Alex Snodgrass Courtesy Alex Snodgrass

Food & Drink

How Alex Snodgrass’ New Cookbook Helps Keep You Healthy at Home

The author's New York Times bestselling cookbook, The Defined Dish, started with a blog in her North Dallas kitchen.

Alex Snodgrass has the secret recipe for gaining hundreds of thousands of fans and followers. She has dimples in her cheeks. She effortlessly pulls off high-rise jeans, and her bed-head hair is always perfectly wavy. Her office is a kitchen in an art-filled luxury condo, which she shares with her hip husband. And The Defined Dish blogger and author has the assistance of her two adorable daughters as she whips up social media-worthy meals.

When I meet Snodgrass for the first time at home, she answers the door in sweaty exercise clothes and no makeup. (“So sorry, this was the only day this week I was able to get a workout in.”) She tells me about growing up in the small town of Celina and how her Italian mom would cook her homemade meals every night. She started blogging with her sister in 2014 to help with the anxiety and depression that crept in after she and her now-husband unexpectedly became pregnant.

In 2016, when her sister left the blog, Snodgrass rebranded the site and decided to treat it like a “real job.” The introduction of Instagram stories changed the way she was able to capture behind-the-scenes footage, and that’s when her following skyrocketed. I found her around that time, when my fitness instructor told me The Defined Dish was the holy grail for simple, healthful meals.

At the suggestion of her sister, Snodgrass had tried the Whole30 program, an elimination eating plan aimed at targeting food sensitivities. The anxious mom says it curbed some of her stress, and she created an Instagram niche. “I started creating Whole30 recipes, and I realized I had a knack for making the food taste like the real deal,” she says. “This is the best way to eat because I don’t feel deprived at all.”

But, Snodgrass insists, it’s not a diet. “I like having a balance,” she says. “For the most part, I eat a certain way. It makes me feel good. But on the weekends, we always share nachos and get margaritas. I never feel bad about that.”

Just to make sure, I peek in her cabinet. I am relieved when I see some macaroni with powdered cheese and a few sugary Gatorades. “I’m not a psycho,” she says with a laugh.

Late last year, Snodgrass took her brand a step further and published The Defined Dish: Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes, which is now a New York Times bestseller. “I knew right away I wanted to do a weeknight meal cookbook because that’s what everyone loves about my blog,” she says.

The chapters are divided into types of cuisine, and they’re written for a home cook who may have little experience. “A lot of people in our generation are intimidated by the kitchen, and when they make something that’s pretty straightforward but really flavorful, they feel like they’re rock stars,” she says. “For me, it’s all about the practicality of a Monday night and being able to throw dinner together.”

The Defined Dish Tortilla SoupCreamy Tortilla-Less Soup

This is Snodgrass’ Whole30 take on the soup made famous by Dallas chef Dean Fearing.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion (2 medium)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon seeded and diced jalapeño
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups strained tomatoes
1 cup canned or frozen roasted green chiles, mild
1 bay leaf
¼ cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 avocado, sliced
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander, and tomato paste and toast, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the broth, strained tomatoes, green chiles, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes for flavors to meld.

Discard bay leaf and add coconut milk. Using an immersion blender or blender, blend soup until very smooth. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Place ½ cup shredded chicken in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the soup over. Garnish with avocado slices, cilantro, and radishes, and serve with a wedge of lime.

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