I have always had a passion for food. When I was a kid, I basically lived in the kitchen with my grandmother (Mamawl), a self made homemaker, who taught me how to cook, process and preserve a wide variety of foods. Each year we would enter the open division at county fair; we won the overall championship 5 out of the 6 years we entered, capturing over 250 blue ribbons. Mamawl’s homemade pie crust, divinity candy, and sweet pickles never received anything less than a blue ribbon. My secret self-made sour cream coffee cake recipe followed similar suit, not only winning the blue ribbon prize each year, but also back-to-back purple grand champion ribbons at both the county and state fairs. I used to tease Mamawl that my coffee cake was the only thing that could beat her homemade pie crust. Some things in life are just too good to totally eliminate from one’s diet!
When I graduated high school and began to attend the University of Kentucky, I almost instantaneously fell in love with the field of food science and the technology used to create a safer, healthy and more nutritious food supply in a world with a fast growing population and diminishing natural resources. I became particularly interested in the functional properties of foods, how different foods affect human health, and how specific diet patterns can be used to prevent the onset of chronic disease. I spent the next few years focusing my doctorate research on the health-promoting properties of a group of compounds known as “anthocyanins,” the orange-red to blue violet colors in many fruits and vegetables. I still try to eat a bowl of dark colored berries daily.
Today, I’ve focused much of my professional career on nutrition and lifestyle changes for preventing disease. I’ve worked in academic, company, and not-for-profit sectors of the food industry, and currently own my own scientific consulting firm, which I use to continue my research passion, conduct scientific reviews, author books, and communicate the importance of nutrition, food safety, and food technology via this blog.
Visit the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University for more information on my academic research and teaching (click here).