IN THE KITCHEN WITH ASHLEIGH VANHOUTEN
Tell us about yourself:
I’m an author, speaker, podcast host, and self-proclaimed muscle nerd. My first book, a nose-to-tail, organ-meat centric cookbook called It Takes Guts, is available now online and in stores. I host the Muscle Maven Radio podcast, interviewing some of the leading minds in exercise and nutrition methodology and overall wellness. I’m also a consultant in the fitness industry, helping others build their brand and communicate their messages to the world, working with notable figures like legendary Canadian bodybuilder and life optimization guru Ben Pakulski, and thyroid health expert Elle Russ. In my downtime, I’m a nationally ranked natural figure competitor and I dabble in powerlifting, armwrestling, and BJJ, although my biggest hobby is trying to convince people to eat organ meat!
How did you get involved in cooking?
I may love food more than the average person, but I was always more of an eater than a chef; still, after years of work in the wellness industry as a podcast host, writer, and health coach, I had this idea of starting a conversation around what “nose-to-tail” eating really is, and in order to write the book, I had to research, experiment, and teach myself how to prepare the whole animal so I could pass that knowledge, enjoyment, and empowerment along to others.
Describe your cooking style:
Unfussy. I am not a trained chef and I come from a bodybuilding background, so I want food to be simple, nourishing, and unpretentious, something anyone can make. But I also love food, so it has to be delicious too. I like to let the meat make the statement, with some delicious fat and spices to bring out the flavor, rather than hide protein in layers of sauces or complexity.
How did you learn about grass-fed meats?
Through my work writing for Paleo Magazine and my years as a podcast host and journalist in the health world, interviewing, learning from, and reading about optimal nutrition, sourcing the best quality meat has always been on my radar.
What is your favorite recipe featuring grass-fed meat?
One of the recipes I’m most proud of in my book is a stuffed beef heart; it’s stuffed with mushroom, onion, and bacon, seared in a skillet, and roasted. It looks so fancy, tastes delicious, and is actually pretty simple to make. It would be at home on any holiday dinner table and the combination of beefy goodness with the sweet filling is a crowd pleaser!
You’re stranded on a desert island; luckily, you’re stranded with your top 5 ingredients and one must-have kitchen tool:
Garlic, butter, salt, eggs, bacon, and a cast-iron skillet. I could eat that meal every day for the rest of my life!
Best cooking secret/tip/piece of advice you’ve learned:
Don’t be afraid to try and fail, and then try some more. We all start out as beginners, and every failed experiment is a learning experience.
What’s your favorite quote/song for culinary inspiration (if any)?
There are so many good ones, but a quote from Anthony Bourdain about organ meats resonates with me: “Understand, when you eat meat, that something did die. You have an obligation to value it – not just the sirloin but also all those wonderful tough little bits.”
Anything else you want to share?
I would love to connect with anyone who wants to learn more about the health, sustainability, and culinary benefits of organ meats! I’m all about starting conversations, trying new things, and learning – so reach out to me on Instagram if you have any questions.
Podcast: Muscle Maven Radio with Ashleigh VanHouten
Website: Ashleigh VanHouten
Cookbook: It Takes Guts – A Meat-Eater’s Guide To Eating Offal
Enter To Win!
Enter to win our November 2020 Featured Chef Contest for a chance to win $150 bundle of farm fresh food AND a copy of Ashleigh’s book! Contest runs from November 1 – 11, 2020.