Today I would like to introduce to you Kate Tietje, owner and operator of Modern Alternative Mama. Many of you already know her blog and follow her writing. In this interview you will get to know a little more about her and how she does all that she does. She also shares a bit about her real food journey with her family.
1. Your blog, Modern Alternative Mama, has a lot of great information. What made you decide to start blogging?
I started blogging in October, 2009. I already had been doing a lot of research into the ‘alternative’ lifestyle, and we had been dealing with my daughter’s allergies. I felt like my eyes had been opened and I was constantly telling those around me – but they didn’t necessarily want to hear it. Some of them placated me, and some were hostile. I considered blogging, but I couldn’t figure out what my “niche” would be. I wanted to blog about everything that was on my mind. Then I ran across Keeper of the Home, and she blogged about everything I wanted to! I realized I didn’t have to narrow it down, I could just do what I wanted, so I did. I loved it. I still do. And ironically I’ve worked closely with Stephanie (of KOTH) and have been a contributor there for a year and a half now.
2. Helping others with this much needed information is surely rewarding. Would you share with us an experience you've had helping one of your readers?
I actually have the opportunity to do this pretty frequently. People post questions to my Facebook wall all the time (probably 10 – 15 daily) and sometimes email me too. Most are answered publicly. Some are answered privately. Sometimes it helps the readers just to know they’re not alone, and to get answers to their questions in a non-judgmental setting, something I strive to provide.
3. How do you find the time to run a household, raise your children, serve real food meals…AND run a business? What tips do you have for other Moms and/or other business owners.
It really all comes down to your family’s priorities. If blogging is a hobby for you, then you will not have enough time to turn it into a business. You have to decide it will be a business and invest the time in it, sometimes above other things. I have a babysitter come in Tuesdays and Thursdays 9 – 12, so I work at those times. My kids all still nap, so I have another couple of hours every afternoon. My husband has been taking the kids to the playground for an hour or so after they wake up, so that’s a little more time that I have. I work most of the day Tues/Thurs., between the babysitter, naps, and my husband watching the kids. I also tend to keep my laptop nearby when I am cooking or doing activities with the kids, so I can read them a story or two, then quickly check if anything needs my attention. I’ll go make and eat lunch with them, then check in again. It only takes a few minutes throughout the day to check in like this. A couple days a week, I just go out with the kids and I don’t have a smart phone, so I’m not doing anything but spending time with them. Often on Saturdays we get together with family and have a day “off” then too. As for the household…I plan meals in advance and make sure I’m doing steps throughout the day, and it’s not a big deal. Now, laundry? I’ve got a pile of clean laundry waiting for my attention…I’m terrible at keeping up with that. It’s all about balance, and your priorities. If I felt that my kids couldn’t handle those two mornings away from me, or if my husband weren’t committed to helping me, I could not do this.
4. What are some other websites or blogs you enjoy reading?
I honestly don’t have much time to read blogs lately. I’m crazy busy with some upcoming projects and every minute I have to work, I’m working on those. However, I usually check in with Keeper of the Home, Kitchen Stewardship, and sometimes Kelly the Kitchen Kop or The Healthy Home Economist a couple times a week. I also look through my Facebook feed and check out what bloggers are doing that way. I wish I had more time to read, but I don’t.
5. What are your top three tips for Moms who want to make the switch to the real food lifestyle?
1. Pick one thing that is super important to you, and just do that first. Is it raw milk? Is it grass-fed meat? Is it avoiding HFCS? Pick just one.
2. Try to go for unprocessed. Buy fresh or frozen veggies, real cuts of meat, plain pasta. Worry about traditional preparation methods or high-quality sources later. Just buy “real food” that is available in the grocery store.
3. Seek out sources of recipes that approximate your family’s favorite meals, made over in a healthier way. If you try to deprive yourselves, you won’t stick with it. So have that casserole (made with homemade cream soup instead of canned) or have some donuts (fried in pastured lard, ideally). You can always worry about cutting down on the sugar or whatever later…but enjoy what you like, at least from time to time.
6. What were the most beneficial changes you made in your family's diet?
Preparing our grains properly was huge, because my kids react poorly to unsoaked grains. If I don’t soak them, we can’t eat whole grains at all. Switching to raw milk was big too – my second baby was dairy-intolerant, and my first showed some signs, too. We switched before I got pregnant with my third and now all of my children are fine with dairy (the third never had an issue). Increasing our fat intake is probably the last big change. It allowed my husband and I to lose weight and then manage our weight easily, and increased our children’s energy levels and overall health (that energy level thing isn’t always good…haha).
7. What are the three recipes you make most often, why?
This has changed throughout the seasons of our lives. The answer I would have given you a year ago (still real food) and what I’d give you today are different. Pork chops, currently with mashed potatoes (in another season, with rice) are very popular, showing up about once a week. Mexican rice is very popular too, either with chicken or ground beef. Oh, and I can’t forget ice cream…in the summer we have a small bowl almost everyday. There isn’t much sugar in it.
8. Do you have a weekly schedule planned for your family such as Monday is grocery shopping day, Tuesday is cooking, Wednesday is laundry, etc.? Why or why not?
Sort of. Every other Friday is grocery shopping day. Tues/Thurs. the babysitter comes. Mon. and Wed. we sometimes go out, sometimes do chores. Monday often tends to be heavier on chores. So I guess you could say we have some structure in place, but also some flexibility. It allows to get stuff done, but if we’re especially tired one day, or if we’re in the mood to play – we can accommodate that.
9. Did you learn about the real food lifestyle from someone who taught/coached you or did you seek this information out yourself? Would you have done this differently if you could go back and do it again?
I didn’t really have a choice – I had a few online friends who suggested some resources to me, but for the most part I did it all myself. Most people thought I was sort of crazy. If I’d had the option to learn from someone else, to watch them in the kitchen, I certainly would. I’m hoping one of my friends who’s been into NT since college is going to show me some things about fermenting this year! But I didn’t know her yet when I started this journey.
10. Is there anything new or emerging with Modern Alternative Mama that you would like to share with us?
Yes, actually! We just launched a new site: Modern Alternative Kitchen, on July 9th. The entire focus of that site is real/traditional foods. We are also planning to launch Modern Alternative Pregnancy (Aug. 27) and Modern Alternative Health (Sept. 4). There will probably be others in the future, too. If you’re looking for more in-depth information along the lines of what MAM provides, you will find it at these sister sites.
Kate is the owner of the Modern Alternative Mama family of websites. She homeschools her three children and teaches them to cook real food. Additionally, she enjoys sewing and crafts and being outside. You can find her at Keeper of the Home and Food…Your Way in addition to her own blogs.