Jacob Slaton
Healthy Chew Trainer TJ Clark and Chef Pete Nguyen take on the biggest hurdles of healthy eating: time and taste.

Go behind the kitchen of Healthy Chew, the fitness-minded meal prep service in Little Rock, with Chef Pete Nguyen and Trainer TJ Clark, the duo that started it all.

What one excuse for not eating healthy do you hear most often, and how do you address that issue in your own lives?

TJ Clark: The two most common I hear interchangeably are that they don’t have the time or money for healthy food. I personally address this by planning my meals ahead of time. Not only do I plan with meal prepping, but I also plan for a few unexpected meals on the go at restaurants.

What tips would you give to someone interested in getting into meal planning?

Pete Nguyen: Make sure you have at least three or four different dishes you want to prep. You want to give yourself enough variety in meal choices so you won’t get burned out on your meals. And portion control! Portioning has always been a big issue for many people. Some don’t know how much to take in, but it’s important to know and keep track of your calories and macros.

Which ingredients do you keep stocked in your home kitchens and why?

PN: We keep extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), Pam Butter Spray, Mrs. Dash (because it has no sodium) and a ton of general seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, stevia, Himalayan salt and ground pepper. The EVOO and butter spray are so important because they keep your proteins juicy. Plus, EVOO has all the healthy mono- and polysaturated fats that your body needs.

TC: I’m actually the strange one who doesn’t keep a lot of food stocked in my personal kitchen. I do buy bananas, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple and kiwi every week at the store for snacks. I also occasionally add some cheddar and colby-jack cheese to my bowls for extra flavor.

What do you wish people knew about the relationship between fitness and nutrition?

PN: Nutrition is bigger than fitness, however fitness combined with eating right does the body good. Nutrition is 70 percent of the solution or problem, so whatever you are taking into your body has a major impact on your health. 

What are some ways people can add personal touches to their meals?

TC: I love adding cheese to my bowls. Other things I’d recommend, depending on your diet restrictions, are extra sides of fruit and veggies, hot sauce and BAM Seasoning. And reheating food properly makes a world of a difference in taste as well. Just add a few tablespoons of water and stir every 60-90 seconds.


The one dish you never get tired of:
PN: Montreal steak and rice
TC: Gumbo

Your personal wellness motto: 
PN: Work out as much as you eat.
TC: You have three choices in life: Give in, give up or give it all you’ve got.

Your go-to way to treat yourself after a long workout:
PN: Moe’s. They have fresh proteins and carbs, minus the fat from the cheese and sour cream. 
TC: Go to Chipotle and get a double chicken burrito bowl with extra Chipotle Tabasco.