Coffee with Guppy: Cynthia Lair's Recipe for Living

Nancy Guppy chats with the educator/actor/author.
Nutritionist Cynthia Lair ( is a faculty member at Bastyr University, an actor and improviser, star of the web series Cookus Interruptus ( and author of two cookbooks: Feeding the Young Athlete and Feeding the Whole Family, whose fourth edition came out last November. 
Nancy: The fourth edition of Feeding the Whole Family just came out. Obviously, you’re into six figures. 
Cynthia (laughing): That’s funny, and no. Book writing is a labor of love and usually people do it as a super-duper calling card. 
What’s the premise? 
That everyone at the table — baby, teenager, picky eater, grandma — should be eating the same thing. There is a spiritual unity that occurs from doing that. 
Some people would say babies can’t eat grown-up food. 
They can. The idea that you need special food if you’re a baby is simply a myth perpetuated by Gerber. 
Is the fourth edition better than the third, second and first?
Yes, because it has photographs of food. It needed that glamour and that visual appeal if it was going to survive. Also, having taught for 22 years, I’ve gotten better at coming up with solid recipes that are pretty easy to make. 
What is America’s biggest misconception about nutrition?
That there’s a magic nutrient or a magic diet that’s going to make them feel better. 
How would most people describe you? 
I’m terrified of that! My classroom evaluations run the gamut from “she’s the most opinionated, judgmental, awful person I’ve ever met and she needs to be fired” to “Cynthia is the most incredible, open-minded person I’ve ever met in my life; never lose her.” 
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self? 
Don’t try to convince anybody of anything. Just model. 
Cynthia Lair is the author of Feeding the Whole Family, now in its fourth edition.
Does your background as an improviser affect your cooking? 
Yes, thank goodness. I’ve always been a recipe person, but in the last 15 years, I’ve gotten more and more improvisational and now I can literally open the refrigerator, look at what I have and make something good. 
What song would you like played at your funeral? 
“The Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. 
What will be written on your gravestone? 
“At heart, an artist.”  
What makes you irrationally angry?
When I have to make a phone call to a company that has wronged me in some way. Sometimes I will preface the call and say, “I’m very upset about this and I just need you to know that before we start this conversation.”
Pie or cake?  
When it comes down to it, pie. The cake is visually exciting but is often a letdown. Pie follows through. 
What’s your biggest indulgence? 
A plain croissant from Bakery Nouveau. If I could get up every morning and have a café au lait and a croissant. … Maybe I’ll start that tomorrow. 
You’re stuck on a desert island and can have one book, one record and one food. 
The food would be roasted potatoes. The book would be All the Light We Cannot See. And music is hard. I’m going to say Abbey Road.
Whom do you admire? 
My husband because he’s just so kind. 
Is there anything you cannot live without? 
Warmth. I hate being cold. 
Describe your perfect day. 
Not knowing what I’m going to do next and then being inspired to do something, and then I do that.  
Success — what does it look like to you? 
If I can put out this fourth edition and not be attached to the number of books sold or an Oprah interview or some other nutty idea, and just go where I’m wanted, that feels successful to me.
› For more on the lives of artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs, tune in Art Zone with Nancy Guppy on the Seattle Channel (

Related Content

Dawson’s job is about ensuring customers’ bills get paid promptly and correctly

Honoring leaders from BECU, Rosetta Stone Inc., The Riveter and many more

The co-founder and managing director of the Seattle venture capital firm has an uncanny knack for anticipating tech's next blockbuster hit

The 40-year industry veteran, a strong advocate for diverse leadership, manages a team of more than 400 commercial bankers