Get to know my favourite food bloggers from around the web – these were the first food blogs I followed, and I’ve stuck by them faithfully for their awesome recipes and inspiration in and out of the kitchen!
Long before I had any conscious inkling of starting my OWN blog, I was reading food blogs every day. And, it started out innocently enough. I’ve ALWAYS enjoyed baking and cooking from scratch (starting at about age ten). Back then, the “technology” for recipes involved a cookbook. End of story.
Over time, I started consulting the internet for recipe ideas, especially when I wanted high-protein and/or wholesome recipes that didn’t seem to feature in mainstream cookbooks. I’d find a recipe here or there, and I didn’t pay too much attention to the recipe author unless it turned out really, really well. Or if I noticed that a lot of the recipes I kept repeating came from the same source. Friends would forward me recipe links on Facebook, and since they knew me, I figured it was worth checking out (so it goes to show how powerful a marketing tool your friends can be – unwittingly and unpaid in most cases, which is the best marketing of all from a brand, product or service provider perspective!). Consider this an unpaid Public Service Announcement for these deserving bloggers!
It was then and only then that I started reading the blogs the recipes were coming from. And at first it was only three or four. But then those bloggers would feature guests posts or recipe links from THEIR favourite food bloggers and it snowballed from there. I was regularly consulting SEVEN different food blogs when I finally decided I’d had enough and was ready to take on a blogging voice of my own!
So, here is the other “Group of Seven” (history/art buffs, let me know if you get the reference!) – and the only order they are in is alphabetical by blog name:
Real name: Monique Volz
Tagline: Sweet Treats + Healthy Eats
Focus: Most of Monique’s recipe archives feature heavily on baked goods, following health trends at the time (low-fat recipes at first, versions with whole-wheat, then featuring alternative sweeteners vs. refined sugar, high-protein baked goods, coconut oil recipes and lately gluten-free and Paleo and vegan recipes, too). She’s not afraid to incorporate “unconventional” ingredients in recipes (in fact, I think she thrives on the challenge – lentil blondies, anyone?). Lately she has stated that she is trying to provide more savory recipes, in response to reader requests for more healthy meal ideas. So far, she’s following through!
Why I love her: All of Monique’s recipes (that I’ve tried) have turned out really well for me and I like that she injects a little bit of humour into her posts while still staying fairly focused on the ingredients and the recipes themselves. She has also been willing to publicly share and be vulnerable regarding weight loss, our emotional relationship with food and dealing with obsessive and/or disordered thoughts regarding eating and food.
Real name: Megan Gilmore
Tagline: Healthy Living Is Easier Than You Think
Focus: Megan focuses on wholesome, natural ingredients to create family-friendly snacks and meals. Many of these meals follow the principles of food combining (all you ever wanted to know about food combining – and then some!), meaning that they encourage optimal digestion. The ingredients and recipes promote and enhance the body’s natural detoxification process – removing toxins, waste products and impurities from our systems via normal metabolic processes.
Why I love her: First of all, her recipes are SO GOOD. Everything I’ve made from her site turns out WONDERFULLY and actually ends up looking, in real life, like the gorgeous photos she posts (never mind that my own food photos rarely look as good). Secondly, her recipes feature short lists of natural ingredients that I almost always have on hand. A few recipes featured stevia, and then she moved back to the more “traditional” unrefined sweeteners honey and maple syrup. She also regularly shares what she actually eats on a weekly (or so) basis and points out snacks and meals that her toddler eats – showing parents ways for their children to eat and enjoy healthy food, too!
Real name: Elana Amsterdam
Tagline: Healthy Gluten-free Paleo Recipes
Focus: Elana was diagnosed with Celiac disease and MS (multiple sclerosis) several years ago and has been on a strict grain-free diet ever since to manage her conditions. Lately, she has also experimented with an extremely low-carbohydrate diet to enhance her own health so her recent published recipes are also extremely low in carbohydates. Unlike many other food bloggers, Elana does NOT publish nutritional information for her recipes BUT she has published hundreds (if not thousands) of sure-fire recipes for many different specialty diets at no cost. She has authored and published more than one cookbook (this is true of most but not all of the bloggers listed here), one of which focuses exclusively on recipes using almond flour.
Why I love her: If it’s gluten-free and guaranteed delicious, it’s Elana’s Pantry. Not only does she do recipe development and testing herself (with her sons’ baseball teammates as enthusiastic taste-testers) but she also employs paid professional recipe testers to prepare AND taste-test the recipes as well before they are published. I have no idea how she can eat as many grams of fat as she does, but I guess that’s the upshoot to eating negligible carbs. Your body has to get its energy from somewhere, and it looks like her primary source is dietary fat!
Real name: Summer Badawi
Focus: Summer seems to have identified health concerns both personally and within members of her family and friends, putting her on a mission to remove gluten and refined sugar from her favourite treat recipes. She is also an artistic wizard in the gluten-laden world of sugar cookies, but I think they are more about art than about food for her in that realm. Her business really seems to have taken off doing custom cookie specialty orders (but you can tell she hits the gym – check out her Instagram @summerbakes88 – so she still whips up new “healthy” goodies from time to time). The one and only time I ever made donuts, it was Summer’s “pro-nuts” (protein + donut = pronut!).
Why I love her: Summer will always have a special place in my heart. She is a fellow Canadian (based somewhere in Ontario, I think, although I won’t hold that against her) and she was officially the first food blog I ever checked out (on the strength of a Facebook tip!). She was just starting up her blog at the time and she and I actually corresponded via e-mail a few times, making her the closest I’ve come to actually “meeting” one of my food blog idols (I’m such a celebrity nerd that I get excited if one of these bloggers responds to one of my comments on their posts – it was such a let-down to realize that some of them employ assistants to man their social media platforms – Monique in particular is on the record for having an assistant to manage her social media platforms, meaning those comments I made on her posts were likely not posts made by THE Monique and the responses weren’t either!). Plus, to date I think I’ve made more Feeding My Addiction recipes (she’s got a great collection of gluten-free, high-protein bars and cookies) than recipes from any other single blogger! Way to go, Summer!
Real name: Alessandra (if she’s published her last name, I haven’t seen it)
Tagline: Delicious Allergen-free Recipes
Focus: Alessandra also has Celiac diseases AND is allergic to 72 food items including grains, dairy, eggs, and soy (you have to wonder what’s left to eat!) – so she devotes her time and efforts to perfecting recipes that she can actually eat. Chances are, if she can eat, almost anyone else can, too! Oddly enough, she doesn’t have fish or nut allergies, though.
Why I love her: You gotta love any teenager (Alessandra is 16) with the pluck to not only deal with 72 food allergies but to create and share incredible recipes in her own well-written, beautifully photographed blog. She has incredible photography skills and she pulls out adjectives for her dishes that most of us would have to consult a thesaurus (not to mention a dictionary) for. Precocious, indeed! I see big things ahead for this young lady (she’s already partnered with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Land of Lakes as a sponsor/brand partner, among others) and I can say, “I knew her when…”
Real name: Juli Bauer
Tagline: Paleo Recipes
Focus: Juli’s published recipes are Paleo-friendly (as are her cookbooks) but her blog also features heavily on her workouts (CrossFit), and her fashion (she has partnerships/affiliates with some online shopping sites, as far as I can tell).
Why I love her: Juli doesn’t do much in the way of self-censoring, which is both jarring at times and refreshing. Her recipes are always great (or sound great – there are a LOT I haven’t gotten to) and I’ll admit that I would love to steal her entire shoe collection. Of all of the bloggers I follow, she offers the most glimpses into her daily life (complete with photos!). It’s more like reading her diary with recipes thrown in. Rarely will I see the specific health benefits of a particular ingredient thrown in (like Monique at AK or my own recipes). I also think it’s interesting that she publicly admits that she doesn’t follow a perfectly strict Paleo diet all of the time (she even falls off of the gluten-free wagon some of the time). All in all, I think it’s good for us “normal” Joes (and Janes) to realize that following a Paleo-friendly diet does NOT have to be an all-or-nothing pursuit, despite what some Paleo purists would try to tell us.
Real name: Gina Matsoukas
Tagline: Healthy, simple, real-food recipes
Focus: Pretty much just as her tagline says! Running to the Kitchen actually seems to have followed the same trajectory as Ambitious Kitchen, starting with a lot of baked (or no-bake, in Gina’s case – she has a lot of no-bake energy “balls” recipes in the Archives) goods that have been at times low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free, Paleo, etc. She’s gotten a lot more affiliate links/brand parnterships/sponsorships lately which I feel have toned down the candid, sarcastic writing style of her earlier (non-sponsored) posts. Recipe development seems to be more focused on requirements of the sponsors (not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s as good a starting point as any, or better, if you consider that there’s remuneration involved!).
Why I love her: I love hearing about the exploits of Gina and Ulysses (seriously, she’s married to a Greek man named Ulysses?) and their dog, Ginger. I also like her tongue-in-cheek take on the Paleo movement and her foray into CrossFit – if I can point to anyone for inspiring me to take my (eventual) first CrossFit class, it will be Gina!
Honourable Mention: Although I didn’t follow these two regularly with the first group of seven above, I realized that I would be remiss to leave out the following blogs. I do now actively follow both of these bloggers on social media and I am actively book-marking their recipes to try (if and when I take a break from working on my own concoctions!).
Real name: Katie Farrell
Tagline: Healthy Alternatives To The Food You Crave
Focus: Katie has a self-professed knack for making “healthier” versions of classic comfort foods. If you’ve got a recipe, she knows how to make it lower in fat and/or calories and/or gluten-free and/or high-protein and/or just plain better for you than the original! She’s based in Michigan but she looks the part of a classic Southern belle, complete with big blonde hair and a sweet-as-pie smile. I expect her to speak with a Southern drawl, but I don’t know if she has an accent at all – I guess I should watch some of her videos!
Why I love her: Katie’s blog was interesting to me because she also ties in her strong Christian worldview (she’s also the only membership-based site I follow and actually decided to get a paid membership to – $5 USD/month). She is passionate about helping people, especially young women, to see their beauty as Christ sees their beauty and yet also balance that with how to be guided to eat and exercise in ways that enhance that beauty. Where other bloggers have “Wellness” or “Fitness” days (and Katie does, too), she has “Word Wednesdays,” sharing inspirational passages from Scripture (a.k.a. The Bible).
Real name: Jessica Stier
Tagline: Where Decadence & Health Become One
Focus: Jessica’s blog (true to its title) focuses exclusively on desserts and snacks and she is a maven at making low-carbohydrate and/or sugar-free, gluten-free, high-protein treats. She uses some more “out there” or “specialty” ingredients than some of the other blogs I follow (powdered erythritol, stevia/Truvia and other specialty gluten-free flours and thickeners), but if you’ve got these things on hand, she’s got the recipe for you!
Why I love her: Jessica’s site was a complete boon to me when I was in the throes of trying to eat 170g/protein per day with limited carbohydrates and fats (why and when anyone would want to do that is the subject of a future post). Now that I’ve got those aforementioned specialty ingredients in my cupboard, I find myself checking out more and more of her recipes because I am enjoying experimenting with those ingredients. Swapping the occasional chicken breast for a high-protein baked good to rack up my daily protein intake is a trade I’ll make any day!
Feeling inspired yet? Let me know if you start your own blog (food or otherwise)!