Welcome to Blissful Basil! My name is Ashley, and I'm a former school psychologist turned plant-passionate recipe writer, photographer, and cookbook author. Here, in this cozy internet space, I share simple plant-based vegan recipes and wellness tips to unearth vibrancy, health, and happiness.
I first fell in love with cooking under the guidance and encouragement of my parents. After spending my first 26 years as a meat-eater, I transitioned to a vegetarian lifestyle in 2010 after a two-week trip to Ireland. In 2014, I made the shift to a vegan lifestyle after careful thought and lots of research. As my lifestyle has changed, so has the direction of this blog, so you'll find that my recipes have shifted from pescatarian to vegetarian to vegan over the years.
I believe that it's the small, daily choices we make time and time again that either support or undermine our ability to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally, and the foods we eat are an important part of this equation. When we consciously choose a wide array of wholesome foods on a regular basis and eat in alignment with our intuition, we set the stage for a more vibrant, energized life.
Having said that, it's certainly not just kale salads and green juice up in here (although, for the record, I do enjoy all the green things)! I believe that food should be something that's both nourishing and enjoyable, and I create recipes with this idea at heart.
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, I hope you find Blissful Basil to be a welcoming and inspiring place. I strive to develop plant-based recipes that appeal to everyone, so you can count on a variety of flavors, textures, and colors in every dish.
Whether I’m literally finding my balance in a regular yoga practice or figuratively finding it through self-reflection, I'm more optimistic, centered, and motivated when self-care is at the cornerstone of my daily routine. From my vantage point, self-care isn’t about chasing perfection or following precisely in someone else’s footsteps. It’s about finding the tools and strategies that enhance our own personal sense of well-being, choosing them when we're called to do so, and being gentle with ourselves when we don't. The three most profound and impactful changes I’ve made that have shaped my life in a positive way are:
1| Adhering to a regular exercise regimen. After a long battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and some very gnarly, life-gripping anxiety, I started exercising regularly at the age of 24 and found that it eliminated the feelings of anxiety and depression that I'd once accepted as my winter-month reality. I also felt happier, more energized, and more focused. I now exercise 3–5 times a week, striving to incorporate yoga, interval training, and weight lifting into my weekly routine. Mindful movement not only contributes to our physical health, it’s also an incredibly powerful tool to promote cognitive and emotional well-being and offers our brains a boost of feel-good neurotransmitters (i.e., serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine).
2| Following a vegan lifestyle. I became vegetarian in 2010 after my love for animals caused too much cognitive dissonance to endure. I made the shift and never looked back. From that moment on, I felt at peace with my plate and my spirit was renewed. In 2014, I made the shift to veganism after easing into the lifestyle for several months. I now feel more energized, inspired, and even happier than I was prior to the shift. Having said this, I’m a strong believer in listening to your body and eating in an intuitive manner; vegan or not, if you’re doing what works best for you, that’s all that matters. Only you know what's best for you. 💕
3| Finding my peace in the present moment. I do my very best to give myself at least 15 minutes a day to be present with my thoughts through meditation, mindfulness techniques, self-reflective reading, or intuitive writing. With so many distractions in this increasingly busy world, it’s easy to misplace our goals, values, and ideals if we don’t check-in with ourselves on a regular basis. Setting aside time to self-reflect on a daily basis supports a balanced, peaceful perspective and has the added benefit of fostering feelings of joy and contentment.
My Blogging Journey
I started Blissful Basil in July of 2010 as a way of expressing my love for cooking, writing, and food, in general. Throughout my first 3+ years of blogging, it was strictly a hobby; I'd create recipes and post them when an inspiring wind blew in the right direction. This go-with-the-flow approach meant that I would sometimes go months without posting at all. However, in late 2013, I decided that I had a choice to make: I could let my passion for blogging fizzle or thrive. Thank goodness I have a super supportive husband, because I chose the latter of the two options and began dedicating nearly every weekend and weeknight to Blissful Basil to keep up a regular posting schedule (and write my first cookbook) while also working full-time as a psychologist.
In 2016, I made the decision to take a two-year leave of absence from my position as a psychologist to pursue my love for creating and sharing recipes. During that time, I grew my blog and worked hard to finish and promote my first cookbook, Blissful Basil. After welcoming our sweet little girl, Sloane, into the world in late 2017, I made the decision to part ways with my role as a psychologist in order to pursue blogging as a full-time career. I'm incredibly grateful to do what I love from the comfort of home and to watch our baby grow into the lovely little lady she is while I do it.
I blog because I love it. It offers me balance, a place of respite when my life occasionally dishes out lemons, and gives me that tingly, butterfly feeling of excitement in my stomach. To me, Blissful Basil is about more than just food; it's about passion for and commitment to living life in a way that nourishes the heart, mind, soul, and body. I hold firmly to the belief that a little inspiration is all a person needs to cultivate creativity, so I hope my blog inspires you — even if it's in the tiniest of ways.
Please feel free to contact me at blissfulbasil (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions, comments, inquiries, or just to say "hello!" I'd love to hear from you!