Welcome to the ninth episode of the Real Life, Real Passion podcast. Today our guest is Dietitian and Blogger, Jillian Fox. Jillian launched her new blog from her Kitchen this year and she is excited to watch it grow. She is a talented young lady with background in food science who is continually learning and working to improve.
In this episode, Jillian and I talk about her love of food as an experience and why we should eat well most of the time so we never have to feel bad or guilty about when we eat “unhealthy” food. She also shares her food philosophy and gives some tips and resources for those wanting to sharpen their skills in the kitchen.
Click the link above to listen to the podcast.
Jillian is a registered dietitian and a fairly new mom, her son Sutton recently turned eight months old. Jillian received both her bachelors and masters degree from Utah State University in Logan, UT. She loved living in Cache Valley, and she has a lot of family there. She and her husband recently moved to Austin, TX and they are loving the land of perpetual summer.
When Jillian was going to school she was very career driven. She loved leadership positions and planned to work full time when she became a mom. Then when she had her son, everything changed. She decided she wanted to focus on being a mom. Although it was a surprise for her, it didn’t surprise her family.
She loves being a mom, and she loves staying home with Sutton, but she started to go a little stir crazy. She needed a project… some kind of creative outlet.
From Her Kitchen
At first Jillian had a few different projects going, and she started her new blog From Her Kitchen as one of her many projects. As she got into it, she found she really loved it and decided to let go of the other projects and focus on her blog more.
She’s not quite sure why it took her so long to start a food blog. She has always loved food and people have told her that she should start one, for some reason she never did… until now.
Although the blog is new and she still feels like she has a lot to learn about blogging, she is very much at home in the kitchen.
Jill has had many different types of experiences with food. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love food.”
Initially Jillian wanted to be a chef, until she thought about how hard it would be to be a chef and a mom at the same time. So, she decided to pursue being a really amazing home cook instead.
She is basically self-taught, and readily admits that she is still learning and is not an expert (yet). However, in school she learned a lot about the chemistry of food, she learned a lot about the chemistry of metabolism, and a lot about the chemistry of taste which has been a great foundation as she is developing her own style and flavor profiles in the kitchen.
She loves the science behind food and her degrees have also taught her about food operations, growing food, gardening, and preserving food; essentially the process of taking food from the farm to the table. And even beyond that as food for nutrition and fuel for our bodies and something we all have to have to sustain our lives.
While she has learned about almost every aspect of food, her favorite aspect is cooking and eating it.
Food Unites Us All
One thing Jillian loves about food is that we have to have it, and it’s something that we all have in common.
“Food unites us all.”
Jillian also loves the idea that you take raw and ordinary things and put some chemistry into it, add some heat some sugar and salt, and turn it into something that is really phenomenal.
“I love that something so simple can be turned into this really amazing experience.”
Food is an Artform
Food can be a creative outlet.
Jillian has found that she is learning more and more how to make her food look nice so that she can photograph her dishes for her blog. She is also enjoying recipe development and creating new flavor profiles. The more she works with food, the more she realizes that every aspect of food is like art.
“I believe in the simplicity of nutrition.”
Jillian does not use fad diets and she doesn’t follow extremes. She believes in moderation.
In school, Jillian read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. One of the main ideas in his book is “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
That simple statement, eat food, not too much, and mostly plants pretty well sums up Jillian’s food philosophy. Out of all the different ideas about nutrition out there, everyone agrees that vegetables are really good for us. And she believes that plants should make up the bulk of our diets.
When feeding her own family, Jillian eats a lot of vegetables, a lot of whole grains, and a lot of beans/legumes; they are the building blocks of what she eats. From there she adds in lean proteins.
“Your Food Should Never Make You Feel Guilty”
Jillian is a firm believer that your food should never make you feel guilty.
“It’s all about what you eat most of the time.”
During the week they try to eat lighter options, but if they are on vacation and she wants to have a cupcake, then she eats it and enjoys it.
If you eat well most of the time, then it’s OK to have the “not healthy” food and not feel bad about it.
Birthday cake and celebrations are a part of life, there is no reason to feel bad or guilty about eating those delicious foods.
Food is About the Experience
Food is really about the experience, and it should be a positive experience.
Food should taste good. And, if you take care of your body by eating nutritious foods most of the time, then you should never feel guilty eating the other foods some of the time.
Favorite Experiences with Food
One of the first things that came to mind for Jillian was her son Sutton’s first experiences with solid food. He is just starting to eat different solid foods and it has been really fun for her to watch him and see his facial expressions as he reacts to all the different new flavors. She loves watching him enjoy new things with eagerness, and it has been really fun.
Farm to Table Event
When Jillian was still in school, part of her Senior project was a big farm to table tasting event. She used produce that was grown on the student organic farm, and with the other dietetics students, created tastes and appetizers for a big event. They invited their faculty and staff to attend, and the event was part of a larger food awareness day. It was put together to promote the student farm and was a big success.
Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread
Another fun experience was working at an artisan bakery. Jillian loved working at Crumb Brothers. Some of the best food she has eaten in her entire life came out of that kitchen.
She has fond memories of groggily walking into the bakery at 6:00am and being blasted with the smell of freshly baked bread. Crumb Brothers also introduced her to some foods and flavors that she had never tried before and she really loved her time there.
Food Brings Us Together
In general, Jillian really loves feeding people food that tastes good.
She enjoys the social dynamic of food, being able to eat together as a group and having food bring you together.
In a way, food is a conversation piece. People talk about what they will order from the menu, and how good their meal tastes. We all have to have food and it’s something everyone can relate to.
“I love that food can bring people together and help establish relationships.”
Jillian has several great inspirations in her life, including many family members. For this interview, she chose to share about one of her university professors: Janet Anderson who is a Vice Provost at USU and a Professional Practice Professor in Dietetics.
While working on her undergraduate degree, Professor Anderson was a great mentor. Jillian took several classes from her, worked with her as an ambassador for the college of agriculture with her, and looked up to her as a really incredible person that is also highly regarded at the university.
When thinking about what makes her such an amazing person, Jillian decided that she really loved her because she truly loved what she was doing. She’s followed her passions and made them into a career. She has traveled the world and has met some really amazing people.
In fact, one of Professor Anderson’s passions is people. She really takes the time and puts in the effort into getting to know people. She understands that people are what matter.
“At the end of it all, the people that you have in your life and the relationships that you have are the most important thing.”
The greatest piece of advice Jillian has ever received is that, “You can do hard things.”
If it isn’t hard, then it probably isn’t worth it. There are things that are hard and challenging, but “the hardest things that I’ve done in my life have turned out to be the absolutely most satisfying things that I’ve done, and at the end of the day they are totally worth it.”
The growing pains aren’t always the most fun, but the hard things are usually the best things.
Confidence is Jillian’s biggest challenge. Sometimes she lacks confidence in herself or in what she is trying to accomplish.
When you are just starting out with something it is easy to compare yourself to the experts and say I can’t perform at that level. And you can’t, not yet. But even experts had to start at the beginning.
The best way to overcome confidence issues, even in everyday things like wishing we were more like this and less like that, is a good support system. Jillian’s family is an amazing support system for her. They constantly reinforce her worth. They share what they are proud of and help Jillian find confidence when she isn’t feeling it herself.
Sometimes you just have to “fake it till you make it.” You have to believe that you can become who you want to be and then take actions toward who you want to be, to actually become who you want to be.
Remembering that everyone has to start at the beginning is a great way to help you believe in yourself. And instead of “who am I to think…,” say “why not me,” and “I can do this.” Positive self-talk really can make a difference in how you think about yourself.
Plus, once you have done something hard, you can use that memory as fuel to help you get through more hard things. You remember that you’ve don’t hard things in the past and it gives you confidence about doing hard things now and in the future.
Not an Expert… yet
Jillian was listening to a podcast and the person being interviewed talked about how there are hundreds of other people out there who are doing what they are doing way better than what they are trying to do, but they have a little bit of knowledge they are willing more than happy to share it.
Jillian knows she isn’t an expert yet, but she is continually learning, and she is happy to share what she has learned.
She is mostly self-taught. Her mom is a great cook, but she didn’t love it so cooking was not passed down to her.
The thing that has helped her the most and Jillian’s biggest tip for success is to practice: practice, practice, practice.
Advice for Success in the Kitchen
If you want to get better, you really just have to put the time in and practice.
When you are learning how to get things to turn out how you want them, or how to make things to look nice, the best way to get results is by getting in the kitchen.
If there are things you don’t know how to do, try following a great recipe at first.
- YouTube is a great place for how to videos.
- There is a website called the kitchn that’s an amazing resource for beginners as well as experienced cooks.
One thing that Jillian is passionate about is getting a good sharp knife. You don’t have to have fancy tools or gadgets or anything like that, you really just need a few simple things.
Jillian also recommends trying to find someone you know that cooks really well and have them point you to some really good recipes. If you start with a bad recipe than you can’t get great results. Find some good recipes to build from.
If you want your food to look nice, try to make your food look like food you see in pictures. As you practice more and you are more aware of what you make, you will learn what makes things look nice.
But everything really boils down to practice. If you don’t practice you can’t get better.
First Step to Develop a Talent
Jillian relates developing a talent to her experience of growing her blog. The thing that she has found to be the most beneficial is to find some really excellent resources from experts.
Seek out people who are succeeding in what they do and learn from them.
Find an expert who is doing what you want to do, see what they do, and what they do really well, and “go for it.” Pick pieces here and there that you like and that you want to give a try, and combine them into something that you love. As you gather those different ideas you will develop your own style.
There are a few food blogs that Jillian has been following for years and she naturally gravitates toward their style. She has used the elements that she really likes from those blogs to develop and find her own voice.
There are so many resources available. Take advantage of whatever you can—books, the internet, and people that you want to emulate. Experts are a great resource, and a great way to learn what you need to know to develop your talent.
Many times, when you talk with experts and share what you are trying to accomplish, they are more than happy to give you some pointers, share some advice, and help out.
Jillian grew up in a family of readers and she has always loved reading. But being a mom to an eight month old baby has cut into her reading time, especially since she is trying to work on her new blog.
She is currently “inching” her way through The Fellowship Of The Ring from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. She is usually not a fantasy reader, but she is really enjoying the book. She grew up watching the movies with her Dad, and it has been fun to compare the movie to what did or did not happen in the book.
When Jillian was a Sophomore in High School, her English class read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Her English teacher was also Jillian’s French teacher, and picked this book which they studied in detail.
Jillian truly loved the book, she loved the things that her teacher pointed out and the activities that they did with that book. If she were to give someone a book, it would be this one.
Excited for the Future
Jillian was hesitant to start a blog, it wasn’t something she was really interested in doing or thought that she could do. She’s not sure why because she loves food blogs, but once she started working on it she was hooked, and now she loves it.
She is most excited about continuing to work on from her Kitchen and to watch it grow.
She has found a passion for writing as well as for food. She is really loving writing the posts for her blog. Jillian is also learning about food photography, which is super exciting since she has no previous experience in photography. She’s also had fun working on recipe development and learning all of the ins and outs of running a food blog.
Every day she wakes up and is excited to work on her blog and be a mom. She loves the chance she has to be a stay at home mom and to cultivate her blog into something more. She doesn’t mind doing the work, she loves it because she is following her passion.
- Fox, Jillian. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.fromherkitchen.com
- Perelman, Deb. (2017). Smitten Kitchen. Retrieved from https://smittenkitchen.com/
- the kitchn. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.thekitchn.com/
- Utah State University. (2017). Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences. Retrieved from https://ndfs.usu.edu/directory/faculty/janet-anderson
- Wilson, Joy. (2017). Joy the Baker. Retrieved from http://joythebaker.com/
- YouTube. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/