10 years ago today I hit publish on the first ever post on this blog. The blog, at the time, was called The Muffin Myth, and the recipe was called The Muffin That Started it All.
Although I have spent much of the last two years either updating and re-publishing old content, or culling posts that I know I won't bother redoing and are dragging the site down, I've left this one intact for posterity's sake. I don't think the recipe is that good, to be honest, and as a recipe that replaces all of the fat with apple sauce (but still calls for plenty of sugar) it doesn't really align with my core values today.
But it does mark the beginning of this journey, and so I think it should stay.
When I hit publish on that first post 10 years ago today, I was newly married, sitting in a new apartment in a new country with no friends, no phone, no job, and nothing to do. I was part way through my BSc in Food, Nutrition, and Health, and I wanted to start this blog as a way to share recipes and nutrition knowledge with the world.
I had been planning on starting a food blog for some time and actually owned the domain for a couple of years before I published that first post, but I didn't quite know how to do it. I didn't have a digital camera, and I didn't know how to start a website. Shortly before I moved to Sweden my friend Jenn handed me her camera and said, "just start your blog already."
I wrote this post, a Halloumi Sandwich for Jenn P, to thank her.It would take me *years* to learn to back away from the freaking food
Those were the good old days of blogging, I tell ya. Just blah blah blah, story about my life, awkward segue, here is a recipe!
A couple of months after Jenn gave me that camera, someone finally told me that I did not, in fact, need a web developer to build the site for me and I could just use a free template in WordPress, I think I had the site up and running within a week or so. It looked like this:
Love the close-up of muffins in the banner, the pre-loaded font, and the blogroll set up 😂
A couple of years into the blog, my friend Alison decided to take me on as a pro-bono branding project. She helped me to start to refine the blog's concept and develop a consistent tone of voice, although this is a process that would take many years to truly get to the point where I am today.
Alison introduced me to the enormously talented designer Emelie Cheng Pollard, who has now taken this site through three design iterations, and a fourth (just an updated homepage) that will be launched sometime in August. Exactly eight years ago, on June 29, 2012, we launched the first version of the site with a proper identity.
Gone were the muffins in the header, replaced with the first logo, a proper colour scheme, and several other design elements.
Because I'm an idiot (and because you don't know what you don't know) I actually talked Emelie out of a more magazine-style homepage and insisted on keeping the blog scroll. I also had her code a blue line that wrapped around the recipes so that they looked like they were printable, rather than moving to a self-hosted platform where I could start using printable recipe cards and things like that.
Progress takes time.
In 2014 (maybe '15?) I finally migrated to self-hosted and had a web developer apply the design elements that Emelie created to a proper, professional food blog template. Remember this?
I was really proud of that version of the site. It was polished and sleek and professional for the first time. There was only one problem, which started nagging me more and more as the years went on... the name.
I called the blog The Muffin Myth, which was short for Deconstructing the Muffin Myth, as a sort of hyper-intellectual way of talking about how people don't understand nutrition. You can hardly blame me as I was eyeballs deep in academic papers for the 10-ish years I studied nutrition, but I had to explain the name Every. Dang. Time.
Most people assumed it was a baking blog, or just plain didn't understand it. I think only once in the eight-ish years the site had that name did someone say, "Oh is it called the muffin myth because people think they're healthy when they're really not?"
Ding ding ding!Please enjoy the styling in this picture
I had wanted to change the name for quite some time, but hadn't landed on anything right. I considered "50 Weeks of Lunches" at one point since I'm so into lunch packing, but boy am I glad I didn't paint myself into that corner of a niche.
One night as I was writing out this post for Turmeric Latte Mix, I found myself typing the words, "hey Nutrition Lady, why is there black pepper in my turmeric latte mix?" and I had a light bulb moment. Within an hour I owned the domain (I seriously could not believe it was available) and was squatting on all the social handles.
A lot of people tried to talk me out of changing the name, and my little brand team in particular was very attached to The Muffin Myth, but the decision was made, and I'm SO GLAD to have rebranded just over two years ago.
I was proud of the content on The Muffin Myth, but it always made me cringe a little bit when someone asked me what my blog is called. On the other hand, Hey Nutrition Lady is a site that I'm incredibly proud of in every way.
Shortly after rebranding in 2018, I had a professional SEO audit done of my site, and the list of things that needed fixing from the previous eight years was daunting to say the least. I'm in a Facebook group for food bloggers, and I noticed another blogger who was, shall we say... vocal.
She had also been blogging since 2010, also just rebranded her site, and also was working her way through the post-audit to-do list. I low-key stalked her in the FB group for a while, checked out her blog and found out that she, too was a mom to two boys, and then reached out to see if she was interested in an accountability partner.
Hitting on Sarah (from Sustainable Cooks) in the FB groups turned out to be one of the smartest things I've done in the last 10 years. Having someone who understands how much work goes into each and every blog post has been invaluable. Having that person be a type-A organization nerd who inspires me and keeps me on track? Even better.
Having that person turn into a real life amazing friend who drives up to see me in Canada whenever I'm back? Best of all.
A lot has happened in the 10 years since I published that first recipe. I've finished two nutrition degrees, had two kids, owned two apartments, and had at least five different jobs. I've grown this site from a clunky little hobby blog to a professional revenue-earning site, and one that I'm really proud of.
My friend Alison asked me recently how much time I spend on the blog each week, and I told her that it's somewhere between 20-30 hours. Between recipe testing, photo shoots, editing photos, writing the post, social media, email marketing, and everything else that goes into running the site, it's essentially another full time job.
"Dang," she said, "I knew it was a lot but I never really did the math before. How do you fit it all in?"
I explained that I don't get nearly enough sleep, don't get nearly enough exercise, and have just found ways to work in the margins as much as possible. It's exhausting, I said, but I can't seem to quit it.
"So it's sort of like Brokeback Blogging, then?" She said.
That's exactly what it is, Alison. That's exactly what it is.
Top 10 recipes
I took a look through my analytics to find the top 10 recipes of all time.
1. Mung Bean and Coconut Curry
It should surprise no one that the Mung Bean Curry is the number one post of all time. Here's an original photo of it from 2015:
And the current photo (from 2018):
2. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos
These Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos are definitely one of my favourite recipes as well. Original photo from 2014:
And the updated photo from 2018:
3. Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Wraps
These Curried Cauliflower Chickpea Wraps got picked up in a Buzzfeed roundup in 2015 and I have yet to beat that day for the most page views in a single day. Hopefully soon! Original photo from 2015:
And the updated photo from 2018:
4. Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie
This Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie has always been insanely popular. Even with this old crappy photo from 2014:
Updated in 2017:
5. Indonesian Black Rice Pudding
I've always loved this Indonesian Black Rice Pudding recipe, and it has performed well year after year. Original photo from 2015:
And an update in 2019:
6. Chia Fresca
I first posted this recipe for Chia Fresca in 2014. That styling is really on point 👌
Updated in 2018:
7. Amazing Vegan Gravy
This Amazing Vegan Gravy recipe performs well all year round, but crushes it during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Originally posted in 2014:
And updated in 2019:
8. Is Popcorn Healthy?
Is Popcorn Healthy is the only nutrition post to rank in the top 10 of all time. I first posted it in 2014, and updated it in 2019.
9. Turmeric Latte Mix
I really really want to update this post (and the photos!) for this Turmeric Latte Mix, but it ranks #1 for that keyword and you're not supposed to touch anything that's in the top three. I'll have to wait until it ever has a fall from grace before I can take better pictures.
Posted in 2017:
10. Carrot Apple Smoothie with Ginger
This Carrot Apple Smoothie recipe does really well all year round. It reminds me of a sad time in my life as I shot the original photos after having a miscarriage in 2014:
But was pregnant with my second child when I redid them in 2018:
This 10 year journey has definitely been about progress rather than perfection. Every time I redo a crappy old post from the blog, especially one with terrible photos, a rambling post about nothing, and no recipe card, it feels so good. I still have hundreds (!!) of old posts to fix up, along with fresh new content that inspires me.
By the time I get through it all it'll probably be time to go back and start all over again. But you know what? I have fun doing it.
Thank you, dear reader, for being along for the ride. Without you, none of this would be possible. Thank you for showing up, reading my posts, and making my recipes. Thank you for your comments, your social media shares, and your emails. You are the literal best.
And for all new bloggers just starting out, know that it's a marathon, not a sprint. Learn everything you can, pick your battles, and make friends who are bloggers. You'll be better off.