Have you made any big changes in your lifestyle?
I think probably the biggest lifestyle change I made was switching to a low-fat diet and having more fruits and vegetables. I became so aware of it that it actually is becoming more of a lifestyle. It is not just something that I have to say, oh, I think I need to eat my fruits and vegetables today. It's becoming more of a normal thing for me. Now if I can get my husband and my children to think the same way I'll be doing good.


Do you have a favorite fruit?
I really like a lot of different fruits. Because we do so many things with fruits and vegetables I found out I absolutely love mangos. Kiwis are one of my favorites. Nectarines, peaches, pears--all of those kinds of things. There were some new fruits and vegetables. Jicama I had never had before. Things like that. I also found some different ways to prepare them that I really liked. I tried ways to use them I would have never thought of before.


Have you found new recipes?
I use low-fat dips for fruits and vegetables. There were a few different recipes with salads. I'm eating more kinds of salads with more fruits and vegetables. I really like those. Now, I will look for recipes which use more fruits and vegetables. My family will not take any huge changes so I have to slide those little changes in little by little.


Can you get your family to change their eating habits?


I could change my whole eating pattern now that I'm more aware. Awareness is the key. I could turn around and change all my eating habits but my family won't. Apparently, I'm not selling it to them as well as I should. Maybe it is a slow change. You have to change them slowly and you have to make them see the benefit of it, I guess. I've lost ten pounds so that is a good thing.


What do you do about "snacks" for the family?
Snacks were potato chips. Now they're more fruits and vegetable type things, healthy things. I've learned a lot about preparing them. I get it all ready when I get home from the grocery store. I get them all cleaned, cut up in my baggies and then they are ready to go in the refrigerator. That way I find my kids will eat them, too. My daughter is eating them a lot more than she ever used to. They are there; they are clean; they are ready to go. I think that is part of the problem with not eating fruits and vegetables. I've really taken a big look at fat content. Making people aware of how much fat is in the things they are eating. Once you become aware of that it can be kind of amazing. I've taken a good look at fat. I'm trying to keep those high fat foods and high fat snacks out of my diet. I do go through streaks where I eat everything in sight, just like everybody else. I think that's where it's at, it is the lifestyle change.


How do you get kids to eat right?
I've tried to find different ways to prepare food so the kids will eat it. I have step-children. I was just remarried within the last year, so I have two step-daughters who didn't like the things my daughters and I like. My girls were of course raised eating with me so we ate basically the same kinds of things. My step-daughters would not eat anything. So over the course of time, I've found out the problem was how I was preparing food. Now, I prepare it in different ways. I just keep trying to find different ways. Then they'll say, oh, hey, that's not bad. I guess I didn't boil all the flavor and nutrients out of the broccoli and they're thinking, well, maybe I could eat this. I also encourage them to eat more of that kind of stuff instead of junk food. To tell you the truth, I don't think they are purposely out there trying to eat all the junk food they can. I think it didn't occur to them to eat an apple or eat maybe some fruit.


Can fruits and vegetables be as convenient as other snacks?


One of the things I do to get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables is to make sure they're prepared when I get home from the store instead of just sticking them in the refrigerator. I take them out, clean them, cut them up if they need to be cut up. However is easiest to fix them. I put them in Zip-Loc baggies and put them in the refrigerator. That way they're easy and they are convenient to go through and eat. I think the kids eat more of them that way. If they have to do it themselves, probably they're not going to. Especially if they're busy. We have kids who are sports kids. We have a cross-country runner. We have a baseball player. Those girls are busy. They don't have time to come home and fix it all themselves. If you have it all ready in the fridge, they will come home and eat that sort of stuff.


How do kids adjust to new ways and new foods?


Now my step-children always call me funny little things. They call me the neat freak because I like things picked up. It's just different than their household at home with their mom. It is not a bad thing, it's just different. I'm not a neat freak. They think I am because I'm always saying, if you're done with that put it in the dishwasher. They think that is a neat freak. But also they will ask me more often what is in the food that I make. They'll say, "Is that some of your health food? Or is that that vegetarian lasagna you made last time?" I think they're getting used to me. They're getting used to my cooking. There are some things they just don't like and they're never going to like and that's all right. I think the exposure to different things is good. My daughters are like that, too. My eldest one would rather eat fruits and vegetables then she would candy. Expose them to all those things and then probably they will on their own eventually pick it up and eat it.


Is it easy to find the amount of fat in foods?


I look at the labels to see how much fat is actually in foods. We can compare and say, "Oh my! That's a lot of fat for what I've got here." You know you can see the fat in some things. You really can't see the fat in the French fries or in cheese. There is a lot of fat in cheese and you can't see that. So you really have to look at the labels. You have to pay attention. What you actually have to do is start being more aware and see what you're really eating. It's easier now for us consumers to see what we're eating because of the food labels.


What is a typical dinner at your house?


Dinner usually depends on what is going on at our household. We usually have meat which I am trying to bake more instead of fry. We always have a vegetable. Another thing I've been trying to do at my house is have two vegetables instead of one. It looks like the same amount of food on the table. That does not always go over with my family. We have potatoes, bread, grains. I'm into grains also. That is pretty much our meals. My husband is a big meat eater, so I've been trying to wean him off of all that meat. I'm trying more rice and pasta.