Ayesha Curry Shares Her Favorite Balanced Meals for Keeping Her Family Healthy

Plus, she shares what she views as the most challenging and most exciting parts of starting a new year.

a photo of Ayesha Curry
Photo: Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Ayesha Curry wears many hats. You may know her as an actress, cookbook author or cooking television personality. Or you may be familiar with her food and entertainment magazine Sweet July (which has recipes for everything from breakfast to drinks to dinner that we swoon over; it's published by our parent corporation, Dotdash Meredith). Not to mention, she's a mother of three and married to an NBA superstar. As if Curry didn't have enough on her schedule, she has partnered with MyFitnessPal to launch the 14-Day "Jumpstart Your Health" Challenge, which is focused on helping members keep up with their hydration, nutrition and physical activity goals in the new year.

We caught up with Curry about what she typically eats in a day, her go-to meals for busy weeks and what she's most excited about in the new year. Read on for more on what the lifestyle icon had to say in our interview.

EatingWell: What do you find is the most challenging part of starting a new year, as a businesswoman and mother of three?

Curry: I think it's interesting because we put these labels on what time of the year it is, but really it's just another day, right? I do recognize that it's a time when people are sort of looking for this renewal and this refreshing of life. For me, I'm big on setting my intentions and setting goals, and I kind of do that on a monthly basis, regardless of what time of year it is. For me, the most difficult part is narrowing down the things that I want to kick off or the goals that I have. Narrowing it down and being realistic with myself and saying, "I really want to accomplish whatever it is I'm setting out to do, so let's simplify it" to make it more approachable.

EatingWell: On the flip side, what's the most exciting part of starting a new year for you?

Curry: It's that mental clarity [and] that feeling of revival and freshness I think is most exciting to me. It's our own opportunity to create a fresh start, and just having that mentality makes a world of difference. It opens up a world of difference and can help you create the world that you want for yourself, really. So that's what I'm most excited about. I'm that girl when the ball is dropping that's just like sobbing and my husband's like, "Why are you crying?" [laughing]. But it's because I'm just so excited. It's this sense of hope and that you can do whatever it is that you put your mind to, and having that, I think is so special.

EatingWell: What are some things you do that help you feel your best when you're in a busy season?

Curry: For me, it's making sure I'm drinking enough water, which is a struggle for me. But I try my best to make sure I'm staying hydrated. On the MyFitnessPal app, you're able to track your hydration and set reminders and things like that, so that's a really great tool. Also, I try to make simple swap-outs with my food. [I'll eat] less white rice and more brown rice, or making sure I'm getting whole grains in or eating more vegetables. For me lately, that's been my thing. Like how can I swap out meat today and incorporate a new vegetable? I feel better, I feel great. That's been new for me. Coming from a food background, I'm used to heavy proteins like beef, steak, oxtail and chicken. And for me, it's been how can I swap those out for some lighter choices. That's been chickpeas or substituting greens or spaghetti squash or things like that. For me, it's been those small, little swap-outs.

EatingWell: What are your tips to help families maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle during this season?

Curry: I know how busy and chaotic the weeks get and how oftentimes you're just left to the eleventh hour where you're like, "Let's just get the takeout. I'm tired, I don't want to do it." But what I've found helps to not do that is to meal prep. So on Sunday I'll get a bird's-eye view of the week and think "OK, this day we're going to have this, this day we're going to have that" and make my grocery list. [I'll think] how can I multipurpose these ingredients throughout the week. I know it sounds crazy and like, who has 30 minutes to just sit there and plan? But I promise it pays for itself because taking that 20 [to] 30 minutes to meal prep really makes a difference, and you'll find that you're making those healthier choices for your family.

EatingWell: What's a typical day of eating like for you and your family?

Curry: Lately, I've been eating quite differently from my family, which hasn't been easy but it is what it is. For my kids' breakfast, I usually make scrambled eggs and whole-wheat toast, or they love pancakes, so I'll make them pancakes a lot. But for myself, I had to set my intention to actually eat breakfast. I realized I was not actually eating breakfast. I was feeding the family, but when it came time for me to eat, I would kind of fall off and just not do it. So I make sure I have at least an avocado in the morning, and I have this seasoning called Jane's Krazy Salt, so I'll put a little Jane's Krazy Salt on it. Or I'll try to have a scrambled egg with a little Soyrizo, chopped onion and corn.

For lunch, I love anything in a lettuce cup. So some sort of protein quickly sautéed and [added to] lettuce. That's something you can so easily meal prep and throw into the fridge and warm it up as you go.

These days, I love sheet-pan dinners. I love anything I can throw on a sheet pan, roast at a high temperature and it's ready to go. We'll usually do that with a mashed sweet potato, mashed potato or some type of rice. That's usually how our days look; we try to keep it simple.

EatingWell: What are some quick and easy recipes you find yourself leaning on in particularly busy seasons?

Curry: I'm a big sweet-and-savory girl, so I love any recipe that incorporates the elements of both a sweet fruit, whether it's a date, mango, raisins or apple, like our Grilled Chicken with Mango Corn Salsa. I feel like that's such a high-protein, super-healthy recipe that packs so much flavor, so I love that. Any type of lean protein, like our Naked Turkey Burger with Smashed Avocado, and substituting the bread with lettuce or nothing if you choose, but all the flavor is there. So I love that. I love a good smoothie, whether it's a holiday smoothie or our Tropical Post-Workout Smoothie that's packed with spinach and mango and peaches, and it's just so delicious. You put a little collagen powder in there and your skin is glowing and life's good. But all of these are kind of put it in [the blender] and blend it up and it's ready to go, or put it in the oven and it does the work itself. Anything like that, I'm down for.

I know I'm so late to the game, but I have been playing around with the air fryer and the slow cooker. I was so against it for so long, but now I'm realizing that was silly of me because these are really helpful tools. So I've been playing around with those two gadgets lately.

EatingWell: You've partnered with MyFitnessPal to create a 14-day "Jumpstart Your Health" challenge. Can you briefly explain the challenge and what's so special about it?

Curry: It's a very easy challenge that's free for people: free to download the app, free to join the challenge. You have this amazing community of people that are holding each other accountable. [They] have tested-and-true methods that work for them, and it's just an easy way where you're taking small steps, not huge steps where you might fail, but small steps that create lasting change. I'm really excited about it. I'm going to be doing it, and hopefully, other people will join in as well.

What's so great about the app and this health challenge that we're launching is that it's approachable and it's balanced and it's easy to follow along with and to use. I think the best part about it is that it's about a community. There are 200 million members, and the way they developed this challenge is by talking to actual members and seeing what's worked for them and then vetting that to make sure it does actually work. So it's this community where people can rely on the people within the app to help hold them accountable.

EatingWell: We ask this question to everyone we interview to close things out: what does "eating well" mean to you?

Curry: Eating well to me means being intentional about what you're putting into your body, and putting things into your body that are going to nourish you, but that could look different on any day. Some days, it's "What's going to nourish my soul today?" and that's OK. Other days, it might be more about what's going to nourish my body. I think it's all about having that balance, it's important. For me, eating well means being kind to yourself. So if you're craving that chocolate, have the chocolate. But then maybe supplement that by drinking a bit more water or also having a fruit. It's all about balance. I think it's also having grace with yourself.

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