I l-o-v-e food. I always have. There is no getting around it — I am a serious Foodie! One of the biggest misconceptions about eating healthily is that you have to sacrifice flavor and the pure indulgence of savoring a meal. Not true! Food, especially good food, can be sensuous and deeply satisfying. It took me several decades to realize that my love of food actually satisfies the artist in me. When I walk through the bountiful rows at the farmers market, I find myself surrounded by the palette of bright yellows, oranges and reds of ripe peppers, the deep greens of fresh leafy kale and spinach, and the glistening of yellow-green apples. The smell of fresh coffee permeates the air and fills my senses while the cup I hold warms my hand. I can almost taste the sticky sweetness of the freshly baked cinnamon rolls, and I cannot help but smile as I pass the gnarly celeriac root and the other wild-looking oddities the plant world provides us for humor as well as good health.

Once I became a mother, I became a Foodie Mama Lion! A hunter (and gatherer, in my case), protectress and provider. I wanted my boys to be as healthy as possible, to eat more fresh fruits and veggies and less candy and processed foods and no-way, no-how fast food. This was no small feat. Like all kids, they wanted the Happy Meals advertised incessantly on TV and to eat the same foods their friends ate.

To entice them, I decided to make plated art every morning. This process involved fresh veggies and fruit and cutting them up in unique manners and creating patterns, images and designs. I would depict scenes and sometimes their favorite characters with food as my medium. For instance, I would fill a plate with small cucumber houses surrounded by rivers of thin zucchini strips and bumpy blueberry roads.

They LOVED it! They started telling their friends, and their friends would beg me to make plates for them, too. It was fun both for me and the kids, a great combination of creativity and playfulness. I then needed to come up with an alternative to candy. I wanted to buy dried fruits but did not like how they were loaded with sulfurs and dyes. I bought a relatively inexpensive dehydrator and began to make my own fresh dried fruits: bananas, mangos, pineapples, and more.

In the end, the kids loved these treats while I had the satisfaction of knowing that they were putting nutritious food into their growing bodies and minds. Perhaps even more importantly, they were unknowingly developing the willingness to try new things. In them arose an appreciation of food, an awareness that food could be a pleasure. They learned to savor and appreciate the different tastes, textures and flavors of a broad variety of foods.

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