As the chef for The Biggest Loser for over a decade and a bestselling cookbook author, Devin Alexander has dedicated her career to helping people eat healthily. After adopting her daughter, Devin focused her passion on helping moms and kids eat better. Devin divulges her tips on healthy living, how moms can stay well-fed while in the parenting trenches and a unique hack for keeping your kids entertained while you’re cooking.
Congratulations on new motherhood and your upcoming book release! During your decade-long tenure as the chef for The Biggest Loser, what’s the most memorable lesson you learned about healthy living?
In order to be fit for the long haul, you must come up with a plan you can stick with. So many contestants tried to work out for 7+ hours a day (which is great if your main goal is to win $250K in a few months), but it’s not sustainable! Any diet will work…if you can “work it.” For me, just looking at every meal as an opportunity to make healthy choices is the most sensible “diet” of all…and it keeps the pounds off!
One of your passions is helping moms feed themselves better. Do you have any tips for new moms who’re struggling to feed themselves between diaper changes, feeding and soothing?
It’s seriously ALL in the food prep! In addition to everything you mentioned, there’s the also the screaming toddler or crying baby when you can’t get food on their plate in minutes. I learned (after gaining a few pounds) that I HAD to ALWAYS have food prepped so I could just heat and serve or throw together and serve for us both! For instance, for breakfast, I have overnight oats always “awaiting” us. They take minutes to throw together and seconds to put in a bowl. My 15 month-old LOVES them and they’re super healthy! When I can make eggs, I do. But no matter what, we have something!
What are a few of your favorite simple, healthy meals for toddlers?
My daughter will pretty much eat anything I cut into teeny tiny “french fry” pieces. She LOVES butternut squash (when made into “fries”) and grilled chicken strips. I literally grill chicken like I would for me with a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, then use kitchen scissors to cut it into tiny strips. I sometimes top it with a store bought (fresh) olive tapenade or fresh bruschetta, both of which she LOVES! She’s also a huge fan of sweet potato cubes. I sometimes do ground turkey breast or breast cutlets and zucchini in a frying pan. And she loves salmon! I’ve fed her adult food from the second she was able to start gumming food. As a chef, I don’t like the taste of most of the purees at all, so I don’t know why she would. 🙂 Even before she was old enough to eat, I roasted Brussels sprouts then pureed them with just a touch of water—they’re so much more delicious to me that steamed mushy Brussels!
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Doing dishes. I’d also love for someone to run all my errands.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
I hate to admit this, but I watch TV. Not a ton, but I fall asleep to TV at night… contrary to all expert advice!
What is your best parenting hack?
When your kids are screaming for dinner, pretend they are the audience for a cooking show as you cook. I lost the weight I gained when I literally started acting like I’m the host of a cooking show talking directly to my angel. She LOVES it. She feels like I’m paying attention to her…and, hey, she’s going to be quite the little Master Chef Toddler!
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
My angel is only 15 ½ months, so I’ve only told one—”Mommy will be right back”…when I know she needs to go to sleep.
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
Oh, that’s not one word? Okay…transformative! I worked so much for so many years that I “forgot” to have kids even though I always wanted to be a mom! At 43, I was told I probably couldn’t conceive. Still husbandless, I was pretty devastated. I ended up getting my angel from foster care. It’s challenging being a solo parent, but I have so much more love in my life…and she makes my house a home!
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
People are shocked at what my daughter eats – and while I know that some kids are inherently pickier than others, I also took TONS of steps to ensure she would be exposed to so many foods that she would have no choice to be healthy. I also cook pretty much all of her meals!
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Be nice to EVERYONE!
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
I would love it if no parent would ever say the words, “My child won’t eat anything green,” or “My son/daughter doesn’t like any vegetables.” Instead, I’d challenge them to be really honest about how many times they’ve tried to feed them veggies, how many different veggies and how many ways have you prepared them. With a huge and loving, “You’re-Doing-An-Awesome-Job-In-So-Many-Ways” HUG, I invite other moms to think that way instead of reinforcing that your child doesn’t like healthy foods.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
Did you hear a rumor that I can? Seriously, it’s tough. But I will say that I’ve done a much better job since my daughter has arrived – crazy, I know!
What was the last book you read?
I’m dyslexic, so I really only read my own books to proof them. But I do listen to books on Audible while driving. ‘m almost at the end of Tim Ferris’, 4 Hour Work Week…to get more balance! HA!
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Playing tennis or beach tennis!
What is on your DVR?
This is Us; Shark Tank; The Profit; Law & Order SVU
Whatsapp. I have a pretty big tribe of entrepreneurs and moms who travel abroad often, so it’s GREAT to have that support all the time via WhatsApp!
Favorite Kids Store:
Amazon??? I literally shop for everything for my angel on Amazon, Target.com and BuyBuyBaby.com.