Food You Want

For the Life You Crave


By Nealy Fischer

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$36.50 CAD



  1. Hardcover $28.00 $36.50 CAD
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 30, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A “wellness visionary who serves up super-food!” (Mark Hyman, MD) shares her tips, secrets, and +100 gluten-free recipes for living a healthy, flexible life–in the kitchen and out.

Whether you’re a parent feeding family of 6 or cooking for 1 or 2, you’re probably busy–really busy–juggling all of life’s obligations. And you probably just want to sit down for a meal of food you truly want–craveable, healthy food that makes you feel as good as it tastes. With more than 100 clean, fresh, gluten-free recipes, Food You Want helps you create healthy, energizing dishes, all while saving time and banishing meal prep stress. With Nealy’s Flexible Flips, you can mix, match, and substitute ingredients. Some Flips health-ify recipes (pizza quiche that tastes just like a real slice of pizza); other Flips transform taste, showing you that healthy can always equal delicious. Have a Flop? No worries–there are Flips for those too.

With Nealy’s flexible, adaptable system you’ll have a simpler recipe for success, both in and out of the kitchen. You can make each meal–and each day–less harried and more enjoyable.


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One day, after leafing through my 300th cookbook, I realized I was hungry for more than just another recipe for chicken or chocolate cake, or another collection of 110 dishes and someone else’s formula for success. I wanted more out of those pages—I was hungry for flexible food that satisfied the robust lifestyle I craved.

I wished a recipe would tell me what is most essential, what is absolutely necessary to create the best dish, upfront, to set me up for success. I also yearned for options. What do I do if I don’t have an ingredient or the right equipment that a recipe calls for? How do I put gorgeous food on the table without slaving all day in the kitchen? I longed for a cookbook that would help feed me and my family achievable meals, our way.

So I set out to write that book. I’m not interested in just teaching you how to be a cook who can follow my recipes. These pages are designed to help you obtain a simpler recipe for success, both in and out of the kitchen. You’ll emerge skilled, confident, and armed with newfound creativity that honors your tastes, your dietary needs, and the preferences of those you’re looking to nurture and feed.

Many of us feel bound by the standards we impose on ourselves. The unrelenting pressures of today’s world can leave us desperate for a secret ingredient to change all of that. My hope is for this book to serve as a blueprint if you’re tired of needing to have it all—but still desire a taste of it. After years of trial and error, I’ve honed a system (and a way of cooking) that helps make each day less harried and more enjoyable. The key? Flexibility.


Flexibility is about compromise—how to give yourself a break and still come out on top—in the kitchen and beyond. There’s a path available to each of us where excellence (not perfection!) is more readily achieved.

But it’s all easier said than done. I know. I’ve been overweight, overworked, and overwhelmed by the intensity of my own life. Starving for perfection and the notion that I needed to fix myself, I went on my first diet when I was just eleven years old. I spent subsequent years following rules: adhering to strict diets and crazy workout regimens to carve a body and lifestyle that were as close to flawless as possible. If I wasn’t sipping my way through the Lemonade Diet then I was crunching my way to perfection on the Carrot Diet (yes, all I ate were carrots until my palms turned orange). I’ve been macrobiotic, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, and iterations in between. And if I fell off a diet, it was into a vat of cookie dough. Sound familiar? After years of bouncing between extremes, I had finally had enough.

My turning point toward a gentler, more constructive path came during my years of practicing and teaching yoga. (Where else do you think the term flexible came from?) The practice taught me to slow down, worry less, and appreciate more. While teaching my students how to bend, I came to understand that strength is the foundation of flexibility. We first have to be skilled in the rules, and become strong in them, in order to bend. The same principles apply to cooking.

When you think about it, the deep fulfillment we get from our day-to-day routine is intensified in those moments when we’re confident enough in our course to veer from it. That’s the essence of flexibility, and that’s when we are truly free.


If your family is anything like mine, understanding how to swap key ingredients and throw meals together with limited time and resources is a lifesaver. I’m a kale-eating woman married to a burger-loving man. I cook for four kids whose tastes range from white food only, with nothing touching anything else on the plate, to daily doses of cereals and sweets, and their preferences change as often as they change their muddy soccer shoes. Their dietary needs have been the catalyst for innovative meal planning.

When we entertain, we cater to guests with diverse tastes and dietary restrictions. If I didn’t have my organized but flexible road map down pat (more on that in Chapter 1), I would not feel confident enough to customize and improvise as I go. I apply years of trial and error in that realm, and have lived through and triumphed over some pretty crazy food challenges, including ingredient swapping across continents, raising four children in Asia, and keeping myself and my family healthy while juggling business, motherhood, and marriage.

These pages are infused with craveable global recipes inspired by our life in Asia and Israel, summertime on a ranch in Montana, my Jewish heritage, as well as my curiosity and culinary travels. Recipes often include complementary opposites that combine to create something that’s uniquely yours (think Thai spring rolls dipped in Mediterranean tahini—why not?). You’ll find the food in this book mostly healthy, sometimes indulgent, and always flexibly delicious.


I stopped eating gluten more than ten years ago in response to some personal health complaints. Back then there was no fad or trend attached to giving up gluten, no labels screaming across the grocery aisle or apples with gluten-free stickers. Now you can find gluten-free versions of virtually everything—from bagels to cookies to pastas—in designated health food sections, but they’re often packed with sugar and other additives. In a way, it was easier back then to eat a natural gluten-free diet because fewer options meant we stuck with mostly fresh and “real” unprocessed foods. It meant that I custom-tailored the school menu for my kids to ensure they were getting veggies and clean protein for lunch (not processed gluten-free nuggets). And thanks to their healthy diets, my kids’ medical complaints started to clear up—my son’s asthma even disappeared. We experienced renewed vitality from this way of eating; we no longer felt lethargic, heavy, and bloated from processed carbohydrates. (But my husband still sneaks gluten into the house!)

Because of the increasing availability of packaged gluten-free foods, adopting a gluten-free diet alone is no longer a ticket to clear skin, weight loss, or improved health. Unless you suffer from celiac disease, it may not even supply you with increased energy. My advice? Use your life as a laboratory. Test out what types of foods make you feel your best. While I don’t do so well with grains, maybe your body can handle them just fine. And if you really don’t want to make the chocolate chip cookies gluten free, see here for how to substitute whatever flour you prefer. Regardless, it’s wise to reserve any type of cereals, cookies, and crackers to once-in-a-whiles and fill your plate with mostly vegetables, an abundance of healthy proteins, healthy fats, gluten-free grains, and a sprinkling of fruits.

LEARN TO nail this AND flip it

Throughout the book, recipes are peppered with success strategies (Nail This) and flexible flips (Flip It) that will elevate you from an elementary cook to an unshackled chef. In Nail This, I highlight the most essential elements to master for a dish’s success. But while some instructions in a recipe should be followed and nailed, others can (and should) be broken. The Flip It tips are crafted to get you started down that road—to encourage you to unleash your creativity and adapt each recipe to suit your preferences and limitations. Think of the flips as tools to transform a hundred recipes into a thousand different dishes!

I also share primers, hacks, and functional strategies, providing real-life solutions to your daily challenges. Learn how to create amazing breakfast menus, how to stock a flexible freezer so you always have a healthy meal an arm’s length away, and how to deal with the picky eaters in your life. These adaptable methods will help you be more adventurous with food, creative with meals, and comfortable in the kitchen.

Some of my own culinary adventures have resulted in a few flopped cakes and raw loaves of bread. The many lessons I’ve learned along the way are shared in this book. It is my deepest desire that you find your way to an enriched, satisfying, and above all flexibly fulfilling life—on your own terms. Let’s get cooking!

Chapter 1



I’m a rule breaker. A varied, flexible life is so much more rewarding than living solely by rigid dogmas. But to break the rules I first had to master them. Here are my most valuable tips to help empower you on your journey to making your food exquisite, your life efficient, and your healthiest self more attainable.

1 Go deep and find your why

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Most of us deal with a slew of challenges each day. Without clarity about our beliefs and values, managing these demands becomes a chore. But if we identify our deepest inspiration, we can begin to live with purpose. Your “why” will give you answers and act as a pillar when the road gets bumpy. Plus, knowing what you want makes getting what you want possible.

2 Make your kitchen and your diet fit your life—not the reverse

Blast away all the noise about “eating and living right,” and shape your food choices around your unique needs. After years of extreme dieting, what I really craved was to sit around the dinner table with my kids and be the mom that ate burgers (which I do, bunless). I’ve since learned how to eat in the middle—that place where food is enjoyable and satisfying without engaging in excess on either end. Also, don’t take on more than you can handle. Be realistic when preparing a menu. Ask yourself how much time you really have to marinate, sear, bake, slice, and plate. If you have a full-time job, then undertaking an elaborate dinner-party menu during the week is likely not feasible for you. Creating strategies that make cooking and eating fit your life, instead of the other way around, will help you avoid exhaustion and frustration and set you up to succeed.

3 Make a plan to get there

Once you’ve clearly established your “why,” it’s time to start thinking about the “how.” My secret, and the flexible mind-set that allows me to be spontaneous at times, is meticulous organization. I’d be a frazzled mess without my lists, notes, menu plans, and schedules. Organization ensures that you’re always prepared for last-minute anythings: surprise dinner guests, forgotten dinner plans, midafternoon snack attacks, picky diners, and rainy Sundays. Here are some ways to consider planning ahead:

Stock your pantry: Think of your pantry as your smart toolbox, containing the ingredients you need to whip up easy sides, mains, snacks, or breakfasts (here).

Stock your freezer: That way, you’re never without a backup meal (here).

Plan menus: Consider how much time you’ll have during the week, and shop for your items in advance to avoid a last-minute dinner frenzy.

Prep meals in advance: Stagger your prep so you don’t have to cram it in last minute before dinner parties or big meals.

Keep a kitchen list: Note items that need replenishing before you come up empty.

Schedule your time: Slot in your workouts, your “you” time, and your cook time as you would meetings so there’s never an urgent excuse to skip what’s important.

4 Master the rules

We all have to apprentice as students first. Improving at anything requires perseverance, dedication, and a great deal of hard work, so get gritty. When you attempt a recipe for the first time, be sure to first read through the whole recipe and follow the steps meticulously. You might even have to make it numerous times until you get it right. Over time (and perhaps you’re already there) the chef in you will be able to apply a critical eye to a recipe and tweak it or choose not to follow it. You must first master the rules before you can successfully break them.

5 Forget multitasking—think single-tasking

Can you relate to the idea of trying to do too much, all at once? The myth of multitasking gives us the illusion of productivity, but studies increasingly show that when we multitask, we divide our attention, and the results are poor. When people ask how I am, I’ve stopped saying, “I’m so busy!” Of course I am, and so are you. Busy does not get us to our destination; it just keeps us buzzed.

Focus is your greatest asset. Eliminate distractions and find ways to prioritize the important over the urgent. I try not to answer texts, phone calls, or emails when I’m in my zone. I’ve burnt many cakes because I stepped away from the oven for too long, and I’ve flopped recipes because I was distracted and forgot a key ingredient. I’ve even been so preoccupied that in the middle of a conversation with my kids they’ve asked if I’ve heard a word they said. Multitasking depletes us in the end because we feel overstretched and compromise the task at hand. Slow down and focus to become better at everything.

6 Be prepared for flops

Think about an experience in your life when you didn’t quite make it to the finish. Did it lead you somewhere new? Somewhere you couldn’t have planned for? In the kitchen, embrace your food flops and turn them into wins. Save the overbaked bread and make garlicky croutons. Or if something absolutely cannot be eaten or recycled, keep trying until you figure out why it failed. And never give up. Some of my best recipes happened by accident as I was trying to salvage a tasteless muffin or transform a botched-up brownie. Real satisfaction lies in turning failure, disappointment, mistakes, and loss into outrageous success. Sometimes you’ve got to get it wrong to get it right.

7 Get creative: Bend the rules

Once you get good, the fun really begins! Graduating from cook to chef gives you freedom and the confidence to use recipes as springboards to create your own unique masterpieces. Spark your creativity here:

Adapt any recipe to make it your own (here).

Recast your flops into wins (here).

Work with what you have in the fridge (here).

Substitute ingredients (here).

Look for ways to work smarter, not harder. Lemon curd may traditionally need straining, but I skip that process here because it’s unnecessary. Measuring and combining wet and dry ingredients separately might be a cooking rule, but I hate washing an extra bowl, so I whip up one-bowl muffin wonders. One day I even decided to skip the “fry” part of a stir-fry and instead baked the dish in the oven (here). Get creative your way, and, hey, you might even write the next best-selling cookbook.

8 Zig and zag: Cheat a little

In order to stay within range of your ideal recipe, diet, and life (and to avoid straying too far from your “why”), be prepared to zig and zag here and there. Veer off course! Cheat a little! I ordered french fries the other night (yes, I really did, my kids were awed). Eating in the middle results in food freedom without deprivation or guilt. It still may mean often saying no. But it also means occasionally saying yes to your favorite splurges. If you’ve fallen off your ideal way of eating for a week, it’s okay. Give yourself a break, and start back on track the next day. I strategically cheat in the kitchen too. In a pinch, I serve store-bought rotisserie chicken next to my freshly roasted veggies, or a store-bought chocolate cake topped with a homemade icing and berries. Guess what? No one knows or cares. Cooking shortcuts preserve your sanity and invite a life beyond slaving all day in the kitchen. And the key to long-term success with any way of eating is moderation, not deprivation. Become a flexible chef by stripping away complexity for the sake of finding a simpler—yet just as craveable—solution. Flexibility is about learning how to give yourself a break and still come out on top.

9 Find joy in the process

Cooking was once a chore for me, not the labor of love it is today. Frantically running around to get dinner on the table at six p.m. after a long day of work is almost never enjoyable! These days, however, I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and to focus on making the cooking process fun—think of it as a form of single-tasking. Yeah, I still sometimes have manic predinner meltdowns, but my kitchen is now a welcoming place to be with my family. Doing chaos with love is better than doing it with resentment. Pour passion into your creations and your diners will be able to taste the difference. Although I often cook with my kids or friends, cooking solo can invoke a spark of creativity and act as a form of inspired meditation. Play your favorite music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy the art of cooking. Cooking can be an affair of the heart if you choose to make it so.

10 Channel your inner chef

You are your own best teacher—nobody knows what is right for you better than you do! What are your unique talents? Challenges? Cravings? I’ve found it futile to compare my level of success to anyone else’s. One-size-fits-all approaches to diets, food, and life, in general, are outdated. Be flexible on your way to the finish line. You’ve got this.


How often have you gone on a wild-goose chase for an ingredient a recipe calls for, or just skipped over an ingredient entirely, bewildered by where to begin? Don’t flip out. Just flip it! Many of the ingredient swaps listed below are precise and seamless in effect and flavor, like swapping coconut oil for butter; others are acceptable but produce a different result, like using soy sauce or tamari in place of fish sauce. Soy or tamari will lend a similar saltiness, and they’re good swaps for fish sauce if fishiness isn’t your thing. Similarly, coconut cream is a wonderful swap for heavy cream; just make sure it is very chilled if it must be whipped. The main point here is to stay flexible, adapt, and use what you have!


Butter = margarine = coconut oil (Coconut oil can be measured soft or solid.)

Heavy cream = coconut cream (Make sure it’s well chilled if whipping—chill it overnight and use only the solids.)

Dairy milk = almond milk = any dairy-free milk

Sugar = brown sugar = date sugar

1 cup regular flour = 1 cup gluten-free flour + ½ teaspoon xanthan gum

(Note: If your gluten-free flour has xanthan added already, omit it in the recipe.)

1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips = 2 cups = 1 12-ounce chocolate bar, chopped

Almond flour = slivered almonds ground into superfine crumbs

1 Egg = 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal plus 6 tablespoons water (Mix to make a paste.)

Arrowroot = cornstarch

Tapioca starch = potato starch

Applesauce = mashed banana = cooked pumpkin, sweet potato, or carrot purée

Grated zucchini = grated carrot

Spaghetti squash = spiralized raw zucchini noodles = spiralized raw sweet potato noodles


Yellow onions = red onions = pearl onions

1 Fresh garlic clove = ½ teaspoon pre-minced bottled garlic

Olive oil = canola oil = melted coconut oil

Pine nuts = pili nuts = chopped macadamia nuts = cashews = peanuts

Almonds = pecans = walnuts

Soy sauce = tamari

Hoisin sauce = BBQ sauce

Fish sauce = soy sauce or tamari (But you will lose the fish’s added umami flavor.)

Minced beef = minced turkey = minced chicken

Black cod = Chilean sea bass = any fatty fish

Halibut = flounder = haddock = any flaky white fish

Chives = green part of scallion

Basil = cilantro = parsley (For pesto, seasoning eggs, garnishes.)

Chickpea flour = any rice flour (Works in all the recipes in this book.)

Capers = chopped pitted green olives

Sake = mirin

Kale = romaine lettuce = chicory (Or cabbage or spinach, depending on the recipe.)

Nutritional yeast = grated Parmesan

A specific vinegar = any vinegar (Except balsamic, which is unique.)

Goldenberries = cranberries = raisins = dried cherries

Pumpkin = acorn squash = butternut squash

Drizzle of chile oil = pinch of red pepper flakes

Glass noodles = thin rice noodles

Mango chutney = apricot or peach jam = citrus marmalade


These are the staples to keep on hand. I depend on them for whipping up dinner fast. Make your own personalized lists of staples to cater to your preferences.

In the pantry

Spices and dried herbs

Arrowroot or cornstarch

Chicken broth

Canned full-fat coconut milk and coconut cream

Canned tuna in olive oil

Sardines (I prefer skinless and boneless)

Canned salmon

Canned chickpeas

Canned tomatoes

Tomato paste

Bottled marinara sauce

Roasted red peppers

Applesauce (single-serving packs)

Olive oil

Coconut oil


Tamari or soy sauce



Dijon mustard, or your favorite


Honey or maple syrup

Dried grains, beans, pasta, nuts

Gluten-free crackers

Gluten-free pasta

Brown rice


Dried beans or chickpeas

Assorted nuts



Almond flour, all-purpose gluten-free flour, and assorted gluten-free flours (like oat and sorghum)

Xanthan gum

Baking soda and powder

Good-quality vanilla extract

Dark chocolate chips

Natural cocoa powder



Boxed mixes (like gluten-free pancakes, brownies, muffins, and cakes)

In the fridge and freezer

Almond milk


Fresh, seasonal vegetables

Fresh, seasonal fruit

Lemons and limes

Fresh herbs



Frozen fish, cut into portions to defrost for last-minute dinners

Raw meat and chicken, cut into portions for last-minute dinners

Frozen fruit (mango, strawberries, etc.)

Frozen spinach (for omelets if you run out of fresh vegetables)

Frozen peas

Edamame (snacks, protein addition to salads)

Shredded cheese (lasts a long time)

Grated Parmesan

Corn tortillas (to make quesadillas)


The adventure lies in building your toolbox over time, so don’t be in a rush. A purchase should solve a problem for you (when I was tired of hand mixing I invested in a stand-up mixer). Invest in stackables, portables, and multiuse equipment to save on space. I’ve limited the gadget suggestions below to specialty items or staples beyond the usual frying pan. But remember, even if you have no tools you’ll still find a way to make your food great.


Immersion or hand blender

High-speed blender—I prefer the Vitamix

Food processor

Dehydrator (for special nuts, raw crackers and cookies, onions, granola, bread crumbs, or crisping stale things)

Waffle maker with attachments

Toaster oven

Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper

Stand mixer



  • "This is the one cookbook I have been craving as a busy working mom trying to find balance while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Thank you, Nealy, for all your family friendly tips and options that work for everyone."—Natalie Morales, NBC News journalist, TODAY show anchor, and author of At Home with Natalie: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living from My Family's Kitchen to Yours
  • "Finally! A healthy cookbook that honors that diets and lifestyles aren't one-size-fits-all. Nealy's clever 'Flexible Flips' make it easy to adapt and personalize each recipe and her success strategies set you up for delicious victories."—Jack Canfield, coauthor of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be
  • "This enhanced cookbook is a must-add to anyone's collection. Nealy's flexible system gives you complete creative freedom, both in and out of the kitchen. The only thing you'll have to figure out is which recipe to cook up first!"—Judy Joo, chef, author, and TV host
  • "Nealy has cooked up exactly the kind of food that today's lifestyle demands: healthy, easy, and creative. You will want to cook your way through these pages."—Susie Fishbein, author of Kosher by Design
  • "Nealy has a way of creating recipes that are delicious, feel accessible and family-friendly, but also have a healthful bent. What makes this book truly special is the flexibility factor: Nealy teaches you how to flip the recipes and turn them into something different, whether it's working with what's in season or what happens to be in the pantry. I know I will have this book front and center in my own kitchen for many years to come!"—Pamela Salzman, cooking instructor and author of Kitchen Matters

On Sale
Apr 30, 2019
Page Count
320 pages

Nealy Fischer

About the Author

Nealy Fischer is a wellness entrepreneur, former yoga and fitness instructor, and blogger behind The Flexible Chef. She has been featured across online, print and television media. Nealy has collaborated with Bergdorf Goodman, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Deliciously Ella, and many more on a wide array of initiatives. She splits her time between Montana, New York, Israel, and Hong Kong.

Learn more about this author