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Karen’s Kitchen

Behind Eagle’s successful college athletes, there’s a mom who knows just what to feed them.

By Liza Long, Photography by Jim Peterson

Karen Mangum knows a thing or two about athletes and their appetites: she’s raised five of them. The Mangums’ oldest son Parker played football for BYU; daughter Meredith played soccer at BSU; son Madison is a senior on ISU’s football team; son Tanner is the a freshman starting quarterback at BYU; and youngest daughter Abigail plays volleyball and basketball on the Eagle High School varsity teams.

Fortunately, Karen, a dietician with 30 years’ experience who taught nutrition at Boise State University and now writes a healthy eating blog, “Inside Karen’s Kitchen,” knows exactly what to feed her talented kids. “Tanner’s favorite is my chicken corn chowder,” she said. “When he got home from his [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint] mission, even though it was June, that’s the first thing he wanted!”

I asked her about the opening weekend of college football season this fall, when both Tanner and Madison made the ESPN Top Ten play list. Karen and her husband had decided that they would attend Madison’s games, since Tanner was just a freshman and unlikely to see much playing time. They were in the stands feeling pretty certain about the Idaho State game—Madison was making great catches—so they started watching the BYU game on their phones.

“Tanner had the ball; it was the last drive, and he had to score to win,” she said. “And then my phone died. For about two minutes, we had no idea what was going on. Then our other phone started lighting up with texts from family and friends. We had won! Tanner threw a Hail Mary pass, and it was caught!”

Parker sent them a screenshot of the epic play, but Karen didn’t learn that both her sons’ efforts had been chosen as ESPN’s two top plays until she got home to Eagle that weekend.

The Mangums moved to Eagle five years ago so that Tanner could work with Eagle High School coach Paul Peterson, who has a reputation as an excellent quarterback coach. “We love it here,” Karen said. “It’s such a family-friendly community, and there are so many opportunities for kids to get involved in athletics”

As a dietician and food blogger, Karen loves to watch people make healthy changes in their lives. “With all this football frenzy, my blog has been on the back burner, but people will find a collection of healthy recipes focused on whole foods that are easy to prepare using common ingredients,” she said. She also specializes in working with patients who have had bariatric surgery to optimize their diets for nutrition and health.

“I write for the seasons,” she said. “Food can nourish and heal.”

Top Five Ways to Keep the Holidays Healthy

1)  Keep Moving!  Don’t ignore your exercise classes or workouts during the holidays.  This one thing will keep you on track to prevent weight gain during this time of year when extra calories pile up.

2)  Eat Your Veggies!  Pair every eating experience with some colorful kind of vegetable.  Add chopped tomatoes or bell peppers to your morning omelet, eat dark greens, pre-grated carrots and chopped celery in a wholesome salad without lifting a knife and enjoy a wholesome bowl of warm vegetable soup or chili you’ve made ahead for busy nights when homemade meals are hard to come by.

3)  Enjoy a Goodie-A-Day!  It’s the season full of delicious foods you wouldn’t normally eat at any other time of the year.  By allowing a sweet or salty caramel treat in a very small portion each day, you’re much more likely to avoid overeating and feelings of deprivation.

4)  Stick to a Regular Meal Routine!  As much as possible, avoid meal skipping during the holidays.  Aim to keep your blood sugar steady by eating protein with every meal (along with those veggies above) to keep carb cravings at bay. And don’t save up calories for holiday parties; it back fires every time.

5)  It’s Not All About the Food!  Holidays are times for social gatherings, for spiritual reflection, for family togetherness. Holidays are more about the sights and the sounds of the season rather than the sweets and the spices.  Try to focus more on those things that make the holidays most meaningful for you; the food aspect will diminish in importance allowing you to enjoy a more healthy holiday.

Read more at www.insidekarenskitchen.com.