If you ask Amanda Gyuran and TJ Anderson what their favorite thing to do together is, they’ll enthusiastically answer “cooking together!” And that’s no surprise, considering the couple is releasing their cookbook, Kitchen Chemistry, this month – just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The paleo cookbook outlines over 100 paleo-inspired recipes that are ideal for date nights in with loved ones. The couple recently sat down with Lively to discuss their relationship, why cooking with your partner is essential, and of course, Kitchen Chemistry. See what they had to say below.
Lively: Tell us about your love story. How did you meet?
Amanda: We had a lot of mutual friends on Facebook, so I added him because he seemed sweet. But we didn’t speak until I saw him post that he was at the same fitness conference I was at. I reached out and met him at the vitamin IV booth he was working. We went out. I thought it was going to be a night of “networking” but it all ended with a kiss in the back of an Uber. After that night, we talked on the phone every day (he was nomadic, and I was living in Michigan at the time) and a few months later for our second date, I flew out to Iowa to attend his best friend’s wedding! We ended up being nomadic together, living in Southern California, and now settling down in Colorado.
TJ: Well, it started on Facebook, and then at a fitness conference in L.A., where I sold Amanda a Vitamin B12 shot in the buttocks. Her lavender hair at the time swept me off my feet. I asked her out on a date. She thought it was networking. And once I finally made it through L.A. traffic – I was about an hour late, sorry babe! – I surprised her with dinner and a movie. And the rest is history!
RELATED: A Week of Plant-Based Meals to Try
L: Do you remember the first time you both cooked together? What was that like?
A: Yes, we made paleo pancakes! We played some Jack Johnson and goofed around in the kitchen. It was the first time I “co-created” a meal with a partner (instead of me taking charge, making and serving everything). It felt really light and joyful.
TJ: Yes, I recall making breakfast and dinner for her the first time she visited me back in my hometown of Iowa. But the first time we co-created in the kitchen together was a few months later back in Iowa. I took her on a sugar-free paleo pancake-making adventure. I think we had some almond butter, avocado, egg, sea salt, stevia-sweetened chocolate, and topped it off with lots of grass-fed butter. We had so much fun together! And I ended up feeding her a bite and posted the photo on Instagram.
L: When do you think couples should start cooking together? What can it teach you about your partner?
TJ: Co-creating meals and desserts in the kitchen together can bring so much love, joy, and even better health to a relationship. Every time one makes food on their own, they learn something new. And when you combine that with someone else – a partner who you love – you’re bound to learn about yourself and the other person. It allows you to deepen your relationship even more. It can teach patience, understanding, the art of support and communication. Food is meant to be enjoyed with pleasure. And when you can experience this sort of pleasure – food that actually tastes amazing and is very nutritious – with a partner you love, the pleasure goes to a whole new level.
L: Your joint cookbook, Kitchen Chemistry, is almost out! What do you think sets it apart from other cookbooks?
TJ: This is the first real health-conscious paleo-esque cookbook (with low-sugar, gluten-free, highly-nutritious foods) intended specifically for couples! There are lots of healthy paleo cookbooks out there, but not any specific to couples. And there are lots of couples’ cookbooks out there, but not any with super healthy recipes! So, we bring both to the table here. And it’s not just about co-creating meals together; it’s about using the kitchen as a vehicle to support each other in life, in your health goals, and to deepen intimacy together in general. Now, you don’t have to be in a relationship to enjoy the recipes in Kitchen Chemistry. In fact, the cookbook is great for those who want to try out recipes on their own too. But it definitely shows the power of co-creating with your partner, or at least loved ones, through cooking.
L: Which of your recipes would suit a new couple, BFFs and a long-term couple?
A: For new couples, I’d recommend really easy recipes like truffles or sweet potato brownies. You can get your hands messy and have fun! For best friends, chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches and cauliflower pizza for sure! It’s what I make for girls’ nights with my besties! And for the long-term couples, walnut-crusted salmon with fennel salad or a kava tonic to cuddle up with.
TJ: Recipes for a new couple: Smoothies, grain-free almond butter cookies, tonics, and maybe a few full meals. But I would recommend keeping it simple for new couples, so they can celebrate some successes together to fuel the motivation to keep upping the ante down the road! Recipes for best friends: The cookies for sure. And sweet potato brownies! Recipes for long-term couples: Cake, cookies, some full meals of ours, like grass-fed bison tacos, and our line of aphrodisiac recipes! I can’t spoil them by sharing what they are! You’ll just have to buy Kitchen Chemistry to see them all.