WOW! I can’t believe it’s finally arrived — launch day! Blastoff! The official, nationwide kickoff of The KewlBites Cookbook! KewlBites: 100 Nutritious, Delicious, and Family-Friendly Dishes arrives on shelves across the USA today, wherever books are sold, and it’s really surreal (a pinch myself moment!) to think that my inaugural cookbook is making its debut.
The book has been published by my extraordinary partners at Rodale Books, an incredible publishing house that counts among its A-list, star-studded roster of authors such names as movie star Jessica Alba; Joy Bauer, nutritional expert on NBC’s TODAY Show; celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels; former Vice President Al Gore; and His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales — heir to the throne of the United Kingdom.
I’ve been “cooking up” the book — no pun intended! — behind the scenes for the past year and a half straight. Six months, nonstop, in the kitchen, behind the stovetop, and at the grocery store, with more than a few runs to the local kitchen supply warehouse, too! My first step when I began to create the all-new, never-before-seen, exclusive recipes inside was to invest in a cookware upgrade. New stand mixer, new food processor, and new industrial-grade blender (you know, the kind you see at the local coffeehouse that, according to various YouTube videos, is powerful enough to grind a cell phone in the dust! ***PS — Don’t try that at home!).
Next — I dug in my heels and prepared for the tidal wave of culinary experimentation ahead! I made daily schedules featuring three test-piloted recipes that I would whip up, and would make up for any mistakes through rigorous testing to ensure that my recipes were accurate and as delicious and good-for-you as possible. Of course, the theme of the book, like the theme of KewlBites.com, is family-friendly, lightened-up, better-for-you classics and favorites, many of which are inspired by the types of foods I, like kids and adults alike, crave, and by my travels abroad.
I approached the recipe experimentation process as a reader, not a writer per se. What I mean by that is to say that, as I devised each new culinary concoction, I asked myself, from an objective standpoint, “Are readers at home going to make these three dishes together for a family dinner? The lamb with the quinoa and the soufflés? Are there too many ingredients? What about the flavors? Balanced? Too sweet? Too tart? Is this dish simple? Straightforward? Even for first-time cooks? Can these ingredients be easily found at the neighborhood grocery store? Are they accessible?”
A lot of questions! But critical answers abound. And soon, one hundred special and super kewl recipes were taking shape. I’m lucky to have an at-home focus group at my disposal — my family! We’re fortunate to have good taste-buds running in our DNA, so from my mom Michele to my 95-year-old great-grandma Aline (she’s our family matriarch!), all of these recipes underwent thorough examination and honest critique. Plus, like all of my recipes, they’re kid-tested, and mother-approved!
Six months of cooking later, the editing process commenced. This was fascinating for me, a writer at heart, because I had the opportunity to learn so much about the craft of cookbook writing. My expert, masterful, super-genius editor Kathleen Hackett is a rockstar! Huge thanks go to Kathleen for showing me the ropes, walking me through the ins-and-outs of book publishing, and enlightening me in the art of creating a cookbook that not only fits in with all of the iconic titles on the bookshelf, but also stands out uniquely, on its own two feet (or on its book jacket, I should say!).
Once we had settled on a book we loved to the max, it was time to bring it to life visually. So we lined up a two-week photo shoot at a top studio in NYC, and, full disclosure: I must confess — the whole team was a little jealous of how beautiful the kitchen was! We had a stellar gang of tried-and-true cookbook professionals, from my editor and her team to the leaders of the art department at Rodale Books to Tara Donne, our gifted photographer (thanks for everything Tara!); Simon Andrews, our awesome food stylist (big thanks to you too, Simon!); and other major tours de force such as our props masters, lighting staff, and hair and makeup artists. It was an all-star lineup, all on set for two weeks shooting dozens of pictures of the recipes that I had cooked up for months! As Simon as his team prepared each dish and made them look absolutely irresistible (which they are in their natural state, I must say!), I was startled that nostalgic memories of the experimentation process drifted back to the forefront of my mind as each nuanced aroma of the spices and seasonings featured in my dishes wafted boldly throughout the studio.
And, in the past few months, we’ve all been in countdown mode! My team and I have been compiling each element of a major nationwide press tour that will take us to nearly 20 cities from coast to coast, to share the message of my book and (hopefully!) revolutionize the way American families look at food and nutrition. In the interim, you can get in on all the action by checking out the nonstop updates we’ll be posting here on KewlBites around the clock in our special Tour News section, and don’t forget to come out and join us on our many stops along the tour! Get the details in our Events and Calendar areas. Can’t wait to see you there! Tweet me up using the hashtag #KewlBites to stay engaged in the digital dialogue!
If you’d like to order a copy of the book to have it delivered right to your doorstep, click here: www.kewlbites.com/cookbook
Finally, a closing message from me — over the past few years, you guys have been nothing short than truly outstanding. You’ve supported me, read my posts, taken my advice, and cooked my recipes. You’ve tweeted me, kept me informed on Facebook, and emailed me pictures of you with your families in the kitchen at home or out and about in daily life. I’m deeply thankful to all of you for everything you’ve done to help KewlBites grow and expand, now into having its own book — a tangible centerpiece of the conversation we’ve shared together that you can bring into your home. And I know that conversation has a long way to go. Until we get there, thanks again, and always remember — stay kewl!