Blogging is such a different ball game than it was when I started in 2008, from the dark corner of my corporate cubicle
I launched my first site on a whim. It was supposed to chronicle the high high’s and low lows of entertaining friends in a pint-sized New York City kitchen, with far too many people crammed around a coffee table in my fourth-floor walk-up. The question I was trying to answer was not just how to get creative with flavor combinations, but how to cook meals with no money for high-end steaks or fancy spice blends, no time to make a formal three-course dinner, and no counter space for bulky food processors or stand mixers.
I didn’t even own a ladle.
At the time, I didn’t see anyone out there in the food world who spoke to me. So using the small amount of brand savvy I’d built from one year of working in a dark corporate cubicle, I decided who better to occupy that dark corner of the food space than ME.
Now that the internet has exploded, these days I look around the food space and just get overwhelmed. It’s like going to a friend’s Christmas party year after year, only to look up a decade in and realize that you don’t know anyone in the room. The conversation is familiar, but you can’t seem to keep up with the banter. Your ugly sweater still holds some humor and nostalgia, but everyone else seems to have moved on to cuter cocktail dresses.
Standing in a crowded room where you have to shout to be noticed doesn’t always feel very good. Nor does buying an overpriced dress just to fit in. When I feel this way at real parties, my social anxiety wraps around my neck like a thorny wreath, and all I want to go is fade into the wallpaper or go home to hide under the covers.
When I taught my food blogging course at NGI earlier this fall, I could sense that a lot of people had these same fears about starting their own sites—about showing up at the cocktail party alone and trying to shout over the crowd. And as I stepped back to reflect on my work from 2016 and what I want to do differently in the New Year, that comparison fear reared its ugly head once again.
With all that’s going on in the world, and all the change that needs to happen, I wondered: does anyone really need another gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe?
The answer is, of course, YES.
So, let me supply you with two important reminders of why. These are the things I have to keep telling myself as I gear up for another year of feeding you. And I hope you’ll tell yourself the same anytime you’re feeling a little lost, or worried that whatever you’re creating and putting out into the world isn’t enough.
1. Food is not just medicine. It is ritual and culture and comfort. If you take the time out of your day to cook a meal—to put love on the plate, to teach your children what it means to gather around a table, to nourish someone you love—it has a ripple effect. Your soup bowls make the world warmer. And a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies doesn’t hurt either.
2. Not every voice is going to speak to every person. A message can go in one ear and out the other depending on the vessel delivering it. Every person needs to use their voice in order to create the change that’s needed—around a boardroom table, on a stage, in the kitchen. Even if the cocktail party is crowded, you’ll always find someone to listen. When in doubt, just offer them a cookie.
So what does this mean for me in the New Year?
More recipes and conversation, of course.
But there will be a few small shifts that have to do with the impact I want to have on the world. The first is more plant-based recipes. While I believe in an omission-free diet, I also believe that our bodies and our environment would both be better off with less red meat. Second, more real wellness talk, especially around women’s health. The moon sister month of The Wellness Project was my most fascinating, and especially given the uncertainty around healthcare options for women, we could all benefit from as much body literacy as possible.
In the meantime, I have a planty, gluten-free recipe gift from the lovely lady who shared the opposite corner of my dark corporate cubicle 8 years ago. My old co-worker Molly made these amazing spinach bites for her baby shower, and when I tasted the crispy, savory balls, I knew I had to shower you with them too.
These spinach balls are kind of a healthy, gluten-free spin on spanakopita filling. Instead of feta, I used manchego. Any cheese will do, or you can omit it entirely. The most interesting swap is that instead of breadcrumbs, Molly made a flour out of pulverized sunflower seeds. You could of course use almond flour, hemp seeds, or any other type of nut you have on hand. But I loved the subtle flavor of the sunflower seeds.
You can serve them as a meatless appetizer for your holiday cocktail party (and let someone else bring the cookies), or as a quick weeknight vegetarian main course. They would be a great paleo swap for falafel, especially if you added some middle eastern spices. Or use them to top a bowl of quinoa and drizzle the turmeric yogurt sauce on top.
Wishing you all a safe journey through the rest of the holiday party haul. And just remember that no matter how crowded the room, there’s always space for more gluten-free cookies, healthy spinach balls, or whatever you want to bring to the table.
From one healthy holiday hedonist, to another,
Spinach balls get a healthy makeover with a paleo flour made out of sunflower seeds and a smidge of manchego cheese. These are a great gluten-free appetizer recipe, or you can serve them as a vegetarian main course in place of falafel. If you don't have time to make the turmeric honey yogurt, plain yogurt or tzatziki also works well! Ingredients Instructions Notes An easy way to grate the parmesan or manchego is to simply pulse it in your food processor into crumbs after you’ve created the sunflower seed flour. You can also substitute almond flour for the sunflower seed flour (1 1/4 cup total) or use any other type of nut. This recipe would also taste great with Feta. If you like spice, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes would give it some kick.
Spinach balls get a healthy makeover with a paleo flour made out of sunflower seeds and a smidge of manchego cheese. These are a great gluten-free appetizer recipe, or you can serve them as a vegetarian main course in place of falafel.
If you don't have time to make the turmeric honey yogurt, plain yogurt or tzatziki also works well!
An easy way to grate the parmesan or manchego is to simply pulse it in your food processor into crumbs after you’ve created the sunflower seed flour. You can also substitute almond flour for the sunflower seed flour (1 1/4 cup total) or use any other type of nut.
This recipe would also taste great with Feta. If you like spice, 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes would give it some kick.