Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Interview With Lifestyle Expert McKenzie Amaral


1. McKenzie, what inspired you, a college student, to write a book?
I was fortunate to be raised in house that was always filled with healthy, fresh food. As I embarked on my college journey I became so frustrated with the lack of an experience and nutrition that surrounds college meals. I could not access the delicious staples I had back home in California’s wine country. The more I went to the dining hall the more I saw a need for a healthy cookbook for college students with simple, affordable recipes. In an effort to make that happen, I started cooking in my room and developing recipes that I would test on everyone on my hall.  After much trial and error, I chose the best of the best. The ones that made the cut are the gourmet-California inspired recipes featured in Dormet!

2. How do you hope Dormet: Gourmet Recipes For A Dorm Lifestyle will do for its readers?
My goal is for Dormet to redefine college eating. The book exists for what so that DormetGourmets can easily access healthy, nutritious food within the confines of a dorm room. No longer does Top Ramen have to be the “go to” meal but rather it can be pesto pasta with chicken apple sausage. Instead students are able to live healthier lifestyles, savor their meals and still do it on a college budget.  

3. How did you come up with the recipes in your book that you taut as being healthy, tasty, and easy to make?
I must confess that deciding what should be included in the book wasn’t too difficult--the recipes are all of my personal favorite healthy and delicious go-tos!  That said, the process of refining those recipes was filled with trial and error and a lot of feedback from friend’s and hallmates. One of my favorite “test dorm days” as I called them, was when I had 10 of my hall-mates over, blind-folded them and gave them 10 different types of eggs, 5 cooked on a stove top and then 5 cooked the “Dormet” way in the microwave. I am happy to say that the Dormet eggs passed the test and I could develop Eggs 101 from there. 

4. Why should college kids bother to cook a meal or prepare a snack?
College is not just about going to class and pulling all-nighters at the library.  It’s also about the sharing of ideas, socializing, deciding who we want to be as adults and creating a good foundation to build on.  The best foundation I’ve learned is through your health. By being able to cook a meal in one’s dorm you can accomplish all of the above; whether it’s creating a quick, nutritious breakfast before running to class or having a DormetGourmet dinner party. By cooking and preparing your own food you’re able to ensure that what you’re eating stays in its most natural and nutritious form. Plus, eating out three times a day isn’t exactly healthy and can get really expensive!

5. How did your recovery from an eating disorder play a role in your creation of the book?
I always wanted to do something to inspire others that may have battled with an eating disorder themselves or just wanted a more holistic view to health. In college, many people struggle with eating disorders. The seemingly endless food in dining halls and negative self-image talk that is intertwined in the college experience does not help. 

In recovering from my eating disorder I have learned a lot about myself and about the food we eat. So now I want to share the joy that food can bring with others. Cooking shouldn’t be a burden but rather an enjoyable process. One simply cannot function without food and while I learned this the hard way I hope to spread the joy food can bring!

6. Just how bad is dorm food? 
While the dining hall experience and options vary at each university, I believe there are some common themes. The food sits out for hours at a time. You do not know what it is in the food you are consuming. You do not know who has touched that food. You don’t know when it was picked, harvested, or slaughtered which makes it difficult to trace.  So really you don’t know your food like you could if you make it yourself; how’s that for food for thought?!

7. What other lifestyle tips can you share with young adults, particularly women?
In today’s world we are surrounded by so much noise. Don’t eat gluten. Wear sunscreen. Make sure you drink 2 liters of water a day. Don’t watch TV before you go to bed. Well I have a secret. Live intuitively. While these tips, tricks, and ‘life hacks’ may be helpful there is only one person in the world who knows how these things affect you-you! Sometimes silence is where the most noise can come from. Silence the outside voices and live to the rhythm of your own life. I eat kale because I love kale but I also love eating chocolate chip cookies. With this silence, there is a certain balance that arises and I can assure you if you live intuitively and listen to your self, your needs will rise and with that your best self. 

8. What challenges did you overcome to write your book?
The editing and publishing process was not an easy one, between my publishers, editors and designers I had a lot of feedback and a lot of criteria to be met. I love creating, however struggle with refining. After what seemed like the thousandth time of reading the book I felt uninspired. However, as I continued cooking, talked with students about their struggles and need for recipes and released the book I was reinspired, reinvigorated and try to carry this momentum with me every Dormet day!

9. Do you have any advice for young, aspiring writers?
Just write. I find that the biggest challenge for authors and entrepreneurs alike is that they fail to do. Ideas are easy. Action is hard. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or inspiration just start writing. Never erase only cross out because one day you may come back to the story line and it may be your bestseller.

To learn more about Dormet, please

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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