Scott Koeneman was born and raised in Iowa. A former Marine and journalist, he now works for the University of Illinois. Three years ago, Koeneman drastically changed his lifestyle and lost 100 pounds in the process. He now writes a blog, Fight the Fat Foodie, where he shares his love of food and recipes for a healthy lifestyle. When he’s not cooking, he and wife Nancy are avid motorcyclists. They are the parents of 16-year-old son Quinn.
See why we think Scott Koeneman is a Chambana dad to know.
Q: Congratulations on your weight loss. What was the impetus for you to change your lifestyle?
I’ve dealt with weight issues off and on much of my life. I’d get in shape and then fall back into old, unhealthy routines. Then, my mother passed away in her mid-60s from a heart attack and stroke. This was after both her older brothers had died too young in the same way. At the same time, our family doctor was putting me on medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol and iffy blood sugar levels. When you’re in your 20s, your mid-60s seem a long way off. When you’re on the back end of your 40s, not so much. I knew that if I wanted to live long enough to experience all the things I want to, I would need to get healthy and stay that way. Focusing on living a healthy lifestyle, instead of dieting, has made all the difference. I can now fit into my old uniform and the only pills I take are a multivitamin and fish oil.
Q: What is your favorite recipe on your blog and why?
This is tough because I won’t put something I don’t like on the blog. The best I can do is give you two. The first is biscuits and sausage gravy. I am an absolute fiend for breakfast. To me, breakfasts are the best of comfort foods and so versatile. You’ll have eggs for dinner, but would you have meatloaf for breakfast? It also exemplifies my philosophy that you can eat anything you want, just be healthy about it. My version substitutes healthy ingredients for those high in fat and calories, but maintains the flavor and comfort of the dish. The second would be the fettuccine Alfredo. Again, not something usually connected to “healthy eating” and because Quinn found the original that inspired my version and helped to launch my little crusade.
Q: Do you have any recommendations as to how we teach our children healthy eating habits from the start?
Marines lead by example, parents must as well. Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for and incredibly observant. If you’re not living a healthy lifestyle, their not going to either. Second, and this goes for all of us, healthy doesn’t mean boring or flavorless. Experiment with herbs and spices instead of fat and salt to bring flavor to dishes. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese (it’s low in fat) on vegetables, Combine (don’t try to hide) healthy foods with things they already like. Use lean ground beef or turkey to make burgers, throw some chopped veggies in with the spaghetti, use fruits as the main ingredient in deserts.
Q: Your son Quinn is 15 years old and has written two books, both relating to him having Ausperger’s, a form of autism. Is your blog a way to keep pace with him? You must be very proud.
First, Quinn is now 16 and a licensed driver. He’d be very unhappy with me if I didn’t correct that. Okay, I really am laughing out loud about this because Quinn recently told me that if kept working hard, I might be as famous as him. I still haven’t been invited to a movie premier, whereas he has. We are incredibly proud of him. His perspective on the world is just different enough that he sees the obvious that so many of us miss. He questions everything, tiring but it also forces everyone around him to think. The blog actually came about by accident. I started sharing recipes with friends on Facebook and many encouraged me to start a blog because there are so many people out there who don’t realize you can have flavor and a meal that leaves you satisfied while eating in a healthy way. It’s become a bit of an obsession.
Q: You don’t blog about family, but your son and your wife play a major role on “Fight the Fat Foodie.” What do you like to cook together?
We don’t actually cook together very often, though they each play a huge role in my cooking. I tend to get a little intense, especially when I’m trying something for the first time and am not the best company in the kitchen. We tend to be more complimentary than cooperative. Nancy has been cooking since she was a child and has a vast knowledge that I draw on every day. I bounce all my ideas off of her and regularly call for help when I get myself into trouble while cooking. She is also the baker in the family. I tend to cook by the seat of my pants, not something that is good idea when baking. Measurements and substitutions done wrong can lead to failure far more easily than in cooking. She’s slowly teaching and bringing me along. Quinn is my artist in residence and most honest critic. Photos of the dishes are very important in food blogging and his suggestions and the photos he has done have led to a huge improvement in that aspect of the blog. Additionally, kids with autism tend to have heightened senses. You’ll find kids who can’t wear certain fabrics because of the way they feel against their skin, or won’t eat certain foods because of the color or texture. A great dish is measured by appearance, taste and texture. Most of us have to consciously think about each of those things. For Quinn, it’s there, in the forefront. He sees, tastes and feels a dish far more intensely than most of us and has no qualms about telling me his thoughts. It’s a good thing.
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