Feel Good Foodie's Yumna Jawad Dishes on Her New Cookbook—and Shares a High-Protein Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Plus, what’s the food trend of the summer? Yumna Jawad has the answer.

<p>Yumna Jawad</p>

Yumna Jawad

You may know her as Feel Good Foodie, consistently posting viral recipes across social media platforms, but Yumna Jawad is taking her content to the next level.

On May 7, The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook will hit shelves featuring 125 easy, healthy recipes that marry Jawad’s two loves: Mediterranean and Midwestern cuisine. We sat down with the influencer to talk about the new book, from the cover to the recipes that any home cook can make. Plus, we got our hands on the recipe for her delicious Spiced Couscous-Stuffed Peppers that will be your new favorite meatless Monday dinner. Read on for the exclusive interview.

Related: PlantYou’s Carleigh Bodrug Shares the #1 Underrated Vegetable Scrap You Should Be Eating

<p>Courtesy Photo</p>

Courtesy Photo

Get the Recipe: Spiced Couscous-Stuffed Peppers

EatingWell: What makes The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook unique?

Jawad: I think that there's a lot of cookbooks out there offering great dinner recipes and great recipes in general. I think what makes mine really unique is it’s not a complete fusion of Mediterranean and Midwest, but more like one ingredient added to elevate everyday recipes. It doesn't feel as scary when, for example, you’re making pancakes and it's a normal pancake recipe, but instead of adding vanilla extract, you'd add rose water to it. It's this element of everyday, approachable recipes—mostly dinner recipes, but also some breakfast and dessert and snacks with one or two elements of Mediterranean cuisine that just makes it extra special.

EatingWell: What made you decide on the cover of the book?

Jawad: The main recipe that's on the cover of the cookbook is Chicken Shawarma. It’s one of those recipes that's iconic to Middle Eastern cuisine, and it's something that I grew up eating all the time. What I think is really interesting is that it feels like this really difficult recipe, but it really just comes down to the spices and getting char on the chicken. I want people to feel excited about making it, and I also want people to see how fun it is to just have it by itself, have it in a sandwich or you can throw it on top of tabbouleh or on top of another salad. And you can see a lot of other recipes on there as well: there's pickled turnips, there's pickled onions, there's sauce—all the different toppings that make it super delicious. I wanted something that was super colorful as well, so seeing the tabbouleh and the pink turnips and the red tomatoes and the lettuce and all of that just felt very vibrant, exciting and representative of my culture.

<p>Yumna Jawad</p>

Yumna Jawad

EatingWell: The most rewarding recipe in the cookbook?

Jawad: I think it would be Baked Feta Pasta. I feel like a lot of my followers found me because of Baked Feta Pasta. It's this viral recipe that went crazy in 2021 and so many people started making it, and I just love the simplicity of the recipe with the melty feta, the bursting cherry tomatoes and the fresh basil—and those three colors are the colors of the Lebanese flag. It's just so vibrant and beautiful looking, and I also felt like it's so familiar to so many people. So if somebody grabs this book and they open it up and they're maybe overwhelmed and not sure where to get started, seeing that recipe right away would just feel like home to them. I felt like it was just rewarding for me to come full circle with this recipe that was so iconic to my brand and the way so many people found me, to actually have it in the book. It also was great because I didn't really need to retest the recipe because I had made it so many times beforehand!

Related: Baked Tomato & Feta Pasta

EatingWell: What recipe from the book is so easy, any beginner cook can make it?

Jawad: Two of them come to mind actually. I think about the recipes that I keep making and the recipes that my daughter keeps making as well. First I would say the Yogurt & Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs. I marinate chicken thighs in the book, but you can use any kind of chicken and marinate it with yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and some spices and you can really get creative with the spices here. But the Mediterranean element of it is adding yogurt to it, which not only gives it a little tang and a little creaminess, but it also just keeps the chicken super moist in the oven. It's super easy and a great beginner recipe—just temp your chicken to make sure it's well cooked and you'll be fine. The other one I think that would be really fun to make is these Brownie Date Balls. It’s made with walnuts, dates, cocoa powder and chocolate chips. So it's four ingredients and you mix them together in a blender or food processor. You give them a couple of pulses, it takes like 30 seconds, and then it starts to get sticky from the dates. It combines together into something that literally tastes like a brownie, but no baking needed.

EatingWell: Favorite vegetable, and favorite way to prepare it?

Jawad: I mean, I have lots of favorite vegetables, so I have to say two of them. One of them is cucumber because I eat a cucumber every day. It's so hydrating. I throw it in a salad, I munch on it by itself, I dip it in hummus. I love having it fresh, diced and sliced in different ways. I would say that would be my favorite vegetable if I had to pick one, but something that's more cooked would be sweet potato. And sweet potato is not really Mediterranean, we don't actually eat it in Lebanon, so it's one of those things where I struggled. Do I put this in the book? But the book is really Midwestern recipes from growing up in Michigan, and it’s supposed to be recipes that felt like home. And I love sweet potato because you can turn it into toast, you can turn it into fries, you can mash it, you can boil it, there's so many different ways to prepare it. In the book, there’s oven-roasted Sumac Sweet Potato Wedges. I feel like wedges are so fun to eat, and I throw some spice on there to just give it a little peppery tartness. It just transformed this humble potato into something more exciting.

Related: 28 Sweet Potato Recipes You'll Want to Make Forever

EatingWell: Last year in a convo with EatingWell, you correctly predicted that cottage cheese would be the food trend of the summer. What do you think this year's trend will be?

Jawad: I would say using dates in recipes. I'm so excited about how dates are having a moment. They started with the “date Snickers” where you take a date and you stuff them with nuts and peanut butter and then dip it in chocolate. And then we also had the viral date bark that so many people were making where you flatten out the dates and spread some peanut butter and chocolate on top of them. When you break it in half, it's just so satisfying to eat. Now there is this big date cake that a lot of people have been making where you blend dates with milk and flour and you have cake, it's just so simple and I just love how so many more people are using dates and recipes. I am excited to just see dates being used more and not just as stuffed dates or the way we would normally see dates. I wish I actually had more date recipes in the book because after the book came out, I came up with this date bread, which was just genius, delicious, amazing bread that my followers are going crazy for. I want to do a lot more things with dates now.

Related: The Top Food Trends to Look Out for This Summer, According to Feel Good Foodie

EatingWell: Most life-changing kitchen hack you've ever learned?

Jawad: I measure a lot of peanut butter. I love peanut butter so much and I use it in oatmeal all the time. Spraying the measuring cup with oil before you add the peanut butter is so quick and easy and makes it so much easier for measuring.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the original article on Eating Well.