraid that you just put something in motion that you’re going to have a hard time stopping, right? Maybe it’s this mindset around, “I ate a piece of the pie, and I’m going to go ahead.” This is our subconscious, right? I’m not saying that anybody consciously thinks these thoughts, but, “I ate a piece of that pie, and I’m gonna ahead and punish myself by eating the whole thing, like eating the rest of it. I’m gonna just commit to this thing.” Or we create these chips, guacamole, margarita constant twirl. I think that if we see ourselves stepping into a routine like that, we’re putting something in motion that we don’t know how we’re going to stop.

I would say try to stay … again, I hate to be so cheesy with this, but I would just say try to drink a whole bunch of water, if you can. And I’m not talking a crazy amount of water. I’m saying, take your body weight divided by two, and that’s the number of ounces. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, and that’s about 80 ounces of water a day is a rough starting point. And if you’re not at that point, any clear or close to that number at all, then just slowly work yourself up to it. But there’s something that happens with our willpower magically when we actually do have enough hydration. And so, at least put that piece of armor on in front of yourself when it comes to willpower.

Plan Ahead

And then number two, if you’re going out into a social situation, heading to a party or heading to the wedding, heading out for more guacamole, and you know that there’s a high likelihood of overindulging to the point that you’re not going to feel great afterwards, maybe eat something before you go. It spoils the fun a little bit because there’s nothing more fun than sitting down, thinking about Tex Mex now that we might just have to cancel dinner plans and just go get it. But there’s nothing more fun than sitting down at the dinner table when you’re really hungry, and that first super satisfying chunk of guacamole on your chip … that’s great. And I want you to have that, but if you feel like this is a runaway train that you’re possibly on, go ahead and eat something small and nourishing before you go out so you’re not quite as ravenous when you sit down. So, I would say this then, snack ahead of time, and then make sure you’re really hydrated.

Think Grace, Not Guilt

And also, have a conversation with yourself. If you’re feeling guilty about something or if you’ve been doing a lot, let’s say, it is a lot of traveling, you’ve been doing a lot of travel, give yourself some grace around that, right, and some space and say, “This is such a neat thing I get to do, and I don’t want to miss out.” I’m one of those believers that there’s a lot of culture we can enjoy through food, and that is such a really, really neat opportunity to take part in. And so, just powerfully choose it. I choose this or I choose not to do this thing. And then, whatever it is that you’ve aligned yourself with, stick with that.

“If you’re feeling guilty about something or if you’ve been doing a lot, let’s say, it is a lot of traveling, you’ve been doing a lot of travel, give yourself some grace around that, right, and some. There’s a lot of culture we can enjoy through food, and that is such a really, really neat opportunity to take part in. And so, just powerfully choose it.” Cassy Joy Garcia

Jessica: I love those words, I choose or I choose not to. Even the power of being able to say that out loud, because I think those of us with sort of food issues and disordered eating, it does feel like food is your master and not like you’re the master of it. I mean, that’s the constant thing to be overcoming. Whether it’s denying yourself a food, that gives it a lot of power, or whether you’re overindulging in food, which, again, is like feeling like you’re being controlled by it. But to be able to take back that control and be like, “I’m going to choose here,” I love that. That’s so good, that’s so good.

And my husband, he is the biggest believer in hydration, girl. He is always … I tell you if I’m coughing or if I have a fever, I mean, he’s always just like, “Have you drank your water today? Have you drank …? You know what I mean? He will, I mean, he will just come up to me the glass of water. He thinks it solves everything, and I am an underhydrator.

Cassy: So, funny. I’m the same way. My poor husband, whenever he’s like, “I think I have a headache,” I will come to him with a giant glass of water, and he’s like, “I’m fine. I’m hydrated but thank you.”

Meals, Money, and Making Food Fun

Jessica: OK, so let’s talk about eating healthier and money and meals and planning and all of the things. And what’s interesting is people that tagged you and were saying like, “You got to go find this recipe,” it actually was not about health. So, you really have a brand that’s built on just good food.

Cassy: Oh, good. I’m really glad, that was my goal.

Jessica: Well, you’ve done it because that’s absolutely how I perceived you to be. So, I didn’t even know we were going to just talk a ton about health. I thought we gonna talk about meal planning and all this other stuff, but, yeah. So, how do you go about … yeah, because that’s where I am, and especially after getting back in the kitchen, after having been out of the kitchen, my husband and I share kind of “cooking duties” but we do have family meals together pretty much every evening of the week. How do you go about doing it? And what are your go-tos?

Cassy: Nutrition was the first riddle I solved professionally. Well, “solved,” right? That was the first one I took on. I would say that me getting dinner on the dang table was the next one because it was such a challenge. It was a challenge for me, it was a challenge for my readers. I remember thinking, it shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t be this hard, right?

Jessica: It’s like people have been doing this since the beginning of time.

Cassy: Exactly. Exactly. Why is it this hard? I feel like I’m spending an inordinate amount of time planning my meals, and then I spend a fortune on the groceries, right? And then, I’m spending a bunch of time during the week and I love to cook. This is not a person who doesn’t like to spend time in the kitchen. But I felt like I was spending too much time in the kitchen cooking, trying to get dinner on the table, and I was missing out on other parts of my life. And then, if I meal-prepped, let’s say, I did a traditional meal prep, and I would spend all this time and all this energy on a weekend, putting out a big chunk of meals, right, well, I’d make it all. I’d invest in it the time and the money and then come Wednesday, I’m sick of the food I made. And then I’m feeling guilty about the fact that maybe I ignored it a day too long, and now it’s wasted, or I would … we’d go, I’d say, “Let’s do pizza anyways,” to my poor husband. So, it didn’t make sense to me why it was so hard, and it seemed like it was a very common problem, so I researched. It sounds like a really silly thing to research but I spent years researching meal prep and trying to figure out a way to better it.

“I felt like I was spending too much time in the kitchen cooking, trying to get dinner on the table, and I was missing out on other parts of my life. … It didn’t make sense to me why it was so hard, and it seemed like it was a very common problem.” Cassy Joy Garcia

Jessica: Really? So, you’re a professional meal prepper? Wow.

Cassy: I guess you could say that. I don’t know … yeah, I mean, yeah, I wonder what my hours are, but if I’ve hit that 10,000-hour mark yet on meal prep stuff, but I did. So, my second book is all about meal prep and about how to do it differently. And really what I wound up doing was, people who are super comfortable in the kitchen … I’m thinking of my mom when I say somebody like that, right? She will roast a chicken on Sunday. And then, she opens up the fridge on Monday. And she looks at what’s in her refrigerator, and she says, “Oh, I’ve got chicken, and grapes, and some pecans, and maybe some mayo,” right? So, she says, “Oh, I’ll make Sonoma chicken salad.” There’s no planning that goes into it. She just kind of repurposes the food that’s already there. And so, I thought, “What if there’s a way to systematize that, that concept of repurposing the things that are already there?” And so, that’s where this Cook Once, Eat All Week stuff came from that I’m sure is what folks are tagging you in. So, we did that. We took a main protein, a main veggie, and a main starch. You cook those in bulk, and then you assemble them into three different, totally different dinners. We’re not going to make you Tex Mex three days in a row, but you could if you want it. But three totally different cuisines. You’re not going to feel like you’re eating chicken and sweet potato all week long. And it’s really efficient. People are saving tons of money on their grocery bills, right? Because if it calls for bell pepper, you can use the whole thing, right?

Jessica: Wow.

Cassy: And they’re getting time back, time, money, energy, all the good things.

Jessica: This is revolutionary. OK. Now that the book is out in the world and now all of your readers are making meals, what are you hearing back from them, that they’re just like, “Oh, my god, this is the best thing ever”?

Cassy: Oh, it warms my heart, I can’t even tell you. Yes, I got a message not too long ago from a lady, and this is just an example. And, man, it just fills my cup. If you’re listening, and there’s somebody that has put out something that you really respect or value, and it has made a difference in your life, and it seems silly sometimes to take the time to send a note to them, but do it. It really is meaningful to that person. So, this lady sent me a note, and she said she’s been using Cook Once, Eat All Week. There’s 26 weeks of this meal prep in here, in this book, right, with shopping lists and prep days instructions, yadda, yadda. And she said that she’d been doing this method for four solid months, right? And so, she’s a little over halfway through the book. She has four children, and the youngest is under a year. And she said that they are now saving over $80 a month, that they are very regiment about their budget. Over $80, oh, sorry, a week on groceries because of using this method. Yes, she’s now reduced the time she’s in the kitchen by between four and five hours. She seems one of these people that tracks everything.

Jessica: Wow. I know. I’m like, “Wow, that’s impressive.”

Cassy: I really admired her stats, yeah. It’s like, “Why am I not that organized?” And so, she got all this time back. She’s saving $80 a week, and she said it’s made cooking more fun. “I’m less stressed out. Everyone’s eating really well and really happy,” she goes, “but starting in a few months, my daughter’s going to be able to go to Mother’s Day out because of the money that we’re saving on groceries, which is going to make everything easier and better for our lives.” And I was just … I was crying reading this message. So, it really has been incredible. I didn’t expect it to be that impactful. I was hopeful that it might be useful to a few, and it’s really blowing me away.

Cooking Once to Eat All Week

Jessica: Wow, that is awesome. OK. Will you walk me through just like an example of one week?

Cassy: Yes, I would love to. OK, so let’s take … so there’s a week that there’s chicken and broccoli and sweet potatoes. That was an example I used before, but we’ll go ahead and use it. And so, what we’ll do is whatever day that you like to meal-prep, a lot of folks will meal-prep on a Sunday afternoon, right? So, I just usually think of it as a Sunday. And what we do is we give you, you choose this week, and you say, “OK, my family can get behind these three ingredients. Everyone’s going to be happy with this.” We give you your grocery shopping list. You go grab this stuff. A lot of people will order their groceries or pick up because it’s already organized.

We also wrote the grocery shopping list. I just think this is a funny note. We wrote them. And the editor organized them in alphabetical order, these ingredients. I was like, “Oh, no, no, no,” because when people go to the grocery store, they don’t shop by alphabetical ingredients, we shop by sections. And so, it was a huge undertaking, but we rewrote it so that it’s in order of the grocery store. So, you get your stuff, you get your groceries, you come home. And, let’s say, if it’s this chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato, I’m going to have you stick this prep day … these detailed instructions are written so that your time in the kitchen is as efficient as possible. I want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck in terms of your time.  So, we’re like, “Put the chicken in first. And then, while the chicken is roasting, go ahead and rinse off those sweet potatoes and then stick those in under the chicken,” right? We came up with oven temperature so that you could cook multiple things at once and get great textures.

And then, we’re going to have you whip a couple of sauces while those two are cooking, steam the broccoli, half the broccoli. The other half of the broccoli we’re going to rice. OK, we, essentially, just turned it into little bitty pieces that we’re going to mix in, hide it into a casserole. And then, what you can do is you would then store up. The chicken’s cool, you cut up the breasts into cubes, we pull off the legs and the wings, because we’re going to use those as a sheet pan dinner. And then, what you can do is you can store all your parts and pieces that you’ve already cooked to be done with your prep for the day. We shoot for about an hour to an hour and a half of total time, or you can go ahead and make those meals to completion, and that’s usually how I follow the book as I make these things.

Especially, for my husband, if I’m traveling, I travel with good amount. And that way, I can just say, “Meal 1, meal 2, meal 3 is in the refrigerator.” And so, then, you assemble them. So, let’s say, one of these weeks is a buffalo chicken casserole. So you take the chicken that you’ve already cooked, toss it in the really quick cheddar buffalo sauce, and you put it over mashed sweet potatoes, maybe with some crumbled bacon on top, you bake it to have the flavor and the temperature come back together. Garnish it with some green onion, and dinner’s ready to go.

And then, when you’re ready to make meal number two, let’s say, it’s a chicken teriyaki bowl. So, maybe we’re not using the sweet potato tonight, maybe we want to use rice or a cauliflower rice, we have grain-free substitutions in the book and dairy-free substitution. So, you make that. We toss a chicken in this really quick teriyaki sauce.

And then, for night three, it’s going to be a balsamic mustard sheet pan dinner, right? So, we toss those legs and those wings in this mustard balsamic sauce, and the oven re-crisps them so you don’t feel like you’re eating leftovers. The broccoli is really delicious. And then you’re ready to go, and you ate everything, right? And that’s so satisfying for anybody who’s gone grocery shopping and you find sad, sad carrots in your carrot drawer later on that you forgot about. Everything that you’re shopping for is going to get used.

Jessica: That is so crazy because you’re describing things that sounds so intensive and planned and special, but you’re basically saying it’s like an hour-and-a-half prep day and then the following days are, what, sounds like 15, 20 minutes?

Cassy: That’s the goal. Yes, no more than 15 minutes of extra time. So, for folks, let’s say, if you’re a working mother and you get home with the kids, instead of spending an hour to cook dinner to feed your family, you get to spend that time with them or spend that time however you want … folding your laundry, spending some time with your spouse, whatever it is.

Jessica: Now, what about … You became a mom, you have a one-year-old, is that right? Graysen?

Cassy: She’s two now.

Jessica: Two? OK. So, two-year-old. And has that changed really how you cook and how you’ve approached this? Because you started off kind of single, got married, now you have a two-year-old. How has that changed your own habits and how you help other people?

Cassy: Oh, it has changed a lot. I actually have felt like I’ve become more selfish with my time now that I do have a daughter. And I’m a working mother, right? And so, my time is split. And when I’m home, I want to be home with her, right? I don’t really want to be spending … whereas before I could romance over the perfect pot roast and have a glass of wine, and cooking dinner was a really big activity but, while my daughter was so young … And maybe we’ll get back to that, right? And there are still some nights that I do. We’ll cook something really special like that for our family. But while my daughter was so young, she wasn’t interested in hanging out in the kitchen with me. And instead, she’s just grabbing my pants and saying, “Mama, ‘Baby Shark,'” right? And so, I just became really selfish with my time, and because of that, I became selfish on behalf of my readers’ time because if I’m going through this, there’s no way I’m the only one, and we all need a better solution.

“While my daughter was so young, she wasn’t interested in hanging out in the kitchen with me. And instead, she’s just grabbing my pants. … If I’m going through this, there’s no way I’m the only one, and we all need a better solution.” Cassy Joy Garcia

Founding and Fueling Fed and Fit

Jessica: I love that. OK, you are joy. I mean, you are. Just when I got on with you, I’m like, “Oh, my word, she’s joyful.” You’re very grounded and mature just in how you don’t talk in extremes. And I can tell you’re really self-aware. You’re obviously extremely talented. Where are you wanting to take your career? Because it feels like there’s a lot of options now for people in kind of this blogger space. It’s like YouTube TV. Where do you want to go? What are some of your goals for the year?

Cassy: Oh, that is so nice of you to say. And I don’t know if you ever dig into Enneagram stuff but talking goals is my jam.

Jessica: Oh, are you Three?

Cassy: I’m Enneagram Three.

Jessica: OK, I’m a Seven, which also explains why I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I just gonna eat and be merry all the time.” OK, good. This, then, you really don’t even have to think about this question because you have got a plan.

Cassy: No. Yes, I’m trying to pick which version I’ll give you. Just kidding. Yeah. So, 2020 holds a lot of really cool things. I feel like this is the year that a lot of things really click into place. You know this, the building of business is a marathon. And I have had my eye on this hope and dream of evolving Fed and Fit from a personal blog into a really robust online editorial that way is beyond me. And so, I’ve got this great team of incredible content creators and writers that now I get the privilege of working with at Fed and Fit. And as it sits right now, there’s five of us. And so, we have an office building that we’re moving into in a few months with a studio kitchen. And so, we’re going to be doing more video that I get to do while the team continues to write great content. I want to feature them on video and highlight their brilliance in the kitchen and their really wonderful problem-solving. So, we’re going to move more towards this team-centric … here are the people behind Fed and Fit, making it all happen. So, that’s a big goal and a big vision of mine.

And video is definitely going to be a huge part of that, but I really have always tried to keep my finger on the pulse of what will serve our readers best. And I really try not to be too bullheaded about some of my goals and my plans and my specific ideas because if they don’t want necessarily to see me cooking dinner, maybe they want more helpful, shorter tutorials. And we’re going to try to stay nimble so we can provide that. But definitely, some video content, we’re going to try to do a live audience for some of these. We’re going to break it up into seasons so everybody can live their life in phases of the business. We have another book that we’re developing, and then, I’m having another baby in a few months, so everything is just wild. Yeah.

Jessica: So much fun. So much fun. You’re made for video, I mean, so that’s awesome. And I love that there’s so many ways now that consumers can get videos.

Cassy: It is, it is really neat. Yes. I was telling my parents that we’re going to do a show in 2020. And my mom and dad were like, “What network?” And I was like, “Oh, no, no, no, YouTube.”

Jessica: Yeah. I mean, it’s wild. The option that it’s has created … I mean, on one hand, the options means that you kind of have to really be good in order to break through the noise and have this following, but on the other hand, it creates this opportunity where you don’t have to be the one person on the Food Network.

Cassy: Yes.

Jessica: That is super exciting.

Cassy: Yeah, exactly.

Jessica: OK.

Cassy: Thank you.

Jessica: And then, how would you sort of describe that vision of that show? When you say … how would you describe Fed and Fit?

Cassy: Oh, man. Well, Fed and Fit, in general, we try to be a no-rules wellness resource. And so, anything that you’re going to find on the website is … we try to write things with love and grace and give people space for customizing, right? Coming up your own rule book with your body, right? That’s a foundation for our brand. We try to carry that off into all of our things. “Here’s some advice maybe on ways to roll over the cleaning products using in your house to less toxic options,” and then provide a space for the folks who just don’t care about that, right? And just acknowledge those kinds of things and those decision processes. So, we try to be a no-rules wellness space.

“Fed and Fit, in general, we try to be a no-rules wellness resource. … We try to write things with love and grace and give people space for customizing … just acknowledge those kinds of things and those decision processes.” Cassy Joy Garcia

And then, the show, I think that we tend to take ourselves too seriously in the kitchen or a lot of folks do and … or there’s a lot of precision. People are afraid, let’s say, in this case, to cook salmon, sear salmon on the stove because it seems really intimidating. And I think there’s something to show a little Julia Child’s vibe, right? It’s OK if you goof it up a little bit. It’s still dinner, it’s still going to taste great. And so, I really like this idea of cooking dinner with a friend and inviting somebody in that I can help walk through the process.

Jessica: Oh, my gosh. I want you to come to my house and cook with me in my kitchen.

Cassy: I would love that.

No Rules, Just Joy

Jessica: You’d love my kitchen. Well, I think of Enneagram Threes, they like gold stars. And I think of Sevens it’s more of no rules like, “Let’s create our own rules.” So how did you come to this place of no rules and kind of embracing a little bit more of, I don’t know, gentler way to be an ambitious woman?

Cassy: Oh, man. Probably because I figured out that that’s the way I’m going to succeed. That if I actually provide … if I realize that most of our life is lived in the margins, and I just give that space and permission to be OK with that, to be OK with … I don’t know … not always having a grade or a benchmark that I’m chasing, and I just get to live joyfully and happily. And it all, also, of course, has to do with the fact that I’m just trying to do my best to glorify the Lord in all of my work. But I think that that’s a big piece of it. Most of our life happens in the margins, right? It’s between work and bed. It’s in the morning when you wake up. It’s how you interact with your spouse and how you talk to your parents. And I think it’s just so important that how we approach life gets the most of our attention. And so, that’s how I kind of figured that out is that if we’re so consumed with rules, we might forget how we’re supposed to show up.

Jessica: I love that, the in-between moments. I was just having breakfast with a friend of mine, Jamie Ivey, she has a podcast called the Happy Hour podcast. And we are both … we have goals and we are ambitious. And we were talking, though, about the importance of letting go at the point of arrival, because we … and I’ve listened to this podcast called The Happiness Podcast. And they’ve done all this research to say that we over-project how happy we’re going to be when we get to this certain place. So, maybe when we’ve achieved this goal, we way over-project that. And there’s even thresholds that they’ve found in these psychological studies that show like once you make this amount of money, you can’t be happier after that.

And they even talk about people who won the lottery who have actually gotten depressed. And then we under-project what we’re actually … the hard things that we’re able to face in life. We often think there’s no way I could ever go through something like that. But then once we’re in that moment, we have our coping strategies, we have our reframing that we lean into, our communities. But when we’re projecting that in the future, we are not also activating our coping mechanisms. So, I love that because our life is now. I mean, it is now, it’s not in the future. So, if you don’t start embracing your present and realizing this is the moment that I have, this is my in-between moment, and bringing joy to that space, then you’re going to miss your life.
Cassy: Absolutely. And you know those moments hit you when you’re asleep at night. And I would get into bed, and I think, “Oh, I mean, I’m so grateful for my husband,” for example. And he’s already asleep, and I’ll roll over and like, “I’m grateful for you.” But I think it is. It’s just … nobody’s perfect in that. I don’t know that there’s a gold star waiting for us when it comes to living with intention in those moments or in all of our moments or in trying to stay present. But if you can tap into it whenever you can, that’s a good thing.

Jessica: Ah, I love it. OK, we’d like to wrap up and ask all of our guests how they are going scared right now. So how are you going scared? Which we just say that courage is just simply being a little bit afraid and going anyway. Not letting fear hold you back, but just realizing that you got to walk through your fears in order to live your purpose.

Cassy: Woohoo, OK. Well, we’re hiring again, so we’re bringing on somebody else. This business is … if you start a business by yourself and you have ultimate control over everything, and I’m a lot bit of a recovering perfectionist, and so, I think that giving up more control and seeing the conflicts that arise that are so good, and interpreting them as good at the end of the day and learning with my team, that is my definitely going scared as I’m about to have another baby and we build a great maternity leave at our company and stepping back and letting my team shine, it’s something that does … When I first had my daughter, it made me very nervous. And this go around, I’m much more calm because I know the people in the group and I also just know that it’s going to be OK, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not a little scared of it.

And so, as we’re building this office studio, we know we’re going to do a television show … a television show, a YouTube show at some point in time, right, and we’re going to do something live, and we’re going to evolve all of these things, I don’t really know exactly how the details are going to fall into place and I know I’m not going to be able to do it alone. And so, it’s a scary thing to really rely on a large group of people, but it’s going to happen. It’s the only way it’s going to happen.

Jessica: So good. Head on over to Instagram because Cassy and I are doing a fun little giveaway of her cookbook and some Noonday, and all sorts of little fun things are happening over there. And don’t forget to subscribe to my email list. One of the conversations we have coming up is with my architect and my designer where we are going to reveal all of the behind-the-scenes of what it took to remodel our 1960s home in East urban Austin.

I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation, but the people who are actually going to get to see the reveal first are the people on my email list. So, head on over to jessicahonegger.com—that’s two Gs and one N—subscribe to my email list, or you can just click on subscribe over on my Instagram account. I can’t wait to show you everything. It’s been really hard to keep it all a secret.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb, Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz, and I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.