How Brooke Griffin lost 70 pounds of baby weight + started a wellness empire

Brooke’s new cookbook Skinny Suppers gives us 125 healthy recipes for our families, most under 350 calories. 

How Brooke Griffin lost 70 pounds of baby weight + started a wellness empire

Brooke Griffin is one inspiring mama.

She grew up in a tiny Kentucky town, where her tight-knit family taught her the value of gathering around the dinner table for supper and the importance of sharing a tasty meal.

Her fitness journey took her from NFL cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals to Fitness Universe Champion. But her dedication to healthy living became even stronger in 2011, when she lost her marriage, her job and ultimately who she was.

Brooke was heartbroken and had 70 pounds of baby weight she wanted to shed. She had a newborn to care for and puzzle pieces to put back together. She needed a plan.

Brooke wanted to lose the weight while connecting with other moms who were looking to do the same, but couldn’t find what she was looking for online. So she created it. That’s how her healthy living website Skinny Mom was born in 2011. Brooke sold Skinny Mom in 2016 and now publishes blogs, recipes and more on her website.

With her book Skinny Suppers: 125 Lightened-Up, Healthier Meals for Your Family, Brooke shares 125 amazing, healthy recipes for our families like Southern shrimp and grits and Caribbean jerk chicken with mango salsa (YUM!)

Skinny Suppers is not just a regular cookbook—it’s an everyday tool to use in your kitchen. It gives you meal-planning tips, pantry staple ideas, useful kitchen utensil recommendations and family dinnertime conversation starters.

We got to chat with Brooke about how you can get your toddler to try new foods, tips for taking your little ones to the grocery store with you (without going crazy!) and how to lose the baby weight.

Motherly: How do you overcome that hurdle of feeling like losing the baby weight is hopeless and you’re never going to be able to do it? What advice do you have for moms who feel this way?

Brooke Griffin: I think actually working up the courage and strength to accept that you’ve got work to do and commit to making the necessary changes to your lifestyle is probably the most difficult part.

You don’t gain a large amount of weight like that overnight, so being able to step back and see what’s happened over time and say, “Okay, I have to take control of what’s happening to my body,” is a scary but huge step.

Whether your baby is 6 months or 3 years old, you just have to make a promise to yourself that you’re ready to work, and back up that promise!

Start small by cooking at least one healthy meal a week for your family.

Set aside five to 10 minutes a day to walk, jog or jump rope. These small changes start becoming part of your new healthy habits, and then one healthy meal a week becomes two, a five-minute walk becomes a 15-minute jog and so on. It’s important to not look at the end goal, and know that every step along the healthy journey is a victory!

In today’s busy world, we’re all moving in 100 different directions. Do you think sitting down at the table for dinner together as a family is doable? Beneficial?

Oh, I wholeheartedly believe that both of these are true.

Families today are insanely busy, but sitting down for supper—even a few nights a week—is doable with some planning. My key to making this happen is what I call “Power Planning Sunday.” Every Sunday afternoon I set aside some time to plan my family’s meals for the week, do my grocery shopping and prep as much as I can.

This makes supper so much easier every night. I’d also say a key for busy families would be utilizing your slow cooker so your meals cook for you; all you have to do is sit down and eat!

Suppertime is so beneficial because it allows you to reconnect and learn new things about the members of your family. My cookbook has “Suppertime Chat” ideas to help get your family talking during meals! I’d also say that sitting down for nutritious meals together helps your children develop a healthier relationship with food. They know what fuel is best for their bodies when you openly discuss what you’re eating together.

What advice do you have for busy mamas who need to go to the grocery store with little ones? It can be a daunting task!

As a single mama, I get that! When my son was a toddler, I’d bring a snack and a toy or two to keep him occupied while I shopped. Now that he’s a little older, he loves to grab one of the mini carts or baskets and help out! I make a small list of some of the foods he enjoys so that he can do some of his own shopping throughout the store (with me by his side, of course!). We love spending this time together and it makes shopping less of a chore and he doesn’t get bored or cranky.

No matter your children’s ages, never go to the grocery without a list! One of my favorite sayings is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and that couldn’t be more true than when you’re heading to the store with kids... especially when everyone is hungry.

You mentioned meal planning. How important is meal planning for busy families?

Meal planning is the ONLY way you’ll be able to cook healthy meals every night and keep your sanity. This is something I feel strongly about, so Skinny Suppers includes tips for meal planning and has a 30-day calendar to help you get started. Again, start small and have a goal to cook your family one healthy meal a week. Then work up to two and then three. Cook meals and freeze them ahead of time on days you have more time than others. Put those leftovers to work into healthy lunches, or serve them a touch differently for a new twist on the next night’s dinner.

You’re never going to have more time, so just get smarter with the time you do have.

Any advice on how to get your toddler to try new foods?

There are a couple of ways I did this. First, I sneak it in! If you plop a serving of greens on your kid’s plate, they probably won’t touch it; it’s just too boring for them! Incorporate a vegetable into a meal you know your little one enjoys so that green becomes less intimidating to them. For example, my little guy loves mac ‘n’ cheese, so I serve him my Creamy Mac and Alfredo recipe so he enjoys a meal he likes and devours a serving of spinach!

Also, try getting your toddler involved in the cooking process. You might think they’re a little too young to have responsibilities in the kitchen, but think about it: If they can work an iPad, they can sprinkle some cheese!

If you let your little one help out in the kitchen, they’ll feel connected to that dish and will be more willing to give it a try.

How do you build up a well-stocked pantry + spice rack? What are your staples?

I am all about cooking from pantry staples, which you will quickly notice in Skinny Suppers. I never use hard-to-pronounce ingredients, or items you have to find in a specialty store. So, start building your well-stocked pantry and spice rack little by little by adding a few items every time you hit the grocery store. I always have produce on hand to bulk up a meal and for healthy snack options: onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, carrots, apples, grapefruit. A few of my pantry staples are brown rice, bread crumbs, quinoa, canned vegetables, canned beans, low-sodium broth and extra virgin olive oil.

I included a full section of how to include build your pantry aisle by aisle in Skinny Suppers, which is a fantastic resource if you’re just getting started.

You took a lot of classic recipes + made them healthier. How did you do that? What are some substitutes you used that might be able to apply to a variety of recipes?

You’re able to make most classic dishes healthier by using what I like to call “skinny swaps.” These swaps could be as simple as rolling your chicken in corn flakes and Panko before baking it rather than frying it! I also swap out heavy cream with nonfat milk and use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayo.

There are so many small swaps or actions you can take in the kitchen that drastically cut calories, fat and carbs.

I wanted to make sure that Skinny Suppers wasn’t just a book of recipes; I wanted it to be a useful tool that women could use and learn from. These skinny swaps are one of the easiest, most important ways you can serve up healthier meals to your family and once you learn what those are, you’ll be able to apply these swaps to nearly all your favorite recipes!

How can you incorporate little ones into the cooking process?

It’s so true—especially for busy families—that time spent in the kitchen cooking can be the best quality time you get with your kids all day. My son is now 5 years old and he’s definitely gotten more interested in cooking with me. One of the simplest ways to get kids involved is to let them help choose the menu! I always ask Easton what he’d like to have for dinner, and then when he says pizza and chicken nuggets, I find ways to lighten up those foods. He always helps me with at least one action step in the recipe.

You’ve just got to remember that all kids are curious. They want to help you in the kitchen, so let them!

Even if you’re in a rush or don’t think you have the patience to cook with your little ones, just give it a try and they’ll quickly become your trusty little sous chefs.

Skinny Suppers is available online and wherever books are sold. Follow Brooke on Facebook and Instagram!

Join Motherly

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less