You know when you meet someone and you think they’re lovely and smart and you just totally connect with them? Yeah, that’s how I felt when I met Asha Dornfest about four years ago. She was all that and so much more.
I knew right away that she was someone I wanted, er – needed – in my life because she would inspire the best of me. And she certainly has. Her latest project is a book she co-authored with Christine Koh called Minimalist Parenting. It’s an approach to parenting that felt very natural to us the first time we stepped foot into a Babies R Us store almost ten years ago to build a baby registry and I’m so pleased to see it resonate with other families.
As part of my Stories We Share interview series, I hope that you enjoy getting to know Asha and see how she feeds her family.
First things first: tell us about yourself, and why you wrote the book Minimalist Parenting?
I launched the blog Parent Hacks seven years ago with the hope of collecting and sharing parents’ real-world tips and experiences. “Expert parenting” books had left me at a loss as my experience as a mom didn’t seem to match up with what I was reading. Parent Hacks has been a gift, because it gave me a vibrant parenting community in the days before Facebook and Twitter.
Minimalist Parenting grew out of lessons I learned later in my parenting journey. Through sheer trial and error, I found that the more I made decisions based on my family’s own unique preferences and values (as opposed to cultural pressures and peers’ choices), the happier our life became. When my co-author, Christine Koh, approached me about writing a book together, it hit me with a flash that Minimalist Parenting would let me tell that story in a way that might help other parents in a practical way.
What’s so wonderful about writing Minimalist Parenting with Christine is that she came to the same place parenting-wise from a completely different context. Our stories are different, but we couldn’t be more “together” in our philosophy.
What is your favorite food? And your children’s favorite food?
I love every kind of food! Right now I’m craving roasted vegetables (I’m serious…right now it’s cauliflower).
I grew up enthusiastically eating all kinds of foods, so I wasn’t prepared for my kids’ finicky tastes. My 13 year-old son’s teenage-boy appetite is motivating him to widen his food horizons, but my 9 year-old daughter is still pretty particular about taste and texture. Right now, their favorite foods are Asian-inspired (Chinese, Japanese, and Thai in particular).
What is your biggest challenge around family meals?
For sure, it’s my kids’ hesitancy to try new foods. It’s an ongoing challenge for me to stay neutral when they decide to “just have rice” during dinner, or they ask to make something else for themselves.
How do you overcome it to make healthy meals happen for your family?
My husband and I share cooking duties, and we just try to keep the mood light while cooking the food we like to eat. We compromise by making one or two simple side-dishes so there’s always something to eat. And we talk about the connections between nutrition and health as much as we can without nagging.
What are your go-to meals for the busiest of nights?
I love baked potatoes with toppings (onion-yogurt dip, crumbled bacon, steamed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms). Takes a while to bake the potatoes but the meal itself is a no-brainer.
I also like broiled chicken breast with rice and peas. Sometimes I season the chicken with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic, other times I top with a little barbecue sauce or soy-sesame glaze. The rice goes in the rice cooker, and the rest of the meal comes together in 15 minutes.
How would a minimalist parent approach family meals?
We devote two chapters in Minimalist Parenting to food: one on grocery shopping and meal planning, and the other on cooking and enjoying meals as a family. We encourage parents to involve kids in any part of the process that feels right, starting in the smallest of ways. We also recommend keeping meals simple and nourishing, including relying on repetition to save time and brain space. Save the fancy cooking for the weekend or special occasions!
For parents who aren’t sure how to get started, we offer a free, 14-day companion workshop called MinCamp. Each day we email one doable task in the areas of time management, decluttering, food and self-care, and we provide support and cheerleading (and merit badges!).
We welcome Feed Our Families readers to join MinCamp! Sign up at minimalistparenting.com/mincamp.
Thanks Asha! I’m also going to suggest buying the book! It’s awesome and you won’t regret it. Check it out HERE.