Diary / Justbobbi / Sep 26, 2022
The WELL + GOOD Cookbook Makes Healthy Cooking Easy
Written by: Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
Photography by: Johnny Miller
Well+Good founders Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula have always understood the value of creating something that went beyond the phone screen for their wellness community. Over the years they've hosted panels and curated experiences, but they still wanted to find a way for their wellness devotees to bring a piece of the Well+Good lifestyle into their own homes. With their new cookbook, Well+Good: 100 Healthy Recipes + Expert Advice for Better Living, they've done just that. Out April 16, the book features recipes from the likes of Bobbi Brown, Frank Lipman and Venus Williams, and aims to highlight how varied healthy eating really is — and how easy it is to eat healthily. We caught up with co-founder Melisse Gelula to hear more about the duo's cookbook journey and how these recipes will help put an end your takeout habit.
First, congrats! What was it like to curate a cookbook?
Thank you! It was a little bit like planning a big dinner party! We had a blast thinking about all the people in the Well+Good community who we regularly feature on the site, and who we and our readers love. Some of these people we’ve known for about a decade, since the earliest days of Well+Good, like Joey Gonzalez who opened the first NYC Barry’s Bootcamp studio and became the CEO, and Gabrielle Bernstein, who met when she published her first book. Now she’s a New York Times best-selling author several times over.
We wanted the contributors to the Cookbook to represent all places on the wellness spectrum today—so in addition to people like Joey and Gabby, there are super smart beauty minds in the book like Bobbi and Jillian Wright of Indie Beauty Expo, as well as notable acupuncturists, women’s hormone specialists, food-as-medicine MDs like Mark Hyman, Frank Lipman, Robin Berzin, forward-thinking chefs, creative food bloggers, nutrition gurus, healthy chefs, and a handful of celebrities like Padma Lakshmi, Venus Williams, and Lea Michele of Glee. Bringing the community we regularly feature on the Well+Good website into a book was a dream.
The book reflects a reality that hasn’t been really discussed much—how varied healthy eating has become in this country—no one eats healthy the same way. What’s ”healthy” for some people means “vegan.” For others, it’s Keto, Paleo, Low FODMAP, or gluten-free. So we made sure that we featured a mix of credible, popular eating styles that are helping people feel their best.
Who do you hope brings this cookbook into their kitchen?
We people to be inspired to cook more! Whether that’s our existing community of 12+ million who mostly find us on the internet—and now can have this gorgeous IRL cookbook (if I do say so myself) to love on and use to cook with us in their own kitchens. We’re really thrilled to finally have something tangible for them. You can’t hug the internet, I like to joke. So this cookbook is super exciting for all of us.
We’re also speaking anyone who doesn’t have time to cook—or thinks healthy food is expensive or tastes like tree bark. The cook is a best-of for what the busiest, buzziest people in wellness really cook for themselves on a crazy weekday. So you get a sneak peek into their kitchens while expanding your list of recipes for the week. We’re putting an end to that misery of staring into your fridge at 6:30 on a Tuesday night wearily asking, “what should we make?”
We see cooking as an important (and fun!) part of wellness and want to give people the tools to feel confident as healthy cooks, even if they’ve never been that interested in it before. Cooking and eating for wellness doesn’t have to even complicated or pricey. We’re talking chickpeas, quinoa, greens, and cauliflower—add some bonus herbs, and voila.
There are lots of entry points into the book, so if people are drawn to the book to cook only the dairy-free recipes or the ones for great skin or better sleep—or make the most photogenic dishes (there’s a gorgeous pizza by Lea Michele of Glee), that’s great. But even the most basic cooking is really good for your health. We really want to pique more people’s interest in whipping up their own meals.
What was most important to you when it came to selecting the recipes and the experts behind them? How did you narrow it all down?
The wellness experts in the book who’ve shared their go-to healthy recipes—the ones they’ve made a trillion times for themselves and their families and will make a trillion times more—have solved a lot of these "how to cook healthy" struggles in their own lives — and learning more about how they eat, how they shop for ingredients, how they find the time is a total game-changer.
I know I’m not alone in ordering take out over cooking at home because I’m short on time or don’t want to end up with a cupboard full of obscure ingredients that I’ll never use again. What makes the recipes in the Well+Good Cookbook weekday meal friendly?
Seriously, it’s just too easy to grab takeout in this country right now. So we put the kibosh on any “out there” ingredients in this cookbook—with a few fun exceptions, more on that in a minute—and removed a ton of obstacles intend to get in the way of cooking for yourself and eating for wellness more often. These recipes are TAKEOUT BLOCKERS!
Here’s how we did it: there is a normal number of ingredients in each recipe; they’re mostly pantry and fridge staples (nothing obscure or expensive!), and cook time is 20 minutes on average. Insisting on these from what healthy people have already figured out, we got an amazing “best-of cookbook” filled with easy and delicious recipes that you can put into your repertoire. Knowing what healthy people make to eat in a pinch is the best cooking hack there is.
(And if you’re dying to know the exceptions, famed acupuncturist Jill Blakeway shares a couple of Chinese herbs if you want to add them to her chicken soup—optional!—and Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice, who is, well, Amanda Chantal Bacon, told us how to replicate her Hot Sex Milk. And we kinda felt that could be a recipe worth knowing…)
The recipes in the book are tied to a wide range of health benefits - from better energy to better digestion to better sex - why did you want to address these concerns?
We wanted the cookbook to be a guide to eating for wellness, just as much as a place to get fast and delicious healthy recipes. They turn to Well+Good for meal ideas that do something for their health and taste great. For example, they’re looking for low-sugar or low-inflammation recipes, or that include ingredients used to improve digestion (fermented foods) or boost energy (not just coffee!).
This functional foods philosophy has become a huge part of how people think about what to cook and eat. And it’s key to the Well+Good food point of view and a huge reason why people visit us for weekday meal inspiration. Being journalists, and not MDs or nutritionists, we tapped seven experts, like Dr. Robin Berzin, founder of Parsley Health, and Dr. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist and brain-foods expert, to write the sections in the book that explain which ingredients are proven to help move the needle for healthy benefits like better skin, sex, mood, focus, and more.
I’m sure it’s impossible to pick one, but what recipes from the book have been your favorite to make?
My faves so far are Jodi Moreno (What’s Cooking, Good Looking) White Bean Egg Bake—it’s basically a one-pan meal; McKel Hill’s Sweet Onion Dip that uses cashews and tastes just like French Onion soup mix dips from my childhood, and Bobbi’s Spiralized Zucchini Pasta with Italian Spices + Tuna recipe is crazy easy and wow-factor tasty. I’m so glad you shared that with us, Bobbi. I’ve already started to play with swapping in canned salmon in place of the tuna. Delish every time. I have a recipe for Spicy Watermelon Salad with Avocado in the book that I’ve made a trillion times and will be making again as soon as watermelon’s back in season.