What Paige Murray, wife of rodeo cowboy great Ty Murray, began as an informal recipe collection intended for friends and family, has become a TV show and cookbook featuring healthful cowboy and country-style dishes.
Growing up in Lancaster, South Carolina, Paige Murray was always underfoot in the kitchen and loved more than anything helping to prepare traditional Southern meals, which included lots of fried food and heavy sauces. As Murray grew up, she became interested in health and nutrition, discovering that many of the Southern states were the most obese and had more health issues than any other states in the country. Not considering herself a chef, Murray took her favorite foods and started retooling the recipes using more whole grains, healthy fats, lean meats, and no overly processed foods.
By adding her own touches and keeping the health of her family and later husband Ty Murray, known as King of the Cowboys, in mind, Murray came up with the concept of Southern Fried Skinnyfied: Delicious Healthy Cookin’ From the TY Ranch. First a simple cookbook for family and friends, the healthier eating concept soon made its way to RIDE TV, an equine-lifestyle cable TV network, as a cooking show called, what else, “Southern Fried Skinnyfied.” She was set to turn cowboy and country cooking into healthy, anytime meals.
This past January, Murray published a full volume of recipes, reminiscences and personal photos of her, Ty, their baby daughter Oakley, and stepson Kase, inviting readers to fully experience life on their beautiful 2,800 acre working ranch in Stephenville, Texas. Paige chatted with us a bit about her passion for embarking on this three year journey to create a very personal food memoir that she can pass on to Oakley. Family time in the kitchen can be such a great experience.
“I became passionate about health and nutrition after graduating from college because I started to see the effects of heart disease in my family as my relatives began aging,” she says. “It scared me and I wanted to make a change but not sacrifice my favorite types of food I was raised on. I began researching and experimenting on how to eliminate saturated fats and sugars from family recipes, using more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
“I consider Southern Fried Skinnyfied an everyday cookbook and a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle for life by not eliminating any food groups,” she says. The book is also not too restrictive as food and eating is one of the main pleasures in life. It’s not so hard. For one recipe, for example, she says: “I’ve replaced the white flour with whole wheat and oil containing saturated fat with avocado oil, adding more fiber and protein; creating a much more flavorful and satisfying meal.”
In case you’re wondering what Ty thinks about Paige’s cooking, the cowboy does not cook at all. “Ty loves my cooking and has really seen a change in his body and energy level since eating the recipes I’ve created,” Paige says. “He’s always so active and no longer experiences any aches and pains from rough stock riding and ranch work. However, when I’m not in town, his go to restaurant is Taco Bell!”
Paige shares recieps from Southern Fried Skinnyfied below.
Watermelon Serrano Salad
1 medium-size watermelon cut into chunks
½ – 1 whole serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice and zest 1 lime
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and chill.
1 pound hot sausage
1 onion diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cans pinto beans, do not drain
1 cup chopped green chiles or 1 can Ro-Tel with green chiles
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups water (more or less depending on how thick you want the beans to be)
In a large pot cook sausage, breaking up into the crumbles. Cook until browned.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes. The longer it cooks the better it is. Serve with warm tortillas.
Ham and Egg Muffin Cups
(Makes 12 cups)
12 slices deli ham or 24 slices thin-sliced deli ham
Shredded cheese of choice (I like Monterey Jack or Goat Cheese)
Hot Sauce, to taste
Diced vegetables of choice (spinach, broccoli, bell pepper, etc.), optional
12 eggs or egg whites
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray. If you are using vegetables, sauté them in avocado oil.
Place a piece of ham in each muffin cup using it like a cupcake liner. Use two pieces of ham if it is thin sliced.
Place a small amount of cheese and a few dashes of hot sauce in each cup. If you are using vegetables, place a spoonful of vegetables in each cup. Crack an egg into each ham cup. Whisk eggs first if you prefer and spoon eggs into cups. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake for about 13 – 17 minutes or until egg yolks reach desired level of doness. Save leftovers in refrigerator.
Read our profile of Ty Murray in the July 2019 issue.
Recipes reprinted and adapted from Southern Fried Skinnyfied: Delicious Healthy Cookin’ From the TY Ranch by Paige Murray.
Photography: Courtesy Paige Murray