Ree Dolnick is passionate about creating amazing cookies and energy bars that are the perfect snack for healthy people on the go. In this interview, she chats with us about healthy living and involving the whole family in creating tasty, healthy food products.
Q: Jeca Bars and Cookies is a huge proponent of kids eating healthily. Around the holidays and generally, what are some great ways kids can continue to make sure that they don't eat too much in the way of sweets and candies? What are the replacement foods out there that perhaps they could be eating instead?
A: Obviously it’s important to be eating healthily all the time, but it’s especially important to keep that in mind during the holiday season. It's kind of an indulgent time, and you’re always surrounded by so much decadent, heavy food. Plus it can also be kind of a stressful, hectic period, so people are short on time and more likely to choose options that are quick and convenient.
I've always been really a proponent of eating fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible. It’s how I was raised - if you’re hungry and you want a snack, grab a piece of fruit! Unfortunately, that’s not always available and in this country especially, the most prevalent snack foods are full of sugar and preservatives and are highly processed. I don't think those are good for the children under any circumstance.
Of course, the best way to control what goes into your kids’ bodies is to make their food yourself. I always think it’s fun to do an activity with the kids where you make the snacks together, like little men made out of cheese and fruit on toothpicks or making homemade granola. That way your children are excited to eat it because they had a hand in making it, plus they themselves are more aware of what they’re eating and you’re teaching them healthy habits.
With our busy modern lives, though, not everyone has time to make their own snacks or access to good raw ingredients. That’s part of the reason we made Jeca bars and cookies, to provide individual portion snacks where you’re guaranteed the ingredients are natural, wholesome, and good for your kids.
Q: When you and I have spoken previously, you've given some insights into how you became passionate about healthy foods and cooking and what not. Do you have any recommendations about how families can best spend time cooking with their kids during the holiday season or just throughout the year?
A: I think it's important to take away the mystery of cooking from the children from the beginning. If they feel easy in the kitchen and know that it takes time, and patience and love to create something that's delicious, that's a really good thing to learn. Spending time in the kitchen developing recipes or even just playing around, they learn to love food and establish a good relationship. And parents can have fun spending time with the kids that way, as well!
Take advantage of downtime you might have during the holiday season, but be thoughtful about what it is you’re showing your children. You can make really sugary cookies with tons of sprinkles and frosting, or you could show them that there are ways to make something really delicious with more nutritious ingredients. Those kinds of lessons, over time, will inform how your kids eat for the rest of their lives - I see this in my own daughter and her friends.
Q: What would you say is one of the biggest problems families are facing in trying to lead healthy lives nowadays? What are your suggestions to remedy that?
A: I think most working families struggle with being stressed for time. By the time we all come together for a meal, we're exhausted and we're reaching for convenience. I think time is considered the biggest enemy in terms of trying to eat well and to have family time, but it doesn't have to be. If things can be planned out ahead of time so that all the ingredients are readily available so that you're not stressing at the last minute to see what to make, I’ve personally found that helpful.
On that note, I think it's extremely important, regardless how busy you are, that a family comes together for a meal. It can be simple, but not simple like takeout pizza every night. It just takes a little planning to create something healthy and satisfying with fresh produce, and I really believe in the power of a family coming together to enjoy a healthy meal.