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terry opener

With summer produce in full swing, we figured it was a good (easy) time to think about eating better. We recently caught up with Terry, the author of Clean Food and Clean Start, (and mom of two girls, Sarah, 13,  and Sydney, 11) whose straightforward approach and simple, delicious recipes resonate for those of us who dread the idea of overhauling our family’s diet. Of all of the cookbooks and guides to healthy eating out there, Terry’s feels among the most human, approachable, and doable. She’s also the best kind of success story: Terry is a mom who started teaching cooking classes in her kitchen; self-published a book because her students wanted all her recipes; and then a publisher took note. Her first book was a best-seller and her second was nominated for a James Beard award this year.

How did you get into this world of healthy eating  and then writing two books? I always thought I ate healthfully. When I was in college, my father had a heart attack, and it was then that I became aware of my own elevated cholesterol. I had no interest in taking medication, so I started changing the way I ate. Most of the cookbooks I turned to were full of ingredients I wanted to eliminate, or the recipes were lacking in taste altogether. So, I started experimenting in the kitchen and set out to learn as much as I could about the connection between my health and my food choices.

After my children were born, I started teaching cooking classes informally in my kitchen and became a health coach. Sharing this passion became a great way to connect with a variety of people, and to stay motivated and on the path in my personal journey. When one of my students asked me to if she could purchase my recipes, I embarked on self-publishing my first cookbook. And what ensued turned out to be an incredible adventure and fulfilling career. I feel very blessed to be able to do this work and to inspire so many to eat clean and live well.

Who cooks in your house? I do most of the cooking in the house, but because I cook for work so frequently, my family has taken to asking before they take something from the fridge, “May I eat this or is it for your work?”  When I actually make them something special, they often assume it’s for someone else and I have to spell it out, “I made this for YOU!”

What’s a typical weeknight? Someone has some activity almost every weeknight and the girls have a long school day, so there’s little opportunity during the week for family mealtime. I’m often making dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon, packing it to go, and the girls eat it in the car en route to gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse, sewing class… We all share breakfast time together and weekend dinners are our cherished family mealtimes.

Do you have a go-to dinner that appears weekly? During the winter, you can count on a hearty soup for dinner multiple nights of the week served with greens, whether sautéed kale and collards or a salad. I’ve convinced my girls that green is the most important color (occupational hazard), so we eat seasonal greens as part of our dinner almost every night. When time is of the essence, they could be served with simple brown rice and beans. When I have more time, my family loves my tofu kale lasagna and I always make two at a time – one for now and one to freeze for a day when I don’t have the time but want a healthy dinner (or healthy lunches to go).

What’s in the breakfast rotation? My girls like oatmeal, gluten-free waffles, eggs, my pancakes when there’s time… We all like my homemade granola, but my husband is addicted. He adds rice milk and seasonal fruit or raisins and eats that almost every morning, year round. I use the granola as my excuse to get in my ground flax and milk thistle seed, but my best morning fuel comes from eating dinner leftovers which could be some reheated quinoa and greens, soup, seared tofu or tempeh…

Any food-based family rituals? Every Thursday, the extra large mason jar is left on the counter almost empty as a reminder, “Mom, make more granola!” (Note: recipe at end of the post!)

How do you celebrate birthdays in your home, and do you do goody bags? I’m not up to date with the goody bag phenomenon, but I resent that birthday celebrations have become synonymous with putting junk food into our bodies – particularly at school. My cousin used to put rose petals in the bath for her girls on their birthdays and I thought it was such a beautiful tradition that I did the same when my oldest turned one. She took one look at the tub filled with water and petals, screamed and refused to get in the bath! So, I switched traditions and started making floral wreaths for each birthday. There have been years that they’ve worn them their entire birthday, and other years that they’ve made it to their heads for the picture only, but they’re always cherished, even when they end up hanging on their bedroom mirrors.

What websites inspire you and for which parts of your life? I try not to spend any more time than I need to on the computer. As it is, it’s an incredible time stealer. I read the NY Times and Facebook regularly for my news and connections. But the things that inspire me are my children, nature, the changing seasons, farmers markets, time with friends and family, the people I meet through my work, and sharing this journey to eat clean and live well.

What’s a typical weekend like? Every Saturday morning, before the rest of my family is even awake, there will be 5-15 of my good friends at the end of my driveway gathering for our weekly long run. That’s about the only activity that you can count on year round – rain, sleet, snow or shine (we’re like the postal service)! After that, there’s no such thing as typical for my family. We could be at a gymnastics meet or soccer game, I could be coaching lacrosse, we could be skiing 3 generations strong… Each season brings it’s specialties, whether raking leaves, hiking, snow shoeing, beaching, biking… We keep it as active and outdoors as possible and try to make weekends our together family time.

Favorite activities for when you’re stuck indoors, or do you not let the elements get in the way? I try really hard to find the opportunity to enjoy every day, no matter the weather. We’ll ski or snowshoe in almost any weather, and I’ll never forget the long walk in the pouring rain we shared a few years back. My youngest did cartwheels down the middle of our road through puddle after puddle. We were all hysterical. But, the older and more sane they get, the harder it is for me to convince them that it will be fun heading out in the rain. As long as the temps are over zero, I’ll run. The hardest part is getting out the door, but once I’m there I always enjoy myself. All that said, there’s nothing like an afternoon nap snuggled under a blanket on a cold rainy day.

What kind of music are you into? My favorite listening is to my girls playing the guitar and singing. I could take that in all day and night. It fills my heart and nourishes my soul. Delicious! After that, I’m likely to be listening to Dave Matthews, Michael Franti, Eddie Vedder… Just about anything is fare game, whether from my college years or my girls’ collections, Peter Gabriel to Indigo Girls to Pink… You never know!

What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off ? I used to carry items over from list to list, but I’ve let go of that for the sake of my own sanity. There’s only so much I can do in a given day, and the only thing that accomplished was making me feel badly about myself. I figure that if it hasn’t gotten done yet, perhaps it’s not worth doing. And if it is worth doing, I probably don’t need to write it down to remember that I want to do it!

Top 3 favorite books—for your kids, top 3 for yourself? Last book you read? My kids were crazy for the Hunger Games trilogy so I read all three this past winter and loved them (especially number two). We can’t wait for the movie to come out next March. We’ll all be there together…dressed like Katniss Everdeen! I’m also part of a book club and love talking about the books we read as a group. I can walk into a discussion having not enjoyed a book, and walk out having totally changed my mind. There are dozens that fall into my “favorite” category.

Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine or something that just makes you feel armed for the day when you leave the house, or do you have a routine before you go to bed? Run, shower, moisturize with Hugo Body Lotion, Evan Healy Eye Cream, mod.skin serum and moisturizer on my face, EcoTints lip balm and I’m off!

You feel your best when? I exercise regularly, eat my greens, get ample sleep, spend quality time with my children and do the best I can, taking it all one day at a time.

Favorite clothing item and why? Most days, I wear my running clothes until I get the run in, and then, if given my druthers, I’d pick old comfy jeans, a fitted gray t-shirt and Birkenstocks. I’m all for easy, comfy and simple. During winter, I trade in the Birks for my clunky Rocket Dog clogs and grab my burnt orange zip fleece. It’s not the most showy of outfits, but it’s me through and through, whether I’m cooking, heading to the farm, picking up girls from school, coaching…

Proudest moment in parenting? Way too many to say. My girls amaze me every day and I am always proud to be their mom.

Guiltiest pleasure? Pizza and goats milk cheese (separately or together!)

Maple Nut Granola

The key to making great granola is to bake it at a low temperature for a long time. Of course, a little bit of shredded coconut and a lot of cinnamon and maple syrup help, too!

4 cups rolled oats

2 cups crispy brown rice cereal

1 1⁄2 cups toasted sunflower seeds

1 1⁄2 cups shredded dried coconut

1 cup sliced almonds, pecans or cashews

1 cup raisins 2+ tablespoons cinnamon 3⁄4 cup canola oil 3⁄4 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, syrup and almond extract. Pour wet mixture over dry and combine. Transfer granola to 9 x 12-inch glass casserole and spread evenly. Place on top rack of oven and bake 30 minutes. Mix to ensure even baking and prevent raisins from burning and bake another

30 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely to set. This will give you lots of big chunks. Store in airtight container. Will keep for weeks.

Makes 10 cups


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Comments (2)


  1. Pingback: monday: best of last week | The Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly

  2. Pingback: granola dreams. | our first CSA & random yummy recipes

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