Life as I knew it came to a screeching halt four years ago when my son was diagnosed with mono. Our doctor told us our son would be tired and sick for 3-4 weeks but then should be as good as new. Fast forward through 9 months of exhaustion, weakness, stomach pains, and major intestinal issues. We had met with several specialists and had multiple tests and procedures done. After an endoscopy, our son was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease. That meant no gluten, barley, rye, or malt of any kind.
While we had family members who suffered with Celiac Disease, I wasn’t aware of what we were facing. I felt relieved at finding some answers but completely overwhelmed at how to read labels and completely change our diets.
Soon after our diagnosis, several friends recommended checking out Janae Cox on Clean Monday Meals. It was heaven-sent! Janae has helped us navigate through eating gluten-free and dairy-free (our son developed a lactose intolerance as well). From meal planning and prep to seasoning mixes, Janae has definitely made our lives easier (and much more delicious).
When I first decided to turn “Inspiring Moms” into a podcast, I knew I wanted Janae to be a guest on our first season. I was so grateful she agreed to participate, and after our interview we decided she should be on the first episode.
Watch our interview here and keep scrolling for more info on Janae.
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.
Janae explains that Clean Monday Meals grew quickly, as people were interested in healthy eating and in her unique meal prep process and ideas. Janae started publishing and selling cookbooks.
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, including ideas for ingredient substitutes that are allergy-friendly and where to find them. 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.
Allergy-friendly Seasoning Mixes
For years on her social media, Janae has talked about making her own seasoning mixes for her family because allergy-friendly versions were unavailable or hard to find. In order to help other families, Clean Monday Meals started producing and selling seasoning mixes. They currently have ranch seasoning, onion soup mix, chicken ramen seasoning, beef ramen seasoning, and spicy ramen seasoning.
As a mom with a child with Celiac Disease, I have found these seasonings to be delicious and so convenient. I love not having to try to come up with my own seasoning mixes that never seem to taste as good. My son was so surprised the first time I used these seasonings. He couldn’t believe they were gluten-free! My whole family loves them.
Janae assured me she’s got ideas for several more allergy-friendly products that aren’t currently available on the market. I am excited to see what she comes up with!
Meal Plan Subscription
In addition to the free info Janae provides on social media, she also has a meal plan subscription that gives access to hundreds of gluten and dairy-free recipes. The subscription gives you new meal plan ideas each week and even gives a complete ingredient list so you know exactly what to buy at the store each week.
This is a great way to add new recipes to your cooking arsenal and to try some delicious food you might not normally try. The subscription is inexpensive ($9.99 per month) and can be canceled at any time (though once you try it you’re likely to be hooked!).
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 delicious 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. 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.
The Cox Family
Despite her notable success with a flourishing online business, Janae is careful to put her family first. As a wife and a mother to 5 darling kids, Janae keeps very busy with the tasks of taking care of a family and supporting her kids in their activities. Her adorable children are Kolbie, McCoy, Weslie, Scottie, and Cove.
I was really impressed with Janae’s answers when I asked how she balances her work and home life. She talked about a note her 9-year-old daughter wrote to her that said, “I love watching you help people. It’s amazing how many people you are helping in the world. It’s so inspiring and I hope one day I can be like you.”
Janae is very clear that while she loves what she is doing and how she is helping people, her family is her first priority. She told her children, “I will hang up any phone call to make sure you know you are loved and you’re important and no work thing is more important than you guys.” Her kids know this is more than just talk; she really means it. She explained to me, “I never want them (her kids) to feel neglected or unloved because I’m working.”
One of Janae’s favorite family activities is eating dinner together as a family. She shared that they have dinner together every night at 6:15. If other people are at their house, those people are welcome to stay for dinner. In addition to eating the delicious meals Janae prepares, her family always takes turns discussing what the best part of their day was. What a great way to build family unity and help kids learn to talk about their feelings!
I don’t think there will ever be a perfect balance of working and being a mom. I have intentional conversations with my kids about working and being a mom.
While the family has dealt with Janae’s Celiac Disease and PCOS for years, their oldest daughter Kolbie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease a couple years ago. 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.”
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.”
Janae explains that while it has been very challenging for Kolbie to have diabetes and Celiac Disease, the two of them have bonded over their gluten-free needs. Sometimes they cry together and sometimes they celebrate together.
Janae and Kevin
Janae’s love for 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.”
Kevin offers her a literal shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Through it all, Kevin reminds her that it’s ok to feel her emotions and she passes that message onto her online followers. Janae and Kevin are a great team, and it’s fun watching them interact in their social media posts!
Inspiration from Janae
After following Janae online for the past few years and then interviewing her, I feel like I know Janae 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 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. I have watched my son deal with similar situations and following Janae’s story has helped me know it’s ok to acknowledge these feelings, allow yourself to feel the feelings, and then to move on.
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 explains that the feedback she receives from those she has helped is the most rewarding part of the journey. “The messages I receive will always be the most rewarding. The core purpose is helping people and that is the most rewarding thing.” She has heard from parents who say their child’s life was saved because they heard Kolbie’s story of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes so they were aware of the signs when their own child demonstrated symptoms. Janae is definitely an inspiring mom!
Janae’s Advice to Other Moms
I asked Janae what she would say to other moms who have an idea of something they want to start but aren’t sure about it. I loved what she said: “Take the risk; give it a shot. Make your dreams happen. If you have a niche somewhere, create that for people. People want you more than you think they want you. Always, always, always go for your dreams. I think it’s powerful for our kids to see us making our dreams come true.”
I have definitely been inspired by Janae’s willingness to do whatever she’s had to in order to make food that is safe and healthy for her family. And her work to bring that to other families is icing on the cake! Not many people have the drive and courage to take a chance to make a difference; Janae is one of a kind!
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 seasoning mixes, meal plan subscription, cookbooks, 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.