I'm excited to introduce you to my friend, Jenn!
Just in time, too, as I'm sure you are all ready for a fresh voice around here now and then. 🙂
Jenn and I have been friends so long that I don't even remember how we first met. I do remember what bonded us though: we both struggled with secondary infertility (the inability to conceive and/or carry a second baby to term). Today she has 3 children and I have 4 – now I believe that along with a lot of prayer, a healthy diet can cure many of these issues in women today, not all, but MANY. (Read this article on fertility for good information.)
1. What is your #1 motivation for eating/feeding your family healthier meals?
There are two reasons that motivate me to feed my family healthier foods: to prevent potential health problems and because it just tastes so much better. I think the assault by the mainstream food industry on our food is disgraceful. They have no concern over providing quality or keeping the ‘bad’ stuff out. Their motivation is the bottom line – money. As a wife and mother who does the shopping and cooking, it’s my responsibility to take care of my family and provide for them the best I can. And, quite honestly, I enjoy being a radical when it comes to natural choices. As for the taste, there’s no comparison between the good stuff and the bad. My family is very spoiled because I cook so much from scratch using the best ingredients possible. My husband, Ken, and I are now growing an incredible organic garden on ¼ acre of our land, and so we’re going to be more spoiled than ever. It’s very rewarding to get the best organic and free produce right from your own backyard.
2. What started you on your path to better nutrition?
My health food journey started when I dealt with both infertility and losing five pregnancies. Someone gave me a book on natural cures to combat infertility and it all started there about ten years ago. Slowly and methodically God opened the doors for me to turn my unhealthy habits around. It was primarily through word-of-mouth that I was connected to the right people or the right information. One of the biggest influences was coming under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor (Dr. denBoer). He ‘fixed’ my health problems and gave me the right information and resources to change my lifestyle. From there it was totally up to me, because no one else was going to do it for me. Only I can be proactive about my health and my family’s health. I’m a total believer in living naturally because I now have three beautiful children (11, 3 and 1 years old) as proof of what a difference it truly makes.
3. What is your biggest struggle in eating/feeding your family healthier meals?
My biggest struggle with feeding my family is they just don’t care as much as I do. If food choices were left up to them, they’d eat Burger King and KFC a lot, and Doritos would be a staple. My other struggle is that it’s hard to feed them healthy when so many people around us aren’t eating the best. It’s pretty tough to stick to it when our family and friends don’t embrace the lifestyle. And don’t even get me started about school lunches. Whoa! How do you keep your kids healthy when they see such garbage in the school cafeteria? Now, with all that said, I’m not a purist. I love fast food as much as the next person (McDonald’s fries…yumm) but I’m very careful in eating this type of food very rarely (we haven’t eaten McDonald’s food in at least 6 months). And I have a terrible weakness for chocolate…Dove chocolates… extra yummm—I have to admit that was just this week! I consider my food ‘foundation’ to be very solid and so I’m not afraid to stray occasionally. Everything in moderation, right?!
4. What is your favorite healthy recipe?
5. How difficult has it been for you to get over the modern-day “fat phobia” and go back to drinking whole milk or eating butter, coconut oil, etc. with confidence that it's better for you and without feeling guilty?
Quite honestly, I never bought into it. Not because I knew better, just because I never liked the way low fat food tasted. I love, and I mean LOVE, to eat good, rich food. So does my family. And whenever I tried to substitute a low fat version food like cheese or sour cream or margarine they’d complain. So I gave up years ago. Now, of course, we’re learning low fat or fat free isn’t better for you after all. I feel I was ahead of the game just by sheer luck. When it comes to saturated fats like coconut oil or butter, I love them and how good they make food taste, so including them was a no-brainer. The biggest fat I struggle with is that from animals — beef fat, chicken skin, etc. I was taught since I was a kid not to eat them because they’re bad for you. So I still hesitate a little when I put them to my mouth. They taste delicious but I feel like I’m doing something ‘bad’ when I eat them. Fortunately, I’m not passing down the misinformation to my kids.
6. What is your best kitchen/nutrition tip?
I hide healthy food in recipes. How about pureed carrots in mac & cheese (the healthy version)? Or ground flax seed in pb&j sandwiches or sprinkled on cinnamon toast? Or pureed cauliflower in mashed potatoes? Or raw egg and coconut milk in smoothies? My family doesn’t even know it’s hidden in there, but it’s just enough to give added nutrition and flavor.
7. What did you have for dinner last night?
For dinner last night we had steak fajitas: All natural beef, marinated veggies in my own homemade marinade, whole wheat tortillas, homemade guacamole, organic sour cream, organic black beans, brown rice, and organic salsa. With a glass of wine—can’t forget that!
8. Do you have a tip for how to fit exercise into your life? How do you do it?
Fitting exercise into my life isn’t easy, but I feel so great once I do it. I’ve always been very active and have belonged to different gyms and joined group exercise classes all my life. I love Pilates, yoga and aerobics. I was always very active in sports, even all the way back to grade school. So I think it’s wired into me. It certainly takes will power to get my butt up and moving, but once I’m doing it I feel awesome. The biggest challenge is finding the time for it. With three kids, owning two businesses and spending so much time in the kitchen, it takes bottom priority. Once I get into a routine (I just finished a 30-day boot camp at 5:30 a.m.), then it’s much easier. Now that I’m in the groove, I’m interval training on my treadmill and plan on rejoining my gym this summer. Here’s a suggestion to make working out at home more motivating: listen to books on tape. Get a book in audio format that you’ve been itching to read and listen to it ONLY while you exercise (sit-ups, treadmill, jogging, etc.) and then turn it off when you’re done. This way you know you can only go back to listening when you workout. I’ve ‘read’ many great books this way and kept in shape at the same time.
9. What about Kelly annoys you the most? (Only one please.)
My only ‘beef’ against Kelly is that she’s so sought after; we don’t get to connect as often as I would like. I think Kelly is so knowledgeable, passionate and lively. She is a wonderful friend!
(I promise that last question isn't a pathetic attempt at getting compliments, but knowing how annoying I can be when it comes to food, I thought it would draw out some interesting comments and get a laugh. Sometimes my friends are just too nice, though!)
- Read more guest interviews, including one from my husband, Kent
- Read a little about my own experience with infertility
- Feeling overwhelmed? Look over these Rookie Tips, take a deep breath, and remember baby steps are where it's at
- Some pretty good kitchen tips, if I do say so myself (who doesn't want to cut their kitchen time?)