I have always loved to cook; some of my favorite memories revolve around being a toddler in the kitchen “helping” my mother bake holiday treats, such as fruitcake or preparing stove-top puddings which, while standing on a stool, I got to stir. So when I was provided the opportunity to write a cookbook almost 20 years ago, in many ways it seemed like coming home. I had enjoyed my career as a journalist and editor but shifting gears and pursuing my passion was one of the smartest things I have ever done. Writing cookbooks fully utilizes my skills, abilities and interests in one package. I love every aspect of cookbook writing, from researching ingredients, preparations and techniques, to developing and testing recipes, and, finally, sharing my discoveries with all the people who purchase my books. Few things give me greater pleasure than receiving a note from someone telling me how much they enjoyed a dish. I am truly honored when they tell me that a one of my recipes has been welcomed into their family as part of a festive meal.
After many years of writing cookbooks, my interest in nutrition took me in an entirely new direction when I discovered the work of epidemiologist David Barker. He was a pioneer in what is now known as the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. For most of my life, I subscribed to the conventional wisdom that chronic illness is pretty much the result of the genes we inherit from our parents and the lifestyle we choose to live. Now, thanks to the relatively new science of epigenetics, I know that experiences from the moment of conception, as well as vulnerabilities inherited from previous generations, go a long way toward determining whether someone will develop a chronic illness, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Nutrition is not the only player in this scenario but it is a key factor. Although vulnerability to chronic illnesses is to some extent beyond an individual’s control, making positive lifestyle changes — better dietary choices, more exercise and less exposure to toxins — can spark beneficial changes in gene expression that will help to counteract any inherited vulnerability. It will also help to improve outcomes for offspring and their children.
In 2006 I published The Healthy Slow Cooker
a book that combines recipes with an abundance of information on health and nutrition.(That book sold more than 100,000 copies and in 2014. I published a revised and expanded version to highlight the wealth of new research that was emerging in the field.) Today, we know a great deal about the benefits of healthy eating and an active lifestyle. We also understand the links between the so-called“diseases of civilization”and nutrient-deficient processed food. I enjoy researching the health benefits of nutritious foods, including herbs and learning about their impact on lifelong health and I utilize as much of that information as possible in my books. These interests came together in my most recent book You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics & the Origins of Chronic Disease.