jenniferI’m a bestselling mystery writer with a passion for nutrition. I received a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from Old Dominion University, have trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and continue to read everything I can to further my nutrition studies.

I’m also a mother, which has only served to skyrocket my passion.

I have five-year-old twins—one who was born with a series of severe heart defects called hypoplastic left-heart syndrome (or HLHS). He’s faced a handful of surgeries, including three open heart in his first few years alone.

And as the mother of a heart child, I feel it’s my responsibility to help keep his immune system robust and his circulatory system as healthy as I possibly can through good nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices.

Since my boys were born, I’ve been on a mission to provide the most nutrient-dense, heart-healthy food possible. That means a diet comprised of mostly whole foods, using the highest-quality plant and animal foods I have access to.

The twins’ first solid foods consisted primarily of fruits and vegetables pureed with healthy fats like unrefined coconut oil, mashed avocados and bananas. Since this was what was offered, they have always loved the flavors of natural foods.

Sure, my kids eat cake and ice cream at birthday parties or pizza on some Friday nights. Rather than vilify these types of treats, at our house we call them “Sometimes Foods”—and my boys understand that it’s okay to eat them sometimes as long as the majority of their diet is made up of nutritious, real foods.

What saddens me, though, is that the majority of American kids are being fed a steady diet of “Sometimes Foods,” often even under the guise of being healthful because most parents don’t understand that labels can be misleading.

It disheartens me to see parents feeding their children food they believe is healthy, but truthfully is anything but: one-hundred percent real juice boxes, “heart healthy” cheese crackers, and sugar-laden cereals formulated with potentially harmful dyes and additives that have been banned in other countries (some of these products have even been given the stamp of approval by the American Heart Association, no less).

I believe in the power of education to inspire change—and I hope to do my part with helping improve our modern “kid food” culture through Real Food Kids.

The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of good health. And while it’s true that it takes more time, more effort and a little more money, our kids are more than worth it.