What type of diet do you follow?
I don't like to put my beliefs about food and health into one phrase or category, but if I had to, it'd be clean eating. To me, this means three things:
1) minimally processed, whole foods
2) lots of vegetables and protein
3) as little sugar as possible (and never white sugar).
I'm also a pretty active person, so while I think about food as an outlet for creativity, I also see it as an important tool to my overall performance as an athlete (see my philosophy for more on that).
Where did this all begin?
In terms of food, I've always been a bit of an odd one. I was always that picky eater. Even though my eating habits have changed (when I was younger I devoured white toast, raw veggies, & French fries), I've gotten used to the fact that I don't eat like many other people.
Being the picky eater I am, I started cooking for myself during high school, somewhat out of necessity. I began with basic recipes like stir-frys, eventually graduating to bigger and better things through the amazing discovery of a thing called a cookbook. Not knowing anything, I'd follow recipes to a tee and it would usually take me twice as long as it should have, but I quickly got hooked on cooking.
What qualifications do you have?
My real kick into the culinary world began when I graduated from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Culinary Arts and Health, a culinary school focused on health and nutrition based in Manhattan. From there, I worked in the kitchen of several esteemed restaurants and even a spa.
Immediately upon receiving my culinary degree, I returned to Middlebury College in Vermont, and quickly got my hands in as many things related to food as possible. I co-founded and ran a student-run cafe that focused on healthy food (called Crossroads Cafe), worked as a private chef, wrote a food column for the school newspaper, and wrote a thesis on the impact of nutrition policies on food consumption patterns in the US.
Speaking of policy, I worked at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, which does extensive food policy and obesity, and for the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative. I also started a project with two other young women (called No Skinny Girls) to promote positive body image and healthy behaviors among women.
What do you do now?
After some time in the food world, I decided to make cooking more of a hobby and pursue a different route professionally: education. I currently teach middle school science (yes, I'm slightly crazy for wanting to relive those days, even if as a teacher). My heart lies in science, which is related to food more than you think! Yes, there are obvious ties to biology/environmental science and nutrition and farming, but also less obvious ones like chemistry and baking. You'll probably notice that my blog posts are often timed with the traditional school year.