Hanna Ibraheem chats to Jemma Andrew-Adiamah of Celery and Cupcakes about blogging, creating recipes and how she strives for a healthier lifestyle
Striking the balance between healthy and fun, Celery and Cupcakes provides us with a range of easy and clear recipes for quick and tasty treats. What’s even better is that they’re all created with health in mind, and that includes her Chocolate Splatter Cookies, Vegan Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies and Red Velvet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting - yum.
Firstly, what made you decide to start your blog?
What initially drew me to blogging was that it enabled me to share my thoughts and inspirations on health and nutrition with like-minded people. I treat my blog like an online personal journal, so it's nice to look back and see what I was doing, eating or feel at a certain point in time.
What’s your favourite aspect of blogging and are there any downsides?
There is such a sense of community in the blogging world and I have met some lovely people through it. I can genuinely say that I love it! However, I'm not going to lie - it's not all rainbows and unicorns. Since you are 'putting yourself out there' you are open to nasty comments and criticism, but I just take it as being part of the job. Criticism isn't a bad thing either. In fact, rethinking a few things others have pointed out has made me a better blogger.
How do you balance blogging with other interests or jobs? Do you ever go offline?
Writing my blog has become a full time job as it does take a lot of time and effort to produce. Like anything you do need a break now and then, occasionally I will switch off for a couple of hours when needed. Normally I try and have a cut-off point and tend not to work on my blog late into the evening.
What is your personal food philosophy? Are there any food groups/types that you avoid?
There are no boundaries to the foods that I eat, banning foods or labeling foods as ‘evil’ is an unhealthy approach in my eyes. I'm a bit of a foodie and not ashamed to say that I love and enjoy food. My blog advocates having a healthy balance and to ditch the faddy diets. I tend to live by the 80:20 healthy to unhealthy food rule and it seems to work well for me. The way I see it, life would be boring without pizza and cake!
How has eating healthily impacted on you personally? Do you ever find it difficult to stick to it?
I have been on such a journey with my food and I think that is part of the whole process of trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. After a bad relationship with food in my teens my whole perspective of what is defined as healthy has changed. Trying new foods, being creative with my food is something that was alien to me initially, but now it’s the norm. I do feel much better when I eat healthily, especially after a period of indulgence. Nevertheless, it’s not always easy, but I try not to feel guilty about over indulging. More often than not, I tend to take it on the chin and try to remember that tomorrow is another day.
How do you create new recipes?
I'm constantly being inspired to create new recipes mainly via my Pinterest . I could even be doing the weekly shop and think of a recipe after seeing a group of possible ingredients. The recipe creating process can be very haphazard though and I will throw a bunch of ingredients in a pan and hope for the best - I find this style of cooking more fun!
Have you had any cooking disasters?
I hold my hands up here. Yes there have been many, but the disasters make me more determined to get it right.
How do you decide which recipes to feature on your blog?
My style of cooking is very basic as I use simple ingredients that everyone would have in their cupboards and I think that’s generally how people cook at home. I like no-fuss cooking that is healthy and nutrition packed, so my recipes revolve around this ethos.
What are your three favourite recipes?
My personal favorite is my Double Chocolate Grain Free Muffins recipe, but my most popular recipes with my readers are my Banana Bread Chickpea Flour Muffins , Triple Chocolate Protein Brownies and my Macadamia and Coconut Protein Truffles .
If you kept a food diary, what would a typical day look like?
A typical day would consist of warm water and lemon first thing followed by a green smoothie or a bowl of porridge. Lunch tends to be either a salad or soup. I tend to always have an afternoon snack such as fruit with Greek yoghurt or a snack bar. Midweek dinners are usually protein and veggie based like my Chocolate and Jalapeño Turkey Chilli with a side of steamed veggies. If I fancy dessert this can be anything from a few squares of raw chocolate, creamed coconut/yoghurt with frozen berries.
Which ten ingredients do you use most often?
Ooooh this is a tough question…erm…rolled oats, chicken, free range eggs, spinach, unsweetened almond milk, coconut oil, apples, nut butters, feta cheese, dark chocolate and sweet potatoes.
What five things are always in your fridge?
Definitely free range eggs, dark leafy greens, some kind of cheese, unsweetened almond milk and coconut water.
Where are your favourite places to buy ingredients?
I love looking around the local market, farm shops and ethnic food stores for interesting and new ingredients. I’ve found some great stuff at Millets Farm, I could spend hours in there perusing the aisles. The same can be said for health food shops too.
Which three kitchen appliances could you not live without?
Number one would have to be my blender. I got a Vitamix for Christmas and I cannot wait to get it out of the box once my current blender dies. Also my slow cooker and whistling kettle are over used appliances too, I just love my tea.
Where are your favourite places to go when eating out?
My husband and I are always on the lookout for a new favourite restaurant and since moving to Oxfordshire we have found a couple of Thai, French and bistro restaurants that are really good. The ultimate treat was dining at Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons - that is one meal that we will both never forget.
What advice would you give to those considering a healthier lifestyle?
Adopting a healthier lifestyle does take a considerable amount of commitment and determination. Jumping straight into the deep end isn’t something that I would advise, but making small changes each day or week (i.e. swapping white bread for wholemeal bread) can work wonders. Every small step that you make is a step in the right direction.
What are your favourite cookbooks and/or books relating to health?
There are so many to choose from but anything by Nigella Lawson is great and I loved the beautiful photography in Gok Wan’s new recipe book. Also The Hummingbird Bakery, Vegan Yum Yum, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook and Veganomicon have been great inspiration for me.
Who are your favourite bloggers?
If I was to name all of my favorite bloggers the list would be as long as my arm. There are so many blogs that I read regularly and these range from healthy living, beauty and fashion to lifestyle blogs. I found the wedding pretties of Love My Dress and Rock My Wedding so helpful when planning my wedding. A recent find of mine is a beautiful lifestyle blog called Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily and the talented photographer Lucie at Collecting Light produces stunning pictures on her blog. I love the family orientated recipes of Lauren who writes a Dash of Soul and the stunning food photography of Michelle of A Peachy Palate and Tracy at Shutterbean too.
What does the future hold for your blog? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline?
I’m currently working a number of exciting projects, which I cannot wait to roll out over the next few months, so watch this space! My blog is my passion so I am always looking for new ways to develop it. I have a blog newsletter planned for later in the year and I’m looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into that.