Who’s the First Person on ‘Cooking Light’ Cover? The First Lady

In its 28 years of existence, Cooking Light magazine has never had a person grace its cover -- until now

Cooking LightIn its 28 years of existence, Cooking Light magazine has never had a person grace its cover — until now…

This week, First Lady Michelle Obama will be the first person to appear on the cover of the culinary magazine, a Time Inc. subsidiary.

In an exclusive interview with Cooking Light‘s editor Hunter Lewis entitled “The First Lady of Food,” Mrs. Obama discusses the state of the family dinner in America as well as her role as “the most food-focused first lady ever. ”

Below are portions of the Q&A between Lewis and the first lady.

On the progress of Let’s Move! since its launch five years ago …

“We’re really proud of the changes we’ve seen across the country — most proud of the fact that it feels like there’s a new norm in how families think about food and what’s healthy.”

On some of the challenges Let’s Move! has faced over the last five years …

“Change is hard for anybody.  And when you’re talking about food, food is really personal.  So when you’re telling people to rethink their dietary habits that they’ve lived with all their lives, it’s really personal.”

On measuring the success of Let’s Move! …

“We measure this in terms of a generation. … So we’re looking at those kids who are coming into kindergarten right now, who are coming out of preschools who have now adopted new standards, and they’re serving different snacks. … We’re looking at that kid going through high school and then entering college with a whole new set of habits and taste buds.”

On the impact of Let’s Move! …

“… I think one of the most impactful things that we’ve done today when we look back … are the changes in the school lunch program. I mean, millions and millions of children rely on the school lunch program for the vast majority of their nutritional calories.”

 On why the Obamas made food such a big part of their platform … 

“… The most powerful thing that [people] can do for their overall health is feed their bodies good nutritious food — if you don’t like the doctor, if you don’t like government, if you don’t like folks messing with your life, the best thing to do is make sure you’re healthy.”

On empowering, not guilting, people to return to the kitchen …

“We have to be deliberate about [getting back to home cooking traditions].  It won’t happen by accident.  People are busier today.  Life is different … but we have to find those new healthier norms.”

On what Mrs. Obama will continue to do once she leaves the White House to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and family cooking … 

“… Because our goals are generational, clearly we won’t be done by the time we leave the White House. So we’re going to be thinking hard about ways that I can use my next platform as a way to keep shining a light on the things that we’re doing. If there’s one word that I could say about what we do in the future, it’s ‘more.’ It’s more of this.”

On how Sam Kass helped change the eating habits of the Obama family … 

“… He was a core of our processed-food elimination … and my kids loved the macaroni and cheese in a box … He said, there’s nothing wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s got to be real food. So my oldest daughter [Malia], who was probably 8 at the time, he took a block of cheese and he said, if you can cut this cheese up into the powder that is the cheese of the boxed macaroni and cheese, then we’ll use it. She sat there for 30 minutes trying to pulverize a block of cheese into dust … And from then on, we stopped eating macaroni and cheese out of a box, because cheese dust is not food, as was the moral of that story.”

On her mother’s cooking …

“She was famous for her lemon chicken, and that was a good Sunday dish. There was always the sad and unfortunate liver Wednesdays … weekends were more fun … fish on Friday, and maybe once a week we’d do takeout, get pizza.  But there was a pattern to what we ate.  They were familiar flavors … we would sit around the table with the plastic tablecloth, and that’s when we would catch up and we’d talk about what we were eating, talk about what was going on in the day.”

On dinnertime at the White House …        

“We’ve found that we’ve been able to have dinner … almost every night together, between 6:30 and 7.  We have a bigger table and somebody else is doing the cooking, but the conversation and the mood and the tone are still the same.  It’s our most important time of the day.”

For more on the conversation, check out CookingLight.com/LetsCook.