Pilates instructor and nutritionist Jessica Luengo has come out with a new and sought-after cookbook geared toward newlywed couples called Cooking Healthy Together. Here is a special sneak peak as to why everyone should own a copy of this ideal healthy cookbook filled with delicious recipes and her celebrity-client followers!
TCM: How did the idea for this cookbook come about?
JL: “I have been a ‘health nut’ for a very long time and LOVE cooking, so when I was asked by multiple clients to come out with a cookbook that had all my healthy recipes in it, I thought, ‘Why not?’ There are so many cookbooks out there, but this one I made specially for those who want to cook healthy at home (experienced chef or not), with easy to follow recipes in 5 steps or less that are familiar and taste DELICIOUS! I also have a small obsession with recipe pictures (especially so readers can see what it’s suppose to look like), so it’s kind of impossible to get confused or frustrated when reading through it!”
TCM: Did your clients ever ask you for recipes to help them stay fit or lose weight?
JL: “Yes, all the time, which is why this cookbook has not only helped them immensely with being on track with their diet, but it has saved me countless hours of emailing them my healthy recipes! (Yes, I really did that!) This book is very simple to follow and comes with a grocery list, must-haves for your kitchen, health tips and step-by-step directions on how to grill and bake chicken, steak and fish for those inexperienced chefs! Clients love to cook from it because I take traditional recipes and make them healthier for you.”
TCM: Why did you gear your cookbook toward newlywed couples?
JL: “As a newlywed – and having many clients and friends who are newlyweds or about to get married – there are a lot of people who still dine out or order in for every meal. I get incredibly frustrated when I have a client trying to lose weight for her wedding but can’t even cook chicken! Cooking for yourself is one of the easiest health tricks! Plus, my client Mindy Weiss (a famous celebrity wedding and event planner) loves to give my recipes to brides looking to shape up before the big day. Even though this cookbook happens to be created for newlyweds, it’s really for anyone looking to cook healthy at home! It’s the perfect gift for yourself or to give out to family and friends.”
TCM: What are a few of your best beginner tips in the kitchen?
JL: “First off, get a functioning kitchen. There are so many great ways to cook, but without a working kitchen, cooking may come off as more of a hassle than it should be. Secondly, get excited about your meals! My cookbook has recipes for all diet types, so there should be no excuse as to why you’re cooking something you don’t like in general. If you’re a vegetarian but your spouse likes meat, grill or bake up a chicken breast on the side so that he/she can add it to their meal, but you can still enjoy it! Lastly, be prepared. This tip is exactly why I have sections in my book titled Kitchen Must-Haves and Grocery List! Make sure your kitchen is stocked before the week starts so you have healthy options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks – at home!”
TCM: Do you have a favorite recipe in the book?
JL: “Hmm…I would be lying if I said I have one because I truly love and cook all of these recipes, but I the ones I make most often have to be my Spicy Grilled Fish Tacos, Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomatoes and Kale and the Curried Red Lentil Soup. You also can’t go wrong with my Cauliflower-Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Fries and Homemade Protein Granola (my client, actress Tamera Mowry’s favorite!). Dessert has to be our Vegan Coffee Hazelnut Brownies or Blueberry Bread with Almond Crumble… I think we make our Fresh Lime Margaritas with my Chunky Guacamole at least once a week! Okay, now I’m getting hungry!!!”
TCM: Would you mind sharing a recipe with us?
JL: “Of course not! Here is my Jasmine Zen Brown Rice. I made this for my good friend, Candace Cameron Bure, and she raves about how it is now her favorite to cook for her family from my cookbook!
Jasmine Zen Brown Rice
As always, I try to sneak in vegetables whenever I can get away with it, and now I can’t ever make this rice without them! I like to serve this alongside my Drunken Asian Salmon recipe or just to eat on its own topped with grilled chicken or shrimp.
- 1 cup jasmine brown rice, uncooked
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons dark or toasted sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups chopped bok choy (about 3-4 small stalks)
- 1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
- Sea salt to taste
1. Bring water, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and a few pinches of sea salt to a boil in medium pot; stir in brown rice and bring to a boil.
2. Turn heat down to low and cover with lid; cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once water is evaporated and rice is cooked, remove lid and let sit for 5 minutes uncovered.
3. While cooked rice is sitting, heat remaining sesame oil and garlic in skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and a few pinches of sea salt; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add bok choy and sauté another 2 minutes before removing from heat.
4. Transfer skillet mixture into the pot of cooked rice and stir well to combine flavors; cover and let sit for 2 minutes.
5. Serve rice in a serving platter or bowl. Store leftover rice in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
One lucky reader will win a copy of Jessica’s new cookbook! Share your best beginner tip for the kitchen in the comments below and Jessica will pick the winner herself!