I do not want to delay this interview with a lengthy introduction, but I do need to at least introduce my guest, Tammy Credicott, amazing chef, mother and author of The Healthy GF Life and other fascinating cookbooks published by the well-known and respected Victory Belt Publishing, Inc.
Tammy has answered a variety of questions I presented to her allowing us into her home, her family, her work and her heart. She shares so much in this one interview resulting in a truly entertaining and warm-hearted read. I am sure you will enjoy reading this as much as I did interviewing her.
1. Let’s jump right in. What made you decide to start the blog, www.TheHealthyGFLife.com?
My husband originally started it way back when we were The Celiac Maniac. I was the recipe developer and baker, while he handled sales for our wholesale bakery and the blog. We really wanted to share our experiences and recipes in hopes of helping others.
2. How long was this site primarily a gluten-free blog?
Up until about 3 years ago when our family eliminated grains and sugar and went “paleo.” Then I started incorporating our new family recipes into the site.
3. Why did you then switch to adding grain-free recipes and paleo recipes?
My husband was the first to try paleo/grain-free, and he felt so good, the whole family jumped on board. Once we made the switch and knew what it was like to feel good again, we couldn’t continue posting recipes with gluten free grains and sugar. While I still love my original recipes and think they work really well as transitional recipes for those just starting a GF journey, ultimately I wanted to bring everyone over to a grain-free lifestyle!
4. Are you a “strict” Paleo advocate or do you have another view on Paleo that you can share and why, if so?
I’m not overly strict and preachy when it comes to paleo…not because I don’t fully believe in it, but because I think it can be difficult for the average person to make the switch and give up foods they’re used to in the beginning. I think it’s more important for folks to make better choices, even if it takes them a year to fully make the switch to paleo. That’s why I’m OK with paleo treats, if it means families are giving up drive throughs and Oreos! But what people also need to know is that they’ll feel better and see more body changes if they get into strict paleo at some point. I don’t advocate that folks eat paleo versions of cookies, cakes and pies all day everyday in the name of health. I want them to know a treat is still a treat whether it’s “paleo” or not. I guess the bottom line for me is, better choices most of the time, with the occasional healthy treat thrown in because they’re fun and they taste good! Also, sometimes we have no choice but to stray from paleo while traveling in order to keep my celiac kids and husband safe. For us it’s safety first with food, so if cross-contamination is an issue at a restaurant, we may end up eating at a GF restaurant but have to settle for rice, etc.
5. In your eyes what makes your site different than others?
For the gluten free community my site offers a healthier version of the standard gluten free. Most gluten free recipes contain lots of sugar, starch and white rice. I try to offer a healthier alternative plus I offer many gluten free/dairy free/egg free options since multiple food allergies are so common. And for the paleo community, my site brings an awareness to multiple food allergies…sometimes I don’t think the paleo world realizes we all didn’t make it here strictly by choice…we found paleo because of food allergies. Not everyone can eat eggs every morning and eating at restaurants isn’t as easy as ordering a bunless burger…cross-contamination is always an issue.
6. Please tell me a little about how you got into being an author of cookbooks.
I was neck deep in our wholesale bakery at the time, making 10,000+ english muffins by hand, by myself, and I was feeling creatively depleted. My husband, creator and publisher of Paleo Magazine, introduced me to Victory Belt Publishing and I pitched the idea for The Healthy Gluten Free Life, which would feature all of the recipes from our bakery. My passion was in recipe development and photography, not mass production, plus I really wanted to enable folks to be able to make great food for themselves. They loved the idea and it has just blossomed from there!
7. What would you like to see with your site in the future?
I’d love to have more time to post more recipes…I have thousands of ideas, just never the time to execute them all! I’d also like to have more guest posts from other up-and-coming bloggers. I love the community support you find online and I’d love to help others get out there more.
8. What most do you enjoy about your day as mom and wife running a recipe blog and being an author?
I love that my job enables me to be home with my kids after school and be present at their activities, plus I get to be creative and include my kids in that creativity at times. My husband loves the recipe testing! Being able to make my own schedule and help others along the way is really a blessing.
9. Tell me some of your favorite gluten-free bloggers that have inspired you over the years and what about each that inspires you the most?
Elana Amsterdam was doing paleo baking before anyone called it paleo, Shauna James Ahern from Gluten Free Girl is inspiring in her writing and offers recipes that are unique, Kelly Brozyna from Spunky Coconut offers amazingly simple yet tasty recipes and is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, Michele Tam of Nom Nom Paleo – well, there’s just no one like her on the web in terms of flavors and her humor, and Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo because she is incredibly busy, but healthy and gracious both online and in person, and really inspires me to be a better mom and better to myself on a daily basis. There are so many more…too many to list!!
10. What is a normal “life in the day of Tammy” like when you are working as mom, working in your kitchen on a new recipe, being a wife and maintaining the house and the schedules of your busy girls? Can you share the details?
It’s called Organized Chaos! When you work, have kids, a husband, kids, a house, a life, kids…did I mention kids? Some things are at the bottom of the priority list and you have to be OK with that. I always hear women saying “I don’t know how they do it ALL!” I want others to know that no one, and I mean NO ONE does IT ALL. Show me one person who seems to have it all covered and I’ll show you a pile of laundry in their bedroom, or dishes in the sink, or worse, maybe they aren’t taking care of themselves while they take care of everyone else. For me, I don’t stress about house cleaning and laundry anymore, because honestly, it’s more important for me to be there for my kids after school, creating recipes to share with the world, and to make it to crossfit each week.
11. Your recipes are sure to please all levels of skills in the kitchen, which is fantastic. Do you have any special training as a chef or baker? If so where at?
Nope, no special training except by my Mom growing up. She really taught me the value of a dollar, the power of a family meal, and the satisfaction in feeding your family good food. I’ve always loved to bake and enjoyed finding new recipes my family enjoyed. It wasn’t until we were dealing with food allergies that I realized baking and creating recipes came naturally to me so I embraced it and started having more fun in the kitchen!
12. If someone was baffled by a gluten recipe and wanted to change it to a grain free/paleo-ish recipe, what would one piece of advice be that you’d share to help them?
I always start with removing any grains and replacing them with about 90% almond flour and 10% coconut flour. See how it turns out (you may need to add more almond flour depending on the liquids in the recipe) and adjust from there. Most gluten-free recipes contain tons of potato and tapioca starches, so I’d then move to reducing those and decreasing liquids. Sadly, this makes perfect sense in my brain, while I know everyone reading this will think I’m a little nutty.
13. What steps do you take to plan a new recipe from start to finish and how many trials does it take “these days” on average compared to when you started out?
I keep an ongoing list on my phone so when recipe inspiration strikes, I can jot it down for later. For some reason, the baking recipes come pretty easily to me, though once in awhile I’ll have a specific texture I’m trying to achieve and it will take me quite a few tries. Every meal I make at home is an experiment so I’m always writing down flavor combinations that work well, then I fine tune it for books or the website. This process is definitely faster now for me because I know what my family likes and what flavors will work for us.
14. You take most of all your own incredibly delicious photos of your creations for your books and your site. What camera and lenses do you like to use the best?
I actually take all of my own food photos and really enjoy the process, though I still don’t think I know all that much about doing it correctly! Every single photo I take is a learning process. I started out with Nikon DSLR cameras and just recently switched to Canon. I liked my Nikon but felt the Canon photos had better color straight from the camera (before editing). I have two lenses I love…a 50mm (which some folks say is “the” food photography lens) and a 100mm which takes the most amazing photos!
15. Do you have a special light booth set up? Or where do you enjoy taking your photos?
My kitchen table is my photo spot of choice because of the light it gets all day. I’ve experimented with artificial lighting in the winter months, but just can’t seem to get it right, so I’m strictly a natural light photographer at this point. I just love what natural light does for food in images.
16. For any aspiring recipe bloggers what advice would you like to share with them?
Hmmm, I’m still learning too so that’s a tough one! I’d say post on the site often to keep traffic coming your way, be yourself with what you post and don’t try to imitate others, and find other bloggers you admire and respect and befriend them so you can support one another.
17. Is your whole family, neighbors and friends all part of your final testing process?
Absolutely! Everyone is pretty happy when I’m working on a new book!
18. You ran your own wholesale gluten free bakery awhile back. How was that for you and why did you move on?
The response I received for my gluten free, dairy free, egg free baked goods was overwhelming. I saw such a need for safe, but healthier alternatives to the sugar and starch loaded products that were on the market, so we grew our business quickly. While it was very exciting seeing our products help others each and every day, it got to the point where I was working 12+ hours a day, 7 days a week to keep up with the demand. The food industry is a difficult one…either you need to be a local retailer and that’s your life each day, or you go big and spend millions to mass produce your product. It’s difficult to be in the middle because of small profit margins. Most of all, I became a machine, cranking out the same 4 or 5 products by the thousands each week, and I missed my kids, and the ability to be creative with my recipes. We knew we were at a crossroads when I signed my first book deal and was finally able to get back in the kitchen in a fun and creative way, which makes me so happy!
18. We enjoy everything about you, your site and your books. Can you tell us about your latest book release, please?
Aww, thanks!!! My latest book was released in September, called Make Ahead Paleo. I love, love, LOVE this book because I think it can really help busy folks get back in the kitchen, or simplify some of their meals so they eat well but have time for the fun things in their lives. I included many different ways to “make ahead” including chapters to Make and Freeze meals, do a little prep in the morning for your Slow Cooker, meals you can prepare at home and take On the Go, and of course I like to bake so there’s a Travel Treats section of indulgences that travel and freeze well, plus Week in a Day where you cook for a couple of hours on the weekend so you can throw together quick, tasty meals during the busy work week, and my favorite section, Room Service, which are meals you prep at home and can cook quickly in an electric skillet in your hotel room! They work great for easy, one-pan meals at home or camping as well.
19. Where might someone run into you over the next year so they may be able to get a signed book?
I’m taking a little more time off this year from traveling while I work on my next book and play with my kiddos, but I try to attend a few of the large Gluten Free Expos around the country (I was just in San Francisco) plus I’ll be doing a couple of cooking demos at Paleo FX in Austin this April and I think I’ll be attending the Ancestral Health Symposium in Berkley in August and the Living Without Gluten Free Expo in Portland, Oregon in September. I have an Events tab on my website home page www.TheHealthyGFLife.com where folks can find my upcoming appearances.
20. I always like to ask this one last question: Is there anything you would like to share, add or say before we end this up-close-and-personal interview?
A big thank you to you for doing interviews like this! I think they help both sides…getting the word out about my books, etc., but also connecting people who are looking for ideas, recipes and inspiration with bloggers that fit their styles. So thank you!
Thank you Tammy for such an honest and open interview and it has been such a pleasure getting to know you better. I am sure many of us will thoroughly enjoy your next cookbook, your latest cookbook as well as all your previous ones. Wow, you are one busy lady!