Amy has a BSc in human nutrition and a passion for baking ~ hence the name the baking nutritionist on Instagram. She creates incredible recipes with no nonsense ingredients including real flour and dairy. She’s not one for scaremongering and brings her qualifications to plate, literally!
1- When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger nutrition was never one my mind. I was a pleasantly plump child you loved crisps and who didn’t like sports or exercise. I wanted to be a ballerina … that didn’t progress any further than a dream! In school, I had a flair for numbers and accounting was on my mind but lack of resource meant I couldn’t take the subject for my leaving cert exams. This leads on to the next question …
2- What made you chose to study human nutrition?
When I couldn’t take accounting as a subject in school, I opted for 3 science subjects instead (biology, chemistry and agricultural science) and I excelled in all three. A science degree made sense but I wanted something specific. Around 16/17 years old I became interested in health and nutrition and my whole life I had enjoyed baking. Dietetics was my original choice of degree to study but I missed it marginally and got accepted into nutrition instead. I live by the motto “everything happens for a reason” and I can’t imagine who I’d be now if my life after school had not have taken this turn.
3- Where did you study for your masters and why did you choose this location?
Human Nutrition was an undergraduate degree for me and I studied in University College Dublin. This was the only uni in Ireland offering this course. I got accepted into a Aberdeen too but at 18 years old, I felt this was too far from home. I don’t have a masters degree but I haven’t ruled out doing one in the future. Maybe something in communications or media studies – I’m thinking of how I could become an expert in spreading the nutrition message.
4- Because of the nature of your degree, did you feel obliged to eat in a certain manner and if yes, do you still feel this obligation now?
In ways, yes, but I very much am my own person and I very often enjoy my treats – that is an ice cream cone with sprinkles this summer! I was a health conscious individual before I started my degree. What my degree reinforced was the importance of calcium for bone health and I definitely made a greater space for dairy in my life since that lesson!
5- Working in the field of medical nutrition, do you look at nutritional ‘health’ claims in the media differently?
Yes. When I see a nutrition or health claim I immediately think “is that approved?”. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland have a wonderful document (https://www.fsai.ie/publications_nutrition_healthclaims/) that I often refer to if in doubt. I have no time for false or misleading claims.
6- What is the most ridiculous ‘health’ claim you’ve heard?
Eating oranges will give you cancer. This was written in a newspaper article entitled “100 things that will give you cancer” – ridiculous article overall! For anyone who is in doubt, there is no evidence to suggest that any fruits will cause cancer.
7- What would you say to your younger self regarding ‘healthy living’?
I would tell myself that healthy living is so much more than food. It’s exercise, relationships, mental well-being, emotional well-being and being happy with who we are. I have a very holistic view on what healthy living means.
8- When looking for reliable nutritional advice what would be your top five sources?
In no particiular order: Food Safety Authority of Ireland for nutrition and health claims; my fellow nutritionist and dietitians who have recognized degrees, many of whom have special interests, e.g. allergies, intolerances and sports; PubMed for peer-reviewed scientific papers and reviews; Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute for their fact sheets; Sigma Nutrition podcasts for sports and exercise info.
9- In your opinion, how would you define a ‘healthy lifestyle’?
I would define a healthy lifestyle as one where you are free from lifestyle related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. If we’re free from this lifestyle related diseases we are doing something right. If someone asks me, “what should I do to be healthy” I’d say – aim for you’re 5-7 portions of fruit and veg each day, move a little more and love a lot. Healthy lifestyle must include your mental and emotional health as well as your physical health. They’re all related.
10- What’s your dream smoothie combination?
Even when I wasn’t overly interested in nutrition, I was a massive fan of the strawberry and banana combo. That remains today. I don’t know if it could be described as a “dream” because it is fairly basic but I love the simplicity and freshness of these two delicious fruits.
11- In your opinion what is the best toast topping?
A mashed spotty banana which an overdose of cinnamon. I am all about using spices for flavour and additional health benefits to a meal.
12- How do you spell the popular chickpea dip?
Hummus. I don’t understand why some add an “o” …
13- What’s your favourite sweet dish which makes you smile?
Oh I do love a simple jam and cream sponge cake. Raspberry jam not strawberry.
14- And finally, what’s your favourite way to rest your body and mind after a busy week?
I’m from the countryside but I live and work in Dublin now. I love going back home at the weekends and going for long walks with my doggie. He is my best exercise buddy – never complains and is always ready to go! If I stay in Dublin I like to take a yoga class. I’ve recently started going to My Yoga Body in Dun Laoghaire, South Dublin which offer a range of classes for all levels.
Thank you so much for reading my latest interview, if you have any suggestions for who you would like for me to interview next then let me know in the comments below! Would you answer any questions differently? If so let me know how at either Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @courgettiblogetti, much love.
– Laura x