It’s already mid-February, hoping you are all taking good care of your bodies; both in and out. If you are struggling with your health resolutions, the key is not to go on a XYZ diet or make some unrealistic goals and fantasize about the body you want. The key is to choose to live a healthier lifestyle made of healthy choices and act on them, we explained about it here.
Did you know that eating healthy can be fun, yum and you can make an income out of it? Oh yeah!
Just ask healthy foodie, Vegan Niinja
Vegan Niinja is a blog that is all about healthy vegan desserts and breakfast ideas. See you don’t have to give up on pastries because you want to be healthier? Niina Snijder, the lovely lady behind Vegan Niinja, provides us with all these healthy yet easy and yummy recipes that we can definitely try out. As a plus, her passion has enabled her to make an income that supports her and her family. Read on as Niina shares with us her personal story, turning her passion into a business and a few tips here and there on food photography and growing your Instagram account. There’s even a special recipe for you from her.
What 3 words would you use to define yourself?
Stubborn, endurance, creative.
What is your story Niina?
I was born in the Netherlands, but we moved to Sweden when I was a baby. My first 8 years I lived on an organic farm. The animals were my friends. So when I was six years old, I decided to not eat meat anymore, and I haven’t since then. When I was a teenager, I went vegan (refraining from consuming animal product and animal-derived ingredients) for the first time; more for the animals than for health reasons. However, I didn’t have enough knowledge at that time about what my body needed to stay strong and healthy. So I got iron deficiency and I didn’t feel well for a long time. I went vegetarian again when I was 18 years old. After school I moved to Austria and a few years later I become a mother. During my pregnancy, I decided on a serious note to become a vegan and stop eating sugar. This was the best decision I could make for myself. After that, I felt healthier and more balanced. I educated myself on how to thrive on a plant based diet. In November 2018, my family and I moved to Spain. It was a spontaneous move and changed everything in our life. We made a dream come true, living free in nature; near the sea and on a mountain. Soon we are going to add another member into our family!
What motivated you to start a vegan health blog?
I started my blog, Vegan Niinja, and Instagram when I just became a mother. The reason being was that I wanted to show people how easy it can be to reduce or completely avoid processed sugar and dairy products in (mainly) desserts.
When did you finally take the leap to get started and how was it in the beginning?
I had started an online shop for Scandinavian super-foods when I was pregnant. But I realized after a while that I was much more interested in creating recipes and taking beautiful pictures of my food and desserts. Now that is when I started Vegan Niinja!
What challenges have you faced along your journey and how did you overcome them?
My greatest challenge has been my income and also the time limit I have as a mom. I knew early on that I didn’t want to get a job that required me to leave home and on top of that, be something I don’t like to do. So I put all my effort and energy to create a job and income that I can work from home, while being with my child. For many months (almost 2 years), I have worked long hours and late nights to make my dream come true. I took every chance I got to work on my blog (Vegan Niinja), recipes and pictures. Often with my baby in a sling in front of me in the kitchen or while shooting pictures. Now we have our whole income coming from my work, and I don’t even need to work late nights anymore, which is a gift!
Tell us more about your Instagram page; why did you start it and how do you curate your posts?
I started my Instagram because of the online shop I had. Thereafter, I turned it into my personal food page which I enjoy so much more. I post a picture every day, mostly at evening time. I try to plan my posts as best as possible and maintain one style.
Any tips on growing one’s Instagram page?
Share what you love, post something every day, get to know like-minded people and support them. You also have to learn how to take great quality pictures and don’t spam your followers with content that doesn’t have value.
Have you experienced any challenges raising your son as a vegan?
Yes, now he is at that age of wanting to try everything, and my partner isn’t vegan so it can be difficult sometimes. But we let him try everything, but continue to give him good and delicious vegan food. It’s about giving him the best food possible while also allowing him to make the choice for himself.
How would you describe your health journey up until this point?
As a child, we were not allowed to eat a lot of sugar and never got fast food. Our food was organic but contained a lot of dairy products. It was a huge change for me starting my vegan journey, but so worth it. I am healthier and stronger than ever before.
What motivates you to be healthy and what do you do when things get tough and you feel discouraged?
It’s difficult at the beginning when you stop consuming meat, diary, sugar or gluten. This is because your choice of food is often a habit and habits take time to change. But when your healthy lifestyle becomes a habit, it isn’t hard anymore and you really enjoy it. It’s also important to listen to your body, which is a process with its ups and downs. As women, you crave different kinds of food, depending on when you get your period and so on. So never be hard on yourself; enjoy the sweets and treats, the snacks and smoothies, your body knows what it needs. Some days I eat only greens and quinoa, other days I love to enjoy a chocolate cake! That’s totally fine.
How did you turn your blog into a career/business or did you start with that intention in the beginning?
This was my intention in the beginning, but it took a long time before it became real.
How do you make an income out of being a vegan blogger?
Just do what you love, and ask the companies you do anyway buy products from to collaborate with you. Create a media kit, this is very important. Learn to negotiate and never give up!
For health bloggers who want to work with brands, what advice do you have on how to develop relationships and earn some money out of it?
Point out why it would be awesome for the brand to work with you! What kind of audience do you have, what’s your theme and what makes you stick out from the mass? You need to have fixed prices that you offer the brands, they will try to get free promotions from you. Say no rather than accept shitty conditions.
Do you ever feel like you lose the spark when you mix business and your passion? If yes, how do you ignite that spark once more?
Maybe, but I think I wouldn’t have continued and developed my passion this far if I hadn’t turned it into my business. When I lose motivation sometimes, I take a break or try out something new!!
Your food photography skills are absolutely amazing, where do you do your shots?
I do all my shots at home.
Do you prefer natural or artificial light?
Absolutely natural light! I have tried with artificial light as well, but it is much more difficult to get the pictures how I like them.
Do you have any tips regarding food styling and food photography?
Try different styles, be inspired by other food bloggers, and only post the pictures you are 100% happy with. You can watch tutorials on YouTube or read articles to learn how to take more professional photos. Be creative and have fun!! Learn to combine colors and structure.
What is one of your favorite yet easy recipes that I can try out today?
Right now I love this apple-blueberry tart. Here is the recipe:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds
1 cup dates, pitted (I used soft mazafati dates)
3 tbsp. cold pressed coconut oil
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 handful raisins (soaked for 10 min in hot water)
1-2 handful blueberries (I used the frozen ones)
4-5 apples (depending on the size on pie you are making)
Prepare the base by blending the almonds and oats until you have a flour-like consistency. Don’t blend to long, you want flour with some structure.
Now you can mix the rest of the ingredients with the flour by hands, or use the blender (depending on how soft your dates are).
Press out the dough into a pie mold.
Spread out the raisins and blueberries on the base.
Prepare the apples:
Cut the apples in half and remove the seeds. Slice the apples in half-moon-shaped pieces and decorate the base by starting with the outer circle. Continue in a spiral until you reach the center.
Bake the pie for 30-35 minutes at 180°C (until the apples are soft and your home smells like heaven!). Enjoy!!!😋😍
What do you feel good about in your life right now?
I feel good about being pregnant and to be able to do what I love the most. I feel happy I inspire many people to eat plant based and very grateful for so many like-minded people I have gotten to know through Instagram. In addition, I also feel very happy to live where I want to live, in nature and surrounded by my beloved family.
What is something you aspire to do as a vegan blogger?
To inspire and motivate people to include more plants in their food, for their health and for the planet.
Looking back, what are you proud of for doing and what would you do differently?
I am proud of being a mama and being brave enough to follow my passion and intuition. What I wish I had known much earlier in my twenties was what I wanted to do with my life, but that didn’t happen. I suppose I needed to try out many things before I got into veganism and food photography.
What advice would you give to people who have made the choice to live a healthier lifestyle?
Try different recipes, see what you like, listen to your body, be creative and have fun! Don’t be hard on yourself, you can make exceptions. Just enjoy food and build a loving relationship to it.
Check out Niina’s blog, Vegan Niinja here
Media courtesy of Niina Snijder