Interview with Charlene Harris – Owner of That Girl Cooks Healthy.
My favorite Caribbean meal is ….erm…..peanut porridge.
Raphaelita of All Things Caribbean Cuisine:: Where are you from and/or what is your nationality?
Charlene Harris: I’m from England, United Kingdom, and first generation, born to Caribbean parents (Jamaican and Cuban Ancestry).
Raphaelita: What is the idea behind your website?
Charlene Harris: The whole concept behind my website is relatively simple – my love for healthy food and creating healthier alternatives to many of my favorite cuisines especially island food. I have always strive to eat a healthy balanced meal on a daily basis. I am one of those people who never skips breakfast because I know the importance of eating adequately at all times.
Furthermore, I am very passionate about my Caribbean culture and this manifests itself in my love for Caribbean cuisine. I soon learned that I could amalgamate the two and so my website – That Girl Cooks Healthy was born.
My website is also gluten and dairy free because of my own gastrointestinal issues. The aim is to reach out to people who are seeking recipes that contain some Caribbean influence while being free from gluten and dairy.
Raphaelita: What was the most exotic food you’ve ever eaten?
Charlene Harris: Erm…………When I visited Hawaii, at the swat meet I purchased a bag of pineapple and the vendor proceeded to pour this purple plum syrup over the entire contents. The taste was amazing, nothing like I have ever tasted before. It was such a memorable experience that I re-visited a few times for some more.
Raphaelita: What was your biggest challenge when creating your website/blog and how have you overcome them?
Charlene Harris: First of all I’m not a very technical person at all. I’m proficient in the kitchen but technology, not so much. Learning the basics about my website was a colossal hurdle to overcome. Also food photography is like a new dimension – another level. My initial stages of food photography were done with a point and shoot camera, a few months down the line I asked another blogger for some constructive feedback pertaining to my website.
The harsh reality was I needed to improve my picture quality with a DSLR camera. Again, food photography and styling is another major challenge but I’m reading many books while simultaneously practicing taking photo’s which are slowly coming along.
My other issue is traffic and gaining exposure for my blog. The food market is over saturated right now which make it increasingly more difficult to gain recognition. However, it’s crucial to tap into an interesting niche or at least something with a unique perspective to gain loyal readership.
Raphaelita: What is your go to meal that you make for yourself/family every week?
Charlene Harris: It fluctuates according to my mood or what the weather is like at the time. Presently I’m eating a lot of Cuban black bean soup which sustains my body throughout the winter, Cajun chicken with zucchini noodles and an abundance of plantain.
Raphaelita: When your home, how do you relax? What fun and silly things do you like to do?
Charlene Harris: I like to watch movies or a documentary which relates to another culture. I love learning about other people’s culture. Occasionally, I like to delve into arts and crafts, using my sewing machine to tailor my clothes. Other times, I enjoy working out, reading a non-fictional book or just spending quality family time. We sing, dance and get lost in the moment until we become depleted of energy.
As you have probably already guessed I like to keep things homely and minimalist.
Raphaelita: What is your favorite Caribbean meal to make or eat?
Charlene Harris: As the direction of my website embodies making healthier adaptations of Caribbean recipes I love the fact I can eat them guilt free. My favorite Caribbean meal is ….erm…..peanut porridge.
Raphaelita: What is the one place in the world you would love to visit?
Charlene Harris: I’ve always wanted to visit Fiji and meet the Melanesian people. Japan isn’t too far behind due to their advanced technology and geisha girls.
Tips from Charlene Harris: As an upcoming blogger I would like to add some ‘newbie advice’ if you’re intending to become a food blogger, do it because you have a genuine interest in food or else you will grow tired of the entire process before you’re reaching your true potential. Managing a website is hard work but remember to look after yourself in the grant scheme of things. You’re human and a robot, so ease off the pedal when necessary.
Another great tip is don’t be afraid to ask for help, while I’m not a roaring success, I wouldn’t have persevered when I was on verge of giving up if I didn’t reach out for help, so resist the temptation to internalise any difficulties. Network and send out an email or look for a support group to redirect your concerns
The last tip is to most importantly have fun!
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