Terry Williams's new cookbook makes fitness resolutions easier.

Your New Year’s fitness resolution to eat better just got easier with Terry Williams’s ‘The FlavorFuel Kitchen’ cookbook.

It’s finally 2018, and as a part of your fitness resolution you have decided to eat better and work out, as we all have. Getting into the gym might not be difficult (if you can stand the cold to go outside or find a parking spot), but eating right…that’s quite an issue. Not only are you not excited about having to spend more time and money in the grocery store, you’re probably super bummed that “fat free” is often the equivalent of “flavor free.” But what if you could eat delicious, flavor-packed food and not break your resolution or the bank?

Enter Terry “the Trainer” Williams of The League: Elite Training Facility. We’ve written about Williams before, but now he’s on a whole new level as the owner of a thriving gym, a husband, a dad, and now the author of his second clean-eating cookbook, “The FlavorFuel Kitchen.”

Everything Terry Williams says ends in an exclamation mark. If you look up either fitness, confidence, fun, or genuine in the dictionary, his picture will be under it, cheesin’. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the guy not smiling, and I’ve never heard him say anything bad about anyone or anything. Seriously, this is the guy who will root for a sports team and when they don’t win, he’ll make an Instagram post about how well the other team did and turn it into a mini-sermon on perseverance. I want to hire this guy to deliver all my bad news to me for the rest of my life because if Terry says, it I know it’s all gonna be okay. He’s the kind of guy who you can always get behind, so when I saw him teasing his new cookbook, “The FlavorFuel Kitchen,” on IG, I wanted to know more. Of course, he was down for an interview.

Hope Carter: Before I saw you at The League, you were always that guy at church who was smiling. Then there was the first location, and now there’s this location, and you’re married to one of my favorite people ever, and have an adorable baby boy, and now this! What can’t you do?! There are a lot of people on their hustle, especially their fitness hustle nowadays, but there’s something very different about yours. You’re a black man with Creole roots who is used to delicious, savory cooking where lard and butter are main ingredients. Where does the inspiration to lead a healthy lifestyle come from?

Terry ‘the Trainer’ Williams: Well, starting out being a dude who saw his uncles die at early ages from health-related causes, and just kinda decided I wanna jump in this fitness thing because I’m inspired and I wanna live longer…it started out just literally that simple, and [now] becoming an influencer in the city of Houston – owning a gym and making fitness cool. Fitness makes people sore, and it hurts, and it’s hard to commit to and stick to when you have a busy schedule. I’ve tried to find ways to make fitness more fun, and in doing so, I’ve found a way to make my city more fit, which is awesome!

Nutrition being a key component in fitness, naturally, I’m thinking, “Okay we gotta get people eating clean, and it absolutely cannot taste like cardboard because they’re gonna quit. That’s no fun. So I wanted to create a system by which people do not have to choose between flavor and fuel. That’s where the concept was born. I’m calling this book, “The FlavorFuel Kitchen.” We’re getting into pizza, hamburgers, hot wings, even bacon macaroni and cheese! And we’re making all this stuff on the really simple premise that your only ingredients are really lean protein, 100% whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. We’re limiting the salt and the sugar, and the sauces, and making it clean and fit and everything is going to be low in fat, low sodium, high in protein…your taste buds are gonna look at it like, “Oh snap, it’s pizza!” and your body’s gonna look at it like “Oh snap, it’s game fuel!”

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It’s here. #FlavorFuelKitchen

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HC: Wow, looks like your uncles’ examples really changed you. What did pre-fitness Terry’s lifestyle look like?

TW: My mother’s brother passed away from lupus, and my dad’s brother passed away from pneumonia-related causes. That put me into a mindset of “How can I get my immune system bulletproof because I’ve seen where immune functions are going haywire, and lifestyle choices such as eating clean can totally reverse that.” So I got into this kick in high school of wanting to have really big muscles and wanting to get swole, then I went to college and started to see the athletes get down, then I thought it would be really cool to be fit like a football player – not just all muscles, but I wanted to sprint too and be able to jump high. Then post-college I got really serious about fitness and decided I wanted to build a career around training people, I wanted to be genuinely, authentically fit. I ain’t gotta be the strongest or the fastest. It started off as wanting to live a healthy lifestyle and went into these niche corners of fitness and now I’ve arrived at, “I’m gonna be the fittest I can possibly be. I wanna be hard to kill!”

HC: Okay, so I have had the pleasure of being trained by you with all the health issues I’ve had: I had diabetes at one point, ulcerative colitis, fragile bones and joints, sickle cell…if you had never met me and I came into The League just wanting to work out, how would you motivate me and others like me who just wanted to work out and thought I didn’t have to change my eating habits?

TW: To tell you the truth, exactly in the manner “The FlavorFuel Kitchen” is crafted. You’re not being told you can only eat bland, boiled chicken breast with no seasoning and kale on the side, instead, you’re being told, “You like hot dogs? Dope. Let’s talk about how we can restructure this thing. What if you use a 99% fat free turkey bratwurst and put it in a 100% whole wheat bun and you top that joint with a 3-bean turkey chili which is very lean, high in protein, and low in fat?” So then, we’re using stuff you enjoy, you feel me? I’m not telling somebody like you who is not excited about changing their nutrition to burn their whole nutrition down and have you eat applesauce puree for life. I’m telling a person like you, “Homie, if you like that burger, let’s eat that burger, but let’s return to the simple principles of lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and veggies. We can definitely go with a bison patty or a turkey patty. We can definitely use a 100% whole wheat bun. We can swap out that lettuce for kale or spinach. Keep your tomatoes on your burger. We won’t do the ketchup because it’s high in sodium or the mayonnaise is high in fat but nothing’s wrong with mustard.” It’s revisiting ideas in simple ways in order to totally liven up this clean eating thing and make it fun and accessible.

HC: So what’s the lifesaver recipe that has saved your clean eating habits and made it accessible for you?

TW: It’s mine and my wife’s too (shoutout to Ashley, my baby)…PIZZA! This is a fun way for me to eat healthy and it doesn’t take very long to make. This is from free game here – it’s the recipe in a nutshell: I got 100% wheat pizza crust, store bought, didn’t have to make it myself. I made my own tomato sauce: roma tomatoes tossed in a blender with a clove of garlic and a little pinch of basil rrrr! rrr! [makes blender sound] and I got my tomato sauce right there, spread that on the crust. I used turkey pepperoni – which has 76% less fat that the original sausage stuff, put some kale and spinach on that bad boy, sprinkled it with a little fat free cheese…we’re talking about just 10 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees, and that pizza is ready! This has become a lifesaver. It’s something that I keep the ingredients on deck for because if I’m eating out of my meal prep – which is, again, something delicious – and I get sick of it mid-week and want to take a break from it, I can have my pizza, I can have my break, but even that pizza is lean protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies. That’s a hit in my household!

HC: So then I’m guessing it’s kid-friendly, too?

TW: These are kid-friendly recipes. My little guy is 13 months and only has two teeth. He’s not quite ready for all of this, but we do have ways to find healthy versions for all of the grown-up food so he’s not just living out of the pouches but he’s able to get some good, solid grub in him. For him, we’re doing things like sweet potato fries, which is also listed in the book. It’s a good way to get vegetables in him with a ton of flavor. We’re talking baking it and not frying it, a little bit of sea salt so we’re not overdoing it on sodium, golden, crispy on the outside, and sweet and savory on the inside.

These are some of my faves that I’ve been cooking for a long time. I was sharing them on social media and after a while it just started growing legs and people were like, “When can we get a compilation of these recipes?” So I took 25 of my favorites and I chose stuff you can do different ways. Like for the pizza, I chose turkey pepperoni, but maybe you wanna do chunks of grilled chicken breast, which is also a very good choice. So out of the 25 you get about 75 meal arrangements. All of that was my idea, but in cooking them, it was really dope because I got to bring my mom in on that. I became passionate about cooking as a kid because Mama was always throwing down in the kitchen. The sous chef on this project is my mom – Mignon Yvonne Dijon – yes, that’s her actual name, it all rhymes.

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Ok so it’s definitely not Friday, the day we talked about doing food drops, but hey. The blog that interviewed Ash & I the week we launched The League is doing an interview today for the book. Full circle! We also just nailed down the release party deets (announcing this Friday), so uhh… I’m feelin’ it. — What you see here is my Chili Garlic Wings. Oven baked, not fried. Low in sodium & fats, high in savory flavor. Perfect for when the homies come over to watch a ball game. I’m stoked to remix your meal prep game & show you how to turn your home into a #FlavorFuelKitchen. Let’s GO!! — My new book #FlavorFuelKitchen is available for pre-order at the link in my bio. gogetdat.

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HC: Come thru Creole!!! Okay…so what happens with dessert?

TW: I’m not a big sweets guy, myself, I do more snackable, kinda salty, dip-this-in-that kinda thing, so for dessert, I just say [use in] moderation. I have this philosophy called “leisure meals.” A lot of people say “cheat meals” and I don’t get into that. The whole thing of giving it a disgraceful name gives you no urgency to get back with the program. So with leisure meals, one time during the week and one time during the weekend you eat what you want for that one meal. You’re looking for that scheduled reward so every time that’s not leisure time, you’re more compelled to stick with your program. I have this one dessert in the book…you know what? Let me not give it away but I will say, it’s off the chain!

If you want to know what the dessert is, you can buy the book, “The FlavorFuel Kitchen” on Amazon, or at The League. Don’t forget to follow Williams and The League on IG at @terrythetrainer and @theleagueHTX, and catch him Thursday on KPRC Channel 2 at 1 pm, and Friday from 7-9pm at Lululemon in the Heights.