Interviews

The Interview — Cassy Joy Garcia, Cookbook Author and Content Creator

Cookbook Author and Content Creator

Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with Cassy Joy Garcia, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.

Cassy Joy is the founder and editor-in-chief at FedandFit.com. What started as a food blog back in 2011 has evolved into a website, two books, and an entire Fed & Fit team. Cassy Joy is incredibly proud of what FedandFit.com has become. It’s now an online destination for folks craving easy recipes, approachable tips for non-toxic living, fitness for beginner levels, healthy mindset crafting, and overall no-rules-wellness. With her incredibly sharp, vigilant, and motivated team of contributors, they publish weekly problem-solving articles that are aimed at empowering (not burdening) you as you pursue your own version of healthy living. In addition to her website, in 2016, Cassy published her first book, Fed and Fit, a 28-day food and fitness plan with over 175 recipes. Three years later, Cook Once, Eat All Week was written as a way to solve the meal prep problem, eating the same thing every day.

When she’s not working, Cassy can be found with her husband Austin, their 2-year-old daughter Graysen Joy, and their two Great Pyrenees dogs, Gus and Ben, in their home in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio. Make sure to follow @fedandfit on Instagram for daily (and delicious!) meal inspiration as well as life updates from Cassy!

March 23, 2020

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R&S

Tell us about how the idea for Fed & Fit came about. Have you always been passionate about wellness and food?

Cassy

I’ve always had an interest in health. I went to a health careers high school here in San Antonio. I knew I wanted to do something in the industry, but it wasn’t until I went through my own healthy lifestyle transformation that I realized that the quality of the foods filling my plate had a bigger impact on my health than the quantity did. This was back when nobody really talked about the kinds of food we were eating—we were all just focused on calories. It was just a lightbulb moment, and from there, I really turned my health around. I was in my early twenties having really severe joint pain, chronic headaches, a lot of fatigue, and also my waistline was growing—which of course, back then, was the only thing that I thought was a thing worth saving. But once I started changing the kinds of food I put on my plate and mixed it with fitness programs—meaning I got off the elliptical and started doing other things—my health really turned around. In the span of about six to nine months, I went down eight to ten dress sizes, I got a whole bunch of energy back, the pain in my joints went away—all this stuff that I didn’t realize was optional. It was incredible. So from then on, I made a commitment to try to share those lessons I learned with as many folks as possible.

So I had a bunch of friends and family asking what the heck I was doing, what I was eating, what my thoughts were on XYZ food, and so I started a website to share about it. Eventually, more than just my immediate family and friends were reading it, and other people started asking me more questions. So I went on to become a nutrition consultant, and then I started working with folks one on one in that capacity. The business just walked in from there. 

R&S

What makes Fed & Fit different from other food and wellness blogs?

Cassy

Over the years, we have definitely evolved. This summer, we’ll celebrate nine years and things have changed a lot since then. Something that really sets us apart nowadays is that we like to think of ourselves as a destination for no-rules wellness, if that makes sense. I think there’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of it is semi dogmatic. We’re being “shoulded” all over the place—we “should” be eating more of this and we “should” be eating less of that. Fed & Fit is a place where we research things very thoroughly, we provide all sides of the issue, and we trust that our readers are smart and can make their own decisions as to what they should or shouldn’t be doing. So there aren’t any rules, we just try to provide really great information across the board. 

View Cassy's Essentials

R&S

Your most recent book is all about meal prep. What inspired you to make this shift?

Cassy

I started to focus on meal prep because it was a personal struggle and it also happened to align with my readers. They were also struggling with it. There were a bunch of smart, accomplished women who wanted to put healthy food on the table, and yet dinner time was so hard. You get to the end of the day, and you’re like “What the heck is for dinner?” and "Why is this such a hard question every day?" Especially for those who would be busy working all day long, and then they'd come home and want to spend time with their families, but instead, they'd have to be on their feet in the kitchen for an hour at a time every day just trying to serve them a healthy, homemade dinner. And in addition to that, it can get so expensive. I just knew there had to be a better way. So I started researching meal prep and how to streamline it, and I spent a lot of years trying to figure it out for myself. Then we ran it as a test run on the blog in January of 2017, and it was wildly successful. It was exactly what people were looking for—something that made dinnertime so much more efficient and so much more affordable. And it takes the decision making out of it, too—dinner’s already planned and prepped, you just need to follow the steps.

A traditional understanding of meal prep is that you go to the grocery store on Saturday and you spend a fortune on groceries, and then you spend six to eight hours cooking it on Sunday, and then you eat leftovers all week long. The problem with that is the food boredom. You’re eating the same thing, over and over again, every day. A lot of families don’t like leftovers and that’s not really an option. So the way we do it is you precook the main components—a vegetable, some sort of starch, and some sort of protein—on prep day, spending no more than an hour in the kitchen, and then you assemble them into totally different, fresh meals throughout the week. 

R&S

What are your top tips for making healthy choices when it’s hard?

Cassy

We are made to crave high-fat, salty, carby food. So if you’re going into happy hour with your friends, and you’re really hungry, you’re going to be like “I’ll take an extra-large order of potato skins please.” And if you know that those don’t make you feel good but you order them anyways, there also comes this weird element of guilt around food. So there are a couple of things at play here. Number one: ahead of time, before you go and if you know that you’re hungry, eat a healthy snack to tide you over before you show up. And this is really unglamorous, but keep a protein bar that does make you feel really good in your purse, and go ahead and munch on that before you head in. If you still want the potato skins, have the potato skins—I’m not here to vilify you—but you won’t feel like you had to choose them because you were starved. Set yourself up to make a nonemotional decision by not walking in starving. Number two: once you are there, just remember that food is food and the decisions you make are not a reflection of who you are—it’s just a meal that you ate, and it’s going to be over. Your pride and your attitude and who you are as a person are so much more than a single decision you’re making at dinner. And even if you do decide you want the potato skins and you're like “You know what, I know this isn’t going to make me feel great but I’m getting them anyways," at least you made that decision from a powerful perspective. I think that’s really important. It’s kind of subtle, but it’s a very distinct mindset shift into how you choose food. Whereas if it’s all a mystery and you feel like crud the next day and you’re like “Gosh I shouldn’t have ordered those, I’m not taking good care of myself,” that does way more damage than just acknowledging “This isn’t going to make me feel great, and I’m ordering it anyways!” Make those decisions powerfully.

R&S

Give us your ride-or-die kitchen essentials.

Cassy

A lemon squeezer is really high up there. The best ones are the ones that don’t have paint on them—it flecks. Get one that’s plastic all the way through that’s not painted. I would also say stainless steel sheet pans. They clean really easily and they’re really affordable. And then a ceramic pan as a safer alternative to Teflon. Once Teflon ages, it starts to chip and can get off into your food, and that’s really not a toxin that you want to be eating on a regular basis. Ceramic pans have come a long way, and they’re much more affordable now than they used to be. You can also see the things you’re cooking a lot better because they’re usually white.

R&S

Beauty is a big part of your blog as well. Why do you think it’s important to use natural products?

Cassy

I’m actually a big fan of mixing both natural and safer products that are not necessarily natural but have been tested for health and human safety. You get to a point where you realize you’re taking such good care of yourself with the things you’re putting in your body. You're eating really great food, you’re exercising, you’re staying hydrated, you’re journaling, you’re meditating, but then you’re slathering who knows what on the outside of your body—which can actually have just as great of a hormonal impact as the foods you’re eating and the stress of your everyday life. So it became really important to me because it is that important—it can have a huge impact on our health. So I started off by educating about the implications of products that haven’t been tested for health and human safety that we’re using. I don’t want to scare people, I just want to make them more knowledgeable consumers. It became an important part of the conversation because, at the end of the day, the answers to our health are not all on a plate. And there are a lot of great options out there now—we don’t have to be rubbing coconut oil and olive oil on our skin as the only safe alternatives.

R&S

Tell us about the fit side of Fed & Fit. What are your favorite ways to get moving?

Cassy

I’m a big fan of walking every day, if that’s possible. I’m nearing the end of my second pregnancy and it’s a totally different ball game. But I think that moving every day, whether you’re making it to the gym or making it to that spin class, is really important. And that’s something that you can schedule into your day. Wake up, make it a part of your routine, grab your coffee or your tea, and walk out the door. Do one lap around the neighborhood or take a walk every time you call your mom. Working out doesn’t have to be as punitive as some of us make it—it doesn’t have to be a punishment. If you hate running and you’ve got it in your head that the only way for you to be well and fit is to run, that’s just not true. What’s actually going to be more powerful is if you enjoy what you do with your physical activities. Look until you find something you love—and maybe that’s water Zumba (I don’t know if that actually exists)—but something that gets you active that you just get a kick out of. Keep looking until you find that thing, because that’s when it doesn’t feel like a workout. That’s when you become naturally healthy—when you just happen to be doing things that you love that keep you active.

R&S

Do you have a favorite recipe from your latest book?

Cassy

Week 10 focuses on brisket, and it’s my favorite week because we get to make Philly cheesesteak loaded fries, a pepper steak, and then a euro salad with garlic potato wedges. It's so, so yummy. So you’ve got an American classic, Chinese food, and then a sort of Greek, Mediterranean style meal.

R&S

What advice would you give to someone looking to start practicing healthier eating habits?

Cassy

I would say start small. It’s so easy to over-commit at the beginning of a new goal, and say things like "I’m gonna start working out every day, I’m gonna eat salads every day, I’m gonna stop eating grains, I’m gonna drink all this water, I’m gonna go for a walk every day." People set these massive goals, which is great, but the problem with it is that as soon as one thing falters, the whole thing crumbles for these people. This is why New Year's resolutions tend to crumble around the first week of February at the latest. It’s like they miss too many workout classes and the baby’s out with the bathwater and they’re like "Whatever, I guess the healthy lifestyle wasn’t meant for me." So I would pick one thing, master that thing, and then move on to another one. A really low hanging fruit would be drinking more water. Take your body weight, divide it by two, and that’s how many ounces of water you should be drinking per day. That's not counting if it’s the heat of the summer or if you’re working out a lot, but that’s a good starting point. And once you feel like you’ve got that habit down, then move on to the next one and the next one. The next one I would say is sleeping. Prioritize bedtime. Even though you might wake up a little early and even if you struggle with falling asleep, put your phone in the other room so you’re not tempted to lay there and scroll at the end of the night. Try to stay away from blue light electronics so your body can start to get ready for rest. Also, give yourself a bedtime and honor that bedtime as much as you would a wake-up time, and then start dealing with food and fitness, but a little bit at a time—don’t take it on all at once.

R&S

What’s next for you? Do you have any plans to write another book?

Cassy

We’re working on my third book—which I can’t talk too much about because it doesn’t come out for a whole year—but it will come out spring 2021. My Fed & Fit team is growing and we’re moving into our studio kitchen and office space later this spring, and that’ll be really exciting. So we’ll spend the rest of this year creating some really robust video content and cooking shows, and we’ll even have an opportunity for a live audience on some of it. But just focusing on building that out, offering more plans, and making sure that we’re staying true to our no-rules wellness commitment.

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