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This is Joy & Claire Episode 90: Cassy Joy Garcia is Here to Make Your Life Easier
Episode Date: September 2, 2021
Transcription Completed: September 14, 2021
Audio Length: 57:51 minutes
Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy.
Claire: And this is Claire.
Joy: And this is Joy and Claire.
Claire: And Cassy.
Joy: [singing] Cassy Joy Garcia.
Claire: [singing] Welcome back to Joy and Claire. Hi.
Cassy: Hi, thank you for having me.
Claire: We’re so excited you’re here. So if you guys for some reason don’t know who this is, Cassy is the author of the Fed & Fit blog. She has a ton of amazing cookbooks. We are so excited to have her here today to talk about life and also about her brand-new cookbook, which we will get to in a few minutes. But first, let’s just say hi. How’s your day going Cassy?
Joy: How are things?
Cassy: Things are really good.
Joy: It’s so good to see you. I’m having such good memories of our last episode, which was forever ago on the Girls Gone WOD podcast. I love watching everything that you’re doing. We need an update on your family. You always just have so many fun things going on. You’ve got great dogs. This is just going to be a happy-filled episode. I can’t wait to hear about your new book Cook Once Dinner Fix.
Claire: So the last time we had you on, I think Gray was very young. And since then, you are now pregnant with your third daughter, right?
Claire: Little girl gang building. So tell us a little bit about how the last two years have been for you.
Cassy: It has been a wild ride. [laughing] So we are expecting our third baby girl in early December. It was just like I blinked. I’ve been working on this book – we started working on it before I gave birth to Bishop, and now I’ve got another baby in my belly. It’s been so fun. Both family and business growing at a really exciting, fun rate in their own trajectories. But it’s been really great. The boys are good, Gus and Ben, the puppy dogs. It’s a wild ride. Austin and I, my husband, we are in the process of planning and building what is really going to be our forever home. I thought that we would have a house between this house and the forever house, so it’s just a whole other thing that we get to think about. Right now, it will be a long time before we are in there, so we have a baby sleeping in what was Austin’s office. I think that by the time this one’s here, we might just have one in a closet somewhere, but it’s all fine. It’s going to be great.
Joy: Hey. As long as there’s a roof overhead and some love in your heart and some food on the table, which I know you have, and some dog kisses…
Claire: We had Miles when we were living in a one-bedroom apartment. So he slept in a pack ‘n play in our room until he was one year old. Looking back, that was nuts. That was such a bad idea. Zero out of ten, would not recommend. Literally, our toothbrush and toothpaste – because we lived in this little apartment where you had to walk through the bedroom to even get to the bathroom. So our toothbrushes lived in the kitchen where you normally keep your hand towel drawer.
Joy: Yeah because you can’t wake the baby, yeah.
Claire: It was brutal. But you know, it’s doable. You figure it out.
Cassy: Yeah, you figure it out. There’s pros. There’s pros to all of it. We’re also close.
Claire: So close.
Cassy: I can get to them so quickly.
Joy: Did you really want to make a bigger house? You’re just going to have to run around and find where people are.
Claire: So much more to clean.
Cassy: It’s going to be a lot more the clean. Hopefully I’ll have helpers, right? We’re building helpers, right? Isn’t that part of the plan.
Claire: I don’t know. I haven’t figured out how to get that to work yet. He’s still a net negative.
Claire: So talk to us a little bit about running your business during COVID. You have your whole team that – they come to your house, right?
Cassy: Mmhmm, they did. Yes. They were coming to my house until I guess March when the world shut down. That’s also when we had to put a pause on the book. We put about a 7-month pause on photographing the book. In that time, though, I actually built – I don’t know if I told y’all that we were going to do this – but we built a kitchen studio that we’d moved into. So we had an office space. That finished last summer, so right in the middle of quarantine and COVID. It was really just me coming here because I was alone. But I got to be able to get out of the house a little bit and go to a place where we were still alone. But running Fed & Fit through COVID, it was tricky. Bishop, my second, was born at the end of April. It was not exactly the maternity leave… there was so much about that year that nobody had planned or anticipated, but it was definitely not the leave that I had anticipated or thought that I would have. Because as the owner of a business, you build a maternity leave, and it’s not just – I think I’ve talked about this before – it’s not just, “Bye, I’ll see y’all in three months.”
Joy: Right. You have to help keep things running in some way, shape, or form, have a plan.
Cassy: Exactly, you have to build some sort of a runway or things for them to really stay super active and to make sure that the business still supports itself. And we’re getting better and better at that, independent of me. But I had built that plan, and then the pandemic happened and I needed to be still be present to be able to help lead through those times. So it was this interesting juggling act of newborn baby, back into that mode of trying to pivot. How can we be as helpful as possible during this time to our readers? April was surviving, figuring out how and where I was going to have a baby, what plan was actually going to come to fruition, what I felt right about at the time, what was even possible. There were so many unknowns. And then coming back. We really navigated the pandemic as Fed & Fit by stopping and asking, what do people need from us right now? And how can we really be helpful to this community. So that’s how we put out content. We paused everything else. So it was more like, “here’s four things to do with those cans of beans in your pantry” versus, “here’s a great new recipe for summer corn.”
Claire: So when did you pick back up on the book?
Cassy: We picked back up on the book towards the end of the summer. I want to say it was around August and September. We wound up coming here. It was a really small group. We had this space at the time, so we were able to not come to my house where there was still a newborn. We were able to come to this space, and then the whole team could make use of this enormous kitchen and cook. And then we have a photographer, Kristen Kilpatrick, who photographed this book, which was incredible. She waved her stunning magic wand over those pages. But we knocked the rest of it out in about two weeks.
Claire: So I’m sure those were very relaxing first weeks for you.
Cassy: Very relaxing. Yes, it was… oh gosh. After it wrapped, I was like, “Everyone go to the lovely hotel nearby and enjoy a night off. Don’t talk to anybody for a week.”
Joy: Please don’t call me.
Claire: Please don’t call me.
Cassy: Please don’t talk to me for a week.
Claire: No offense. Love you.
Joy: Cassy, are you an introvert side or extrovert side?
Cassy: I err extroverted.
Joy: I would guess that, but you never know. Some people present as extrovert and they’re really introverts.
Claire: And even extroverts, our engines are finite.
Joy: I ask that because I think, especially in this year and running a business and managing a family and also with COVID and having to take that pause, was there anything that you were really struggling with, especially with stopping a little bit?
Cassy: The biggest challenge for me – I think everybody felt this, no matter where they come on the introversion or extroversion spectrum – was the loneliness that set in through all of that. We’re incredibly fortunate in that my family is so close. But we were taking quarantine so seriously that we didn’t see my parents that live ten minutes down the road. We went from seeing them multiple times a week. And actually, they office in the same building as me. They’re on the second floor. So I actually in a lot of ways get to see them almost every day. So that was very jarring. So those kinds of things really started to weigh on me, and I felt like – I don’t know if I’m answering my question. I felt like I was losing touch with what I could do to really be helpful. I keep coming back to that, but that’s my North Star in work and life. It’s how can I be of service right now, whether it’s my work as a daughter or as a friend. And I didn’t know where that pointed for a while.
Joy: Like your life purpose. So do you feel that there’s this calling of being of service constantly, but taking a pause was like, “I have to do something.” And truly, you were taking care of yourself, and you’re filling up your own cup, all those cliche things. We all kind of had some time and space, even though we were going stir crazy. Even just being home and managing a family is exhausting. But you get life from giving and creating and creating all these amazing things. Creating content, creating cookbooks, Instagram, your beautiful hair, your nails, all the things. Being on pause, was there anything that you could find a different purpose from when you were in that space?
Cassy: Yes. That’s such a good question, and I really hadn’t thought about it in that context. I think that what it really forced me to do was – it feels like it shouldn’t be this profound of an “ah ha” moment, but it really was in practice. But really, look a look more within and figure out instead of external cues of am I headed in the right direction, I really got to tap more inwardly. What am I more curious about, what am I leaning into. That was right when I started an entirely new Bible study that I hadn’t explored before, for example. I just needed something else to sink my teeth into, and it was a really great place to put that in place. Those kinds of things, it was really nice. To start leaning into consuming things for myself, whether it was that or other things that were just for my own self development that didn’t have an outward purpose to them. It’s not like I was reading the latest top ten fiction books for a review.
Joy: Right, right. We will get to your cookbook, but I’m loving having this conversation, especially with people who run such successful businesses and social media is that you are constantly online comparing and taking away from that… I can imagine it just being so valuable to really staying true to what you want to do and your brand.
Cassy: Yes, it did. And in part of my plan for the maternity leave, a goal of mine for Fed & Fit, or at lease a hope of mine, and maybe a goal is too strong of a word. But a hope that I’ve always had for Fed & Fit is that it represented more voices, more people than just myself. I really didn’t start Fed & Fit ten years ago, which is so bizarre, a decade of doing this. But it didn’t occur to me back then that I necessarily needed a personal blog to get to this online editorial thing that I thought I was creating to create. So as part of my maternity leave, I was able to invite some of the team members to come in and lead demos. That was such a great way – the maternity leaves, in particular – that was something that I saw coming for a long period of time, unlike the pandemic – force you to let go of the reigns. Right? Let go. Let the capable people do what they do best and see what happens and how they grow this business in their own unique way. I think when I look back on huge leaps that Fed & Fit has made and my own development as a business owner and leader, it’s because of those significant periods of time that I was forced to be out of it. And in a lot of ways, the pandemic, really being thrown out of what would have been considered our plan and our content calendar, is another example of that.
Claire: I think what you said about being able to finally find some time to do these little, and maybe really big, interests, dig into things that really felt like they were for you. The comment you made before you said that was, maybe it shouldn’t have taken this for you to start to look inward. But I think that that’s so common, especially for – again, not to go introvert, extrovert – but especially for extroverts, especially for content creators, especially for people who really spend a lot of time – you describe yourself as your entire North Star is how can you be helpful. Being a helper is a completely reciprocal role. It completely relies on your impact on others, on how they receive your impact. I think a lot of us did feel, obviously in a horrible, horrible situation where you’re trying to find any tiny silver lining, this space to breathe and finally ask yourself, I couldn’t go and fill my entire calendar right now if I wanted to. All the activities are cancelled. All the trips are cancelled. I can’t travel for work. My kids’ soccer practices are done. They aren’t even going to school, let alone activities. What if I always wanted to do – and you know, even for people it was like, I’m going to learn how to bake, I’m going to learn how to sew, I’m going to get a puppy. These sort of cliche, now cliche – the quarantine hobbies or the COVID puppies. But I think it was a great opportunity for a lot of people to have that pause that in our society there’s not a time in our lives for that, especially when you become a mom and especially if you are an entrepreneur on top of being a mom. I mean, talk about having a full plate. So I think that a lot of people can probably relate to that, that whatever that small thing was or really big thing that they were finally able to say, “There’s some space here. What can I do with this? That’s exciting.”
Cassy: That’s such a good point. And you know what? A lesson learned and something that I’m taking from that, what you just articulated and folding into the future of Fed & Fit, for example. I haven’t told them yet, but my whole team’s gone now so I can talk about it, because it’s a surprise. We’re building out our leave plan. So it’s official. I have W-2 employees. I feel so fancy now. But there’s going to be next week five of us that are full time here. Myself and another one of my colleagues are going to have a baby within a month of each other, so obviously we need to formalize maternity leave instead of me just building content and winging it. But it brings into my other leaves – bereavement, of course there’s PTO and I have a really generous plan built in there. But something that came to mind when we were thinking about this with a new team member of ours is the idea of a sabbatical. I felt like kind of the – again, not to be too Pollyanna about what we all just went through – but an itch that that scratched, to your point, is people had space all of a sudden to think about what do I do with this now. And there was such beautiful things that can come from that in so many different regards. Being able to purposefully build that into a job and know that on a predictable cadence, every few years you are going to have a four-week sabbatical supported by work to go and do something, whether that’s travel or whether that’s the time that you bring home the puppy or whatever it is. But just to think, what am I going to do with this and then fill that space with something that really means something to you.
Claire: One of the things I want to touch on – and I know we’ve said this a hundred times now – and then we’ll get to your cookbook. I swear, eventually it’s going to happen.
Joy: We just have so much to catch up on.
Cassy: I know.
Claire: Is the experience of being a new mom during lockdown. I know those early postpartum days are already very isolating. This, however, is something that we are not – I think it’s one of the things about COVID that very much persists to this day is that extra isolation that you need to have for newborns away. You’re not taking them out into public that you maybe once would have, and you’re not having as many people come over to your house the way that you maybe once would have. And the toll that that could take on an already very isolating time. Obviously Bishop was not your firstborn, and having a firstborn is its whole other can of worms. But for you, did you feel that added sense of isolation? How did you handle that, and how are you looking to December and thinking about how that’s going to go again?
Cassy: Oh gosh. I handled it probably very poorly, to be totally honest. I tend to redirect. When I’m uncomfortable, I redirect into what can I do to be useful with this time. This is something I should probably talk to a professional about. Yesterday for example, I felt under the weather for a day. Instead of allowing myself to rest and be in those moments and to just be like, “Oh, I don’t feel good today. I’m going to do the bare minimum” because that’s what I need to do is I need to sit on this couch and rest and drink fluids. Instead what I did was I was like, I cannot let this day be a bust because of this thing that I have no control over, so I’m going to get ahead on these other 18 things that I can do from the couch, which don’t actually support the rest that I actually need. So what I actually did during that season as a newborn from home being really lonely – I ached for those visits from friends who stop by with your favorite cup of tea or coffee and takeout from your favorite restaurant to supplement the freezer meals, I ached for that. For dear friends who sat on my couch after they had finished sterilizing their hands and hold the baby and ooh and ah, “oh wow, this is so big.” I really ached for those moments So what I did is I turned that into, what can I do to try and make something out of this that makes me feel great about it at the end of the day. And it was being productive. Although I was pulled back into work a little bit earlier, kind of alluding to that and building a plan to get us through the pandemic, I also pushed myself back in in an effort to try to feel like, for better or worse, that it was still a good time. Does that make sense? And so looking forward, to the other part of your question, looking forward to December is, I know I’ve seen myself go through that, and what I wound up doing is I was just exhausted. It was very classic burning the candle at both ends. I needed to be resting, healing, and just spending time with B and Gray. And I was doing that. But in those quiet moments, I wasn’t also not thinking about strategy, how can I pivot this, how can I work with people, how can I help people. I wasn’t also working. So really building in really firm boundaries. And a part of that starts now. It’s with my current Fed & Fit team. We spent, oh my gosh, I’m cross-eyed, but we spent six hours today going over our content calendar because it’s through June of next year. But so that we have a plan.
Claire: Okay, let’s talk about your book.
Claire: So it literally came in the mail.
Joy: That’s so exciting. Claire has hers right now.
Claire: You were so sweet to send us an advanced copy. It’s called Cook Once Dinner Fix. I’m holding it in my hand right now. I’m sorry you guys can’t see it, but just imagine it here.
Joy: And you look so beautiful on the cover.
Claire: And your hair is so – Joy loves your hair. She talks about it all the time. Not to be weird.
Joy: I’m obsessed.
Cassy: Half of the hair on that cover is not mine, just for the record.
Joy: Amazing. Even better. The higher the hair, the closer to God.
Claire: We definitely talked about that in our last episode, about all your hair. Alright, so first of all I have to tell you that I still use Cook Once, Eat All Week all the time. We’re in the middle of week four right now. It’s definitely my most-used cookbook. Not every single week, but this is our third week in a row of using it. Because school started back up, my husband has a job where he never gets home on time. When we went through the first days of the pandemic, we were using it every single week and then the pandemic hit and I was like, “Okay cool, I can cook from home.” And then in the past month or two, I’m like, “I’m over it. I’m sick of having to come up with what to eat for dinner every night.” You have that moment where you’re like, “I wonder what we’re going to have for dinner.” And you’re like, “Oh no, that’s me. I have to decide. I’m the one.” So that’s what I love about your cookbooks is that I feel like there is this unspoken, and in my opinion incorrect, assumption that cookbook authors make that a recipe in a cookbook has to be fancy. That in order for it to be “cookbook worthy,” it has to have a sauce and all these weird ingredients and you have to have like garlic scapes or something weird. And it’s like, no, I don’t need that stuff. I just need someone else to decide what I’m having for dinner. And Cassy, that is what you do for me. You come into my kitchen every night and you decide what I’m going to have for dinner, and I will be forever grateful. Little did you know that that is what you’re doing for me literally every single night, still to this day. So thank you.
Cassy: I love it so much. That makes me so happy to know.
Claire: I mean, I think about you probably way more than is normal for someone. So I’m so excited for this book. Tell us a little bit – in case you guys don’t have Cook Once, Eat All Week, what are you waiting for? But in case you do have it and it doesn’t actually have a space on your bookshelf because you just use it so much that it just lives on your counter, let me regale you. Every week, you have a set of ingredients and it makes three recipes that are all the same ingredients but otherwise unrelated taste-wise as much as possible. And the idea is that you prep them all at once. So tell us what is different about this book. It seems a little less aggressive, for lack of a better word.
Joy: Aggressive. [laughing]
Claire: The first book is like you are committed. You are eating potatoes all week.
Claire: Which I love, but.
Cassy: And there’s always going to be a place, right, for both I think. Cook Once Dinner Fix – the way that I like to do books is really an involved process. It’s a lot of work. When I finish a book, I finish it with zero intention of writing the next one to be totally honest. Because I’m like, we have to have answered everything. We’ve got to knock it all out. However, in Cook Once, Eat All Week coming out, there was a lot of feedback coming in and it became really clear that I wasn’t done. My work wasn’t done with that book because there were a lot of wishes. People who were really using it and had really given the book a try or are still using it and saying, “This is great… and I wish it had blah blah blah.” So I started paying attention to all of those, and the most asked questions and the most requested updates that folks would have to ask. An idea started to come together that actually happens to really align with how I cook in my home more often than any other. To start there, what I do in my own kitchen is if I’m making say a roast chicken for dinner and I’m serving it with roasted vegetables and potatoes, things like that, what I will do is I will throw another chicken in the oven while I’m roasting the one that we’re having that night for dinner. I’m not eating that second chicken tonight, but I’m going to let it cool and I’m putting it in the fridge, and I’m going to repurpose it in a sesame chicken dish with white rice tomorrow night or two nights from now. I’m sort of doing future myself a favor. I’m able to have two fresh meals and I’m really excited about them but they are totally different flavor combinations, to what you just said, but it’s just the two meals. What I found is that by doing that, I allow myself a lot of variety. So one of the biggest requests that have come through from Cook Once, Eat All Week was, like Claire just said, you’re committed. You are committed to those ingredients for these three pretty big, hearty meals for the week. And what folks were having a hard time doing was, how do we incorporate other nutrients throughout the week. Whether those are the words they’re thinking or not, they’re like how do I eat different things. And that makes sense because in my own home I’m eating beef at least once, I’m eating poultry, I’m probably eating seafood. We’re mixing things in, and if you have what I like to think of as an efficient kitchen, the one where you’re throwing the two kitchens into the over to do future you a favor, then it’s hard to do that with the Cook Once, Eat All Week method because it’s three big meals. So what we did is we slimmed it down to two. So these are dinner series. Everything has two dinners paired to each of these to hopefully allow folks to overlap and choose from different chapters and build the week that they want. So if you’re like I really want myself or my family to have seafood this week, then I’m going to overlap that with another dinner series from another chapter. So that was a big wish that had come through. Another big wish that had come through was, even though the prep day was significantly reduced in terms of what was involved in normal – not normal, but…
Claire: Right. Like, traditional meal prep where you just sit there and go through a conveyor belt.
Cassy: Yes, that’s right. A traditional meal prep. Where you’re precooking meals completely. And in some cases, a lot of people are three meals a day, seven days a week, that’s part of their routine. And they’re really starting to reach burnout on that method. So although the prep in Cook Once, Eat All Week was way less than that because you’re batch cooking these components, there were still people who were like, “How about no prep?” No prep day. I’d really like to opt for no prep day. So that’s what –
Claire: Don’t you love it when you create a product and you’re like, “This is for people who love prep day.” And they’re like, “I don’t like this cookbook because I don’t want to prep.” And you’re like, “Then maybe buy a different cookbook, man.”
Joy: Maybe order takeout.
Claire: Maybe just buy a cookbook that doesn’t require a prep day. I don’t know what to tell you. But I empathize with you wanting to take that feedback anyway. Good for you for not just being like, “I don’t know what to tell you, person who doesn’t like to prep. Don’t buy a prep cookbook.”
Joy: “Hey, look. I gave all this content for you guys.”
Claire: “Go to my website, I don’t know.”
Claire: That’s what I would have said, but Cassy is nicer than me, as we all know.
Joy: Cassy’s just way too nice.
Cassy: I’ve just had two years to settle. I think at first, I was like, I can’t make direct eye contact with the Amazon reviews. Somebody else tell me what they say.
Joy: Oh my gosh, any reviews period. Do you not look? Because I just can’t. I can’t.
Cassy: I waited until there were – this is how fragile my ego is, y’all. I waited until there were enough good/great ones that I could ignore – not ignore, but take in the larger scope of maybe where they others might fall.
Joy: Fair. Smart.
Cassy: Is it?
Claire: No, it is smart. Because you know what, other people are mean. Poopoo on them. The other thing that I noticed about this book immediately was there are a lot more options that don’t have meat. And that was a big thing with Cook Once, Eat All Week. Everything is meat-based. Which anyone who listens to this podcast knows I am a big meat-eater. I am very pro-ethical meat. And I work in the natural products industry. I know for a fact that this plant-based movement is no longer a movement, is no longer a trend. It’s here to stay. They call it flexitarians, and they’re here.
Cassy: They’re here. I’m also a big pro-meat person. If I am making tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner, for example, it’s kind of a classic combination, I’m finding a way to stud some chicken or some turkey in there. That’s just kind of my wiring. That being said, a big request that had come through was for vegetarian options, plant-based options. And so I put my thinking cap on and my coachable hat on and came up with this chapter. So the book has, instead of just poultry, beef, and pork, which is what you will find in Cook Once, Eat All Week, this one also includes seafood. Which was a trick nut to crack. It’s the shortest chapter because a lot was left on the cutting room floor for the seafood chapter. Because seafood repurposed is a tricky situation.
Claire: It is tricky. Reheated fish is not that good.
Cassy: It’s not going to be great. So it really needed to be a super reliable homerun, so that’s why that chapter is so short. And then the vegetarian chapter, I will be honest with y’all, I went in probably the least excited about it, and it may be my favorite chapter in the book. Maybe it’s because I threw extra fun things into it to really liven up these meals, but I’m really excited about them. So yes, there’s a vegetarian chapter in there as well. It’s delicious.
Claire: So as Cassy’s talking, I’m flipping through the book. So just imagine. I’m looking at ricotta stuffed eggplant – do you say “ri-KOT-uh” or “ri-KOHT-uh”?
Cassy: I say “ri-KOT-uh.”
Claire: Me too. Everyone I know says “ri-KOT-uh” except for my husband who says “ri-KOHT-uh,” which is wrong Brandon.
Claire: And he’s like, “I’m from Wisconsin. We know about cheese.” I’m like, “Are you from Italy?” It’s also the reason he claims he can’t be lactose intolerant. He says, “I can’t be lactose intolerant. I’m from Wisconsin.” That is not a reason. You’re lactose intolerant.
Joy: It’s a lot.
Claire: Okay, that’s another episode, clearly. Okay ricotta stuffed eggplant and then eggplant pepper skillet. And then it has this little tip. Because I’m looking at this and I’m like, this looks so good but I don’t love eggplant. And Cassy, you were like, “I got you Claire. Don’t like eggplant? Try this dinner series with portobello mushrooms instead.”
Joy: She always has something. Always. And dietary restrictions. Because I can’t have dairy, and you’re always like, “Dietary restrictions? I got you.” So everything’s taken care of.
Claire: The thing I love the most about the way you think about this too is that this cookbook – and Cook Once, Eat All Week to a degree, but I feel like I’m going to get this a lot from this cookbook, is that I actually love cooking, but I can’t make all those decisions. And so that really feels to me like what this is doing. It’s saying, hey listen, I’m not going to pretend like you don’t have to do a little work here. If you like cooking, then you want to be doing that. It’s fulfilling to me to get into the kitchen after a long day and roll up my sleeves and make a recipe. But I don’t want to have to think about that, and I don’t want to have to agonize over it as I’m getting my grocery list and all of that. It just is so nice to be like, I still get to do the part that I like, and Cassy already did the part that I don’t like.
Cassy: Totally. I hope that that’s really helpful. And that’s another thing that’s a difference between the two books. Cook Once, Eat All Week I essentially gave people a main dish and the rest was for you to figure out. So the buffalo stuffed avocados, for example, I got a lot of questions of people writing in, saying, “Well what do I serve this with?” And I was like, “You figure it out. Whatever you want to serve it with.” And it’s not helpful, Cassy. It’s not a helpful answer. If my goal is really to help alleviate the thinking and the planning, to your point of what goes on the dang table for dinner, why not provide a full spectrum? And so that was something that every dish in Cook Once Dinner Fix is a full meal. So in some cases – for example, there’s a brisket one that comes to mind. There’s brisket, and there’s a polenta, and there’s a slaw that goes with it. So you really are able to look at it at a glance and say, this is what I would serve the brisket with and it’s going to go really well. And sometimes those elements cross over into the next one.
Claire: Can I ask a very specific question about a food item that I’m afraid of and I feel like you’re going to help me with me fear?
Cassy: Yes. Please do.
Claire: I was very paleo for a very long time. I was really paleo in the phase of my life when I learned how to cook for myself, in my early to mid-20’s where I really got good at cooking for myself. So I never really learned how to cook beans, and I want to know how to cook beans. But I can’t get over the hump of them just being this chalky, flavorless smudge in my mouth that I don’t want. So I just have to pour out all these beans. Talk me down from my ledge about beans, please.
Cassy: I would love to. Gosh, you know, planning for this book and wanting to offer nutrients and foods from a really broad group of foods forced me to really start playing with a bunch of different flavors. But I found myself carrying that through into my own home and enjoying beans way more often than I really would have thought. The reasons why I love beans are, they are so easy to make. They are really, really easy. When I think about other starches that I was relying on – I was very strict paleo for a number of years as well. My starch options were potatoes, squash, beets, and plantains. All of those require a good amount of work to make delicious. You have to chop them, wash them, roast them, something like that. And beans, if you have dried, obviously there’s a little bit more of a process. But if you’re planning on canned, for example, it is extremely fast. And children, at least my small children, love them. They’re a really great baby food, especially early on. You can smash them for them, if they’re really well cooked. When you get to that texture, it’s actually ideal baby food. And then you can take those – am I selling you on the smushing –
Claire: At least you’re giving me ideas of what to do with them when I ruin them. Give them to my kids, got it.
Cassy: Give them to the kids. But I would pull those out. It just became a really great family meal starch option because I could pull those out for the little ones, and to the rest of the pot add the more aggressive seasonings and salts. We just really love it. It’s also been a really great way that I can balance out chili. Because again, from my paleo days where also like you were, I really started to sharpen my cooking skills for cooking for myself, chili was meat and nightshades, like tomatoes and things like that. Maybe I would throw in some carrots and other stuff like that, but there really wasn’t anything else from a carbohydrate perspective that made its way into the chili. And being able to add three different kinds of beans into chili makes for a really robust, even more efficient dinner experience because I’m not having to think about, should I also make cornbread to go with – well, cornbread wouldn’t have worked then. But what else can I make to go with this? It becomes a really easy option. And to make them from scratch is actually a really simple process. I like to think of it as it’s just a little bit longer than making rice. So the process of rinsing, soaking, and then cooking them, it’s really not that much different than making rice if that’s a part of your routine. It’s just going to take a little bit longer.
Claire: I always tell myself, almost every culture on this planet has beans as one of their subsistence foods. I am overthinking it.
Cassy: Yeah. I don’t mean to point fingers, but you might be –
Claire: No, it’s okay.
Cassy: You might be. And you know, if it’s the flavor and the texture that you’re worried about, I would use them in a chili or a soup or something like that where there’s some sort of a medium that’s going to add more flavor and other qualities.
Claire: Right, the same way that I would start with another ingredient that I didn’t like that much. Kind of hide it in other things first until you get more accustomed to it. Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to try beans. I was just flipping through and I was like, some of these recipes have beans. Claire, you’re going to have to eat some beans. It’s going to be great.
Cassy: You have to keep me posted. I want to know how it goes.
Claire: We’ll tag you, don’t worry. I’ll just send a photo to your house. Not weird.
Claire: What are –
Joy: I have a question.
Claire: Oh yes, go on. I won’t completely dominate the entire interview. Go ahead.
Joy: I have a question. Cookbooks to me are very scary, and I want to say that I actually – Claire can attest to this, that I do not cook. But yours is actually the only cookbook where I’m like, I can do this, and I’ve actually made recipes from your cookbook before. When I look at this, I’m like, “I can do this.” Especially with the vegetarian stuff. I eat meat, but I am more drawn to some vegetarian dishes, so I’m super excited about this one. But I always look at cookbooks and I get overwhelmed. There’s too many steps or, I don’t know, my brain gets on overload. I also see cookbooks as almost like – three’s so many out there. How do you choose which one? You have an identity. What would you say is your audience, and why are they drawn to your identity versus the other million cookbooks that are out there?
Cassy: Oh my gosh, this is such a great question, Joy, and this is one that I have with my publisher quite a lot. Because the book that I wanted to create talks to people that they don’t talk to normally. I had to really figure that out. The people who I create cookbooks for are the folks who are really just trying to get dinner on the table. There’s a lot of self-identity in that. I’m just trying to get a meal on the table, and I want it to be delicious. I would love for it to taste good. I would love for it to be nutritious. I would love for my family to like it. I would love for it to not cost a fortune. And I would love for it to not have to take me all day long to pull off. I felt like there are beautiful books out there that they’ll give you something delicious and nutritious, but maybe it costs a heck of a lot because of all these obscure ingredients. Or maybe it requires some sort of a really involved brining/braising process, you know, and just isn’t practical when it comes down to a Wednesday evening and you would like to eat something in an hour. And there’s also that feeling of – I don’t know if you have ever felt this – the person who is really going to enjoy a book like this is if after you finish making a meal at the end of the day – and it’s already been a day. It’s dinner. Because you’ve lived a whole life already today. And you’re like, okay, and now I’m going to roll up my sleeves and I’m going to make dinner too. And you make this dinner. Maybe it takes 45 minutes to pull together. You eat it in 12 minutes or however long you last at the table, and then you’re washing all the dishes. And usually by the time I’m washing the dishes, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, that was a disproportionate amount of time that I have just invested in this meal.” Prepping, planning, now cleaning up afterwards, and we enjoyed it for 12 minutes. That is the person who is uncomfortable – and constantly facing that feeling, night after night, day after day, and what eventually leads to burnout. And oh my gosh, dinner is wearing me out, why is this challenging. That’s the person who I want to talk to and just say, I think we can make this easier. I think we can make this easier. We can still get something tasty on the table. We can still feel really good about all of the different micro and macronutrients on a plate. And it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it has been.
Joy: Yeah. Or just the pressure of spending all day in the kitchen. What are we, in the 40’s? That’s just not realistic. Also, we compare in Instagram of, I didn’t make this perfect meal for my family. Look at this person who is making this picture perfect meal. You’re just basically like, it can be amazing and great, but also we’re not spending two hours in the kitchen making dinner.
Cassy: Right, exactly. It can be more straight forward. I’ve been trying to – I started doing it by accident, and I’ve been keeping it going by request, but I’ve been sharing what our family’s plates actually look like at the end of the day on Instagram. I hope that’s helpful. Because for example, what I’m serving B, our almost-18-month-old, it’s essentially I took the casserole and I smashed it up with a fork so she can just grab it and get after it. It’s not cute. There’s nothing cute about it.
Joy: Have you seen that TikTok video – I’m sure you have. There’s a TikTok video, and it’s split screen with this dad. He’s watching this TikTok video of this woman creating this amazing bento box meal for her kid. And she’s like, “And I’m smashing up the avocado, and I just sprinkle salt, and you just mix it right in.” And he’s watching this video and he’s just putting in a juice box, and he’s grabbing one of those meat things…
Joy: Thank you. Lunchable. He’s putting that in there. And she continues like, “And then you put some grapes in there. Get some fruit.” And he grabs a celery stick and he throws it in. It’s like that. Who has the time to make it look so perfect? And your kid does not care.
Claire: Kid does not care. I also love that too. Do you follow @kids.eat.in.color or anything like that?
Claire: I always love seeing the deconstructed meals for younger kids. That always gives me ideas where I’m like, I love chicken soup. My kids hate it. But if I serve them a little section of noodles and a little section of chicken and a little section of carrots on their plate, now I don’t have to make another dinner for them and they’re going to eat that. It is always helpful. I love seeing the way people get their kids to eat the same meal because I think there is also an additional issue when you’re a mom with young kids or a family with young kids – I don’t want to just say mom. If a dad, a family, whatever. If you’re trying to feed young kids, it can often feel like you have to cook maybe not a completely different meal, but there are a lot of times components that you feel like, well, my kid’s not going to eat this, so I might as well make them another protein. Or they’re not going to like the flavor, so I need to make sure I – and that’s fine every once in a while, but you don’t want to have to do that every night.
Cassy: Yeah. Definitely. And deconstructing our meals for kiddos is what I do. I will just scoop out, to your point, the carrots, and just put them on their plate, and it’s much more likely that they’re going to eat it.
Claire: I feel very validated when you were just describing your dream reader. I was like, that’s me. This is what I’ve been saying all this time. This whole interview is me describing this process. I feel so validated. It’s not just me. It’s a whole bunch of people out there who are like, I don’t want my kids to eat takeout every night. I can’t afford it, even if I did want them to. So what do I do?
Cassy: Yes, yes. And there’s a real need. I felt like that group was also kind of going unseen and unsupported in the recipe development world for a really long time. Especially the people who were craving healthier dinner options. I think that there’s a lot of content around if you’re trying to get a fast meal on the table – and not to vilify this because we definitely have hotdog and macaroni nights in our home, so I don’t mean to say that that’s not an option. But it doesn’t have to be the only option. It’s not, you make a fresh cooked healthy dinner or that’s your only other option.
Claire: Or you heat up a corndog, yeah.
Cassy: Yeah, exactly. Gray and I have polished off, I will say – I don’t know how she found them, but I came out after putting the baby down the other night and she was sitting in our living room eating frozen corndogs at 7:30 at night.
Claire: Do you guys get the gluten free Applegate ones?
Claire: They’re so good.
Cassy: They’re so delicious.
Claire: But why are there only four in a box? Applegate, hear us out. Ten. Minimum.
Cassy: We polished off a box, Gray and I. I was like, that looks like a delicious idea, so I microwaved one for myself. She prefers hers frozen, she made it really clear.
Claire: That’s hilarious.
Cassy: And we ate a couple corndogs.
Claire: Amazing. I’m so glad, I can just envision that so clearly. We eat those all the time. Yeah, I agree with you. And what I was saying at the beginning of the episode is that I am a lover of cookbooks, and like I was saying I love to cook. And I do sometimes feel like this recipe or this cookbook, and even some of the cleaner cookbooks or paleo cookbooks, they just seem unnecessarily complicated. Like either the author felt this way or their publisher told them, “This isn’t fancy enough for a cookbook. You need to crank it up on the fanciness.” I just don’t always have time to batter stuff in arrowroot flour before it goes on the table. That’s just a random example.
Cassy: Yeah, that’s a great example.
Joy: Okay, so your book comes out September 14, but we can pre-order. I’ll post the link in the show notes. Where else can our audience find you?
Cassy: Yes. I try to keep it simple. On Instagram is probably where I’m most active on social media. It’s just @fedandfit. And then the Fed & Fit website has over a thousand, I think we’re nearing 1500, free recipes there. So there’s a lot to explore, not to overwhelm anybody. But there’s a lot of options there if you’re like, “Gosh, I wonder what their recipe is for chili casserole.” There’s one for it, I bet. But yeah, between those two. And Fed & Fit on Instagram as well, I’ll be doing a lot of demonstrations. Because we’ve talked a lot about this concept, but it’s one of those things that sometimes it’s really helpful to see it and to just see how it works. You’ll be able to find those saved to highlights of how these dinner series worked together.
Claire: And you said earlier today you were finalizing your content calendar for the next six months. Without giving any crazy spoilers –
Joy: Tell us everything.
Claire: What’s next? I know for you obviously the book launch is huge, but the book itself is done and dusted. So apart from having a baby – minor – what are you excited about for 2022?
Cassy: Oh my gosh. Well, this is usually how content goes is it’s pulling a thread on a sweater. It just starts to unravel. We were like, would you think that smoothie bowls are done? The answer is, no. According to all of the web searches, and my own interests is where I got the curiosity. I think we’re going to publish nine smoothie recipes in February for example. I’m just so excited. What I’d love to start doing more of is if we’re building out a really solid resource like that, like here are the tried and true best, most variety, you choose the one that works for you or the flavors that interest you. We also want to pair that with blender reviews. So do blender reviews, so do individual reviews of a Blentec, a Vitamix, and a Nutrabullet. And then hopefully be able to present them in a way where you’re like, “Okay, this is the best option for me” and weigh all of the pros and cons, prices, and things like that. So stuff like that. We’re also going to start doing more comparison articles. I’m sitting here staring at our countertop here at the kitchen studio. There are about 15 boxes of gluten free box brownies sitting here because we’re going to start testing more of this and show all of these options side by side. Because I don’t know if y’all are in the market for boxed gluten-free brownies, but I am.
Claire: Who’s not, really?
Joy: Who’s not, is my question.
Cassy: I forget where I am, who I am talking to. But there’s so many options now. How great is that? How fun is that? That we have so many options. But it’s a little overwhelming, and you don’t want to kiss a frog. It’s kind of those. I just wanted to do the work and the research. We’re falling on a sword here, but we’re going to make all these brownies and then show them side by side in comparison articles. So I’m excited about that. This is turning into a long answer. I’m obviously very excited about this. But I’m also going to start YouTube. Have y’all heard of it? It’s this video –
Joy: What is this YouTube thing?
Claire: I’ve heard it mentioned.
Joy: You, I’m sorry, what?
Cassy: It’s like Y-O-U –
Joy: Oh, got it, got it, got it.
Claire: Oh. Not like a u-boat?
Cassy: No. [laughing]
Claire: Oh guys, thank you.
Cassy: I feel so late to the game.
Claire: Bless you, listeners, for just sitting through those jokes.
Joy: So proud of you, joining YouTube. Look at you all grown up.
Cassy: I know. I just got to the point where Instagram is its own thing. And that’s just how social media goes. It’s something, and then it turns into something else as time goes on. I was like, where can I pour this energy and these videos and the desire to help and coach and lead, and YouTube is it. We’re going to launch it really soon. I hired our dream videographer. She starts in a couple of weeks. We’re going to start publishing three videos on YouTube a week for a year.
Joy: Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Now, do you look at trends for social media before you make these decisions? Are you like, where’s reels going? How far into the research do you look to determine something like that, where you’re like YouTube’s my next move?
Cassy: It’s a combination of – I date somebody who actually grew up – I was going to call it “cowboy chemistry,” but that’s kind of insensitive to people like my husband. He’s like, “We’re very intelligent people, us cowboys.” It’s a combination of actually studying the metrics and also just trusting gut instinct. It just makes a heck of a lot of sense to be able to lean into this platform that exists. It’s trusted. And for example, talking about blender reviews, the studies say that most people go to YouTube for product reviews.
Joy: Yeah, it’s true. Yeah.
Cassy: Before they buy stuff.
Joy: It’s true.
Cassy: And I get it, I do too. I bought a curling blow drier hair thing. That’s where I went to see which one.
Joy: Oh yeah, any time I need to do something with makeup, or if I need to look at a product and I want someone to show me, YouTube.
Cassy: Yes, exactly. And there’s so much about food. My goal is to hopefully make food and cooking and all this stuff more approachable. It’s easier to show that than it is to tell it and talk about it. So by showing, here, we boiled chicken breast and then we shredded them with the stand mixer. It’s done. It’s very fast and easy. By showing that, hopefully it helps people say, “Oh, oh, yes, I can do that. I can shred that chicken. That’s so much easier than I would have thought.”
Claire: Right. Isn’t the irony of Instagram that you have to have these absolutely beautifully styled food photos for them to get any traction, but the average home cook is like, “I cannot make that.” You’re like, “But you can.” I also really admire your ambition for releasing a smoothie bowl series in the coldest month of the year. We’re all just going to put on our fake coconut bras and just live vicariously through these smoothie bowls, and I can’t wait already.
Joy: Planning for the spring, that’s what we’re going to be doing.
Cassy: We are. That’s the way SEO goes. I was chatting with a friend the other day, and she was like, “Do you feel like you have to live in an alternate reality to content plan?” Because we’re planning so far ahead. We just published last week all of our pumpkin bread articles so that by the end of October Google will recognize them, essentially.
Joy: Oh my gosh, yeah.
Cassy: It is, it’s really interesting. When I look at the calendar, I’m like, “It’s August? I thought it was February 2022” because that’s where my brain has been living.
Claire: Okay guys, sadly we’re out of time. I feel like this interview could go on and on and on and on and on. One day.
Joy: We didn’t even get to makeup. We didn’t get to nails. We didn’t get to hair. We didn’t get to fitness.
Claire: We’ve got to have a Joy and Cassy product corner one day.
Joy: Yeah. I love products. Cassy, I love products so much. I could talk products with you so –
Cassy: Joy. Sign me up.
Claire: You could interview her on YouTube.
Joy: Oh my gosh. We could do little tutorials. Now I’m going a little too far.
Claire: We’re trying to turn Joy into an influencer. Her husband bought her a ring light because once you mention half an idea to him he goes out and buys all the accessories immediately.
Joy: Yeah, that’s true.
Claire: He’s such an enabler, it’s wonderful.
Joy: It’s true.
Claire: So he got her a real ring light. We’re like, Joy you could be an influencer.
Joy: I’m getting there. I get weird because I’m turning 44. Does anyone really want to watch me put on makeup?
Claire: Everyone wants to, Joy. We all do. We’re all raising our hands.
Joy: I did find an amazing new eye liner that I’d like to show you. But we can talk about it later.
Cassy: I’ve actually been admiring it.
Joy: It’s the best.
Cassy: I want to know.
Claire: Wait a second, this is going to be the number one question we get by the end of this episode now. Now you have to tell us.
Joy: So it is the Sephora collection. It’s a shadow liner. So just from Sephora, Sephora brand. It is a shadow liner, so it’s kind of one of those fat, chubby sticks. It’s just the color silver. So it’s a glitter color, but it’s not glitter glitter. So you’re not going to get sprinkles on your face. But it is the most beautiful silver that I have ever seen, and I have tried many a fat, chubby liner.
Claire: Not going to lie, Joy, this sounds like a product I owned from Icing in like 1999.
Joy: You might. You might.
Claire: I’m positive. Are frosted lids coming back?
Joy: Well, I mean, they never left, Claire.
Claire: For you.
Joy: Yeah, this is true. So I’ll post the link for everybody who wants to know, but it is amazing and it’s like $12.
Cassy: I’m ordering it today.
Joy: Okay. So the actual name of it is colorful eyeshadow and eyeliner multistick, and the color that I am raving is called silver glitter. Life changing. I haven’t stopped wearing it since a week ago when I got it because it’s so easy and it really packs a punch.
Cassy: It’s beautiful. I wrote it down word for word. I’m literally going to order it as soon as we hang up.
Joy: Amazing. I can’t wait to see it on you. Okay. Yes, so products next time.
Joy: Thank you, Cassy.
Claire: Thank you so much, Cassy. Everyone, you know where to find us. @joyandclaire_ on Instagram. You can go to joyandclaire.com. And scope around your feed. You might find some extra Joy and Claire in there. Maybe a little Girls Gone WOD. Maybe one of these days baking show will come back.
Joy: Baking show, we’re back with a vengeance.
Claire: On Your Marks, Get, Set, Bake! We are here. We are not going anywhere, apparently ever.
Claire: So psyched about that. And Cassy, thank you again for hanging in there with us. You are such a champ.
Joy: You’re the best.
Claire: We are so excited for your cookbook.
Claire: Alright everyone, talk to you next week. Bye.
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