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Let’s Talk About One Ingredient Chef…

Hello, hello! Last week I posted my first new recipe in quite a few months and I think I own you an explanation of where I’ve been lately. The truth is…

I was sailing to Tahiti by myself when a big storm hit. My ship was taking on water fast. With only seconds before the ship capsized, I grabbed the few remaining sweet potatoes I had onboard and dove into the water. When I came to, I found myself marooned on a deserted South Pacific island where I survived by farming those sweet potatoes and drinking coconut water for several months until rescue arrived just last week.

It was a harrowing adventure, for sure, but we don’t have time for that story. So instead, I’ll just tell you the truth: I needed a bit of a break from recipe blogging! After 6+ years and 300 recipes, it started to feel like an endless stream of monotonous recipes that weren’t adding a lot of value. So, I took a break to gain some perspective.

In retrospect, I think a break was a really smart decision. Stepping away from blogging gave me a lot of new clarity and helped me see what was / wasn’t working and how I can retool, revitalize, and ultimately relaunch One Ingredient Chef as something much more focused on helping you make a plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.

Below, I just want to lay out some thoughts about the past, present, and future of One Ingredient Chef and the world of recipe blogging at large – what’s going well, what isn’t, and a handful of things I plan on doing differently moving forward…

 

More Purpose

One thing that really tripped me up with 1IC in the recent past is this question: if there are a hundred thousand recipe blogs, what unique value does this particular one have that you can’t find anywhere else?

It’s a good question because without that, what’s the point? There are probably a hundred good vegan-focused blog posts a day, so you might as well just read Cookie and Kate or Chocolate Covered Katie or something.

After reflecting on this quite a bit, I have come to realize even more clearly that my purpose with One Ingredient Chef is to help you make an unprocessed, plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.

That is what I can deliver better than anyone. The One Ingredient Diet concept is all about this goal.  Whole, unprocessed, “one ingredient” food simplifies this lifestyle and (surprisingly) makes food more delicious as well. Each of the 300+ recipes I’ve made have tried to drive this point home.

But, I think there is a lot more that I could be doing in service of that mission, and the rest of this post is about the small tweaks coming to the “new” One Ingredient Chef that will help you make a plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.

 

More Focused Recipes

Recipe blogging is about getting as much Pinterest and Facebook traffic as possible. Why? Because traffic = money. This leads bloggers down a really narrow road. We’re always chasing new ideas that are flashy, clever, and have really enticing photos (at least 35 of them per post). It’s a pattern that works to get clicks and make money.

The question is, is that model helpful for you guys, the readers? I don’t think so. It’s kind of mindless, actually. “Pumpkin Spiced Air-Fryer Roasted Almonds for Halloween” (with 15 photos of the nuts inside a tiny pumpkin, of course) really aren’t going to make a difference in your life. It doesn’t make an unprocessed, plant-based lifestyle easier or more delicious.

If you are into that kind of thing, great. You have hundreds of places to find it. But moving forward on 1IC, I want to bring you guys mostly “staple” recipes that are the holy grail of plant-based cooking: fast, healthy, unprocessed, and super delicious. I don’t care about making them extra flashy or clever, and I don’t care about reaching a certain quota of posts per month to get more traffic. I just want to give you guys the most useful content I’m capable of creating.

 

More… Me?

Another issue that turned me away from blogging is that 99.3% of recipe bloggers seem to spend most of their time talking about how adorable their kids / dogs / husbands are and what cute things they found at Bed Bath & Beyond last week.

Me? I like training for ultramarathons in the mountains…

If I’m using my phone, it’s more likely to check the trail maps in Sedona than to check my Facebook comments…

I spend more time than I care to admit in Big Sur looking for the secret waterfalls and chasing after the turkey vultures…

I’m more interested in pursuing my creative passions like painting, making music, and developing apps than finding the right props for my food photos…

Because my interests are so broad, I didn’t feel like I fit into the mold of a food blogger, I don’t identify with that crowd, and that disconnect is one of the big reasons why I lost interest. But now, I see how there is actually a really important message behind my own story –

Everything good in my life is empowered to my unprocessed, plant-based diet. None of the things that make me “me” (like running, a love of nature, creativity across many mediums, etc.) would be possible without my health and diet at the center of it all.

Going plant based 10 years ago was the best decision I ever made. It helped me become a much better version of myself.

I feel like my health / diet / fitness level is currently the one area that is strongest in my life. Health is probably a 9/10 for me, and it gives me so much more energy and opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Part of that is just good fortune, I’m sure, but another part is the healthy diet and lifestyle choices I make.

I’m always peaching about how “food is power” and that “it can transform your life for the better.” I would love to show you more personally how that is so true in my own experience, because it absolutely is true for me.

It isn’t very natural for me, but I think it may be helpful to bring more of my own journey into this project; to share why I’m so in love with plant-based food, what I’m doing/learning about health, and how this spills over to enhance everything else in my life.

 

More Healthy Lifestyle Content

While I plan on continuing to do recipes, of course, I also want to start creating content that goes beyond recipes.

One of my favorite hobbies is studying nutritional research and finding ways to incorporate more healthy habits into my own diet through recipes, kitchen hacks, or whatever.

For example, I think my article The 8 Healthiest Foods to Eat Every Day is one of the best things I’ve written in years and I’d love to create more along those lines.

I have some really cool ideas for hybrid content that includes nutrition research with recipe / meal inspiration to help you understand the fundamentals (i.e. why berries are so good for you) and put them into practice through the foods you eat (i.e. here’s the 10 best recipes to get more berries in your diet).

That, in combination with more of my own personal experiences (see above) might be a really helpful addition to this website and I plan on experimenting more with those types of posts in the coming months. Be sure to leave me comments on new posts to let me know which types of content are / aren’t resonating with you!

 

More Real Value, Less Ads

A few years ago, some innovations in advertising really changed the game for food blogs and now many of them make tens of thousands of dollars a month just from these annoying display ads.

I mean, what’s not to love about generating thousands of dollars in passive income without having to lift a finger? …Well, I (like you) find them obtrusive and misaligned with my mission. Worse, I don’t even have any control over which ads are shown (did you hear that El Pollo Loco is having a sale this weekend?). They don’t help you make plant-based living easier and more delicious, so why are they here?

Personally, I think this is the lowest quality way to monetize a business. It’s like phoning in the responsibility of generating revenue by giving all your power to corporate AI robots who have no interest in your site or your message. It’s yet another reason why recipe blogging seems so *eye roll emoji* these days.

There’s got to be a better way…

Wouldn’t it be great if I could make sustainable income from One Ingredient Chef in a way that is actually HELPFUL to you instead of a way that is distracting from the very mission in the first place?

I can’t say that I have 100% of the answers yet, but I am hard at work dreaming up new products, services, and other income models that can more than make up for some or all of the ads while actually providing real value to you.

Some things I’m thinking right now:

  • A private plant-based membership group to provide coaching / support on this journey, if there was any interest in that…
  • Products and courses to help those who are new to plant-based eating transition to a more unprocessed diet…
  • A recipe app. I also develop mobile apps in my spare time and I’ve been putting together a prototype for a plant-based recipe app which would feature most of my blog’s recipes plus some new ones.
  • In general, I think there will be some really exciting opportunities to use technology to pave the way for a more plant-based world and I’d love to explore what that might mean.

Those are just a few ideas, but ultimately I think products along those lines could be much more meaningful ways to generate revenue than ads for Nordstrom’s latest shoes… so I’ll keep you posted on all this as it develops! 😉

I’ll finish this by saying that the #1 thing that brought me back to blogging is that I want to be helpful. I want to provide as much value to you guys as I can, and I think there’s a lot of really inspiring ways for me to do that.

I started this relaunch by asking myself how I can use my skillset to serve you guys best. What I outlined here are the answers I’ve gotten to that question (so far). I’m sure there will be much more to come, but I think more purpose + more focused recipes + more me + more real products are the immediate next steps for One Ingredient Chef.

Thank you guys for all your support over these years. None of this would be possible without you and I’m looking forward to bringing you much more in the future.

33 Comments

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  1. What a refreshing article!!!
    Thank you for keeping it real.
    I have always loved the basis of your message, and I have come to trust your recipes to be accessible, healthy, and delicious.
    Although you haven’t been in my “inbox” lately, I continue to use your site for inspiration for what to cook next.
    I got started on a “One Ingredient” path by participating in your challenge a few years ago, and I still live by those principles.
    Thank you for not posting 100+ pics of nuts to scroll through to get to the actual recipe- it shows you respect and consider your audience.

    • Thank you, Dre! You’ve been such a big supporter and that really means a lot. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been using my recipes and find the One Ingredient concept useful… haha, I try to keep it to no more than 30 pics before the recipe 😉

  2. This is great to hear. I’ve hesitated about starting my own food blog for exactly the reasons you list here; I’m looking forward to watching you forge a different path. Good luck!

    • Thank you, Beth! You should go for it! 🙂 Like I tried to explain here, you can always make your own path, add your own value, and avoid the dumb parts of food blogging that don’t work for you.

  3. Phew! I am so glad you are back! Precisely what I love about your recipes/blog is that you are straight forward, don’t talk about your dog, and deliver delicious, well thought out, unprocessed recipes with an aim at making your readers healthier. I will continue to follow your new recipes, write our favorites on recipe cards to be made again and again, and look forward to see what you’re planning next.

    • Haha, this is why I don’t have a dog. If I did, I would probably end up like all the others, posting 20 pictures about its weekend before ever getting to the recipe. Thank you for the nice comments, Sarah! It’s great to heat that I’m on the right track and I’ll keep moving even more in that direction.

  4. Very good to hear! A ray of hope in the dark and desolate food blog landscape. (“Pumpkin Spiced Air-Fryer Roasted Almonds for Halloween” was hilarious.) I am still making your chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes from a long time ago, haha.

    • Thanks, Nicolas! I like that. A ray of hope in the food blogging landscape, that’s a good thing to strive for. Haha, be on the lookout for those Pumpkin Spiced Air-Fryer Roasted Almonds for Halloween coming soon 😉

  5. I have always loved your site and look forward to having you back. I find your recipes inspiring and your perspective helpful. I love your approach of content over flash and look forward to seeing what’s next.

    • Thank you for the nice words, Colleen! I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been appreciating my content and I’ve got a lot more coming now that I’m back 🙂

  6. Hi Andrew ! (sorry in advance for my unperfect english)
    I think doing what we really want (and don’t do what we don’t want to), and find meaning on our actions are very important to feel good about oneself.
    I often don’t want to post anything on my blog, because I am focused on something else (typically in summer I am always outside and don’t have mind for blogging), so I stop it until blogging desire comes back (I don’t use my blog to earn money so it’s easier for me to do that I think).
    So congrats for your blogging break, and for your come back 🙂

    • Hi Claire, I think that’s such an important point, to follow your own passions and inspirations. If you force things too much when they don’t feel inspired, it never goes well. Thanks so much for the nice comments 🙂

  7. So happy you’re back. I started with your challenge a couple of years ago. I love all your recipes, and when I go to your site, it helps me get back on track to eat cleaner and stay away from the processed stuff. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. I would definitely pay to be a member if that’s what you decide.
    Congratulations on your blogging break. Everyone needs that every once in awhile to regenerate.

    • Thanks, Randi. I’m really glad to hear that you’ve been finding my recipes useful and I appreciate that feedback. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  8. Welcome back, Andrew!!
    It’s been a slice… get it? Toast paintings. I’m hilarious.
    Glad your back to the food blogging world, we’ve missed you 🙂

    • yes, so hilarious 😐 haha, it’s really good to hear from you, Sam! I’ll send you an email soon to see what’s been going on 🙂

  9. Hi, I’ve been a lurker for a long time, but I always like reading your posts. What you propose sounds awesome and I look forward to what you come up with.

    One website suggestion is around your cookies and the Custom Ads pop up alert. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to go in and opt-out of your cookies, but it is an awfully frustrating experience. Please look at changing this – I assume you’re doing it to comply with GDPR, but if so, you’re not using something which is compliant, as your EU visitors (of which I am one) are supposed to opt-in for these cookies. Currently it is opt-out and extremely hard to do so because you have hundreds which have to be unticked manually, and each time you do so it resets you back to the top “menu”. Please log in to your own website from an Incognito Browser and attempt to remove these cookies to see what I mean.

    As for funding, have you considered Patreon? It’s a great platform for creative content (I use it for my podcast) and might give you what you want.

    • Haha, sorry about that, there is a “Reject All” button on the pop-up. I was using the “Update your Preferences button instead. Don’t know how I missed it! 😛

    • Hi Matt, thanks for the feedback! Patreon is definitely interesting… I haven’t seen as many bloggers do it as YouTubers, etc. but if you can offer something valuable to Patreons that can definitely be a good strategy.

      Hmm, I’m not seeing a custom ads popup. I wonder if that’s being delivered to EU visitors only. I see your message below about the “reject all” as well, but even so, I will definitely look into cookies, opt-in, double check that things are compliant in with these evolving regulations. Thanks for making me more aware of it.

  10. I’m so glad you’re back! I still make your dolch cinnamon ice cream recipe on a regular basis.

    Your journey is inspiring and I look forward to seeing your vision evolve.

    • Thank you, Nancy! Haha, I’m glad to hear that. I think I only made that ice cream twice but I remember it was pretty delicious! 🙂

  11. Am thrilled you’re back …. really missed you. Always found you refreshing, real, and helpful. Your plans and hopes for the immediate future of your site are exciting, and sound like you’ve given this a lot of heartfelt thought. Go for it! Can’t say I’ll BECOME a fan of yours because I ALREADY AM ONE. A great big WELCOME BACK!

  12. Hi! I’ve been a reader for a few years and this post reminded me what kept me coming back to your page! I really appreciate your honesty and new goals for 1IC. I think that I understand why many of the other blogs I follow go down the “pumpkin spiced air fryer almonds” route, but it does all start to feel monotonous and empty. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next here and to learning more from you about your journey with health and wellness.

  13. Thanks so much for writing this candid post! As a long time subscriber (I downloaded your cheesy e-book when it was first released and have thoroughly enjoyed your recipes) I’d come to appreciate the simple and whole food approach you brought to vegan food. Delicious, with an eye towards health, but not precious or overly complicated. I was disappointed when I noticed new blog posts stopped popping up. I’m glad you’re back and I agree with so much of what you wrote within this post. I think there is a segment not being served amongst food blog readers, vegan food specifically, concerning people who genuinely want to give veganism a try but don’t know where to start or fear vegan meals are too expensive/complicated to attempt. One Ingredient Chef seems unique in a sea of sameness and irrelevant pop up ads (though I am often swayed by certain Breaking Bad merch). Welcome back! I’m looking forward to what this blog has in store for the future.

    • Hey Andrea, thank you for this, it really means a lot that you’d take the time to share your thoughts. I totally agree about the segment not being served and I hope to help fill that gap… and I’m really glad to hear that you appreciate my content. Thank you for being a fan! 🙂

  14. So glad you’re back! I love your blog because I don’t have to scroll past 20 pictures of avocado toast to get to the recipe. I don’t mind a little bit of background or story but I don’t want 4 paragraphs of it. I want to see possible variations or ingredient subs, ways to serve the recipe, and a picture or two so I can see what the end result is supposed to look like. So excited to see what new recipes you come up with!

    • Thank you! 🙂 I appreciate hearing that because I also hate scrolling through 20 photos of avocado toast, haha. I like the idea of substitution options, and I should definitely be giving more of those as well.

  15. am excited to see what you come up with.
    As for me, it has been a struggle to remain WFPB and not slip back into the past
    of what is comfortable for me. What to fix to eat? oh oh don’t have what I need
    so fall back into old patterns. What to shop for? What will I do with it? Have lots
    of stuff and nothing to fix.
    I appreciated you and all you have done in the past and what you will do in the future.
    Keep up such great work.

    • Thank you, Mary Jean! I really appreciate your support over the years, and it’s great feedback to hear what you struggle with… hopefully I can create content in the future to address some of those issues! All the best.

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