Beth is a mom and the co-author of The Cleaner Plate Club: More Than 100 Recipes for Real Food Your Kids Will Love.
How many children do you have? I have one daughter, aged 6, but would love a second child even in my forties!
How did you come up with the idea for your book? While I was working with Eat Local Challenge, I learned a lot about health and safety issues with fast foods and processed foods as well as the childhood obesity crisis. As a new mom, my first instinct was “Parents need to know about this!” That purpose, along with the daily effort to keep my child eating well, really inspired the blog posts and recipes that later became our book. Ali Benjamin, my co-author, shared those same goals and concerns, so we made a great team!
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Right after my daughter was born, in my overwhelmed new-mom days, I gave myself a simple goal, besides, say, just getting my teeth brushed! Each day I would laugh with my child. No matter what else I did or did not accomplish in a day, I would consider it a success if I did that one thing. I still stick to this goal over six years later.
How do you get your family to eat healthy food and/or exercise? I took the “easy route” with our kid’s diet. We started her off eating fruits and vegetables and whole grains and just never gave in to “kid food.” I take her to the farmers market with me every weekend and have her help prepare foods with us as a family. I like to foster a culture of sharing and enjoying healthy foods — making it a fun adventure, not a battle.
We talk a lot about the relationship between food and a healthy body. As parents, we keep kids safe by teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street and to not talk to strangers. Teaching them about healthy eating is important too, since poor eating habits can shorten kids’ lives and impact their health.
Weekends are times when I plan outdoor family adventures. We love hiking as a family. I also encourage my child to try new activities—within reason and without overbooking us—to see what sports she enjoys. I will confess that I limit TV time as well in favor of more time for free play and outdoor play.
How do you recharge your batteries? I work hard to fit exercise into my busy life. Often, we moms get so busy and tired, it’s the thing we least feel like doing! But it is the one thing I need most to stay healthy and lower my stress. I’ve been known to use my lunch hour at work to squeeze in a run or workout just to make it all fit in a busy day. I also try to find time to stay connected to friends and family and I volunteer when I can to keep a sense of purpose in my personal life.