Name: Melissa Baker
Blog Name: upbeet
Where were you born? Williams Lake, BC (Only because we lived in 100 Mile House and my mom’s twin pregnancy was too complicated for the hospital there.)
Where are you living now? Vancouver, BC
Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in 2011 with a mission to entice readers to dust off their stoves and spice racks and spend more time in the kitchen. I was having fun trying new recipes and I wanted to share it with others, while encouraging them to do the same. It can be so enjoyable and rewarding, especially if you involve the family too!
How did you decide on your blog name?
It used to be “Apron Strings and Healthy Things,” but after a while, I thought that was too long. I wanted something that was shorter and encompassed me all in one; “upbeet” is perfect! It incorporates one of my favourite vegetables and my personality. However, I have since realized it doesn’t pass the “radio test.” If I am on the radio, I have to ask the announcer to say, “… go to upbeet.ca, like the vegetable, b-e-e-t.” Argh. I still love it though!
What do you blog about?
Mostly, healthy living, nutrition/ nutrition trends, and nutritious recipes, with some desserts in there too. I try to stick to simple recipes that are not intimidating to make, using basic food skills, because I want my readers to cook at home more! People that cook at home often generally eat much more nutritious diets. As a registered dietitian, I think it is important to talk less about nutrients (which will lose interest quickly) and, instead, support the development of food and cooking skills. Cooking at home is one of the best things you can do for your health.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you?
That is a tough choice but probably, “4 Easy Things You Should Do Every Morning (Plus My Favourite Breakfast Recipe!).” It’s light hearted, full of simple tips to improve your health, and mentions a couple family members (my grandma and sister) who are very important to me.
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
13 Minute Chicken Thighs in Red Wine & Fig Sauce. I love this recipe! It sounds a little gourmet yet is so simple and quick to make. The little bit of sweetness makes it a kid pleaser too. I think it could be a great staple recipe for those busy weeknights. Our time is the most limited resource we have and not having time to cook usually leads to take-out dinners, which are hard on our budget and health. I’d love readers to try this recipe instead with a simple stir-fried or roasted vegetable and a quick cooking grain like bulgur.
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
Last year, I did a product review of T-fal’s Actifry Express. I didn’t think it would get much attention but it is one of my most popular posts (along with my moose roast and baked pakoras). It really exploded this holiday season too! I think people were considering buying it as gifts, or received one for Christmas. I have done very few product reviews, but this makes me consider doing more of them.
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Time (shocker)! I work full-time as a nutrition educator, I’m the managing editor of a blog for Dietitians of Canada, I write for my Huffpost Canada Living franchise, What’s the Deal?, and I am currently serving a three year, volunteer-based term on a Board of Directors. I definitely suffer from blog envy, but for now, I have to live with it and tell myself they have more time to spend on their blog than I do (wishful thinking I am sure).
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
I mostly read other dietitians blogs (from this awesome list). But for other food blogs, I love Chocolate Covered Katie because I am a fellow chocolate lover and she uses relatively simple ingredients. Her recipes are vegan, which I am not, but they are easy to adapt. I also really like Food & Whine. Megan, from Food & Whine, is likely busier than me and feeds her family so well. I love her photography and recipes, which she keeps quick and simple. She shows other families that cooking doesn’t have to be a chore!
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
My favourite food is fish tacos or Mexican food in general. The Mexican Breakfast Bowl on my blog is so tasty!
What are you working on next for your blog?
I am starting to think about Nutrition Month coming up in March and doing some posts around that. The theme Dietitians of Canada came up with this year is, “Take a 100 meal journey. Make small changes, one meal at a time.” I think this theme is great and I can’t wait to see all the small changes people come up with to improve their eating habits.
What else should we know about you that may not be in your “About Me” page?
Most of the important things are in there, but I’ll share 3 non-food related tidbits:
- I really like to enter contests, and I have won some great prizes, like a trip to Paris (QM FM radio contest) and a “Foodie of the Year” trip to Newfoundland.
- I watch Global BC news almost every day. I grew up watching it with my Grandpa and it makes me feel at home. I hope the news anchors I am used to never retire!
- I am terrible at remembering the names of actors, singers, and songs. I once told someone my favourite song was Highway of ’69 by John Cougar Mellencamp. I combined two different songs (Life is a Highway and Summer of ’69), of which John Cougar Mellencamp sings neither. I am hopeless.
What makes your blog unique?
I have a good mix of simple, quick recipes and nutrition content. My diet is pretty basic and I don’t ban any ingredient from my kitchen. Many of my recipes use inexpensive ingredients for those on a budget. And my training in nutrition and communications works really well for blogging. With all the contradictory nutrition information online, I can be seen as a trusted source.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
Follow Melissa and Upbeet on Social Media