Cookeville mom-on-the-go publishing (healthy) hamburger cookbook
Alane Boyd isn’t a woman with a lot of extra time on her hands.
The Putnam County software engineer-entrepreneur may have “retired” for the first time at just 35 after selling a successful company she and her husband co-founded, but her daily life remains a whirl of activity and enterprise — hence her Instagram handle: @the_hurricanealane.
Boyd spends most of her waking hours working in assorted roles as business consultant, marketing specialist, entrepreneur coach and motivational speaker. And that’s in addition to pursuing various avenues of philanthropy and volunteer activity in the local community and beyond.
“I’ve got a three-year-old, I’ve got multiple businesses, I’ve got a husband and I travel all the time,” Boyd told Center Hill Sun recently at her Cookeville office in The Biz Foundry.
Typically the antithesis of a frowsy hausfrau, on any given weekday Boyd’s rarely spied attired in footwear other than her trademark stilettos.
All the same, Boyd’s foremost functions as a woman of industrious pursuits are far and away those of wife and toddler’s mommy. And in keeping with her unwillingness to compromise her ambitions, she’s wholly resistant to outsourcing her homemaking labors of love to unwholesome outside influences.
A daily question with which Boyd wrestles is, “How to manage it all and try to eat healthy?”
In fact, she’s something of a fanatic about feeding her family well.
“Cooking healthy and tasty meals is my passion,” says Boyd, who also hosts an amiably instructional Youtube channel called, “Cooking With My Friends.”
She bills her program, “The best healthy cooking show on the internet.” On a typical episode, Boyd and her guests whip up quick and easy recipes usually intended to emphasize you’re “never too old or too young to start eating vegetables.”
Later this spring — just in time for grilling season — Boyd is set to release “BurgerFit.” It’s a self-published cookbook cataloging a bumper-crop of unexpected components and directions for rustling up healthy versions of “America’s favorite food.”
Does it sound counterintuitive or implausible to think of hamburgers as “health food”?
Well, bear in mind that Boyd is an engineer by trade. That means she specializes in developing systems that work.
She has appetizingly discovered that hamburger patties make an ideal delivery means for surreptitiously smuggling vegetables into an unsuspecting family member’s diet
“No one asks before they take a bite of burger, what is in it,” Boyd writes in the introduction of her cookbook. “A burger is a trusted food.”
When she was in middle school, Boyd began struggling with weight issues — a problem that followed her into adulthood. She and her husband, Micah, would often go out for drinks and dinner after a long workday. Invariably, they’d overindulge. She recalls often thinking, “I’ve got to get myself under control.”
But it took a “wake-up call” in the form of an early-onset high blood pressure diagnosis to finally convince her that lifestyle adjustments were required.
So, using the Whole30 weight-loss program, she shed 40 pounds and gained a new outlook on food and health. “A huge component of my success was replacing meals that I usually ate with bread and carbs with vegetables,” she said.
Over time it became apparent to Boyd however that while an elimination-style diet may have worked wonders for her, it carried little appeal to those around her — especially her family from Louisiana, where she grew up.
When Boyd’s kin from Cajun Country popped in for a visit, they bluntly regarded meals devoid of sugar, carbs, dairy and beans as preposterous and repellent. To their way of thinking, those were key ingredients in life’s happiness recipe book.
“They wouldn’t eat anything that I cooked,” Boyd said. “They’d just eat a piece of meat and then go to the grocery store and get bread, and they would just eat meat and bread.”
One of the things Boyd learned on her own journey to better health is that changes made to your eating habits need be enjoyable to become sustainable. They won’t last otherwise.
She inevitably concluded that healthy cooking for her meat-loving, veggie-loathing family would require a generous dollop of subterfuge.
“I started blending up the vegetables and making the burgers with them,” she writes. “If they saw me cooking the vegetables, I would tell them that was for my dinner and they didn’t have to eat them. When they weren’t looking, I would make the patties with the veggies.”
Over time, Boyd cultivated a sly culinary aptitude for the art of skillet skulduggery, all the while gaining evermore beguiling skills as a cunning cheeseburger enchantress. Of course, were she ever found out, Boyd understood that dark oaths and perhaps accusations of witchery might fly in her direction — especially from her brothers, who she said never made it a secret they were “opposed to vegetables.”
But that didn’t happen. On the contrary, Boyd’s assembled an ample menu of meat-and-veggie patty blends that unfailingly cast a satisfying spell over even the most ardent carnivore test subjects.
“Everyone would rave about how delicious they were, and then ask what was in them,” Boyd writes in BurgerFit. “I got very comfortable with not telling them the truth. If I did, they would never eat another burger I made them. I would brush the question off and name a veggie that I knew they liked that looked similar to the veggie in the burger that they wouldn’t eat. Green peas became greens, red beets became purple cabbage, carrots became sweet potatoes.”
Boyd hopes BurgerFit becomes a hit for making all manner of ground-meat creations, not just hamburgers and not just beef.
“You can use any type of ground meat you would like,” an FAQ page on Boyd’s website communicates. “Ground pork, turkey, chicken, etc. make delicious BurgerFit burgers. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can even replace the meat with lentils, beans, or your favorite meat substitute.”
Most any meat can make a nice patty if the meat-to-plant-material ratios are correct, Boyd said. However, it’s generally not a great idea to try and force more than two cups of cooked and cut-up veggies into a pound of ground meat, she reports. Doing so runs the risk of burgers falling apart, and thus detection
Boyd keeps a stash of pre-made burgers on hand in the freezer for quick access and fast prep. And she doesn’t hesitate to “deconstruct” them for other uses, especially tacos.
The ultimate message of BurgerFit is that you don’t have to compromise great flavor to compose a burger that’s got more nutrition to it than meets the eye.
“Even if you don’t like vegetables, don’t have time, and don’t like cooking, BurgerFit burgers are so easy to make and taste so good, that you can’t help but make them,” said Boyd.
If you’d like to get an early look or pre-order a copy of BurgerFit, which is scheduled for release in early June, visit Boyd’s website at http://burgerfitcookbook.com/.