Melissa Joulwan: How to Cook Healthy Meals in 45 Minutes or Less


How to get started if you’re clueless in the kitchen: http://bit.ly/2kzaVPD

Is it possible to cook great meals in minutes?

Yes indeed, says our friend and best-selling cookbook author, Melissa Joulwan.

Her latest book, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less, shows busy people like us how to make crazy-delicious meals without losing our minds in the kitchen.

You’re about to learn:

  • Easy tricks from restaurants to add tons of flavor to food
  • How to get started if you’re clueless in the kitchen
  • Why it’s a great time to be an introvert
  • And much more…

MELISSA JOULWAN: HOW TO COOK FOOD IN REAL LIFE

Abel: Best-selling cookbook author, Paleo food blogger, and former roller derby star of the Texas Rollergirls in Austin, Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan is a trailblazer. As one of the first Paleo bloggers, Melissa has spent the past seven years sharing her innovative yet accessible Paleo recipes, along with her triumphs and tribulations in the gym, kitchen, and life, through her blog, Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed.

We’re both former chubby kids who have found our way in the world. We’ve been doing this for a while, and it’s all brand-new again. Mel, it’s so wonderful to have you back on the show.

It’s really, really nice to talk to you too. It’s been a while.

Abel: It’s been way too long. Before we started rolling, we reflected on the fact that we’ve been eating this way (and writing about it) for 7+ years now. In the beginning, when you first find something, especially when you go from being in a place of ill health to a place of health, it’s pretty easy to be obsessed with all the cool new stuff and learning how to use all these kitchen tools, making new recipes. But after you do it for a while, your situation changes. Let’s talk about where you’re at now.

When I first started, it was about 2010, probably. And that’s when I thought I had to go to four different grocery stores to find the stuff I needed. I think it’s a lot easier now to find grass-fed protein and coconut aminos and arrowroot powder and all that stuff. But then, it was pretty hard.

So I remember, very vividly, my husband and I going to the grocery store and reading labels together, and he was beside himself, losing his mind. “Holy crap, it’s…” And so we pretty much devoted our weekends to shopping and cooking. It was really valuable in that it taught me how to take care of myself, and it ultimately inspired me to write the cookbooks.

But let’s be honest: not everybody wants to make feeding themselves their job. So now I feel like food has moved into an even more appropriate place for me. Sometimes I still do what I call “project recipes,” where I play in the kitchen. But mostly I’m just living my life and figuring out how to get food on the table a little bit more quickly, but always really deliciously, which is where the new cookbook comes in.

HOW TO SAVE TIME ON FOOD PREP & COOKING

Abel: Your recipes have always been great. But I love them even more now because it seems like you’re coming at it with a realistic mentality. And we are as well, where it’s like, you’re not spending all weekend cooking. In your case, you’re doing your work, you’re living your life, or you might be traveling and you need to put food on the table. So what are some ways that you’ve found to do that, when you’re not stressing in the kitchen, but you also know that you’re guaranteed a good meal?

In the first two cookbooks, Well Fed and Well Fed 2, I really advocated for what I call the “Weekly Cookup,” which is where you devote a few hours a week. Some people call it batch cooking. You devote a few hours a week, maybe on Sunday afternoon or something, and you cook a whole bunch of food and have it in the fridge so that when it’s time to eat, you’re just reheating or reassembling, or mixing and matching. And that works really well until you find yourself out playing, and you miss your Saturday afternoon cookup. Then what do you do?

So, the two parts I’ve undertaken that I really outline in the new book are:

One: I have this magical one-hour Cookup. It literally takes an hour. And you make homemade mayo, and you have sweet potatoes or white potatoes or both. Some basic roast chicken, zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice. Those are the building blocks of a great meal. If you have those things in your fridge, you’re about 10 minutes from being able to make something that tastes really great.

Two: I focus on recipes that can be cooked in 45 minutes or less. The recipes in the new cookbooks are great recipes where you throw a hunk of meat into a slow cooker, or you have a pot simmering on the back of the stove. I love those. They’re loaded with flavor; they’re really comforting. So I try to take those same flavor profiles and work them into recipes that can be made really quickly.

Plus, the recipes are written a little bit differently from how most people are used to cooking. Usually, a chef will recommend that you do a mise en place, which is just a fancy way of saying you prep all of your ingredients and measure them all out before you start cooking. But with this cookbook, I actually give really specific step-by-step instructions, so you’re always moving.

So you don’t do the mise en place, but you have your oil heating on the stove while you’re chopping the onion. In the old recipe, you would chop the onion and stand there while you wait for the oil to heat. I kind of compress things, but really concentrate on loading them with lots of flavor and trying to get the fun back into it.

I feel like sometimes, particularly with Paleo, when you start, it can be really overwhelming. It’s not fun. You’re thinking about all the things you can’t eat anymore. What I try to do is really steal ideas from restaurants. There are a lot of ideas for garnish, drizzling things with sauces—those things are super easy to do, and they add so much flavor and make you feel really satisfied by the food instead of denied delicious things.

Abel: Your book teaches cooking as a life skill. It’s something everyone needs to do as opposed to a luxury or indulgence. That’s how some cookbooks are set up and they can be great, but not all of us are pro cooks.

So what are ways people who are new to cooking can get some traction? Because that’s usually where that threshold is, right at the beginning, when it’s hard to start.

It is hard to get started. I always recommend to keep things simple. And this is weird for a cookbook author to say, but you don’t always need a recipe. If you think about a really basic delicious meal, like a roast chicken or an awesome steak and a baked sweet potato and a salad, that’s pretty much a perfect meal in terms of nutrition and flavor.

This is weird for a cookbook author to say, but you don’t always need a recipe. @MelJoulwan Click To Tweet

If you think of that as your base, where you have some kind of protein, a starchy carb, and vegetable, then you can start to think about how to add things to them, or swap things in and out, and it’s still really basic, but you’re adding more flavor.

So a stir-fry, for example, could be the same steak, only it’s sliced thinly, the sweet potatoes cut into slices, and it’s stir-fried with broccoli and coconut aminos. That’s basically the same thing as a steak and sweet potato. It’s just that you chopped it up and combined it with other seasonings.

I try to show those connections, and show that it doesn’t have to be really complicated. I have this friend who wanted to try Paleo, and she picked out, literally, three recipes for every day of the week. So 21 recipes for her first week. And she went to the grocery store with this massive list, and she bought all the stuff, and she came home and put it all away, and then lay down in a fetal position, because it’s too much. You can’t go for 21 new recipes.

My advice is always to keep things really simple in the beginning, and think about what it would take to make it interesting enough for you.

For me, it’s always the sauce. If I have homemade mayo that I can add, crushed garlic, and spices too, I’m rolled in, because it adds flavor and creaminess and it feels really luxurious. Texture is really important, and that’s one of the things that you get a lot of in a restaurant, because they do all kinds of things to the food to make it have this really nice texture that you don’t necessarily do at home, because you just don’t think about it. So I tried to build some texture into the recipes, too.

HOW TO STEAL TRICKS FROM RESTAURANTS

Abel: When you’re writing a cookbook, you make the recipe, you need to make sure it tastes good, and that it works. But there’s the other step, where you’ve got to make it pretty.

But for anyone who’s getting started who might be serving other people, that’s another big threshold that people need to cross over, because they think they’re going to be judged for the food they’re cooking… Could you riff on that a little bit?

No one can see what you're eating unless you share the photo. @MelJoulwan Click To Tweet

When you’re serving other people, it’s really simple stuff that restaurants do to make the food look pretty. So for example, freshly chopped herbs sprinkled on top of a plate instantly transform what it looks like.

If you look at my cookbooks, you can see we use that trick a lot, particularly if you have a sauté and it’s just ground meat and vegetables sautéed together. It’s like a big pile of brown stuff. It doesn’t look particularly appealing. It tastes really good, but it doesn’t look that great. So we always sprinkle with chopped parsley. If it’s something Mexican, you can use chopped cilantro. If it’s Italian, you can use minced basil—it adds color, it adds flavor, it breaks up the mass of brown in the bowl, and it looks really fancy. And you haven’t really done anything except chop some fresh herbs.

The other trick is citrus. So a wedge of lemon, lime, orange, not only perks up the flavor, but if you put it on the edge of the plate, it adds a little visual interest too. And one of the tricks of food photography that you can also try in your own life, when you’re just feeding yourself or other people, is a smaller plate actually looks a lot more attractive than a big plate, and a smaller, cuddly bowl is a lot more attractive than a big one.

Abel: Yeah, it does, and it also affects the way you eat. They did a study where, basically, you’re sitting down and you’re eating soup, but there’s a tube attached to the soup and it’s pumping a little bit back in every once in awhile. The amount that people consumed of this bottomless soup was ridiculous, like liters and liters of this soup.. We’re having a conversation, we’re living our life, people are watching TV, whatever. You eat what’s in front of you. So another huge advantage to that, and we do this all the time, is yeah, you have the smaller plate, and it’s amazing how that connects with how full you’d be.

In a lot of cases, this is what we’re up against. And especially, you go out as a couple, and it’s ridiculous to me that I would get the same portion as the Rock, and my wife gets the same portion as me, right?

So you also need to be conscious of that, especially at home.

My husband and I were just traveling in November to promote the new book, and it was amazing how difficult it was to get the right amount of protein for either of us. Like it’s really, really hard to get good protein on the road, and he’s 6’5″.

So sometimes he just orders two entrées, and I look at him like he’s nuts. But I’m like, “Look at the size of this man.” You can’t give him a piece of protein that’s that size.

We were in an airport, and usually we’re pretty good about preparing, but because we’ve been traveling already for two weeks and we’re on our way home, we were kind of out of everything. And I was getting salads at the airport and seriously, the salad was great, it was this awesome bowl with tons of veggies and stuff. But then the protein was these two tiny little strips of chicken. That’s like a bite. So the portion thing is really weird.

My rule at home is the size of the palm of your hand basically is how much protein you want to eat, unless you work out a bunch, and then you need to add a little more. But this small plate thing is really nice, because it’s much more pleasing to your eye, and it makes it look like you’re getting a whole lot.

Abel: Bowls are super convenient. There’s something very primal, I think, about holding a bowl and eating out of it.

I agree, I agree. Yeah, it’s super comforting to hold that in the palm of your hand.

FROM CROSSFIT TO YOGA

Abel: You mentioned balancing the way you’re eating with how you’re living, and you were a star roller girl in a past life. Where are you at now, and how are you moving?

That’s a really good question, because I had my thyroid removed in 2009. It’s been a interesting experiment to try to figure out what is the right way for me to work out, and I’m still experimenting. For a while I was able to get back to some high-intensity exercise, but then with working on the book over the summer like 12 hours a day, that proved to be a little bit too much.

What’s been really, really valuable for me is learning the two tempos and how I take care of myself, like with physical activity or yoga and walking. And if people are familiar with my blog, they know that in 2001, when I’d been doing CrossFit and realized I had to stop, it was way too much… and everyone I knew who I trust was like, “You do need to do yoga, and you need to go for walks.” And I was just like, “No, I do CrossFit and I run. I’m going to go walking? What are you talking about?”

I was not really open-hearted to the suggestion, and I was like, “Fine.” And now, I get really itchy if I can’t go for my walk for at least half an hour a day, like getting outside and getting the fresh air is really nice. And the yoga… I was like, yoga is kind of wimpy. It’s really not. I went to class this morning and I was like, “This is actually really hard.”

So, I definitely had a mental shift, and you mentioned that we are both chubby kids. When I was younger and so overweight, people were mean. I got picked on a lot. So I always assumed that I was a problem, I was a bad person, I was lazy, my body didn’t work right. If I was exercising, I was a good person; if I wasn’t exercising, I was a bad person. All of that shame. So I always felt like when I was really disciplined, that was best.

If getting up at 6:00 was good, getting up at 5:30 was better. Working out for 40 minutes is good; working out for 90 minutes is better. But it’s not necessarily the case.

I’ve learned to let go of that discipline for discipline’s sake, and now I’m almost 48, I’m finally learning how listen to my body. It’s taken a really long time to undo the kind of programming from my teenage years.

So right now, I’m doing a lot of walking and yoga. I’ve tried to think of my exercise habits as an experiment, so I’m actually starting an experiment of doing yoga every day for a month, which I’ve never done before. I usually do it twice a week or something. So, I’m going to try every day. There’s a really great studio in our little town in Vermont, and they have different styles each day. So I’m going to try and see what happens. Who knows.

Abel: What is the working hour?

It’s an hour and 15 minutes, because the last 15 minutes is meditation, which is the other thing that I’m completely in love with right now.

Abel: Meditation is taking off, believe it or not, and I’m very heartened by that. But I think it’s interesting that you would have yoga and meditation stacked on each other, because that almost outsources your need to insert it into your life, right? In the same way CrossFit might when you want to do intense workouts. But it’s another thing that fulfills multiple needs, including social connection. Meditation, it’s really more of a holistic practice.

Yeah. And I usually meditate on my own at home too. The thing that’s really nice about the savasana meditation at the end of the yoga class is that you’re systematically moved through your body, so you’re really, really relaxed. And it’s a different kind of meditation.

I know the meditation is hard stuff for some people. I tend to have a very buzzy brain. I had to work really hard to learn how to turn it off. But now, it’s like this delicious vacation for however long you do it, it’s just such, like, oxygen and some quiet time inside the noggin. It’s really great.

Abel: It’s tough, though, because meditation is one of those things that adds up slowly over time, then it just goes up exponentially. So, I think it’s hard for most people, because at first it’s miserable. You’re like, “This isn’t working.”

All we can think about it is, “I’m not supposed to be thinking about anything.”

Abel: Those tiny little things we do every day add up.

What are some of the other things that you needed to unlearn?

Oh, jeez. There are oh-so many. A big one associated with food is that fat people don’t get to just enjoy their food. If you’re overweight and you’re enjoying your food, you’re a glutton and there’s something wrong with you. That’s ridiculous. My current thing that makes me want to rage is you have to earn your food. Like, no. We need to eat every day and you need to do what’s best if you eat the food that supports the level of activity you’re doing.

You deserve to eat every day. You don't have to earn your food. @MelJoulwan Click To Tweet

It’s a lifelong journey. I sometimes fall into bad habits when I have a bad day and I don’t like the way my body looks. The first thing I think before I can stop myself is, “I’m going to eat less.” And then I think about it and I’m like, “No, that’s actually not going to fix the problem.”

But that program is built in there: “You should work out more, you should eat less, you should be a go-getter.” And in my own life, working really hard to flip that means more rest, exercise that feels good, enjoying food. You don’t have to punish yourself by denying yourself every pleasure to reach your goals. But it’s really hard to undo that thinking.

Abel: In retrospect, having gone through different phases of interests, how do you approach new practices, like yoga, for example? It sounds like you didn’t enjoy it at first.

Okay, so, as a kid, I was not an exerciser. I didn’t play sports. I was super uncoordinated and klutzy. Now I understand that’s because I was probably not very strong, because I didn’t move. So every time I tried to do something, I would twist my ankle, I would fall down and get the wind knocked out of me. One time, I famously split my shorts in gym class. Every cliché, you name it, it happened to me. But after college, I started working out with exercises tapes, VHS, which is back in the ’90s.

Curtains closed in the living room, nobody was allowed to come in. And I found out that I loved it. I couldn’t believe that it was fun and it felt really good, and it felt good to get strong, and it was kind of fun to get sweaty. And then I just wanted to try everything. So after I got over the initial shock of, “Oh, I can’t do CrossFit anymore,” I tried to keep that open mind and be like, “Okay, I’m going to try it.”

I have to give credit to Melissa Hartwig of the Whole30, because I met her in 2008–2009, and she was recommending to me that I give up dairy. And I was being very stubborn about that. And she said, “Can you just try it for a week?”

You can't really argue with something as reasonable as, Try it for a week.@MelJoulwan Click To Tweet

So I tried to do that. “I’m just going to try it. Give it a couple chances and see what happens.” Because you just learn more data. And that’s another really helpful trick, too, is thinking of the things that I’m doing as gathering data, as opposed to things that have failed or I’ve failed. Just gathering information, because we’re constantly changing and we’re constantly learning about ourselves.

I was my fittest and strongest right before I had my thyroid removed. And then that thing came out and everything changed. So I don’t have the luxury of being like, “Well, this is what I used to do and that’s what used to work for me.” And I would argue that most of us don’t, because we’re constantly aging. So every couple of years you kind of have to recalibrate what you’re doing, and check in, and do an evaluation, and make sure it’s still working.

I’ve tried to frame the whole thyroid meltdown that way. It’s just, everybody’s going to have something they’re going to have to roll with. And it is really valuable to just check in with yourself and make sure what you’re doing is still the best for you at that time.

Abel: It takes sweeping your ego to the side on a regular basis. So how do you know when something is not working for you?

Oh, that’s also a really good question, because I do have a tendency to commit to things and be like, “I’m committed.” Like, “I’m in.” So the meditation does really help, because when your mind gets quiet, you can actually hear your true self… This is getting really groovy, but that’s what your true self is trying to tell you. Like when that tape that’s always running in your head kind of shuts up, what you actually needed to say to yourself comes through.

So I kind of just trust my gut. In the last year, I probably was continuing with intense exercise longer than I should have, because my ego really likes to do intense exercise. They’re really grilling me. It’s like, “Yeah, this is hard. This is awesome.”

I still slip on that sometimes. I don’t do journaling where I write down my feelings or anything. But if you could track all those periods where I’ll track my food for a little while just to see am I still on track, or I’ll track my workouts for a while and my sleep and see how am I doing. So you don’t have to document every second of your life all the time. But little periodic check-ins like that can be really helpful.

Abel: Yeah. I noticed, as we’re talking right now, anyone who’s watching the video version can tell that it’s getting dark there. So you’re in Vermont. I grew up in New Hampshire. I remember when the sun would go down over the pine trees at like 3 o’clock in the winter. Let’s talk about what that does to your physiology. It actually changes the way you feel, right? You need to honor that.

It really does. It’s been really interesting. It gets dark here. It’s going to be dark here in about 30 minutes, and I’ve noticed that it’s triggering me wanting to eat dinner earlier, but it’s also triggering me wanting to go to bed earlier. So our dinner has moved up about 90 minutes, but so has bedtime. And it’s actually kind of nice, like it feels a little bit appropriate. It feels like we’re hibernating a little bit.

Abel: It gives you the opportunity and excuse to catch up on sleep. It makes that easy, like you’re in recovery mode. I’m down here in Austin, where you lived for years, and that’s the opposite, because in the summertime it’s light all the time. In the winter, yeah, it still gets dark, but you could burn the candle at both ends, if you wanted to, any night of the week.

Yes. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in one of those places where it’s dark for six months and light for six months. I mean, I have an eye mask, earplugs, blackout curtains. And that’s when it’s dark. I don’t know what I would do if it was light out all the time. It’s kind of crazy.

Abel: Have you changed what you’re eating much, along with the light and the season?

I’m experimenting a little bit now with my carbohydrate intake, because when I was working out a lot, and because of my thyroid, I was eating a lot for me. So I’m just still trying to figure out how much I need to feel really good.

When we were doing the cookbook, and then we were traveling, our vegetable intake kind of fell off a little bit. So I’m committed to like two veggies every meal. So that’s cutting back. In a way I kind of feel like I’m a newbie again with my Paleo practice, because I’m really trying to make sure I tick every box again. We’re having bone broth every day, and two veggies at every meal. Lots of variety. Because when you’re doing this for a while, you kind of fall into your habits of the things you eat all the time, and I’m trying to get more colors onto the plate. Just the basics. Good habits.

Abel: But in Vermont, still no dairy?

No dairy for me. You know what’s really funny, is if I eat a little bit of cheese, I’m okay. And if I’m not stressed, I can play a little bit more with what I eat.

There’s this place near here that has really good gluten-free pizza, and my husband and I made a deal that when we finished the cookbook, we would get a gluten-free pizza and watch a movie and celebrate. So we get this pizza and I ate a whole bunch of it and it tasted really good, and I slept fine that night. And I woke up the next day, and like, my digestive system felt fine, everything was totally normal, and I was like, “That’s amazing!” I had my gluten-free treat pizza and I feel awesome. And the next day my entire neck broke out.

Abel: No way.

And I had these really terrible blemishes on my entire neck for like a week. And I was like, “Yeah, I didn’t totally get away with eating all that cheese.”

Abel: So it’s the dairy?

So clearly cheese is a problem, yeah.

Abel: Got it. Alyson is the same way. It’s like when you have just a little bit of it, and you’re not stressed, totally cool. Even a little bit of it when you are stressed, totally different result.

It’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing what the stress does.

Abel: Yeah. So what do you do to dial that down?

I’m really giving you an insight into our household. We have what we call “home hospital,” which is where we pretend like we just came home from the hospital, and we treat ourselves the way you would treat someone that just got out of the hospital. We keep things quiet, we read a lot, we meditate, we go for walks. I make really healthy food. We kind of cancel any kind of socializing just for a short time, and just kind of like turn inward and reflective, to kind of mentally and physically heal a little bit.

So that’s where we are right now. My husband was in grad school for two years and I was writing the new book for two years, and then as soon as we finished it, because we self-published, we had to jump right into marketing and promotion, and then we traveled for a whole month. So, that’s a lot. And I’m super introverted, I should also mention. I’m very introverted. I really like my alone time and having my nose stuck in a book. So it was a lot. So… we’re in home hospital right now.

Feel free to steal that for yourselves, everyone.

HOME HOSPITAL: MAKING SELF-CARE A PRIORITY

Abel: Home hospital. We call it spa day. Sometimes we’ll get out the physical things like the rumble roller. You ever see those things? The massive foam rollers? Or we’ll just give each other back rubs or something like that. A lot of times we’ll go to the float tank or the chiropractor. It’s the best. Especially for book writing, it’s the best.

Yes. Yes. Because the brain is running like crazy, and writing a book is not the greatest physically, either. I mean, I use a standing desk now, which has really helped a lot. But now I can’t sit. Like if I have to sit somewhere, I’m like, “Ewwww!” You know?

Abel: Isn’t that funny?

Yeah, it’s terrible.

Abel: I can’t go to conferences anymore. Yeah, I can’t even go into hotel rooms or big ballroom things. It’s just, “Ugh.”

Is it weird to just stand around the edge? Why don’t they have standing areas for that?

Abel: Right. Let me ask you this, because it seems like you’re a cutting-edge type of gal. As an introvert, it seems like where things are going with technology is actually more advantageous now for people who can put their head down, read a bunch of books, and then come out there and spread their gospel, as it were, from the comfort of their own home. And I don’t really have much more to say about that, other than that’s pretty cool, right?

Yeah, I mean, it is really nice. I have a really mixed relationship with social media, but it is really, really awesome, because I do feel like I have genuine connections with people.

I think you and I probably met online, even though we were both living in the same town. I definitely have made genuine connections with people, and it is a boon to people who have a hard time in big social groups, because I do feel like I can sort of broadcast, and then when I hear back from people it turns into this really nice one-on-one conversation. Which is perfect for somebody who, like… I don’t really get social anxiety, it’s just I really like people, so when I’m in a social situation I talk a lot, and then I come home and I have nothing left, and batteries are totally worn down. Yeah. And people are like, “You’re not an introvert.” I’m like:

Just because I'm not shy doesn't mean I'm not an introvert. @MelJoulwan Click To Tweet

Abel: That’s an interesting thing. A lot of artists and creatives, and I think you definitely fall into that group, that’s how you’re set up, it’s like you’re in performance mode or you’re in after-performance mode or pre-performance mode.

Yeah, that’s a perfect description.

Abel: Do you find that you’re getting more sleep or you’re waking up earlier?

You know what’s really interesting is that I always wake up… If I’m taking care of myself, I always wake up between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. without an alarm, and that happens no matter what time I go to bed.

On the rare occasions now that I actually stay out late… and I’ve always been this way, I was always one of those people that if I was out until two in Austin at a show or something, I would still wake up between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. I just wake up then. What’s really interesting now is I’m going to bed, I’m going to sleep a little bit earlier, but I’ve been waking up around 2:00 a.m., and I read for half an hour and then zonk directly back to sleep until 7:00 a.m. So there’s this little half-hour break in the middle, which used to make me really nervous, but I don’t think it’s a cortisol issue. I think it’s just that I’m going to bed at 9:00, so I’m waking up…

Abel: When I was writing my book, I ran across some research in history that points to that, where you have multiple phases of sleep, and you wake up in the twilight hour, and that’s when people were writing their books, reading, drawing, doing some creative types of work, because you’re in a different brain state when you wake up in the middle of the night, especially if it’s not to go get a sandwich. But that seems like it would be a natural side effect of being in a place where it gets dark at 3:30 p.m.

Exactly. Yeah, it’s kind of cozy.

Abel: It’s a way to get more creative work done.

Someone said to me today, “How do you have time to read?” And I’m like, “I go to bed really early. I can get that hour before sleep. It’s really nice.”

Abel: Right, right. It works. Before we go, I want to ask you, in the uncertain future that faces us, what are the things that you’re doing to stack the deck to make sure you’re on the right path forward?

Oh, jeez, that’s a big question. Well, I am really interested to see what my 30 days in a row of yoga experiment produces, because I feel like as I’m getting old, it’s really different than I thought it was going to be.

Abel: Really?

Well, I don’t know what I thought it was going to be like. I feel the same on the inside, which I didn’t really expect. I still feel 17, and here I am in this 48-year-old body that doesn’t have a thyroid, and I’m trying to figure out how to take care of this thing now that it’s 48 years old.

Sometimes I think about if you had a car that was 48 years old, how tenderly you would take care of it. And then here I am bashing myself around all the time. So the thing that I find really interesting about yoga, in a way that I didn’t before, is that it definitely feels like a thing you can keep doing forever.

I feel the same way about lifting heavy things. So that’s something I neglected to mention earlier, but that’s also one of the tent poles of how I take care of myself. I really like to move the barbells around, and I feel like as long as we keep doing that, it’s not something that we have to then exclude later.

As long as I keep it up, it doesn’t have to be a thing that goes away.

I talked earlier about how I’ve given up on discipline for discipline’s sake, and instead I’m much more motivated by activities that will make me feel good for as long as possible. My husband and I are moving to Prague in April, which is going to be a big European adventure. And we love to go on trains, and I am not a light packer, because I need to have all of my girl stuff. So I have a very heavy suitcase all the time, and I love that I can run for the train with my suitcase and haul it up the steps of the train by myself. So as long as I can continue to do that, I will be a happy person, and that’s kind of my goal.

I want to be a tough old broad who can carry her own groceries, and her own suitcase. And I may still have jet-black hair when I’m 90, because I’m never going to stop dyeing my hair.

How to make crazy-delicious meals without losing your mind in the kitchen: http://bit.ly/mjoulwan

WHERE TO FIND MELISSA JOULWAN

Abel: I love that. Well, Melissa, you’re freakin’ awesome. Where can people find you? And tell us a little more about your new book.

I can be found at meljoulwan.com. My cookbooks are Well Fed, Well Fed 2, and the new one, Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less. There are 128 recipes in the book, and 100 of them are 30 minutes or less. Think about that.

I was doing research, and a famous chef, whose name I will not say, has a cookbook. You can look for it, 15-Minute Meals. And I was like, “How is he doing healthy meals in 15 minutes? That’s pretty nuts.” So I got the book and I opened it up all ready to learn some magic voodoo from him, and no, there are like five or six things for each recipe that you do in advance, and then it’s 15 minutes after you’ve done those things. I’m like, that is not a 15-minute recipe. That is a half-hour recipe broken into two pieces. That’s cheating. So thank you, cause yeah, it was hard getting them down to real times.

Mel Joulwan is my username across all social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Twitter is my favorite, so come talk to me on Twitter.

LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
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Discover how to drop fat with chocolate, bacon, and cheesecake. Plus: learn the 3 worst foods you should NEVER eat and the 7 best exercises for rapid fat loss. Click below to to claim your FREE gift ($17 value)!

BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S SHARON’S STORY…

Here’s a note that just came in from Sharon, who’s down 50 pounds with The Wild Diet. She says:

Exactly one year ago today, I started going Wild.

I had tried Paleo before, but after watching Abel on My Diet Is Better Than Yours on ABC Television, I knew his diet was more than just Paleo.

The weight started coming off right away, and I started to feel great (no more joint pain and much more energy). I eat great food and I exercise much less than I had in the past.

By this past October, I had lost almost 50 pounds! But from Thanksgiving until right before the new year, I found myself cheating more than usual, and I let sugar and dairy back into my diet (but still no grains). I didn’t go too crazy with the bad stuff, but I did have it…

The great news is, those 2 months of holiday cheats have caused me to gain only 8 pounds! The old me would’ve gained 8 pounds in one week!!

I’m happy to say I got back on track with my eating before the end of the year, so I’m on my way to losing the remaining 25-30 pounds that I’d like to lose!

Congrats, Sharon! 50 pounds is no joke. The holidays are undoubtedly fun for feasting, but I’m thrilled you’ve learned how to manage it the right way. And this is the perfect time to get back on track. We’re here to help you lose those last few stubborn pounds.

Are YOU ready to drop those stubborn pounds the fun way? Then you’re going to love our 30-Day Fat Loss Program.

In this plan, we share 30 days of mouth-watering meal plans that are designed to help you drop fat with real food. The meal plans are Paleo-friendly, easy to make, and literally the meals that my wife Alyson and I eat just about every night to stay lean, fit, and happy with minimal exercise.

In the program, you’ll get:

  • The most effective method of meal and nutrient timing to best stimulate fat loss and muscle recovery
  • The truth about how much protein you really need for your body type
  • 30 days of specific, healthy, fat-burning meal plans as a done-for-you nutrition strategy
  • And tons more…

And if you check it out today, you’ll even get a listener discount!

And if you like delicious fat-melting recipes, Melissa is one of the featured contributors to our e-cookbook, the Fat-Burning Chef. Grab them both and get in the best shape of your life!

Are you up for the challenge? Join here: bit.ly/2hMdHzp

What did you think of this interview with Melissa? Leave a comment below to let us know!

3 thoughts on “Melissa Joulwan: How to Cook Healthy Meals in 45 Minutes or Less

  1. Already loved Mel and feel like I got to know her even better in this interview. I can totally relate to her quote “Just because I’m not shy doesn’t mean I’m not an introvert.” I reviewed “Well Fed Weeknights” for my happy, healthy and hot blog and loved it. And “you don’t always need a recipe” is so true! I’m a pretty intuitive cook, but still love cookbooks just for ideas and inspiration. Mel’s book can be used any way you like. For someone who needs step by step instructions, she breaks things down really well. Or for someone like me, it is a great source of inspiration because she really has some interesting flavor combinations. I made the curried tuna salad, then ended up making it a curried chicken salad. Just as good!

  2. Travis Volter says:

    I dated Melissa a while back. We would feast on fatty lamb stew and freshly baked french bread and then hit the sack and explored each others’ bodies all night. Melissa used to give me the best shlurpy beejays ever. She would work my wood with her lamb fat laden beautiful lips like a lollipop and work on it slow and wet and shlurpy. I then returned the favor to her with my lamb fat laden tongue.
    Great times!!

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