Executive Profiles

Coffee with Guppy: Cynthia Lair’s Recipe for Living

Nancy Guppy chats with the educator/actor/author.

By Nancy Guppy January 4, 2017


This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

Nutritionist Cynthia Lair (cynthialair.com) is a faculty member at Bastyr University, an actor and improviser, star of the web series Cookus Interruptus (cookusinterruptus.com) 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, youre into six figures.
Cynthia (laughing): Thats funny, and no. Book writing is a labor of love and usually people do it as a super-duper calling card.
Whats 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 cant eat grown-up food.
They can. The idea that you need special food if youre 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, Ive gotten better at coming up with solid recipes that are pretty easy to make.
What is Americas biggest misconception about nutrition?
That theres a magic nutrient or a magic diet thats going to make them feel better.
How would most people describe you?
Im terrified of that! My classroom evaluations run the gamut from shes the most opinionated, judgmental, awful person Ive ever met and she needs to be fired to Cynthia is the most incredible, open-minded person Ive ever met in my life; never lose her.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Dont 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. Ive always been a recipe person, but in the last 15 years, Ive 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, Im 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.
Whats your biggest indulgence?
A plain croissant from Bakery Nouveau. If I could get up every morning and have a cafe au lait and a croissant. … Maybe Ill start that tomorrow.
Youre 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. Im going to say Abbey Road.
Whom do you admire?
My husband because hes just so kind.
Is there anything you cannot live without?
Warmth. I hate being cold.
Describe your perfect day.
Not knowing what Im 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 Im 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 (seattlechannel.org/artzone).

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