Over the years, we’ve connected with so many amazing blogger moms. Many of these women wanted to know more about the food they feed their families and we wanted a way to empower them with information and continue the dialogue on healthy eating. We are all trying to communicate the same message: We’re invested in feeding our families in a healthy way, and in order to do so, we need to know what’s in the food we’re eating. As a result, the Yo-Getters ambassador group was born!
We wanted to get to know this passionate group of moms better so what better way than to highlight a new Yo-Getter each month? Our latest Yo-Getter under the spotlight is Tracey Black!
Tracey is a mom of three boys under the age of eight and the author of Don’t Mess with Mama, a blog about parenting, work-life balance, and life as a less-than-perfect mom. Making sure her kids eat healthy is one of the most important things to her. Tracey’s kids know that food dyes and chemicals in food are bad for them and her goal is to educate them and make sure they are eating the healthiest foods they can get. One such food is Stonyfield’s YoBaby – her kids ate it as one of their first baby foods and well into their toddler years. Sometimes they still use it for smoothies!
Chandra Carson: Thanks so much for joining me Tracey! Can you tell me a little about yourself and your family?
Tracey Black: I was raised in Hawaii but have been living in San Diego for the last 13 years with my husband. I’m a former web and social media manager and my husband is a software engineer. We have three boys, ages 7, 5 and 10 months, and can often be found surfing or hanging out at the beach.
Before having kids, I was relatively healthy. I was a vegetarian and rarely ate fast food, but I didn’t give a second thought about chemicals in food, like artificial dyes and colors, preservatives, and pesticides. I just thought if it was low in fat, then it was healthy. Then, when my first son was born everything changed. I only wanted him to eat the best food and learned more about the benefits of organic and local, community-supported food. I’m now a huge advocate of organic food – in fact, one of my top priorities as a parent is to give my kids the healthiest food possible.
CC: We hear that a lot! Having a baby is often the “gateway” into learning about organic food. Can you also describe your blog and what inspires your posts?
TB: I had been blogging for years to my family and friends about the challenges of raising kids, and finally decided to go public over a year ago. I just felt like I had a voice to share for parents who felt like they weren’t living up to the “perfect parent” standard. I’m the first to admit that I’m far from a perfect parent. But when it comes to the food they eat, I live up to my blog name, Don’t Mess with Mama.
My blog still focuses on parenting challenges and advice, as well as our journey to become a more green family. We’re slowly making changes to be more eco-conscious – from using reusable cloths instead of paper towels to making homemade cleaners to reduce our footprint on the environment. I also review green products, post recipes, and chronicle our travel adventures. Recently, we spent two months in Hawaii to try to live off the grid a bit and enjoy outdoor activities in the islands. My hope is that sharing our journey to go green and live more simply will inspire others to do the same.
CC: That is so cool! What else do you like to do when you’re not blogging?
TB: We’re big-time beach people, and San Diego is the perfect place to enjoy the beaches year round. I love just hanging out on the beach while watching my older boys boogie board and my youngest son play in the sand. Every once in a while, I’ll grab a longboard and surf too. I also love to eat. I enjoy trying new restaurants and new food, and of course scour Pinterest for food recipes to make at home.
CC: Can you share any tips or secrets from the kitchen? What are your favorite meals to cook?
TB: I love to cook pasta. It’s easy, fast, healthy, and almost everyone loves it, especially my kids. I enjoy finding ways to add something different to mundane pasta dishes, like sprinkling chia seeds or adding sauteed kale to my pesto penne dish.
CC: Those sound like great additions! Now, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
TB: I’d be eating my mom’s homemade Chinese dumplings. She used to make her own dumpling skins out of flour and water, and hand roll them out to little circles. Then, she’d fill them with pork, shrimp, or tofu along with chives and other herbs and spices. I enjoyed the process of making them with her. We were like an assembly line for these delicious little dumplings. Plus, they were super versatile – they could be boiled, steamed or pan-fried.
I vividly remember her telling me that she would only buy the ingredients for her dumplings the day she was making it because she only wanted the freshest ingredients. Plus, when she did use pork she would get the best cut of pork and then ask the butcher to grind it for her, rather than buy pre-ground meat. She told me she wanted to know exactly where her meat was coming from and what it looked like.
At the time I didn’t realize it, but she really did teach me so much about food. Know where food comes from. Know what real food looks like. Buy fresh.
CC: Wow, what wonderful memories! Can you share any tips for getting your kids to eat healthy?
TB: My kids are great eaters. They’ll try sushi, spinach, passion fruit, you name it. The key has been to introduce new foods and just ask them to try a bite. Sometimes I’ll even joke around with them forbidding them to try the new food, and that makes me them want it more. Reverse psychology at it’s best. And if they really don’t like it, I’m fine with it but I’ll still serve it to them and leave it on their plate. Sometimes they’ll turn around and will actually like it. Another tactic is we always keep a plate of fresh cut veggies and fruit on hand for them to snack on. I usually leave it out during snack time or right before dinner is served.
CC: Great tips! What are your top 3 organic food must-haves? And why is organic food important to you?
TB: Milk, apples and carrots. These are staples in our house, and we consume them daily. It’s really important to me that we eat as much organic food as possible to ensure my kids aren’t getting pesticides and other chemicals in their food. Plus, I want to know that the companies we’re buying from are using eco-conscious and ethical practices to grow and raise food.
TB: I love Stonyfield Oikos Greek yogurt. It’s fantastic with a bowl of granola or blended in a smoothie. My 10-month-old son enjoys YoBaby banana flavor. He will literally grab the baby spoon out of my hand to try to feed himself with his yogurt.
CC: My son did too! Ok, now name 5 items you never leave home without.
TB: My iPhone (our family calendar is insane), sunglasses, diapers and wipes for my 10-month-old son, sunscreen, and an extra set of swim clothes and towels in case we make a bee-line to the beach (which we do often).
CC: Thanks so much Tracey! And where can our readers follow you?