Why "Blissful Basil"?
At first, the title of "Blissful Basil" stemmed from my love for Italian food and alliteration. However, as my blog has changed and grown with me over the years, the title "Blissful Basil" has truly taken on a deeper meaning. As the tag line reads, Blissful Basil is about unearthing happiness through wholesome, plant-based foods. When I say "wholesome foods," I'm referring to whole, unprocessed, bright, and glowing foods that nourish and allow both the mind + body to feel happy from the inside out. When we eat in a well-rounded and balanced manner, we not only feel good physically, we also reap amazing psychological benefits. You'll find that most of my recipes from the past year are vegan, filled with healthy fats, and contain an abundance of whole foods.
How can I contact you?
Please feel free to email me at [email protected] with any questions, comments, or inquiries. You can also visit my contact page and submit the form if that is easier for you!
Can I work with you?
I'm open to working with brands that authentically jive with the values and ideals I infuse into Blissful Basil. Please email me at blissfulbasil (at) gmail (dot) com with business inquiries. Media Kit and Rate Sheet available upon request.
Where are you located?
Chicago, Illinois. The city of summers so wondrous you'll forget how crazy the winters are.
When and why did you start writing a food blog?
I wrote my first post on July 8, 2010 and you can bask in all of its awkward glory right here. I started blogging as a way to convey my love for food; however, my reasons for continuing to blog change, evolve, morph, and repeat on a near constant basis. Just three weeks after I started this blog, I became a vegetarian and blogging became a way of holding myself accountable to my new life choice. A month after that, I began a year-long, full-time internship as a school psychologist and blogging became my method of self-care when counseling teenagers and an over-scheduled calendar left me feeling frazzled. Sometimes blogging is my place of balance; a time to sort out the jumble of thoughts in my head. Other times, it's a means of documenting the memories of my life in a preemptive attempt to provide a belly-busting laugh or joyful cry of gratitude somewhere in my future. I don't think you need a reason to blog, just a little inspiration.
What type of recipes can I find on Blissful Basil?
This has changed over the years, but Blissful Basil's most recent recipes focus on utilizing wholesome, plant-based foods to make delicious meals filled with all sorts of healthy goodness. You'll find plenty of vegetarian recipes from my earlier blogging years; however, Blissful Basil is now a dedicated vegan blog.
Why did you become a vegetarian and then vegan?
I'm asked this question a lot not only by readers but by friends, family members, and people I have just met. The most basic explanation is that I am a huge animal lover and just couldn't bear the dissonance I felt eating the same creatures I claimed to love. If you want more information, please feel free to email me at [email protected] but that's about all the detail I'll provide on here -- this is truly a personal choice, and I would never want to transfer any animal-lover guilt to anyone who doesn't want it.
I'm confused, are you vegan or vegetarian?
I'm not surprised you're confused as my blog and I have truly changed over the last few years. In March of 2014, I made the full shift to veganism after being vegetarian for 3 ½ years. So, I am vegan, although you'll find plenty of vegetarian recipes from my earlier blogging years. Although my primary reason for making the shift was and will always be my love for animals, an unexpected perk of following a plant-based lifestyle has been the way I've felt since making the shift. Everything from my energy to digestion to mental clarity has improved, and I'm now a forever-believer in the power that vibrant, plant-based foods can have on our overall well-being.
What is your training and background?
I studied psychology at both the undergraduate and graduate level and currently hold a Post-Master's in School Psychology. I'm a full-time School Psychologist at a high school on the North Shore of Chicago. For the most part, I'm conducting assessments and writing reports but I also run support groups that focus on body image, eating disorders, and diversity. I also hold a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell School of Nutrition Studies.
Dieting. What are your thoughts?
As a general guideline, I believe that lifestyle extremes (e.g., strict diets, unforgiving workout schedules, etc) are a bad idea because they cultivate black and white thinking -- "this is good, that is bad" -- which can lead us to all sorts of problematic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. I think dieting becomes exceptionally problematic when we continue to rigidly adhere to rules and restrictions around food, even when our sense of well-being and joy is diminished, simply because we're attached to the expected outcome.
There are always exceptions to the rule but most often, diets narrow in on the external outcome (e.g., weight, muscle gain, etc) while ignoring the unique internal needs of each person. And although a person's weight may drop, weight alone is not a marker for wellness, be it physical or emotional. Plus, short-term solutions don't solve long-term problems, and we've got to start thinking big picture about how we care for, nourish, and treat our bodies. We get out what we put in, and if we want to thrive, we have to make peace with our plate and honor our unique individual needs by eating in an intuitive, self-compassionate manner.
No nutrition facts. What gives?
For recipes that focus on a specific macronutrient (e.g., high-protein), I will sometimes include nutrition information. However, I don't include it for most recipes because it doesn't jive with my philosophy on eating. When our primary focus is on numbers -- calories, weight, protein, etc. -- it clouds our ability to listen to our bodies' internal signals and cues. Plus, calories and macronutrient data (i.e., protein, fat, carbs) only tell us the tiniest bit of information about the healthfulness of foods. Foods that look "healthy" from a macronutrient standpoint can be full of additives and chemicals while being completely devoid of vitamins and minerals, thus making us feel pretty lousy once we consume them.
If we're truly eating for the sake of our health, then our efforts are far better spent listening to our bodies (and reading ingredient lists) rather than obsessing over nutrition facts. Our bodies are adept at letting us know what is and is not working if we're willing to listen, be it through signals, symptoms, or functionality. And it's important to remember that even foods that are truly healthy for most people can have an adverse or undesirable affect for some people. Thus, there isn't one way of eating that's going to be optimal for every single person.
If you're willing, ditch the numbers -- be them calories, pounds, points, etc. Instead, eat with the rhythm of your body and focus on adding vibrant, wholesome foods to your plate. Healthfulness isn't about what we deprive ourselves of, it's about what we nourish ourselves with.
I approve ALL comments—positive and negative—so long as the following requirements are met:
1. Commenters must leave their name and a valid email address.
2. Comments (even the constructive and/or critical ones) must be respectful and conversational. I reserve the right to escort comments that are vulgar, profane, or overtly disrespectful directly to the trash bin.
Do you do allow guest bloggers to post?
I have in the past, but I do not currently allow guest bloggers to post. I do, however, encourage any interested guest bloggers to start their own blogging journey -- don't over think it, just start writing!
How often do you blog?
Early on in my blogging journey, I was all over the map with my posts. Some weeks I'd post 3 times, some months I'd post 0 times. However, in January of 2014, I made a decision to infuse consistent love, energy, and inspiration into Blissful Basil. Keeping consistent with that added effort, I strive to post at least three times a week. For those of you who love routines, you can usually count on a M-W-F posting schedule and sometimes I'll sneak a giveaway post in on a Saturday!
Where do you grocery shop?
Mostly Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, but in the summertime I love hitting up every farmers' market I can find.
What type of camera do you use?
In March of 2015, I upgraded to the Canon 5D Mark III with a 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro lens. Prior to that, I used a Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC lens.
What software do you use to edit your photos?
For the first 3 years of blogging, I used Picasa for all my photo editing. I now fluctuate between Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom is just tricky enough to keep me on my toes but user-friendly enough that it wasn't overwhelming to make the switch (I recommend this as a stepping stone to Photoshop). I've recently started using Photoshop and love the editing freedom that the use of layers provides.
What tips do you have for food bloggers who are just starting out?
Be yourself, blog about what you love, hone your topic, be consistent, quality over quantity, and remember that improvement happens one post at a time.
Be Yourself | Sounds cliché but even 7 years into blogging, I still need to remind myself of this tip. With so many amazing blogs out there, it's easy to think that following in someone else's footsteps will lead to a successful (however you define the term) blog. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Believe in what you have to offer and share it.
Blog About What You Love | To anyone who thinks that blogging is easy, I'm going to quickly shatter that hope: it's not. It's challenging and time-consuming to build and maintain a blog, and there is always more to be done. That's why it's so important to blog about what you love. You know, the topic that gives you butterflies of excitement, keeps you mentally engaged and stimulated, and ignites that inspiration in your soul. When you're in love with your topic, your inspiration will fuel you and be evident to others. Inspiration is contagious.
Hone Your Topic | I initially started blogging about food in general. Then it was recipes. Then it was vegetarian recipes. Then it was vegan recipes. For the last three years it's been plant-based vegan recipes with a focus on whole foods and natural ingredients. As soon as I narrowed my focus, the ideas started flowing and people started reading. It's tempting to blog about everything, but you'll end up overwhelmed with indecision and your readers will be confused. Pick one thing, hone and refine your skills, and keep at it.
Be Consistent | This is turning into a "do as I say, not as I do" segment, but seriously: do as I say and not as I did. For the first 3+ years of blogging, I was all over the map with the frequency of my posts. Once a week, once a month, skip two months, post 8 times in the next month. It was an unpredictable mess. However, when I started posting 3 times (M-W-F) a week in January of 2014, my readership really started to grow. We (as in human beings) like routine and consistency.
Quality Over Quantity | On that note, don't post so frequently that what you're sharing lacks quality and meaning. It's better to have one awesome post per week than seven mediocre posts. Make sure your recipes are great (test and re-test), your photos drool-worthy, and your writing well-edited and thoughtful.
Improvement Happens One Post At A Time | When I first started blogging, I put pressure on myself to get better at everything (i.e., photography, writing, recipe creation) overnight. I wanted my photography to look as good as [insert talented food blogger here], and I wanted it to happen yesterday. My impatience with myself caused frustration and burn-out, which is a huge part of why I would post so inconsistently. I believed that if I wasn't seeing changes immediately, I probably never would. This couldn't be further from the truth, and I know that now. Share your best today and don't be afraid to grow slowly and consistently, because that's when the magic happens. Meet yourself where you're at with your skills and set the bar 1% higher each time you post. As with anything, food blogging is a constant evolution.
What vitamins and supplements do you take?
I take probiotics (vegan), B12, vitamin D, and algae-based DHA on a daily basis. Other than that, I strive to fill my plate with a rainbow of fruits and veggies as often as I can!
Do you eat refined sugar?
You'll notice that I don't typically post recipes with refined sugars, and that's because I'm more inspired by the challenge of creating sweets with ingredients that are less refined and closer to the earth. I do eat desserts, chocolate, etc with refined sugar on occasion, but I try not to go overdo it because I've noticed that it negatively affects my energy levels. That being said, it's certainly not off limits.
Do you eat gluten?
Similar to the above, most of the recipes I post are gluten-free because I'm inspired by creating gf recipes and truly do feel better eating this way. However, I happily enjoy foods that contain gluten a few times each week. My favorites: authentic Neapolitan pizza crust, farro, pita bread.
Can I use your photos or recipes on my blog?
1. Photos -- Yes, with proper credit. Please provide credit back to both the specific post and my home page.
2. Recipes -- No, I'm so sorry as I hate to put restrictions around sharing, but copying/pasting my recipes onto your site negatively affects how the recipe will be displayed in search engine results. That being said, please, please, please feel free to use a photo and link back to the original post without reprinting the recipe. If you have an inquiry about a specific recipe, please email me at [email protected] as special consideration is given for certain projects, press, prints, and sites.
Can I repost your photos and recipes on Instagram?
1. Photos -- Yes, just be sure to 1) tag me in the photo and 2) hashtag my username in your description/caption | #blissfulbasil | That way I can find it and ♥ it!
2. Recipes -- I'd prefer that recipes not be re-posted in full if possible, but listing a few ingredients is absolutely fine -- just be sure to tag me in your description by hashtagging my username | #blissfulbasil |
Do you workout?
Yes! I regularly workout for 1| the positive effects on my mind and 2| the positive effects on my overall health. I'm a happier, more energized, less anxious, and balanced person when I regularly exercise. After suffering from seasonal affective disorder on an almost-annual basis, I started working out regularly at the age of 24. It changed my life, and I haven't looked back since. I typically workout for 30 minutes 4-6 times per week. I love high-intensity interval training, and I'm obsessed with yoga. Yoga is truly my happy place. It not only balances and centers me, it gives me the confidence I need for my job, for this blog, and for life in general.