Brian: Cooking Up Health & Happiness

After fumbling my way through “cooking for survival” while attending college and grad school, I realized that I wanted to revisit the idea of cooking and eating truly healthy and wholesome meals. – Brian

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  • By Jackie Sun
  • June 22, 2016

Kitchen Hero Brian has come a long way on his cooking journey. Cooking started out as a chore for him, but his willingness to eat better and healthier allowed him to discover new ingredients, create a wide range of dishes, and most importantly, put a smile on his wife’s face. Now that Brian has found joy in the kitchen and it takes less effort for him to produce a delicious, healthy meal, he can spend more time doing fun things with his family, like snowshoeing or making music! Read his Hero in the Kitchen story below.

Name: Brian Powers
Age: 29
City, State: Fort Collins, CO
I cook for: myself, my wife Denise, and our daughter Evelyn.
Outside of the kitchen I: am a physical therapist working in ICU’s around the country. Our family is always outside hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, playing disc golf, making music together, or whatever else looks like fun that day.
If I could have any superpower, it would be: teleportation – I would want to see the world and not have to endure long flights.
I cook because: I want to provide delicious and healthy meals for my family. Cook Smarts allows me to do that with such variety and ease. It is perfect for us!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: There are way too many to choose from, but some notable ones would be West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Mafe), the shakshuka recipes, or any of the maple / panko salmon recipes – we keep coming back to all of these!


I grew up in a large family (two parents, seven sisters, two brothers). All through my childhood, usually my sisters did most of the cooking because they enjoyed it, and it always seemed like a lot of work to me so I was happy letting them do it. If I was asked to cook, I could follow a recipe, though I can’t say that I actually enjoyed the whole process. At that age, I would have much rather been playing sports or hanging out with friends.

Fast forward:

After fumbling my way through “cooking for survival” while attending college and grad school, I realized that I wanted to revisit the idea of cooking and eating truly healthy and wholesome meals. Living in a town with an excellent farmers market definitely helped!

I began to diversify my cooking from my standard fare and researching new recipes, making grocery lists, cooking, eating, repeating. I felt this was too much work and that there had to be a better way. Then one glorious day, Google helped me find Cook Smarts.

Cook Smarts has been the single biggest factor in enabling me to cook better meals with far less effort on the front end. By selecting recipes every week for us, generating grocery lists, and having simple-to-follow recipes, Cook Smarts has brought the joy of cooking back to our kitchen. It sounds cheesy, I know, but I genuinely enjoy cooking so much more now that I don’t have to put as much effort in researching recipes and making grocery lists.

Cook Smarts has taught me a lot about cooking with new ingredients and cooking styles that I probably never would have tried on my own. I look forward to continuing to learn more over the years ahead!

“Everything is SO easy with Cook Smarts that I’m much more likely to make a healthy meal than just cop out and order a pizza!”


My biggest challenge has been learning to read the recipe all the way through before jumping in. Dumping that pasta water before realizing that I needed some later on is a frequent occurrence. I have also been meaning to take advantage of doing more meal prep on the weekends – some weeks are better than others.


As I mentioned above, I think the biggest thing has been doing more meal prep ahead of time and wasting much less time finding meals to cook, making grocery lists by hand, etc. Everything is SO easy with Cook Smarts that I’m much more likely to make a healthy meal than just cop out and order a pizza!

Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.

When I first started dating my wife, I wasn’t really able to cook. I wanted to do something nice for her, and share something delicious that I made for her. I researched a recipe that sounded good, marched to the grocery store, and gave it my best shot with the recipe. I made some caramelized apple and brie-stuffed chicken breasts with some dressed up polenta, and wine poached pears over ice cream for dessert. The smile on her face made me realize that I needed to learn how to cook better, and fast!

I love cooking with my wife now! We’re good partners in the kitchen, and every time we get a new meal to the table it is very satisfying when everything turns out just right.

What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?

Buy local, healthy ingredients when you can find them. It makes such a big difference with the end result of the meals.

Learn how to follow recipes to the letter, but at the same time don’t be afraid to improvise a little. Taste as you go, and season to taste!

Wow, thank you so much, Brian! We’re so happy to hear that our meal plan service can have such a great impact on your family’s lives. Nothing fills us with more joy than hearing that you now enjoy cooking! We’ll continue to provide new recipes and cooking lessons for you to learn and grow in the kitchen, although we might just have to recruit you as a meal planner . . . caramelized apple and brie-stuffed chicken breasts? Um, YUM!

To join Brian and cook meals like his favorite West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Mafe), Shakshuka, and Maple-Dijon Panko Salmon, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!



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