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Betsy Block

The Healthful Hedonist: Comfort Food for the 21st Century

Welcome to the Healthful Hedonist

Simple. Savory. Sustainable.

Wednesdays on Mama Cooks.

Welcome to my new column, The Healthful Hedonist, born from everything I learned while writing The Dinner Diaries: Raising Whole Wheat Kids in a White Bread World, my book about how and why I got my family to eat better. This column is where "healthy," "thrifty" and "hedonist" all collide at the dinner table.

The Healthful Hedonist is based on three facts:

First, I have the palate and passion for food of a professional food writer, restaurant critic and recipe developer with more than 16 years of experience.

Second, I am a concerned mom who dreams of a better world not just for my own children, but for all children everywhere.

Third, I want it all.

So I'm embarking on a culinary quest. I'm in search of comfort food for the new millennium. I need recipes that are delicious but also affordable, healthful, sustainable and simple, because while I may have the exacting standards of a restaurant critic, sadly I have the talent, time constraints and budget of a home cook. Have I set myself an impossible task? We'll see.

I have to try, though, because the most important thing I learned while improving my family's diet was that, despite evidence to the contrary, our children listen to us; unfortunately, Gandhi was right. We do have to be the change we wish to see in the world. If we want our kids eating kale, we have to eat it first. And enjoy it. As much as we may crave shortcuts, or at least I do, they don't exist. But the good news is, and I speak from experience, this strategy of persistently serving healthy food works. Not for every vegetable with every child every time it's served, but enough to give me hope, and my family a new way of eating. It's also enough to make other people's children hurl my book across a room in rage, but I don't mind being the fall guy if that's what it takes.

Life may be imperfect but it's also a gift. I intend to unwrap it one gorgeous recipe at a time – even if some days, I'm the only one biting.

I hope you'll join me.