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posted: 5/18/2012 2:51 AM

Move over Mom: Kewl recipes from a Kewl dude

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  • Shaping a tortilla into a cones brings new interest to family taco night.

      Shaping a tortilla into a cones brings new interest to family taco night.
    Bill Zars

  • Reed Alexander

      Reed Alexander

  • After breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, actor and KewlBites founder Reed Alexander, center, poses with Jerome Gabriel, 12, right, and his brother, Henry, 9.

      After breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, actor and KewlBites founder Reed Alexander, center, poses with Jerome Gabriel, 12, right, and his brother, Henry, 9.
    Deborah Pankey

 
By Jerome Gabriel

Nervous.

That's what I felt when I heard I would get to interview Reed Alexander. Reed plays Nevel on "iCarly."

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Besides being an actor, Reed likes to cook. He has website called KewlBites.com that encourages kids to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. His website includes advice on exercising and cooking and recipes that he makes up in his "lab"; that's what he calls his kitchen. He also is working with former President Bill Clinton to get schools to offer healthier food.

He was in Chicago earlier this month demonstrating recipes at the Green Festival. I got the honor of eating breakfast with him and his mom, and interviewing him. He ordered an egg white omelet, I had nutella hot cakes and my brother got Belgian waffles with bananas.

Here's part of our conversation.

What was your favorite food as a child? Chocolate. No question. Anything chocolate. And that hasn't changed. I still love chocolate.

How do you incorporate chocolate in a healthy lifestyle? Do I deprive myself of anything? The answer is always no. Who wants to do that? That's no fun. ... So every day I have a little bit of dark chocolate; that's my snack. I love to make hot chocolate at home with unsweetened cocoa powder.

What was the first thing you remember cooking? I remember making biscotti. They have a special name -- once a year they're called mandel bread. We love to celebrate all different holidays and my house ... I remember being around 6 or 7 and pulling up a chair to the counter and hardly being able to see past the cutting board. Cooking has always been a big part of what I love to do.

What was your inspiration for KewlBites? I've always been a major foodie ... Two years ago I was overweight, I was tried, I didn't have a lot of energy. I was lazy, my eating habits were out of control, my exercise was nominal and I also have a family history of diabetes and heart disease. That put it on my radar that I really wanted to make a change.

I thought I could plug into an easy program that I could find online. I'll Google it and there will be the perfect quick-fix solution out there. I'll wipe my hands; done.

But there really was nothing out there from a kid's point of view, so I was at a loss. And I didn't want to do anything temporary. I had to improvise. I had to ad-lib my own program ... I knew that if I didn't have delicious options I would veer off track.

It was all about finding ways that I could enjoy the foods I love and feel better about it; make them lighter, make them more nutritious.

But it's also finding tips to make exercise doable so it does not have to be a chore. ... Eventually I lost 15 pounds and I was blogging to myself all the time, keeping a journal about what was working for me. I'm a work in progress.

I wanted to create a resource, a destination for kids and families to put a fun spin on a serious message.

A word from Mom: At 18, Reed is a young man with a big mission so I thought I'd use my space to share a bit about what he's doing with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

In January the group launched a healthy school lunch program in 15,000 schools nationwide in all 50 states. Four of Reed's recipes (as well as some from Rachael Ray) are being served to more than 30 million students in their school cafeterias.

"We're looking forward to increasing that number and encouraging students and their families to make health a priority."

Those school lunch recipes are available through the Alliance website and can be scaled from food service to home table.

I also encourage families to check out the tips and recipes at KewlBites; that's where we found these taco cones.

Reed says he creates new recipes all the time and plans to add recipes that address readers' requests for gluten-free and allergen-free versions.

• Jerome Gabriel, a sixth-grader, has been helping in the kitchen since he could hold a spoon. His mom, Deborah Pankey, is Daily Herald Food Editor.

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