How to start your own food blog - Interview with The Simple Green

Images by The Simple Green

If you don't already know Heidi and her beautiful blog, The Simple Green, then I'm grateful for the privilege to introduce you to her! Like me, you will find very quickly many reasons to fall in love with her. Besides her endless kindness and love for food (two non negotiable requirements to be on my blog and well, in my life), she is a talented self taught photographer, gardener, mother and baker! 

I asked her to share with us some insights on how to run your own successful YouTube channel and blog. Enjoy! 

Q: First of all, what inspired you to start your own blog The Simple Green?

It was definitely a combination of several things, but mostly internal motivations.  Overall, my love of plant-based recipes inspired everything; that love initially started as a small blogger.com page back in 2008. I didn’t post much and eventually, it fell to the wayside. The desire to blog never went away though, and it wasn’t until 2015 that I found myself really inspired to do what my heart was asking: to create a platform for my recipes, my passion, my heart and, ultimately, my creativity. Several years in a high stress and very demanding career left me depleted and devoid of creative expression; cooking and baking always soothed me.  And eventually, my heart just spoke louder than the doubts and stresses in my mind…I really had no choice but to do it; it just felt so right.

Q:For someone who visits your blog for the first time, is there a particular post or recipe that you would say is a must read/try? 

I think all of them are, *wink*.  However, if I had to name one, the Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Lavender Frosting post. It was recreated in the Vitamix Test Kitchen and they loved it. Chocolate frosting made from cashews and no refined sugar is perfection in my eyes; it’s one of my more popular posts for a reason. It’s also the 1 year anniversary post, so I share a few emotions about the ups and down of creating from the heart. 

Q: Are there other blogs from which you draw your inspiration from? 

Yes definitely, blogs and YouTube channels. In 2015, I happened across a Japan based YouTube channel by Ryoya Takashima (a.k.a. Peaceful Cuisine); his work is one of my deepest inspirations and I want to inspire others the way he inspires me (Thank you, Ryoya).  The First Mess’, ‘Wholehearted Eats’, ‘The Green Life’ and ‘Hey Modest Marce’ are a few fellow Canadian food bloggers that also inspire me with their beautiful photographs, engaging storytelling and amazing recipes. I’m also a big Martha fan; she will always inspire me like she has since I was 8 years old.

Q: Could you give us some helpful tips on how to start a blog?

If you have a desire to blog, just do it.  There really is no perfect time to start. It seems overwhelming and confusing at first, but there are so many helpful guides written by other bloggers that tell you exactly how to do it step by step.  Secondly, stick with it.  You don’t become an expert blogger, food photographer or writer overnight. My blog is constantly evolving and improving every week; it’s a process of growth which is so utterly rewarding.

Q: Looking back to when you started your blog, is there something that you wished you would have known back then that you do now? 

Plenty, ha! After many long nights, I’ve managed to design a look and feel that I am happy with; however, I wished I had researched more all the web hosts and platforms available today. Wordpress is popular for a reason and with Pinterest being a main driver of traffic to food blogs, I would have chosen a platform with advanced Pinterest plugins available. 

Q: Like in fashion and in the kitchen, I'm sure there are some "Don’ts" one should avoid when blogging. Can you name yours? 

Don’t try to be perfect. Imperfections are what make us human and relatable. Unfortunately, I was born a perfectionist, so it’s something that constantly weighs on me. When I first started blogging, I was constantly discouraged by my photography and writing. However, if you look at any successful food blogger, they all started from roughly the same place. It’s so endearing to see their early work. I’ve only be blogging for a year and a bit, but I hope one day people will look back on my early posts and feel inspired and encouraged by those “imperfect” posts.

Q: How much impact do social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have on your blog? Which one is the most beneficial one for you?

If you ask any blogger, social media makes a huge impact for your blog and brand.  Initially, Facebook was the main driver of traffic to the blog; traffic mostly consisting of supportive friends and family.  Eventually, I started an Instagram account and it quickly became one of my biggest resources for traffic, inspiration and networking. I continue to reach a much larger audience via Instagram and make amazing connections with fellow bloggers and companies looking to work with me. I also have a YouTube channel, which is in dire need of updates. I hope to return to video production shortly, but with my son being not even two, he’s just not old enough to operate the camera yet (I jest). Despite the lack of new videos, YouTube still generates a good chunk of traffic to my blog thanks to just one of my 14 videos.

Q: What are your future goals for The Simple Green?

To continue to inspire more and more people to include plant-based recipes in their day. I’m also a lover of gardening, sustainable and zero waste living; I may include more sections on the blog dedicated to those topics. Of course, I would also love to continue working with professional brands that I love. I’ve been very fortunate lately to be able to work with some amazing companies, one of those being Vitamix International; it was such a surprise to hear from them and I am so grateful for that opportunity.  Maybe one day I can write and photograph a cookbook and create more recipe videos for my channel. I’d also love to open an online store for my husband’s woodworking; he has crafted so many of the props seen in my photos, from hand carved spoons, handmade paring knives, cutting boards etc., all of which get many loving comments asking where I found them.


Heidi's Blueberry Chai Creamsicles

Sweet summer blueberries and chai spice come together to form a lovely combination of frozen flavours in a creamy coconut milk base.  The perfect summer treat!  

| makes approx 7 - depending on the size of your popsicle mold |  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 400 ml can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews (unsoaked)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chai spice (recipe here)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Puree the thawed blueberries in a small blender, or small food processor (I like to use a handheld immersion blender for this part).  Set aside.  
  2. In a full sized blender, combine the coconut milk, cashews, chai spice, lemon juice, sea salt, agave nectar and vanilla extract.  Blend on high until smooth(about 30 seconds if using a high powered blender like a VitaMix).
  3. Pour the coconut milk mixture into your popsicle mold, filling only half way.  Pour several spoonfuls of the blueberry puree into the molds.  Pour the remaining coconut milk mixture into the mold, making sure to leave a about 1/2 cm at the top for the popsicles to expand during freezing. Using a chopstick, gently swirl the mixtures together to create a marble effect. 
  4. Insert the popsicle sticks as per the directions for your mold and place in the freezer for 6-8 hours.  

For more wouthwatering recipes, please visit her website here.