Health Enthusiast and Baker: Julie Mason

BY CAILIN BURKE

Happy Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 17.05.05 !

IMG_0753Today we’re featuring Julie Mason, a health enthusiast that spends her time baking, cooking, and blogging about it! Except one thing differentiates her from other chefs out there; she aims to make everything healthy! Her goal in baking or cooking something is to use at least one healthy ingredient. That way, Julie’s culinary creations are both delicious and have an ingredient that gives you a dose of healthy nutrients or vitamins. She has a lot of recipes that she has tested herself and one day hopes to use these recipes to start her own healthy bakery. We can’t wait to see what Julie does in the future, but for now, Tara and I love checking out her blog and Instagram to see the amazing looking foods and baked goods she’s making next. She’s definitely inspired us to use healthy ingredients, try new things in the kitchen, and to stop baking from a box. Julie took the time to answer a few questions for us and even shared some tips for healthy eating. Read her interview below and make sure to check out the great pictures of some of her favorite creations!

1) What got you started?

My love for baking and cooking could have came from watching my mom bake 6 dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in one day, or it also could have started after watching my older sister experiment (and make a mess) in the kitchen when I was growing up. I was lucky enough to grow up with people in my life who have a passion for cooking, and this definitely rubbed off on me. My family is also very health conscious, due to poor family health history, and this inspired me to study nutrition at Framingham State University.

2) Tell us a little bit about who you are?

Currently I am a senior at Framingham State University in Massachusetts. I am studying Nutrition and Dietetics, with a minor in business. I love food, big surprise there! But I also enjoy running, animals, my family and friends, nature, and enjoying life! Once I receive my undergraduate degree, I plan on applying to graduate school and getting my masters in nutrition. I am considering the idea of applying to British Columbia University in Canada. (side note: I was born in Ontario, Canada). Eventually, I want to receive my RD, which stands for Registered Dietitian. Once I receive this certification I will be well on my way to achieving my dreams!

3What are your inspirations?

When cooking I am inspired by European and Mediterranean ingredients. I love using olive oil, lemon, nuts, and fresh vegetables/fruits in my dishes. I am a college student so I buy my ingredients on a budget. To save money I buy many plain frozen vegetables, and I also shop around to find the best deals for fresh produce. It also helps to buy produce that is in season because it is the freshest and cheapest!

4) What are your favorite ingredients or types of food to make?

My favorite foods to make are baked goods. I have a special place in my heart for baking muffins. I love to take a recipe that someone else has created, and tweak it to make it healthier! I started doing this after watching my mum create healthy baked goods for my family, and my interest grew further when I got to school and we did this same thing in the food lab. An example of a healthy alternative for a recipe is swapping out some of the fat for natural applesauce. So if the recipe called for 1 cup of oil, I would change this to 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce!

5) Where are you most inspired to bake and cook?

I am most inspired in my own kitchen. I love it when I have the apartment to myself and I can turn on Pandora radio and try out a new recipe. As weird as it sounds my favorite time of day to bake is in the early morning…which could be as early as 3 am! (I’m sure that doesn’t thrill my roommate). I love when the house is silent and tranquil, and I can get into the baking zone! There really is nothing like the smell of warm honey-nut granola toasting in the oven in the early morning!

6) What are your future goals and biggest dreams?

When I consider what my biggest dreams would be, owning my own healthy bakery/café comes to mind. I have a huge love for coffee (I drink too many cups to admit). I would love to share my recipes with customers and give nutritious baking advice.

7) What have you learned in your creative process?

The most useful thing I have learned in the kitchen is becoming a good cook/baker is all about trial and error. I have experimented many times, took a bite, and thought what was I thinking!? Adding too much salt comes to mind… Then I learned from my past experiences and moved on. I think people take cooking and baking too seriously, and they should just have fun with it! It’s all about putting your creative hat on and getting out of your comfort zone. There is nothing more gratifying then creating something you initially thought would be too difficult to make, and it turns out delicious!

8) Any tips?

Baking tips and tricks!

  • When a recipe calls for oil, you can substitute half of the oil for natural applesauce! You can also use mashed banana or avocado in place of some oil.
  • Run out of one egg while baking? You can replace one egg with either: 1/4 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup pureed banana, 1/3 cup applesauce.

* Keep in mind, these substitutions work best when you are baking items that start as a batter rather than a dough. Baked goods that start as a batter would include muffins or brownies. When making cookies I would stick to traditional butter.

Want to keep up with Julie’s tips and see her delicious (and healthy!) daily meals? Then make sure to check out and follow her blog, Juju’s Secret Ingredient:

http://jujusecretingredient.wordpress.com/

Of course we couldn’t leave out pictures of some of her baked goods. Try your best not to let your mouth water or get completely hungry. Or do, and bake one of Julie’s delicious recipes after reading this!

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