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Keeping it real when eating

Holly Layer grew up mostly in Pennsylvania and Virginia as a Navy brat, joined the Air Force ROTC while a journalism student at Penn State and began to take a more serious look at healthy eating while working as a public affairs officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

She fell in love with East Aurora native Andrew Layer while the two were at school together in Happy Valley, got married, and decided when her husband landed a job at Moog four years ago that it was time to take a fresh look at a career. Layer aims to become a health food writer, combining her love of writing with a degree as a registered dietitian, which she will land this spring at SUNY Buffalo State.

Her schooling has given her a better glimpse into nutrition – hers and that of others. Part of her clinical rotation this spring has been to handle nutrition risk screenings and assessments at Erie County and Buffalo General medical centers.

“I was eating brown rice and wheat pancakes before they were cool,” said Layer, 31.

Q. What is your philosophy of eating?

Eat real food. For the most part, that’s what we eat at home. We eat a lot of salads, almost every night. I grew up that way. For lunch (recently), I made a chicken salad with avocado, dried cranberries, curry powder. As a side, I had veggies and hummus, and a piece of dried peach.

Q. What are the staples of your diet?

We recently did a paleo challenge, and I’ll stress it was for fun. It’s kind of paleo in the fact that you’re not doing grains and dairy – which I believe in – but this was a 21-day challenge for fun. We started eating more eggs and sausage for breakfast. What it really does is show you how full and satiated you can be with higher protein and good fats, things like avocados. Fat isn’t the devil, either, you can’t eat all fat but healthy fats help us feel full. That’s why when you have a sugary cereal for breakfast, two hours later you’re hungry, because you didn’t have any protein or fat. When you put good meals together – real food and higher protein, I can’t stress this enough – you won’t be starving in two hours. You’ll last. We have some sort of meat at dinnertime, something lean. I tend to cook a lot at home. We have a lot of fruits and vegetables in the house, a lot of nuts. As long as you keep the portions small, nuts and some fruit or a cheese stick will make a great snack.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Holly Layer writes about her desire to become a food writer at