Each week we profile a different Canadian Food Blogger who is part of the FBC community. This week we meet Idriss, the Montreal food blogger behind Broke Foodies who is helping people with champagne tastes create delicious on a beer budget.
Name: Idriss Amraoui
Blog name: Broke Foodies
Where were you born?
I was born in a little town in Southern Morocco called Tiznit. I didn’t spend that much time there, however, as I spent most of my childhood in the city of Marrakech.
Where are you living now?
I have been living in Montreal since 2007. I chose Montreal for its French speaking Universities (at the time I didn’t speak English). After a few years I decided to make it my home, got married to my wife and partner Lea, and have been loving it since.
Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog as a way to share some of my favorite recipes and show people that cooking is not only easy but very rewarding. Through the process of figuring out what I want to focus on, my blog’s theme, style, and name changed. When I moved to Canada, I didn't know how to cook – this was a huge change from eating almost 95% homecooked meals in Morocco. When I went back to spend the summer with my parents, I learned everything I could from my mom. That realization that cooking was not only easy but could make such a difference in your life was a huge influence in wanting to share recipes with others.
How did you decide on your blog name?
My wife came out with the name. She kept on saying that we are a part of the "broke foodie population"; as in we want to eat fancy gourmet dishes, but we don’t have the wallet to support our ambitions. It was an instant “aha!” moment for me, because it was spot on. I was a student, working part-time with an expensive taste for food.
What do you blog about?
Broke Foodies is focused on making decadent and mostly healthy dishes for our readers. We try to make all of our recipes with inexpensive and largely available ingredients to help our readers save both time and money in the kitchen. If you go to our blog right now you will find a lot vegan, ketogenic and even paleo friendly dishes. Our aim is to save our readers time and money in the kitchen no matter what diet they chose to follow. Eating at home is always cheaper and tastes just as good (sometimes better).
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
I would not say that my blog is my business because I don’t work on it full-time. It’s somewhere between a hobby and business.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
It’s hard to pick one, but if I had to I would say that it’s my Keto No Bake Cheesecake Recipe. First of all, I love cheesecake. And secondly, it’s a five-ingredient recipe that fits within the ketogenic diet’s requirements. I like this recipe a lot because unlike many desserts I have on my blog, its purpose is to teach you a technique rather than the recipe itself. Teach a man to fish...
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My Vegan Chocolate Mint Cookies. I wish this one received a little more attention. It’s a simple and straightforward cookie recipe and it was an instant hit with my friends and family. I would have liked to see more people try it, since it is one of the easiest and most rewarding recipes I have ever put up on the blog.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Last year I published a recipe for Pretzel Bread. It’s a simple take on the classic soft pretzel, reshaped into a loaf. I thought the end result was good, but I really didn’t believe that it would get any attention because of how unusual it is. I’m still getting traffic from it and my readers all seem to love it.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Consistent recipe creation is my biggest challenge. It takes me 5-10 hours to publish a recipe and that’s if I have a clear idea of what I want to do. I have to make sure that my photos look appetizing, that the blog post is interesting and most importantly that the recipe is easy to follow. It’s definitely challenging to hit all those targets, but when I do it always feels amazing.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
I know this might sound cliché but the biggest lesson I learned as a blogger is to be myself. A lot of bloggers told me that I should be looking at trends and create content accordingly. That is true to a certain extent, but when I look back on Broke Foodies most successful recipes I realize that almost all of them are not trendy. Almost all of them were the result of me (or sometimes me and my wife) trying to see if I can turn some of our ideas into something yummy. These are sometimes based of off cravings or what we wished there was a recipe for.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
I have been reading and following Pinch of Yum for over 3 years. I have also enjoyed reading Top with Cinnamon. I really love how Pinch of Yum connects with their readers by sharing more than just recipes. Lindsay is a great blogger and teacher and I have learned so much from her. As for Top with Cinnamon, I have never really tried any of their recipes and I mainly follow them because of the uniqueness of their recipes and the amazing photography. Getting lost in her blog is a real treat.
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
My favourite recipe? I’m a big fan of Italian food and as far as I can remember my favourite dish of all time has always been spaghetti with meatballs. My mom always made it from scratch (fresh pasta, homemade marinara etc.) and I never liked any other food more, as she put her own Moroccan twist to it. It's unlike any other spaghetti and meatballs I've had and it just makes me so happy.
My favourite place to eat, however, is Primo Segundo, a restaurant in Montreal. It constantly surprises me and intrigues me; the chef is really creative. I do not go often, but when I do go I'm thrilled.
What are you working on next for your blog?
We are constantly working on making Broke Foodies more and more accessible to people no matter which diet they follow. That being said, my next project is to share more recipes from my childhood via a new food blog called My Moorish Plate. Broke Foodies will remain our main focus, but this new blog provides me with the opportunity to help more readers discover some of the most amazing things that North-Africans have been cooking for generations.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I love videogames and am studying Economics. I guess you can say I'm a bit of a nerd. Right now I'm teaching myself to code (along with the help of online courses). I've watched American Dad, Family Guy and The Office countless times, and still laugh at all the ridiculous jokes. I got legitimately upset when Netflix trimmed the amount of seasons available recently.
What makes your blog unique?
We do not follow trends. We make our own twists and follow our cravings. The posts and recipes that we put up are the result of our own lifestyles choices or readers’ requests. We try to make it so that every recipe that goes on the blog tells you a little more of who we are and what we like, as well as sometimes making you think about the food itself – where it comes from and how to swap ingredients.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
As a blogger I have enjoyed the resource sections of FBC very much. FBC is one of the very few places that provided me with information on how to do my taxes, keep my bills separate and treat my blog more like a business. I also have enjoyed reading the Featured Canadian Bloggers section as I have discovered many awesome blogs through it.
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