It’s safe to say that we all have the best of intentions around all things related to food, nutrition, and meal prep. Because who doesn’t want to feel healthy? But let’s be honest: sometimes it can feel overwhelming to manage the responsibility of providing our families regular healthy meals. If you’re like me when 5:00 comes around and the kids are complaining about being hungry, sometimes you wonder: do they have to eat every night? I’m joking, but I think that some of you may relate to the notion that putting together nutritious meals every day can be exhausting. This scenario is exponentially more complicated when you also need to account for dietary restrictions. I know many of you follow eating regimens and some of you are diabetic or gluten or dairy intolerant. These conditions, whether in yourself or your family members, take food preparation to a whole different level.
Enter Janae Cox. For me and countless others, Janae eases the burden of clean eating, whether necessitated by medical conditions or by a choice to eat better. As someone with Celiac Disease and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), she knows firsthand what it’s like to live with restrictions on what you can and can’t eat. Through her popular Instagram account Clean Monday Meals, she shares recipes and insights, cooking tips and favorite products, and of course her Italian passion for food.
I am delighted to introduce my readers to this incredible woman who has supported so many families in their efforts to eat clean, all while raising her own beautiful family.
The Cox Family
Despite her notable success with a flourishing online business, Janae introduced herself humbly as “the mom to 5 kids and the wife to an amazing husband.” Family is clearly everything to Janae. Her adorable children range in ages from less than 1 year old to 12 years, old and each has a darling name: Kolbie, McCoy, Weslie, Scottie, and Cove.
While the family has dealt with Janae’s Celiac Disease and PCOS for several years, their oldest daughter Kolbie was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease. Learning this and managing her care has been an emotional journey for Janae who says, “My heart has fallen and stayed in my stomach more times than I can count, it’s a feeling I can’t describe, but those who know, know. Hearing the alarms going off alerting you of low blood sugar and watching your child’s face turn pale and body start shaking in front of you is terrifying.”
I connected to Janae when I heard about Kolbie’s health struggles; I too have a daughter who requires extra medical attention because of some congenital issues. I found myself impressed with the great lengths she goes to in order to ease her daughter’s experience. For instance, Janae sent a box of gluten-free treats to Kolbie’s classroom so that she’ll have a treat she can eat on days a child brings a birthday treat to share with the class. Although it hasn’t been easy, Janae expresses admiration for her daughter’s courage, strength, and positivity. On her blog she even said, “Kolbie is a rock star. She is so much more than the definition of a warrior. She has proved to all of us day in and day out that she is beyond brave and she makes diabetes look easy.”
While Janae is known for the top-notch wholesome food she makes for her children, she also seems to do a tremendous job at teaching them character. Several things lead me to believe this, but one that stands out is the quote hanging in the Cox children’s bathroom. Every morning as they get ready for school they read these poignant words: “Some kids are smarter than you. Some kids have cooler clothes than you. Some kids are better at sports than you. It doesn’t matter. You have your thing too. Be the kid who can get along. Be the kid who is generous. Be the kid who is happy for other people. Be the kid who does the right thing. Be the nice kid.” (Note that a stylish printable version of this quote is available on Janae’s website if you’d like to make a place for it in your home as well.)
Janae’s love for the man behind the camera, her husband Kevin, is evident on her Instagram page. She writes touching tributes to him, describing him as “our rock,” “my biggest cheerleader,” and “the glue that holds this family together.” In her words, “He truly is the kindest, most compassionate, loving, sensitive, humble, funny, and amazing guy!!! I wish you all knew him in person: he would instantly be your best friend!!” She even credits the success of Clean Monday Eats to his support. She told me, “He has been my biggest supporter in all of this. It was (and still is) very out of my comfort zone but he has helped me to go beyond my comfort zone and try new things.” It sounds like Kevin offers her a literal shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Janae recently wrote a blog about how sometimes it feels like everything they do revolves around what she can and can’t eat. But through it all, Kevin reminds her that it’s ok to feel her emotions and she passes that message onto her online followers.
Clean Monday Meals
Janae has always enjoyed cooking, but she has had to adjust the way she went about it over the years. Several years ago, after the birth of her third child, Janae suffered from stomach pains and other symptoms for some time before being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. As she quickly learned, gluten breaks down the small intestine’s lining of those with Celiac Disease resulting in health problems. She also developed PCOS and learned that many women are able to manage their symptoms by modifying their diet to natural, unprocessed foods. A gluten-free lifestyle became necessary to her health which meant she had to cut out foods she had long loved.
When the Cox family met health challenges, Janae says they “chose to make the best out of it and share our findings.” Part of those efforts meant creating an Instagram page called Clean Monday Meals where Janae intended to share gluten-free meal prep ideas. Through this venue she also came to offer guidance and support to other families in many ways. Not only does she answer questions about eating with diabetes, Celiac disease, and PCOS, but she also offers resources like a list of restaurants which accommodate dietary restrictions. In a nut shell, she demonstrates how to enjoy eating and stay on a budget while eating gluten or dairy free.
But her work also benefits everyone, even those without medical conditions. Janae reviews products such as the InstaPot, NinjaKitchen, and NutriMill and often hosts giveaways. She inspires her followers to plan ahead in order to make eating clean easy. Scrolling through her Instagram you’ll see countless nutritious pre-prepared or freezer meals which she just pulls out of the fridge or freezer as needed.
If you were to ask me, the overall message Clean Monday Meals sends into the world is this: we are all in this together! Although she told me she never imagined it would turn into what it has today (she has nearly 80k followers!), it has become a place for her to “connect with so many who have similar circumstances.” Her posts have attracted a lot of positive attention and loving comments. This is because with a personable and charming voice, Janae encourages followers as they strive to navigate meal times while sticking to a gluten or dairy free diet. She understands how difficult it can be to live with Celiac Disease and PCOS so she offers encouragement like, “Don’t worry, it gets better over time, but it’s still okay to cry. I do!” And I love what she recently said: “When we focus on the good, the good gets better.”
Clean Monday Meals Cookbooks
As Clean Monday Meals became more and more popular, an interest in a cookbook developed. Many, many fans loved the recipes Janae had shared and wanted copies of them in their own kitchens. Janae ended up releasing several cookbooks and says, “It is still so surreal to get orders and have people try my recipes!” She has found a way to love cooking again and is happy to share her secrets with others. Because of her efforts, families all over the world are cooking healthy meals their whole family can enjoy.
Here’s the wonderful thing about the Clean Monday Meals cookbooks: the food looks so savory that you’d never guess they don’t have ingredients I once assumed went hand in hand with delicious food, such as butter, milk, and flour. These beautiful books are full of Janae’s recipes for breakfasts, entrees, desserts, and even snacks. Flipping through the pages you will salivate over recipes such as apple cinnamon pancakes, creamy peach mango salsa tacos, Jamaican Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and cream puffs!
Also, I love that you can either buy digital or printed copies of the cookbooks. This is genius since a lot of us view recipes from our devices as we cook while others prefer a hard copy to write notes in. And with a spiral binding, the printed cookbooks can be conveniently propped open which is a big deal since there’s nothing worse than a book that keeps closing when you need to keep it open.
Janae has released several cookbooks and you can even buy them in a bundle, which is a great deal. My favorite is her cookbooks full of freezer meal ideas complete with grocery lists. These grocery lists couldn’t be more convenient: everything you’ll need for a week’s worth of meals is sorted by category. Hence there’s no more need to agonize over what to make every night!
Considering all you get with these cookbooks, it really is a killer value! I’m confident that no one ever regrets buying these. With Janae’s recipes it is clear that there is no need to sacrifice flavorful, delicious meals to accommodate your dietary restrictions: there are plenty of ways to eat great without consuming gluten or dairy.
Why I Find Janae Cox Inspiring
For those of you who haven’t caught the meal prep bug, let me fill you in so you can fully appreciate Janae’s brilliance: the term “meal prepping” refers to the process of putting together meals ahead of time, often quite a few at once. You then either freeze them in gallon bags to be thawed and cooked later or store them in the fridge to be eaten throughout the week. Personally, I think that people, like Janae, who can organize the grocery lists and nutritious meals that goes into meal prepping deserve special consideration for a major award, considering the brain juice that goes into it. Despite all the logistics put into meal prepping, this methodology cuts down on money spent on food and saves time in the long run. For instance, it may take a few hours and several hundred dollars to make a dozen dinners for a family of seven but that ends up being only $16 a meal, just a little over $2 per person. Now that is much cheaper and healthier than buying fast food for your family. Hats off to Janae for her impressive planning and organizational skills exhibited in her meal prepping efforts.
I have to confess that I’ve never met Janae in person. However, I feel like I know her because of how willing she’s been to share herself. I admire how she has opened up about personal matters and shared her story with the world. For instance, she recently wrote about a time she “ugly cried” after a birthday celebration. She related how difficult it was to watch her family eat foods she loves but can’t eat without harming her body. In my opinion, that kind of vulnerability connects people and makes the world feel friendlier.
Instead of wallowing in her health and eating struggles, Janae has turned outward and created a community full of practical resources for people dealing with similar circumstances. Instead of asking what others could do for her, she found ways she could do things for others. Instead of isolating herself because of her dietary restrictions, Janae offers support and guidance to others so they don’t feel so lonely eating gluten-free. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she is proactive and makes good things happen for herself.
Janae sums it up well: “I believe that the more I give, the more I receive, and that is why I am doing this.” She is definitely an inspiring mom!
Janae’s Advice to Other Moms
I was so grateful when Janae responded to my request for an interview. I understand how valuable her time is since she is raising five young children and managing a thriving online business simultaneously. When I asked her how she made everything fit into her schedule, she replied simply, “My kids will always come first no matter what. It can become challenging trying to balance everything with kids but we manage with still finding time to spend all together.” She clearly cherishes time with her family above all else, which I found inspiring and took to heart.
Although she urges moms to make their children their first priority, her work also encourages moms (especially those with medical conditions like hers) to take care of themselves. Her work speaks for itself and seems to say: why deprive yourself of good food? It is worth your time to make delicious, healthy meals, even if it’s just for yourself. After all, Virginia Woolf said it well in a Room of One’s Own when she explained, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” Janae’s recipes allow those with Celiac Disease and similar conditions to enjoy themselves when it comes to food, which affects so many other areas of their lives.
Janae also graciously shared some of her favorite things with me. She is a big fan of Dyson vacuums but really, really loves Red Aspen Nails! As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen but also enjoys having her nails done, Janae was thrilled to discover Red Aspen Nails. She says they are affordable, last several weeks, and come in all sorts of styles. What’s not to love?
To Learn More
Once you finish reading this article, do yourself a favor and go check out Janae’s website. When you’re there, browse through her products which consist of her amazing cookbooks, gift cards, and downloadable files like gluten-free cheat sheets, quotes, and planning tools.
While you’re online, be sure to follow Janae on Instagram or Facebook where you can find her as @CleanMondayMeals. You won’t want to miss out on her giveaways and life saving tips!