What do yummy recipes, baby bumps and two SELF magazine contributors have in common? Oh how about a new recipe book health, healthy pregnancy cookbook by some of our favorite nutritionists Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke of C&J Nutrition. Willow and Stephanie are our go-to resources whenever we want to provide advice to our expecting moms on eating, drinking and just being healthy. You may have noticed a few of their recipes on the site (um hello mocktails).
We sat down with Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke of C&J Nutrition to learn a little bit about them (make sure to check out their favorite places to eat), get the behind the scenes and some insight to their inspiration to their own baby (their cookbook that is).
Tell us about YOU!
W: I’m Willow Jarosh, co-owner of C&J Nutrition. I live in NYC with my boyfriend and my calico cat.
S: Hi! I’m Stephanie Clarke, I co-own C&J Nutrition and live in Maryland outside of DC with my husband Jason, daughter Juliette, and white cat, Yogurt.
What is your guilty pleasure?
W: No guilt! Anything I do that makes me happy is free of guilt. But, if I had to say one thing that I definitely get judged on (don’t care!) it is my love for Bachelor in Paradise. That show is so. much. Fun. Also – Evan and Carly for eva, for the other BIP fans out there.
S: Binge watching a great TV series (I just finished the latest season of Orange is the New Black.) With a toddler running around and working full time, I often feel like there’s no time for that kind of “time suck” but every once in awhile, it’s a nice reprieve.
How do you balance work and play?
W: There is always more work to be done, especially with a small business. So, I try to set work hours and stick to them. I also *try* not to work too much on the weekends. This definitely helps keep me feeling balanced. And, since there are two of us, it’s much easier to take a day or two (or more!) off whenever we need/want, which is great.
S: One. Day. At. A. Time. It’s an evolving process that needs consistent attention. When we first started C&J Nutrition 10 years ago, Willow and I worked long hours but I enjoyed the process and didn’t think of it as work most of the time. After 5 years we were more established and had more regular work hours–– that was also nice. Two years ago I had my daughter and that was big adjustment. I think you have to be diligent about setting boundaries like no work/devices after a certain time unless it’s totally necessary. My main goal is to work hard during dedicated work hours and be efficient so I can feel good about enjoying the down time with my family. It’s definitely always a work in progress and having a rockstar business partner helps a ton!
Any books you are currently reading, publications you read daily or podcasts you can’t get enough of?
W: I just finished reading Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow is up next. I read the NYT’s online, Time magazine’s paper version, and also subscribe to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine. On the nutrition side of things, I really like Food & Nutrition and Today’s Dietitian. I am totally obsessed with Cook’s Illustrated. Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing and Radiolab are my favorite podcasts.
S: I read a lot about food and nutrition on a daily basis, so one of my 2016 goals was to start reading again for leisure. I have Defending Jacob by William Landay on my nightstand (a book chosen by my neighborhood book club!) and am enjoying it so far. I read Food & Nutrition Magazine regularly–– it has a nice balance of new food trends, cooking, and nutrition science. I also have NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series on a lot while working. I love music and learning more about the artists. I also just starting to listening to the podcast Young House Love.
As nutrition experts, what is your favorite local place to eat?
W: Beyoglu has incredible Turkish food and is a go-to. For a special occasion, Dirt Candy is so much fun. Brunch is a tie between Cafe Clover and Two Hands. And Matchabar’s coconut-chai matcha latte rocks (and caffeinates) my world.
S: Dining provides endless inspiration for putting my own spin on dishes. I’m currently loving Brookeville Beer Farm in our small suburban town–– they grow the majority of the ingredients for brewing right on the property/in the county and have food trucks with authentic delicious food all of the time. The other night there was a gnocchi truck serving yucca gnocchi! I also love Founding Farmers in DC and Green Sage in Clarksville, MD (they feature a seasonal organic plant-based menu and live local music.)
When did you know you wanted to be a dietitian or when did you both get interested in the nutrition world?
W: I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare, but when I worked for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in college, it really solidified my commitment to helping people live better lives through nutrition.
S: I was interested in food and nutrition’s effect on performance and health from an early age, being a competitive gymnast really sparked that. When I started taking classes in college in the biology / science track, I got introduced to a formal nutrition education and learned about the different career paths, that’s when I knew I wanted to pursue nutrition.
How did you both meet?
W: We met in graduate school. We both decide to add a Nutrition Communications emphasis onto our program and wound up having every class together!
S: At Tufts University for graduate school and a dietetic Internship program. We were instant friends after meeting at our program’s first potluck party!
Where do you find your inspiration behind C&J Nutrition?
W&S: We’d both interned for magazines (me at Good Housekeeping and Steph at Fitness) and knew we wanted to continue writing. But, we also wanted to have a private practice where we could get one-on-one time with clients as well as a consulting practice. So, we started our own company that allowed us to do all three!
Why did you want to do a pregnancy cookbook?
W&S: We see the power of food every day and love the “food as medicine” approach to nutrition. Our pregnant clients are always relieved to hear that there are food-based approaches to treating their most common pregnancy discomforts. Creating a cookbook for pregnant women, organized by discomfort, hadn’t been done before. It was one of those, “Wait, this doesn’t exist?” moments. We knew we needed to create it.
Any inspiration behind the name: happy healthy pregnancy cookbook?
W: The power of healthy eating is far-reaching. It affects you physically and mentally. We wanted the name to remind readers of the positive effects of healthy eating.
S: Pregnancy is such a happy time in your life, but there are also ups and downs with hormonal changes, certain discomforts, and the fact that a huge life change is about to happen. We wanted the title to reflect that women can use cooking to help navigate through some of the discomforts, leading to their healthiest and happiest pregnancy.
What is the biggest misconception about nutrition and pregnancy?
W&S: That it’s all about avoiding foods and that there’s so much you can’t eat while you’re pregnant. It’s just not true and it’s also so much for fun to focus on what you can and should be eating for feel your best. Our cookbook helps show women, and the people who love them, just how much variety they can (and should!) have during pregnancy.
What is the biggest mistake moms make when eating for two
W: Sometimes it’s easy to take the “eating for two” advice to mean double what you eat. But, it’s important to remember that one of those two ranges in size from a poppy seed to a watermelon. So, you do need more calories during your second and third trimesters, but not a whole lot more. Which is why it’s SO important to make sure that the additional calories come from really nutrient-rich foods.
S: Being afraid to eat certain foods, particularly seafood, which research shows is an important part of a healthy pregnancy diet. There are lots of misconceptions around eating seafood during pregnancy and women definitely don’t need to avoid it. The current recommendation is to eat 8-12 ounces of seafood per week, avoiding only four high mercury fish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish (most women don’t eat these fish anyway!) We included lots of common myths about what to eat and what not to eat in the book.
Any fun nutrition hacks you want to share (this could be a preview into the book maybe)?
W: Keep a pitcher of infused water in the fridge at all times. We have some great recipes in the book for herb and fruit-infused waters. If you have flavored, super cold water on hand, you’re more likely to stay hydrated and that is key to reducing many of the common pregnancy discomforts (like constipation and fluid retention).
S: Sneaking in protein when you’re pregnant and experiencing nausea can really help tone down nausea. We have some sneaky ways to do this in the book so that women don’t have to eat protein foods that make their stomach’s turn!
What do you wish you would have known then, that you know now in relation to creating a cookbook?
W: Having your family around makes the process go so much faster! We were in 24-7 recipe testing mode over the past year, and some of that time I was at my parents’ house, with my brother, his girlfriend, and my boyfriend. Recipe testing there was so great because I had five people to give immediate feedback on the different versions of dishes.
S: We’d written large amounts of recipes for other books before, so we had a really good idea of the process. One thing I wish we’d have known is how much out-testing needed to be done and how long that would take. Having family around to test and weigh-in with honest feedback is definitely helpful.
If you could give one piece of nutrition advice to a mama?
W: You’ve got this! Start where you are, with what you know and are comfortable with, and add on from there. Focus on the things you can add into your diet, like fruits, veggies, less processed carbohydrates. The more you focus on small changes, the more they add up to big results.
S: Get used to prepping ahead! No matter how good you are at creating a meal on the fly, preparing ideas and ingredients ahead of time will make your life SO much easier!
Thanks so much Willow and Stephanie! I am sure this made you hungry so make sure you head on over to purchase your own copy of happy healthy pregnancy cookbook.