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Maria Menounos Gives the ‘EveryGirl’ Advice about Meal Planning, Traveling, Preservatives, and More!

The hardworking EveryGirl is back with her third installment of The EveryGirl series. After the mega success of her first two books, The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life and The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness, Maria Menounos is back with The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking. In this book, Menounos shares some of her favorite family recipes as well as some of her favorite simple meals that even the most novice cook can execute.

The EveryGirls Guide to Cooking is divided into 14 sections where she provides recipes for everything from your breakfast and lunch to appetizers and salad dressings to her favorite splurge desserts. The best thing about
The EveryGirls Guide to Cooking is what makes her series so relatable and informative for young hard-working women: while you can easily find recipes on how to make thousands of different meals anywhere, in this book she recommends which recipes to combine to prepare meals
for a full week, makes a shopping list, and gives you tips on how to shop. She also recommends what key items to always keep in your pantry.

We love Menounos’s EveryGirl series so we had to ask her about her third installment. She
gives us advice about meal planning and balance while also spilling the details about her favorite splurge dessert…which just happens to be in the book.

Q&A with Maria Menounos

Unlike a lot of recipe books, you also include information about meal planning to help your readers implement your recipes into their everyday lives. While cooking was a big part of your childhood, and it’s something you’ve always enjoyed, was meal planning ever a daunting task when you were first starting out?

Meal planning, of course, was a daunting task. Trying to figure out what you’re going to eat for the entire week is a lot; you’re not a nutritionist so you have to really think of what’s good for your body for that week and what’s going to satisfy you. So that’s why we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our readers.

T.£here are more options than ever to find to way to eat healthy at home, from getting fresh food delivered to buying prepped vegetables. Why do you think girls still shy away from meal planning and cooking for themselves?

I think that the new meal plan delivery systems are definitely catching fire: services like Instacart where you can have your groceries delivered to you, and you can order them online from work on a break, or Plated where they send you the entire recipe in a box, pre-¬¨‚â†measured. All of those things are helping me and I think [also] any girl out there who needs to make it a little easier for themselves because their work hours are too difficult. I think that cooking for yourself isn’t always the easiest thing and that’s why I wanted to do this recipe book. [It was] not only to help teach people who don’t cook, but for the ones who do to also find some really delicious recipes that are really as simple as they can be for you. I’m super busy too so I need something that’s really easy.

A lot of EveryGirls end up skipping meals because they’re too busy. What are your go-to snacks for when you know you have a busy day ahead of you?

I fall victim to this meal-skipping thing sometimes as well, but I do carry almonds with me and I think those are the best go-to snack. They’re filled with protein, they tide you over without a lot of calories, and they’re just so good for you. I will also have pre-cut apple slices with pre-packaged almond butter; I’ll scoop almond butter into little teeny to-go containers and keep them in my bag or in the bag with the apple so it doesn’t get everywhere. You can order those online or go to a Smart and Final and buy them. It’s like the to–go salad dressing containers, but I fill them with almond butter. You can do the same thing with hummus if you want to have hummus with celery sticks or carrot sticks.

What advice would you give to the EveryGirl who now plans their weekly meals but goes on vacation for a week? What would you recommend they eat and what should they avoid?

I’m a big believer that when you’re on vacation you shouldn’t really worry too much, but do worry in a sense where you figure out a good balance. If you’re going to be drinking a lot, try to eat healthier and cleaner so that you can balance out the calories. If you’re drinking and eating a lot of rich, fattening food, you will come back five to ten pounds heavier and you will be really sad and the vacation effect will be over. In essence, it did not really do much for you. So I recommend figuring out if you’re going to use your calories in the food world or in the booze world, and try to find a happy medium. And the happy medium isn’t just for food and liquor intake; it’s also about how much you’re going to really worry about that overall. Make sure if you’re going to be doing a little bit of both to get your exercise while you’re on vacation. I love going on walks on the beach and hikes at night while I’m on vacation, so that I can burn the calories that I would normally be burning throughout my day running around, because now I’m sitting on a beach and not moving and just consuming calories.

America as a whole is getting smarter about reading ingredients on the labels, looking for excess sugar, salt, and artificial preservatives. As there are a lot of additives in food that are hard to interpret but shouldn’t be consumed, what would you advise our readers to look for when they buy packaged goods from the grocery store?

Well, Yogi Cameron has always made fun of me whenever I’ve brought food home thinking I’ve done the right thing because it’s come from one of the really nice supermarkets. He’d [say], ‘What’s evaporated cane juice? What’s this? What’s that?’ If you don’t know what something is, you really shouldn’t be eating it because it’s not pure; if it’s not pure, it’s not good for you. I like to save those moments for a cupcake or a dessert, or something I’m going to eat and enjoy. But when it comes to my food I want my food to be pure and clean. I’ll get fresh salmon or I’ll get fresh vegetables that are organic. You don’t really want to spend a lot of time in the supermarket buying things that come in boxes. That’s always my advice, because that’s where you’re getting a lot of your preservatives.

You have a chapter specifically for patties. What is it about the patty that you find particular interesting or universal?

We have always made zucchini patties and all different versions of patties all of the time. I love them. I think they’re really delicious and you can spice them up. I like putting tzatziki on top of them! So it’s something that we’ve grown up with in my house and that I’ve always loved. It’s also a great appetizer at a party.

Which recipes do you turn to when you want to make something that reminds you of home?

Definitely the tiropita and spanakopita because those are Greek signature dishes that I’ve grown up with.

.£What is your favorite food to eat when you want to splurge?

Ooooooh when I want to splurge…I love the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Toasted Pecan Cookies. And I will time them out perfectly for when guests are ready to eat them so that they melt in your mouth and they’re really gooey. I eat generally about three or four in a sitting because I can’t help myself and sometimes I’ll even put whipped cream on top. That’s my splurge!

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