Parents: What inspired you to write this book?
Debbie Koenig: I wouldn't say it was inspiration so much as desperation. After my son was born I was shocked by how challenging it was to do the simplest things, like eat a healthy meal—and I'm a food writer! It took a while, but eventually I figured it out. I broke up recipes into short spurts to prepare during Harry's naps. I also found some great shortcuts, like super-simple ways to use the slow cooker, and meals I could eat with one hand, so I didn't have to skip dinner when Harry was fussy. When other moms started asking me for tips, I realized I'd cracked the code for feeding yourself after you have a baby.
Parents: You wrote a story for Parents.com about wrangling your picky eater (son Harry, then 4.) Are these recipes picky-eater approved?
DK: I got loads of feedback about what went over well with the toddler and preschool crowds. Still, every picky kid is picky in his own way, so even books that promise to work magic on those kids won't please everyone. Harry was definitely flexing his picky eater muscles while I wrote the cookbook. But because the recipes are intended for parents,and also used for baby food, I didn't sweat whether or not one picky kid liked something. I had a small army of new moms who tested the recipes for me. If the recipes worked and their families liked them, I knew other folks would feel the same way.
Parents: How old is Harry now? What are his eating habits like these days?
DK: He's almost 6, and his eating habits are just as frustrating as it was when I wrote that piece. Lately it's more a question of capriciousness: One day all he wants to eat is cream-cheese-and-jelly sandwiches, and the next he insists he's always hated cream cheese. I've become a bit more Zen about it, which has helped my blood pressure, at least. Harry's going to eat someday; I know he will. But it's clear that the more I push, the more he pushes back.