The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook

125 Recipes Enhanced with Mediterranean Flavors

About the Book

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • 125 simple, healthy recipes that are all about marrying the Middle East to the Midwest and finding joy in the process—from the creator of the popular Feel Good Foodie blog

“Yumna’s recipes are made with feel-good ingredients and with fewer than ten ingredients, plus her book is packed with practical advice in the kitchen.”—Gina Homolka, New York Times bestselling author of The Skinnytaste Cookbook

During her childhood in Lebanese communities in Sierra Leone and Michigan, Yumna Jawad grew up eating home-cooked meals and learned time-saving shortcuts from her mother to prepare traditional, Middle Eastern recipes. As an adult, she started her blog Feel Good Foodie to make healthy cooking easy and helped fuel the “Baked Feta Pasta” trend that took over the internet. Now, in her first cookbook, she shares many more unfussy, healthy meals that are enhanced by Middle Eastern flavors.
 
These recipes will teach you exactly what her mom taught her: how to build savvy kitchen know-how that gives you the confidence to cook consistently for yourself and others. Be inspired by White Zucchini Pizza with Garlicky Labneh, Tomato Rice Pilaf, Harissa-Grilled Shrimp Skewers, Seven Spice Roast Chicken & Pomegranate Potatoes, Tahini-Glazed Cauliflower, perfect Crispy Falafel, Three-Ingredient Mango Sorbet, Zaatar Manakeesh, and Olive Oil Cake, which you can enjoy alongside bright green Mint-Basil Lemonade or a homemade Rose Latte
 
Jawad loves simple ingredients, fresh flavors, and finding the balance between tradition and a little innovation. But, more than anything, she loves food that makes you exclaim this phrase after one bite: “So good!”
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Praise for The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook

“Get ready to dive headfirst into this cookbook! Yumna’s recipes are made with feel-good ingredients and with fewer than ten ingredients, plus her book is packed with practical advice in the kitchen.”—Gina Homolka, New York Times bestselling author of The Skinnytaste Cookbook

“True to Yumna’s reputation, her cookbook is filled with mouthwatering recipes that will make you hungry, get you excited about cooking, and make you feel good! One look at the ingredients, the simple steps, and the beautiful photography and you’ll want to roll up your sleeves and dive into Mediterranean cuisine.”—Natasha Kravchuk, New York Times bestselling author of Natasha’s Kitchen

“Yumna’s debut cookbook knocks it out of the park and highlights the vibrant, feel-good foods that she’s known for (and loved for!) across social media. I'm such a fan of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern–infused flavor, and with how delicious these recipes are, I know you’ll go back to this cookbook time and again!”—Lisa Bryan, bestselling author of Downshiftology Healthy Meal Prep

“My girl Yumna is my go-to foodie when I want easy-to-follow Mediterranean recipes that are family friendly. She knows how to keep it simple enough for busy weeknights without compromising on flavor, and it’s food I feel good about eating and serving!”—My Nguyen, author and creator of My Healthy Dish

“How exciting that followers of Feel Good Foodie who appreciate Yumna’s simple recipes and kitchen hacks now have her in print! I know this book will be treasured by many. Congratulations, Yumna!”—Suzy Karadsheh, New York Times bestselling author and founder of The Mediterranean Dish

“Yumna hits the Mediterranean flavors out of the park in her debut cookbook! If you’re not already stocking your pantry with zaatar and labneh, start adding them to your weekly shopping list, because you’ll find an incredible amount of recipes in this book that you’ll be wanting to work into your weekly rotation. From Roasted Garlic Sumac Bread to Crispy Feta Greek Salad with Zaatar Vinaigrette to a White Zucchini Pizza, consider me totally obsessed!”—Gaby Dalkin, New York Times bestselling author and creator of What’s Gaby Cooking
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Excerpt

The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook

Introduction

I saw my mom cook for a family of six growing up—it looked hard and tiring. There was so much to learn and so many things to accidentally burn! Even though I loved to eat and was deeply curious about food as a child, I figured I was safer out of my mom’s way, helping set the table and do the dishes. Then I went from having zero kitchen skills to cooking for millions of followers online. But it didn’t happen overnight.

My family is originally from Lebanon and, until I was eleven years old, I grew up in a predominantly Lebanese community in the small West African country of Sierra Leone. I can’t remember a single restaurant in the tiny town we lived in, and there were only a couple of small grocery stores. I didn’t grow up ordering pizzas or eating ready-to-heat enchiladas. My mom prepared virtually every meal from scratch with Mediterranean ingredients seven days a week. It wasn’t trendy. It was just what we ate.

Walking into our bright, blue-tiled kitchen in Sierra Leone always felt like entering a mom-and-pop café—it was small, cozy, and always smelled like there was something good cooking. I can time travel to that kitchen so easily in my mind because, in retrospect, I think I was learning to cook from the earliest days of childhood—I just began learning through listening and observing. There were the clang of pots and pans, the thunk of Mom chopping fresh vegetables, and the hiss of onions meeting hot fat. Unforgettable aromas sifted through that space, like cardamom blooming in melted butter or garlic and cilantro sizzling in the hot, overworked skillet. I remember how my mom’s fingers delicately and confidently stuffed small squashes with fragrant rice and ground beef, and how she would whisper a quiet prayer every time she transferred something hot, like just-made yogurt, into a big bowl. Most of the time, our meals weren’t complicated. Maybe dinner would be Lemony Grilled Chicken Kabobs (page 205) marinated in olive oil, lemon, and garlic and then grilled outside over smoking charcoal—we ate that with Tabbouleh Salad (page 102), which was mounded with fresh herbs that perfumed the whole kitchen when they were minced. Or maybe we’d enjoy warm bowls of Crushed Lentil Soup (page 148), which could spend an entire day simmering on the back burner. My mom’s meals didn’t just feed our bodies and souls. They made us feel good.

When I turned eleven, in 1993, my parents made the difficult decision to leave Sierra Leone due to the political climate. We moved to the United States to live in Dearborn, Michigan— the largest Lebanese community outside of Lebanon—where my father had many relatives. And the grocery stores in the American Midwest? Wow! The shelves looked quite a bit different from those in my little town back home in Africa! Shopping for food with my mom, I could feel the fireworks going off in her brain: Oh my gosh, I can buy Tuna Helper and have dinner on the table in seven minutes! But instead of zeroing in on packaged foods over scratchmade foods or vice versa, my mom figured out how to use convenience foods to create shortcuts for her more traditional Mediterranean recipes.

A can of tomato paste, for instance, could save hours of simmering down fresh tomatoes but still deliver the same rich flavor in stews. Buying a ready-made tub of yogurt—which is used for so many condiments, sauces, and marinades in Mediterranean recipes—would save the labor-intensive process of heating fresh milk, transferring it from one pot to the other, and checking it throughout the day until it reached the desired consistency. Mom embraced frozen vegetables, store-bought vegetable broth, and canned chickpeas. She also cleverly figured out how to use some of her favorite Mediterranean ingredients to enhance the American dishes we liked in the Midwest, adding cumin- and cinnamon-flecked seven spice to marinara sauce and hamburger patties or stirring toasty, nutty tahini into Sesame Banana Bread (page 48). With these thoughtfully chosen, time-saving tweaks, her usual repertoire of homemade meals suddenly took about as much time as a box of Rice-A-Roni—all while maintaining her delicious and satisfying results. And though my mom’s kitchen in Michigan was thousands of miles from the one we had left in Africa, I was still hit daily by the comforting, familiar fragrances of childhood, like garlic, sumac, parsley, rose water, and lemons.

I bet you’re thinking this is the part where I tell you I quickly became a cooking pro, that all those hours listening and observing as my mom made her Mediterranean masterpieces meant I could finally pick up a knife and let loose. Nope! At times, my mom would put me to work arranging fruits on platters for guests or squeezing more lemon juice into her fresh batch of hummus. That was pretty much it. (We did eventually realize that as a rather ambitious, detail-oriented person, I was well suited to take on the delicate task of rolling stuffed grape leaves.) Truth be told, I didn’t really start cooking until I got married.

In my first year of marriage, I was working full-time at a corporate job, my husband was busy with medical school, and I found myself with almost no hands-on cooking knowledge in my wheelhouse. Why learn to cook when I could be spoiled by my mother, who was a great cook? (In those early days of marriage, I would drive by my mom’s house on my way home from work and pick up dinner—seriously, it was like my very own personal take-out service!) Eventually, I was determined to give my growing family the comfort of home-cooked Mediterranean meals that my mom gave us growing up. So, one phone call at a time, I asked her to teach me my favorite dishes, starting with the most basic recipe I could think of: Vermicelli Rice (page 224).

With that first dish in my repertoire, I slowly started gathering the tools to learn more. I turned to the Internet, both to absorb as much information as possible and to start building a two-way conversation with a virtual network of cooks and food lovers. I documented my progress on Instagram under the name Feel Good Foodie and, in the meantime, accidentally inspired strangers—millions of strangers from all over the world—to cook, too. We created a community of cooks and eaters that included tired parents, aspirational home cooks, enthusiastic grocery shoppers, and feel-good ingredient seekers, all with good appetites. This community of new and seasoned cooks alike saw my recipe fails, tweaks, and triumphs. Most importantly, cooks everywhere saw themselves in me.

About the Author

Yumna Jawad
Yumna Jawad is an entrepreneur, social media influencer, and recipe developer. She is the CEO and founder of the enormously popular FeelGood Foodie brand, a website dedicated to healthy-ish recipes with feel-good ingredients. A graduate from the University of Michigan’s business school, she and her viral food trends have been featured by Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today show, Good Morning America, People, Vogue, and The New York Times. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband and two kids. More by Yumna Jawad
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