Name: Regina Braun
Blog name: Leelalicious
Where were you born? Baksan, Russia but I grew up in Germany
Where are you living now? Calgary is our home base in Canada, but we’ve been traveling and living location-independently for a while - currently San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Why did you start your blog?
When I first started, almost 7 years ago, the blog was an extension of the cake decorating business I had. I moved on from that when we started traveling after getting married, but I couldn’t stop blogging. So it morphed into a recipe blog - first desserts, but as our eating habits changed (around the time we had our daughter) so did the blog.
How did you decide on your blog name?
I started with SpecialtyCakeCreations but rebranded to Leelalicious a few years ago. Leelalicious is a blend of leelawadee (Thai for my favorite frangipani/plumeria flower) and delicious. Leela also sounds like the German word for purple. That’s why my logo has purple and frangipani in it.
What do you blog about?
As mentioned above, I moved away from cake decorating and decadent desserts to healthy whole food recipes (clean eating). My baking love is still strong though, so I experiment a lot with healthier alternatives to white sugar and flour, which led me to write a Coconut Flour eBook.
When I find the time and feel inspired, I also write about our travels and location independence.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
Business. I consider myself very blessed (although it was and is a lot of hard work) that my blog is part of what enables our lifestyle of travel & location independence.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
I think this post about our first stint as a location-independent family in Thailand gives a good glimpse into our life. We have since spent time in Vietnam, back in Canada and are now in Mexico. Some of the details change in each location, still, this post aptly summarizes the joys and challenges of working from home, food blogging and traveling as a family.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
I really thought the authentic Thai food recipes (learnt in several cooking classes in Thailand) would take off more, especially my absolute favourite Thai dish: Khao Soi - Coconut Curry Soup with egg noodles. I guess, despite Thai food being ‘on trend’ people don’t want authentic recipes as much as ‘Thai spins’ on things they are familiar with. Ex: I have a Thai Buddha Bowl recipe that you will find nowhere in Thailand, but it is doing better than all my authentic Thai recipes.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Nothing could have ever prepared me for the success these Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies would be. And it wasn’t even an overnight success, but within the first 6 months of posting they somehow REALLY took off on Pinterest. Two years later (earlier this Fall) I decided to make a video for that recipe. While I expected it to be well received, the way it went viral on Facebook surpassed even my wildest dreams.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
There are always challenges (in any business), mine range from sourcing ingredients in new locations to finding enough time to work while also looking after my toddler. I love a good challenge and usually find a way to tackle it (ex: when there is no North American ‘health food’ like quinoa, almond flour, etc. I focus on local produce; and we recently hired a part-time nanny, which helps with more focused work time and learning Spanish).
However, one of my more constant struggles is the ability to fully turn ‘off’ and disconnect. As much freedom as there is without set office hours or even an office, being constantly connected can also be enslaving. So instead of working harder (more), I aim to work smarter (efficient) and then have distinct no-work times.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Persistence pays off. By that I don’t mean to keep doing something that isn’t working. But staying with it (blogging) while constantly learning (writing, photography, SEO) and evolving (social media) leads to eventual success.
My blog certainly wasn’t an overnight success. Heck - I never even made a conscious decision to be a food blogger. However, somehow that’s just where I ended up over time. I love it and am quite proud of what my blog has become over the years.
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
Umm, I don’t even (regularly) read food blogs per se. I think it’s a coping mechanism to keep me sane. When I read for fun I want it to be something that’s different from my ‘work’.
I read travel blogs for fun, but I tend to gravitate to those with a food focus or are written by food lovers:
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
This is hard for me to answer. I love food and I love variety. So my favourite foods seem to change depending on season, life stage and location. I’ll share my ‘newest’ favourite food. A few weeks ago, I finally tried Chiles en Nogada on the rooftop of a restaurant here in San Miguel. After just 2 bites I was ready to declare it my new favourite Mexican food. It is meat stuffed poblano chiles smothered in a walnut cream sauce (nogada) topped with pomegranate arils and parsley. The red, white and green colours remind of the Mexican flag, which is why it is a very popular dish around Mexican independence day in September.
What are you working on next for your blog?
Last year, I realized how ridiculously low the search engine traffic to my blog was and how that needed to change. So a few months ago I finally figured out how to research and write my posts so they actually do show up in the search engines. This year I want to work my way through existing posts to improve those with what I have learnt.
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I love reading and music - both took a back seat over the last few years of growing a business and having a child. But I am getting back to them, thanks to a library ebook access app on my phone and a ukulele that we just picked up (thank goodness for music lesson apps).
What makes your blog unique?
I think the combination of healthy whole food and travel is fairly unique. Not all my recipes are travel inspired, but the ones that are fit right in, since most traditional/authentic recipes use just that - real food!
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
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