Would you believe me if I told you that it took a Chicago-based pediatrician to tell Michelle Obama that her daughters’ diets and nutritional intake were off balance? According to their family doctor, and there needed to be a serious change in her grocery trips and cooking style if she was going to have a positive impact on the girls’ BMI (body mass index.) Pre-First Lady era, Michelle made the choice to cut the convenient sugary snacks and processed junk to spend more time in the kitchen creating nutritious yet flavorful meals for her daughters’ growing needs (and healthy BMIs!)
Fast forward to a time when the White House was under better grips, Michelle Obama embraced the title of First Lady… of Food. She pushed for a hearty healthy food agenda with an emphasis on youth that would change how Americans eat. From making school lunches healthier to overhauling the federal nutrition label, Michelle was on a mission to balance out the country’s diet, one meal at a time. Making history by way of food, the former First Lady understood that true wealth came in the form of health and for that we honor this fierce femme foodie in celebrating Women’s History Month.
Michelle’s visit to the pediatrician had a domino effect in her approach to cooking for her husband and daughters and hopefully, several homes across the country. During her time in the White House, Michelle promoted healthy eating not only by planting seeds in policy, but by sowing and growing an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn a year into her service as First Lady. The fruit and veggie oasis served as a backdrop for sustainable and healthful lifestyles and even provided the produce for the White House kitchen. Three years into learning the ins and outs of gardening, she published American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, applauding the growing trend of backyard family farming and community gardening.
Now, Michelle’s take on the country’s dinner tables is one ALL OF US should consider in our own kitchens and family. The secret ingredient in food after all is Love, best derived from the contribution of all members of the family. The bonds that arise from aromas, flavors and colorful plates not only make the food taste better, they balance and solidify the family unit as strongly as the nutrients fortify the body. Michelle takes that a step further by connecting kin with the mother of all mothers: Nature. Her intention with the White House garden, as it should be with all American families considering a backyard greenhouse, was to connect children with nature and provide a hands-on education about the values of healthy eating. Beyond that, when a child recognizes how their gardening efforts cultivate something that will go into Mama’s kitchen and eventually their dinner plates, a special kind of appreciation and gratitude for all involved is also sown. This, folks, is a priceless form of nurturing the family from the depths of their souls and bellies that Mother Earth can only do with your initiative.
Later this month I plan on giving you some tips on getting started with creating your own produce, starting with an indoor herb garden, just in time for Spring. Your Gangsta Goodies kitchen will blossom and you’ll evolve as the ambassador to healthy cooking while devouring the rewards of family bonding and connections with nature. In the meantime, Gangsta Goodies Kitchen is proud to provide you with the special GangstaLean section of our recipes. Here you’ll find healthy twists on delicious dishes, plus my award-winning dish, Not Your Momma’s Collard Greens, recently featured on Fox4KC!