Tonya is the mother of three girls—and a disaster in the kitchen. To compensate for her lack of cooking skills, Tonya says she resorts to packing peanut butter and jelly, chips and cookies in their lunches and always promises dessert if the girls finish their dinners. "Bribe 'em with sugar," she says.
Now, Tonya says she worries her girls are developing unhealthy eating habits and negative body images. "I don't want them to be a teenager looking back and saying, 'Mom, look what you did to me,'" she says. "I want the girls to be in control of their own body and know if I'm helping them make healthier choices and if I'm helping them learn to make healthier choices—what a great gift for them for a lifetime."
"Being a chef means that you get to operate what I call the heartbeat of the house—and that's the kitchen," he says. "What I like to do is just sort of share ideas with people [so] that you can take the fear out of getting behind the stove."
Cooking healthy doesn't have to pinch your pocketbook, Tyler says. Just plan meals that share ingredients—Tyler starts with turkey. "I think turkey is the superprotein," he says. "When we're talking about making delicious food that's healthy, you really have to figure out where to cut fat but not necessarily cut flavor."
For dinner, Tyler shares two recipes his own kids love. "It's really important that the kids share the experience of cooking. ... It creates memories," he says. "A lot of people have sort of lost the idea of cooking. I like to bring it back where it's a big part of the family experience."
Before, the girls had to be bribed with sugar to finish their meals. Now, they can't get enough of simple, healthy dishes at home!
One of their favorites? Tyler's Perfect Oatmeal. "We made a really delicious oatmeal cooked in apple juice, and then we topped it off with toasted coconut, fresh blueberries, and then we put a little spoon of applesauce right on top so you get that creamy effect," Tyler says. "The girls were licking the bowl clean."
Before leaving, Tyler gives Tonya a week's worth of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time.
Tonya says she was shocked to see Tyler on her doorstop, but she's now grateful for all his help.
"We just couldn't believe it," she says. "The problem, of course, is he showed us what we were doing wrong. We had to live with that, but it came out all right."
Since Tyler left, Tonya says she's made several of his recipes—and says she's still working on perfecting some of them. "I think I burned his toasted coconut flakes," she says.
"Baby steps," Tyler says. "It's all right."
Looking for a way to cut back on your grocery bill? Tyler says there could be a recession buster sitting on your kitchen shelf—a slow cooker.
"The great thing about a slow cooker—they cost about $25 to $30," he says. "You can make a delicious meal with inexpensive cuts of meat like pork shoulder or beef shoulder, and you can make beef stew."
The recipe saves time and money. "These sandwiches are $3.75 apiece, right? That plus a salad, dinner for four, under $20," he says. "It's five minutes of prep time, and then the whole thing cooks while you're at work or while you're out running errands."