Welcome!  Thanks for visiting A Busy Mom’s Kitchen.   I’m Kelly, a wife and mother of two and a lifelong amateur cook.  I’m also a passionate believer in the importance of healthy home-cooked food.

This blog came about when I decided to leave a 20-year career as a lawyer in order to pursue my passion for reading and writing about food and nutrition. Following that change I began to read up on all things food-related, ranging from the latest recipe trends to new thinking about nutrition and observations about the American food system. I enrolled in a master’s degree program in nutrition. I began to spend more time in my kitchen developing recipes that are healthy, delicious and family-friendly. And I started this blog as a way to share everything that I’m learning.

In many ways, my transition from lawyer to foodie and nutritionist is part of a natural evolution. I have been passionate about food for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of this fascination was when I was about ten and living in Oklahoma City, where I grew up.  I recall reading an article in a magazine about a new gourmet food store, Dean & DeLuca, that had recently opened in New York City and how I would love to visit it.

It was really in law school, however, that I began to understand intuitively the importance of nutrition. Like so much in our lives today, law school can be extremely stressful, and my experience was no different. I quickly learned that if I was thoughtful about what I ate and, more importantly, I spent time in my apartment planning and preparing meals that I would take with me each day, I simply felt better. Eventually, cooking became a kind of therapy that I’d engage in at night and during the weekend to relieve my law student stress.

After law school, I continued to pursue my passion for food by making every effort to cook on a regular basis, a routine that became especially important when I had my two daughters, both of whom are now teenagers. This is when I started on the last leg of the journey that has taken me to where I am today. As a parent, I wanted to instill healthy eating habits in my children. Yet I quickly came to realize how difficult it is to accomplish that goal. Practical information about what qualifies as a healthy diet is often confusing, conflicts with other information, or is flat-out wrong. Meanwhile, temptations to engage in unhealthy eating are everywhere. Learning to navigate this difficult environment took both time and perseverance.

Here are the principles that I have come to rely upon over the years:

First, I believe that most of the food we eat today is highly processed, which means that a lot of what’s good and nourishing about it has been stripped away and replaced with added sugar, fat, and salt.  Think so-called macaroni and cheese in a box with a list of ingredients decipherable only by chemists, versus actual pasta, flour, cheese and milk.  Or take your typical cold breakfast cereal, which averages 23% sugar by weight  and contains a handful of synthetic vitamins and minerals that have been added to replace the myriad of real nutrients eliminated during processing.  It pales in comparison with the nutritional powerhouses of steel-cut oats, walnuts, blueberries, and a touch of honey.  Processed food is engineered to make you think you’re eating real food.  Real food is the real deal.

Second, as a busy mom I understand why we eat the processed stuff  — it’s  convenient.  When we are all just trying to keep up with the busyness of life, it can definitely seem easier to grab some fast food on the way home or heat up the frozen lasagna we got from the frozen food section of our grocery store than to figure out what to make for dinner.  I’ve been there.  I get it.

But the thing is, regularly eating the processed stuff has costs.  It can leave us and our kids malnourished and more susceptible to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  At the same time it contributes to weight gain, both because of the high sugar and fat content and the cravings for more of the same that it instills in us.  It even dulls our taste buds so that we find food that hasn’t been enhanced with sugar, fat, and salt to be flavorless and unappealing.

This leads to my third guiding principle:  With a little planning and commitment to a learning curve, it is possible for every family to eat less processed food that is both healthy and delicious.  The key is finding an approach that works for you and your family.  For example, if you want to embrace the idea of cooking largely from scratch using fresh, organic ingredients, then by all means do so.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the desire or time to do that, or if the thought of learning a new set of cooking skills or facing rejection of your efforts by your family is too discouraging, then that’s ok, too.  You can start small by committing to make one or two meals at home using a new recipe or new ingredient that your family likes.  My goal in starting A Busy Mom’s Kitchen is to help you find success with that one new recipe or ingredient.  Once you do, I hope you’ll be motivated to try another new recipe or ingredient, and so on, until you discover that you have an entire repertoire of ingredients and recipes that have become the foundation of a new family tradition of healthy and delicious home-cooked meals.