There’s a lot to love about the Brava community and today we’re excited to highlight another member who inspires us in the kitchen. We sat down with food coach, podcast host, and busy mom, Jen Smiley. Keep reading to learn about Jen’s philosophy that food is medicine, her favorite Brava recipes, and her go-to clean ingredients.
Q: What’s your background with cooking and what’s your philosophy on food?
A: My background is just like anyone without training – reps in the kitchen and taking time to adjust seasonings, portions to get the perfectly tasting dish then put it on repeat. As a newly-wed, I was horrible at cooking – really. Putting way too much lemon zest on top of each dish and overcooking just about everything. Fast forward 8 years, a James-Beard chef, Tory McPhail, who worked at Commanders Palace for 20 years and was trained by Emeril Lagasse himself, called me to hire me as a food coach. I thought surely I do not know anything more about cooking or food then a James-Beard chef at a world-renowned restaurant but I was wrong… I knew a lot of secrets that no one talks about in the culinary world… ingredients and how they can make dishes anti-inflammatory.
My philosophy on food is that I do not subscribe to any diet regimen as decades long of new diets continuously fail and I have come to discover that eating real food made with ingredients we can recognize – allows our bodies to digest them properly and we ultimately get to feel good. In a decade-long search of clean labels – I have come to realize that you can make any recipe clean by swapping out ingredients. This helps one not restrict themselves and instead eat the foods they love and feel good.
Q: When did you realize that Brava was actually working to solve a problem?
A: When my husband stepped into the kitchen and fried an egg plus made rice. Shocked. lol. He can not even melt butter in the pan to clue you into his cooking capabilities. He is now contributing to our meals and it’s been less stressful because 1. I do not have to do it all and 2. It’s quick without preheating involvement and less messy than a standard oven. One stop shop!
Q: What’s your favorite Brava feature, cooking mode, or accessory?
A: Trick question because I love them all. I also find it useful that the oven tells me which pan to use so there is no room for confusion or even time for a choice. If I had to select one – going with the egg tray and not because of eggs but because I make these super easy (and clean) pancake things for my kids breakfast in a flash.
Here it goes:
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup tapioca
1 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free because no one wants metals)
1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce or clean yogurt such as Culina, unsweetened
Mix this together and it takes literally 2 minutes then I throw into the egg tray. In a few short minutes after going upstairs to wake kids up – fresh CLEAN (made with ingredients our body can recognize and digest…. Nothing inflammatory either) pancake muffins are done. I serve some nutsola hazelnut spread on top (read those labels…amazing ingredients) and we are out the door for carpool
Q: How does Brava fit in with feeding your family?
A: It really saves me on time – I am able to throw all of the things in here and focus energy on setting table, water glasses and silverware. Usually one is balancing pots, microwave, pre-heating and cooking in the oven (sweating!). Brava keeps things simple and stream-lined in the kitchen. Game-changer!
Q: How would you describe Brava to a friend?
A: An amazing adult version of an easy bake oven that can cook any thing you would like and it will be cooked to perfection.
Q: What ingredients are always in your kitchen/pantry and how do you use Brava to cook with them?
A: Always on hand: Wild pastures steaks and chicken…. Literally put nothing but salt on there and set on a tray then forget it. I also love to have a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread on hand for kids to snack on – this is almond flour, coconut flour, grass-fed butter, coconut sugar and some bananas. Mix and throw into bread pan then boom we have snacks for the entire week!