We are delighted to congratulate Vicki Montague, mum, scientist and recipe developer from Devon as our Blog of the Month. Vicki set up The Free From Fairy to help other people who have restricted diets and to inspire everyone to cook simple, healthy food that everyone can enjoy. Vicki is currently working hard to get her unique wholegrain, multipurpose, gluten-free flour blend on the market.
What inspired you to start your blog?
My truly remarkable and always positive daughter inspired me to start my blog.
She was diagnosed with cows milk protein and egg allergies when she was just 9 months old after suffering with colic since birth. Then, just before her third birthday she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease which means her body attacks part of her intestines if she eats even a trace of gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye), meaning she cannot absorb nutrients and has a risk of more serious illnesses such as certain cancers.
As one to never complain she would just accept that everyone around her ate differently from her whenever we visited family and friends.
However, I wanted to show people how easy it is to cater for people with allergies and intolerances so I started the blog to share my simple, healthy freefrom recipes that everyone could enjoy together.
Has your content changed much since you started?
My content hasn’t changed an awful lot since I started. The purpose was always to share my healthy freefrom recipes and that has remained the focus since the beginning. I probably write more about our freefrom life now, and I also confessed around a year ago to suffering from IBS myself. I have shared my experiences of this along with my struggles to find a diet that suits my tummy and other ailments!
What have your learned since starting your blog?
I have learned so much I’m not sure where to start! Along with sharing my recipes with others like us, I started the blog as a project to learn some new skills. I have learned all about social media, I learned how to create and run a website, I have learned how to make and edit videos (and overcome my fear of being on film) and I have learned a little about photography. In fact, every day is a learning day here at Fairy HQ!
What has surprised you about blogging?
The number of other people out there who are blogging and willing to lend a hand or ear when things are tough. I have also been surprised about the influence that you can have…which is wonderful is used for good (which I hope I do!).
How do you balance blogging and real life?
Good question! I’m not sure I do. Blogging is kind of part of my job now. It lead to me being able to make money out of developing recipes for brands and even to developing my own unique wholegrain, gluten-free flour blend which I am currently trying to get to market. I do try to turn my wifi off after 9pm so I don’t get distracted by social media and I also aim to not work whilst the children are around.
What’s the best thing about writing your blog? And the worst?
The best thing is getting feedback from my readers. When I get an email or contact via social media to thank me for a recipe that makes my day. The worst thing is that it is hard to switch off and separate work from home time…because they both happen in the same space.
What advice would you give someone starting a foodie blog now?
Just write about what you love and other people will love it too. If you have a love of food, write about it!
Has blogging brought you any amazing opportunities or experiences?
Being in deepest darkest Devon, I don’t always get the opportunity to take up experiences which are often London-based. However, I did get a chance to enter a competition being judged by the chef Michael Caines. I got to the final three and, along with meeting Nova the editor of Foodies 100, I cooked for him! I also got through to the final of a separate competition where I would have cooked for the chef Francesco Mazzei, however the date of the final clashed with my husband’s 40th birthday party so I didn’t go! In addition to that I was recently invited to a small dinner with the CEO of the Cote restaurant chain, where I got the opportunity to provide feedback on their gluten-free menu. My feedback was taken on board making the dining experience of those avoiding gluten more enjoyable and safe across the UK.
Which have been your most popular posts?
My most popular posts are always for sweet recipes! When I started the blog I was determined to just share healthy savoury food, but I soon gave in realising that people are not all that interested in that kind of food. I now try to create healthier alternatives to popular sugar, gluten and dairy filled foods such as caramel shortbreads. My most popular post is for banana and date flapjacks. A really simple, quick recipe to make but a whole lot healthier than your traditional flapjacks which are filled with refined sugar! Another very popular recipe is for scones.
And which are your personal favourites?
Quite impossible to say! That is like saying, which is your favourite child?! If pushed I would say my jammie dodgers (the biscuit I use in all kinds of recipes including iced gems!), my mild vegetable chilli (a firm family favourite), my super healthy carrot cake muffins and my healthier gingerbread which we used to make our first ever gingerbread house at Christmas!
How does it feel to be chosen as Foodies100 blog of the month?
To be honest I am rather speechless. How did that happen?