Meet Brooke Wilson: Holistic Nutritionist and Meal Prep Master
Brooke Wilson, Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Chef, knows that what you eat matters and is here to share her knowledge about good food, nutrition, and cooking with those who want to feel their best. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned chef, getting into the kitchen and making nourishing and delicious food is accessible to everyone.
With a love for keeping things simple and listening to your own body (versus everyone else’s opinions about what you should and should not eat), she emphasizes getting the best quality ingredients available to you and finding ways to cook that feel fun and easy. Once you have the basics down, you will find that you have the power to support your health in so many ways through the power of food and healthy habits.
Where did you grow up? What was your experience with food during your childhood?
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and my parents cooked, but I never did learn the basics. I was a very anxious kid with a nervous stomach. Food often didn’t feel like my friend so I honestly didn’t pay very much attention to it at all, and at times, disliked it because I often felt sick. I took comfort in sugary foods and, looking back, I was very addicted to sugar. It wasn’t until I was older I was able to make the connection between my food choices and feeling unwell.
How would you describe your wellness journey?
I was walking around the farmer’s market in Louisville looking at all the gorgeous summer produce and in a moment I will never forget I thought, “I want to learn how to cook and make all of these vegetables taste amazing.” At that time I didn’t know how to cook, and I intuitively knew that learning to cook would be one of the most powerful things I could do for my health so I set out on my journey and never looked back. I moved to Berkeley, enrolled in Bauman College’s Natural Chef and Nutrition Consultant Program, and then opened my business starting out as a personal chef and then expanding to nutrition coaching and teaching. I’ve been doing this work ever since.
I love the name Summer Thyme Wellness. How did that come about?
I wanted a name that conveyed a feeling of vibrancy, and for me I always feel so energized and alive in the summer (as many of us do). I also wanted to convey how important nature was as well, so I included “thyme” instead of “time” to tie in the food as medicine aspect of my approach. Wellness encompasses not only food and nutrition but other aspects of health that are crucial to our wellbeing such as sleep, stress, movement/exercise, etc. and as a holistic nutritionist I wanted to bring in those other elements as well, hence the name “Summer Thyme Wellness.”
What’s the deal with meal prep? Why is it so important?
Meal prep is a way to plan and simplify cooking and eating for your week. Let’s face it- cooking takes time and most of us are short on time. Meal prep also takes time, but it streamlines the process taking out the day to day decisions of what to eat. It also gives you full control of your weekly menu and is more likely to help you eat healthy, stay on track, and meet any health goals you are committed to achieving.
What are your favorite things to meal prep?
I love to roast a variety of vegetables. My favorites are cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and Japanese sweet potatoes. I also really like to make rice, lentils, and salmon along with a vinaigrette (like balsamic) and another fun sauce (like peanut sauce or a miso sauce) and mix and match creating different bowls during the week. I always chop up greens like kale or collards, so I can throw a handful into whatever meal I’m warming up. I love that bright green freshness that freshly cooked greens offer. I then always top with fresh herbs like cilantro, basil or parsley if I have them on hand.
What are your tips to make meal prepping easy and fun?
I think people operate in different ways when it comes to meal prep, but personally I don’t like to have everything to do all at once. I like to create a plan with a shopping list and either shop on Friday or Saturday myself, or order groceries to be delivered if it’s a busy weekend. Then on Sunday I start meal prepping around dinner time and spend my Sunday evening cooking while listening to fun music, putting on a movie I love, or listening to a podcast or audiobook. A glass of wine never hurt either (although watch the mix of a chef’s knife and wine!). Also, don’t hesitate to take shortcuts whether that’s buying pre-cooked rice or lentils, getting a roasted chicken, using pre-cut veggies, etc. Changing your thoughts around meal prep and focusing on the positive will bring a great energy to the task so focus on how spending the time and effort to do this is an investment in your health. Meal prepping healthy food for your week is one of the very best ways to take care of and nourish yourself.
The first thing I do in the morning: Drink water! Sometimes I just drink plain water and sometimes I add lemon, lime, and/or ginger juice. I usually drink at least 16 oz as soon as I wake up. I then have a cup of tea- either an herbal chai or jasmine green with a little honey. I love coffee but it tends to make me feel very anxious and jittery.
My go-to breakfast: I don’t have a go-to breakfast really, and I generally eat rather late (around 10 or 11) so it’s more like an early lunch at times. Sometimes I eat all of the food I have meal prepped like a veggies, rice, and salmon. Other days I really love to have a smoothie. My favorite smoothie right now is an Almond Butter Banana Smoothie with raw cacao, maca and flax.
On a typical Sunday, you can find me: Oh I like to change it up. I’m not really a routine person. I really love to decide in the moment what I feel like I most need or want to do. Sometimes I like to go hiking, sometimes I like to rest and snuggle with my dog, and lately I have been loving taking a walk to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto where I shop and eat along the way.
My happy place: Anywhere that’s warm and in the sunshine! The place that my travels have taken me that I was most enamored with was Tulum, Mexico.
Life motto: Be brave and follow your intuition.
Warming Winter Meal Prep Recipe
Turkey Black Bean Chili
2 tablespoons ghee
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, gently crushed in your hand
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, chopped into bite-size pieces
4 cups (2 cans) of black beans, rinsed
Optional: water to reach desired consistency
2 cups kale, de-stemmed and sliced into thin ribbons
Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste
Optional garnish: fresh cilantro
In a medium sized to large pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sauté for 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeño, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, and cinnamon and sauté for another minute. Add the turkey and ¼ teaspoon of salt, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, and brown for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and another pinch of salt, then the peppers and beans and another pinch of salt. Stir to combine. If you want to add more liquid for consistency add a half cup at a time until you like the liquid levels. Bring it to a simmer over medium low heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in kale and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste, and add lime juice and salt as needed. Top with fresh cilantro.
This freezes really well so make a double batch and freeze some for a hearty meal later in the week!
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