We are so excited to introduce Lauren Keiper Stein as our October Mom of the Month! Lauren is a cookbook author, journalist and proud mom of two beautiful kids (they really are SO adorable). Her kitchen is in Boston and it’s usually filled with fresh ingredients, a bit of a mess and a sweet toddler who loves to cook with momma. Lauren just released her first cookbook, Fresh Made Simple, 76 illustrated guides to fresh, simple snacks and meals.
With so much under her belt, we wanted to pick her brain on how she keeps her kids meals healthy, engaged in mealtime and how she manages to Get. It. All. Done. She’s supermom. Legit.
SS: Tell us a bit about your family and where you are originally from.
LKS: I am a very proud mom of Abigail who is 3 years old and Jackson who is 8 months. My husband Eric and I met in New York City many years ago, moved to Boston in 2008 and were married here in 2010. Our kids are incredible and we’re doing our best to juggle city living with two little ones. I grew up in Pennsylvania with an incredible older sister, Liz, who lives nearby and is an awesome aunt.
SS: You wrote a book. A. BOOK. Does this just blow you away when you stop and think about this? Was this always part of your “plan”?
LKS: To tell you the truth – I cried a little bit the day my first copy arrived. To hold it and see it all come together, it was something I couldn’t imagine. I was inspired to write the book by spending time with Abigail reading and first introducing her to solids. And I was pregnant with Jackson during the thick of recipe testing and creation. I certainly never expected to have a second baby and a book published in the same year! To have both of them be so important to the book process is very special. Way before kids, I worked in finance in New York and later after graduate school as a journalist, so writing a cookbook was definitely not part of my master plan. I reinvented my career as a journalist, and cookbook author is just the next phase – one that lasts, I hope!
SS: With (very) busy lives and schedules – how do you tackle nutrition & food for your family, and keep it all fun?
LKS: The best I can, take one meal, one day at a time. I’m far from perfect, though, so I remember everything in moderation. In the summer we are allowed ice cream and certainly on birthdays we have cake. But day-to-day we always eat fruit and vegetables with our meals, we drink only water and milk. Those are easy things to control. Snacks are hard – so being prepared is always my goal, that way I’m not just grabbing for the easiest bar or cracker. And taking the kids to the grocery store or farmer’s market with me – it’s fun for them and they participate in what we are eating and see vegetables and fruit whole and beautiful.
SS: What is your go-to meal for dinner time?
LKS: Often times, especially after a long day, it’s eggs. Everyone in the family loves them. They are good for us and there are endless ways to eat them. Plain scrambled, of course, or try some with chives and goat cheese or egg, avocado toast or a burrito scramble – all of those are in the book. Often I make a frittata or egg bake (like goat cheese, corn and leek from the book) that we can eat with some chicken sausage and have leftovers the next morning for breakfast. If I actually plan ahead, I love to make slow cooker chicken or beef short ribs and serve them over any kind of salad or as tacos with fresh toppings.
SS: What do you wish your kids would eat more of?
LKS: Vegetable. Hands down. My son Jackson, who is 8 months old, of course has no say really. He loves peas and sweet potatoes and squash. Abigail, who is 3, obviously has many more opinions. I try not to hide veggies in things too often, because that won’t help me down the line. So I work with things she thinks are fun – like popping edamame – or things that Daddy eats are always a hit – so carrots. And she loves to add spinach to smoothies and watch it turn green.
SS: What will you ALWAYS find in your fridge?
LKS: Cheese. Eggs. Avocado. Strawberries. Yogurt. ALWAYS. You can have any meal, anytime of day with those staples, for kids OR adults!
SS: Do you have any tricks or tips on curbing picky eater behavior?
LKS: My best advice at this stage is to let the kids help as much as possible. Abigail has an apron and her own set of tools (spatula, knife, pizza cutter, cutting board – thank you Curious Chef!) that she loves to use and that are safe. I keep her bowls and cups and silverware in a low drawer so she can always get her own things. And I give her choices – only a few! – but choices so that she makes a decision on what she is having (but I am happy with whatever she picks). And when in doubt, having a picnic – even inside on the kitchen floor – and eating something packed in our lunch box seems to REALLY help!
SS: You have utilized Sensible Sitters in Boston over the past year. We love your loyalty, thank you! What do you love most about Sensible Sitters?
LKS: Sensible Sitters just makes it easy on Moms who are already over worked and over tired and just need to know they can trust the person coming to spend time with their children. Knowing the sitter is someone you have screened, you use and you trust gives me total peace of mind when I have to leave.
SS: On a Sunday morning, you will find us…
LKS: Reading the newspapers, getting on our Patriots gear and hitting the playground.