Interview with Vincci

Meet Vincci, author of  Ceci n'est pas un food blog.  Like Jessica she is a busy, bright, talented student who soon will be entering the Dietetics profession.  I'm thrilled Vincci took the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully and articulately. So pull up a chair, make your self comfy, and get to know Vincci, a soon-to-be dietitian with Food Sense as well as nutrition knowledge.

1.  What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I think blogging for me is an outlet to explore my interests in food, cooking and writing and has allowed me to develop a budding interest in photography.  I love experimenting in the kitchen and I love sharing the results.  Recently, I've been altering a lot of my recipes for baking to make them healthier and I also hope that when I have more time I will write more nutrition-related posts as opposed to just sharing recipes.

2.  What has blogging helped you learn about yourself?
This is a pretty hard question, because I feel like I've learned more reading other people's blogs as opposed to writing my own.  I think that, in a way, my blog has helped me formulate my position on how nutrition relates to food.  I recently read a blog entry that argued that foodies and dietitians don't usually see eye-to-eye and I have to disagree.  There is so much to get excited about taste-wise when it comes to healthy eating, like experimenting with new foods and recipes, that I definitely want to make a part of my practice after I graduate.

Speaking of becoming a dietitian though, one thing that really worries me is that I can't wax poetic about nutrition the same way that other blogs out there do and I really hope that my interest in food as opposed to nutrients/the more science-related part of nutrition doesn't hinder my future career.

3. I'm not surprised a Dietetics student cooks such healthy and  delicious food but I am amazed that given your full-time studies, you  are in the kitchen so regularly AND then you write such interesting posts about your culinary experiments and adventures.  Can you share  some time-management skills? (Or do you just not sleep?)

Haha!  Well as you can see, recently my blog has sort of been left on the back burner, so I'm pretty sure I don't have exemplary time management skills.  However, to me, cooking is important.  I like having control over what goes in my food.  Cooking is also a stress reliever for me; after a long frustrating day, it's nice to at least have something that will turn out!  I know there are a lot of people who turn towards convenience foods during exam time, and while I do choose to make meals that take less time to prepare, I still make an effort to eat well and not stuff myself with cookies and chocolate because that actually makes me feel better and work more efficiently.  Overall however, I personally wouldn't recommend my lifestyle to anyone as it generally involves a lot of stress, making sacrifices, lack of sleep and crying, but the thing is, if you love something and/or if it's important to you, you'll make time for it and you'll be happier for it.

4. You're invited to a potluck. What do you take?
I always end up bringing some sort of dessert to potlucks.  My mom actually frowned upon that once because it isn't "real food" but I  think I've become known for my baked goods amongst my friends.  When I was in high school, I always made these chocolate chip cookies to bring to parties; in university I've brought brownies, beet chocolate  cake, cheesecake brownies, cupcheesecakes... I would love to "branch  out" into other sorts of things, but baked goods just tend to be a lot easier to transport!

 5. What is your favourite comfort food?
I love making a big bowl of pasta, like rotini or Scoobi-Doos (wholewheat, of course!) and then making a sauce with vegetables, ground beef and pre-made tomato sauce (one day I'll learn to can my own, I swear!) and then grating some Parmesan or Romano on top.  It's so easy, filling and comforting.

6. What is your most dog-eared, sauce-spattered cookbook (ie., the one you use the most)?

I've always sourced most of my recipes online.  When I first started cooking, I used Allrecipes.com a lot because I liked having the ratings and comments to help.  I still use it sometimes, but now I often turn towards food blogs for my recipes because they tend to be a little more "gourmet" (and the photos are nicer too!)

7. What are your 3 favourite blog posts and why?
Of my own?  I'm certainly not a huge fan of stroking my ego and I don't think my posts are anything to write home about in terms of the quality of writing, but if you insist...

1) A Revelation
My dad is someone who I don't get spend a lot of time with; he has been flying back and forth between my birthplace of Hong Kong, where his business is, and my hometown of Calgary ever since we've immigrated.  His medical emergency really affected me and the fact that out of this situation he realized the huge impact that his diet has really gave me a boost of confidence in the dietetic profession.  I unfortunately don't know if my dad's been keeping up with a better diet now (he is a very busy man), but I've applied to do part of my internship in Hong Kong next semester so that I can spend more time with him and hopefully help him get on track in terms of a healthier lifestyle.

2) I'm Just Trying to Rationalize my Poor Eating Habits
If this were better articulated, I'm sure you could argue that this may be the beginning of my own sort of eating manifesto.  I think it's very easy for dietitians and nutritionists to just focus on nutrient needs in terms of grams of carbohydrates or milligrams of sodium, but to the average person, this has no meaning to them; people don't eat nutrients, they eat food.  I strongly believe that the first step to healthy eating is to get rid of as much processed foods from the diet as possible; not only will this make it easier to fall under a healthy pattern of eating nutrition-wise (for example, you won't have to concern yourself as much on the sodium front) but I think the non-nutrient elements of food, processed or not, play a role in our health in ways that we have yet to discover.  In this entry, I also talk a bit about allowing yourself to eat foods that aren't necessarily "healthy".  I think it's important for people to allow themselves to "indulge" because food should not just be a source of nourishment; there are  psychological and social aspects to food that no nutrient can provide.

3) Holiday Baking: Dorie Greenspan's Spice Roll-out Cookies and Royal Icing
This was a fun little cooking adventure!  I rarely ever cook when I'm at home in Calgary, let alone have it so well-documented!  I'm still a little bummed that I messed up the icing recipe and jealous that my 10-year-old sister made better designs than me.

8. Do you have any tips for Dietetics Students who might be thinking about blogging?
Although it's certainly a great idea to look at blogs that you like for inspiration, there is no need to feel obligated to copy the format of other blogs.  If you don't have a good camera/don't like taking photos, that's fine (I recently read a blog that said from the very beginning that she wouldn't take any photos, which was a little refreshing!) If you can't update every week, that's fine.  If you want to focus more on food and less on nutrition or vice versa, that's fine.  If you want to have a blog where you just rant about your life, I have one of those too.  The great thing about blogging is that this is your little soapbox in the World Wide Web, so take advantage of it and set out for yourself in terms of what you want to be (but be realistic, of course.)

If you want something that's less vague, I would certainly suggest reading other blogs as a start.  It will definitely give you ideas of what's out there, and maybe give an idea of how you'll add your own voice to the mix.  Once you've got your blog started up, don't be shy about telling people about it!  Comment on blogs that are similar to yours and tell your friends what you're up to; all these people can give you valuable input.

9. What are your dreams and goals (that you're comfortable sharing) for after internship?
Throughout my studies, I've definitely found that nutrition is being seen as more of a therapy or a treatment as opposed to being part of a healthy lifestyle to prevent disease.  This is most clear in hospitals, where limited resources means that the dietitians only see patients with the greatest nutritional risk.  I would love to be an advocate for nutrition resources/education to the general public because I feel everyone should have the right to know how to make good food choices and stay healthy.  Also, I would definitely want to make writing/interacting with the media part of my career; aside from blogging, I'm currently heavily involved in several student newspapers and newsletters so this is definitely an area I want to pursue.  What worries me a little is that I don't really know how I will accomplish all my goals yet so I hope the opportunities will present themselves!

Thank you, Vincci.  I was impressed by your blog when I first discovered it last year, and with this interview you have reinforced my opinion.  In five years, I can't imagine where you will be but I know what you'll be doing: positively influencing the way people eat. I also suspect you will accomplish all your goals if you can be patient with yourself and work on them sequentially rather than simultaneously.  (Easier said than done, I know.)