Have you ever wondered how to enjoy food and eat every bite without the stress of counting every bite? If this sounds like your story, it’s time to take another look at how to eat cleaner and enjoy every morsel.
Mareya Ibrahim, is the Fit Foodie, TV chef, nutrition coach, author, patented inventor, and award-winning entrepreneur. Her new book, “Eat Like You Give a Fork,” (St. Martin’s Griffin) is a #1 New Release and is changing how people prioritize their wellness. She is also known as a signature chef with the NY Times million-copy bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life”. She was a featured chef on 3 seasons of the Emmy-nominated show, Recipe Rehab and the host of “The Recipes for Your Best Life” Podcast, and has appeared on the Food Network. Also, to her credit, she has created over 400 cooking videos. With so many accolades under her belt, Mareya is the best advocate for eating to thrive and we are so thankful she took the time out of her incredibly busy schedule to share her wisdom with us.
Thank you Mareya, for carving some time out of your schedule, to share some of your healthy eating pearls with us. You’re definitely not an amateur when it comes to merging the love of food, with nutrition. How did this transpire and how did you get started?
I started my career in the food industry over (gulp) 27 years ago. I guess that shows my age! Eating cleaner has always mattered because I could feel the difference it made on my health personally, how much more energetic and alive I felt when I ate what nature intended and avoided refined and heavy foods, which is what was presented in culinary school. I took that love of food and merged it with nutrition and that’s what became my culinary point of view. In 2006, my father, a professor emeritus and environmental scientist, was diagnosed with bladder and prostate cancer. I thought my world would fall apart at the seams. My parents and I had immigrated to the US from Egypt when I was two and despite their countless struggles in our new country, I never saw fear in him, until now. He would have to have his bladder and prostate removed, joining the group of autoimmune compromised. He would have to be very diligent about a lot of things, including cleanliness around changing his catheter, how he ate and how he interacted with people.
The part that really unnerved me, was his doctors told him to avoid raw foods, including vegetables and leafy greens. I thought this was insane because these are the very foods that help to build strength and immunity! I had grown up in the culinary world with a certificate in holistic nutrition and knew this was not the right path. Salads were my father’s favorite food, and it would not bode well for his short or long-term recovery. He began losing weight, his appetite, and his willpower. All I could think was, we need to make these foods safer. That is how we created our patented EatCleaner line of products, and why I’ve dedicated my career to sharing the knowledge, creation of content and products, and now, my new book, Eat Like You Give a Fork: The Real Dish on Eating To Thrive.
I could not agree more. We need to make our foods safer, especially for our planet and the next generation. How do we start to introduce healthy foods to our kids, especially our picky eaters?
- Find the healthy foods they love and have it show up all the time.
- Change it up. The texture is a BIG deal for kids and if it turns them off, it’s hard to win them back. If they don’t like veggies raw, try it steamed, baked, grilled, etc. and always feel free to serve a dip on the side, like hummus, low-sugar ketchup, or even cheese if it helps them eat the veggies.
- Don’t threaten, but encourage. If they take 5 bites of their food, they can have an extra 15 minutes of playtime. This will motivate them to try and the more they try, the more their tastebuds will acclimate to actually enjoy the food.
Love it! Basically, keep introducing healthy foods at every opportunity. From experience, I know most kids will look in the fridge first to reach for a snack, so having those healthy choices readily available could be a winner! Speaking of food, what’s always in your fridge?
- Snacking veggies, like Persian cucumbers, mini bell peppers, radish, colorful carrots and celery
- Leafy greens, usually arugula, butter lettuce (for wraps) and microgreens
- At least 5 bottles of hot sauce – I love it!
I’m with you on the hot sauce, it’s a staple in our house! Where does your inspiration for new recipes come from?
Travel is a big one. When I visit other countries and locations, I’m always intrigued by the local food, indigenous ingredients, and flavors. I want to know what the people eat, not necessarily what the Michelin star restaurants are serving. I’m also very inspired by my Egyptian upbringing. I think the spices are so amazing. I continually fuse Mediterranean flavors with my So Cal lifestyle which is primarily Mexican food and I label that ‘MedMex’. A lot of those dishes are in my new book.
There’s nothing quite like indigenous ingredients to bring food to life! With such a busy lifestyle, where do you find time for leisure, what is your favorite pastime?
I enjoy playing my ukelele, shooting my compound bow, hiking, vinyasa yoga and of course, playing in the kitchen.
Amazing variety! Speaking of playing in the kitchen, when you are planning a meal and buying ingredients, does organic matter to you?
Let’s just say, I’m not a slave to an organic label. It’s more important to me that it’s locally grown, sustainably raised and the carbon footprint is small. I’d rather buy from my farmer’s market, than the organic stuff that comes from the other side of the world, because the price to become certified is sometimes cost-prohibitive to a small grower. If organic is available side-by-side, I’ll pick organic due to the standards they’re supposed to adhere to. Caring for the soil is also very important.
I like the idea of supporting our local farmers too! Good food starts with good soil and I believe it’s our responsibility to grow our food sustainably. What is one of your favorite recipes?
My dark chocolate avocado mousse. It’s SO easy, incredibly satisfying, nutrient-dense and no one can believe there’s avocado in it, so it’s always a conversation piece.
I’m definitely going to check this out. I love avocados! In addition to healthy eating, what else do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle? What does your self-care routine look like?
Daily movement, meditation, eating well, taking care of my family first, and staying away from all the negativity like the plague. Honoring my own need for quiet time is essential. I’m a single mom and have been for almost 13 years, so I know when I do things for myself, I’m better for them. My kids know this too!
I couldn’t agree more! Thank you again Mareya, for giving us a sneak peek into your healthy lifestyle and congratulations on your latest book! We are so happy for you! To learn more about Mareya, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.