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Blogger, Amanda Maguire from "Pickles & Honey"

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you love doing?

Hi! My name is Amanda Maguire and I’m the author of the food blog Pickles & Honey. I’m a twenty-something living just outside of Boston, and I love baking, farmer's markets, bodypump, spinning, bad reality TV, and big sunglasses.

I spent the last 5 years working a 9-5, climbing the corporate ladder, and trying to maximize my salary as a search engine optimization (SEO) manager. I taught myself SEO, built and managed a large team of people, more than doubled my department’s revenue…and then I got completely burnt out.

I decided that I needed a total change of scenery and moved 3,000+ miles from Boston to San Francisco. This is when things really went downhill.  I had romanticized the city and how it would change my life. My apartment became a glorified cubicle, my dog (Honey) became my only co-worker, and I was still staring at a computer screen all day…only now I was 3,000+ miles from family and friends, in a city I ended up hating.

I learned more about myself in that year than I had in the previous four. I felt a sense of instant clarity about what’s important to me and what I want my life to look like. And I traded a lot of my fears for motivation to create the life I want.

So I moved 3,000+ miles back to Boston. I quit my 9-5. And I’ve left safe, but stagnant to pursue what I love – writing, specifically about healthy, vegan food. Pickles & Honey is a huge source of happiness for me.

Why did you name your blog Pickles & Honey?

A few years ago, Pickles & Honey began as an idea to blog about my dog, Honey, and her puggle bff, Pickles (my parents’ dog). I had planned to post about their daily adventures and all things puppy…except I only got as far as registering the blogspot domain.

At the time, I had no idea healthy living and food blogs even existed, but soon after, a co-worker showed me his friend’s blog. I was hooked from the first post I read and soon realized there was an entire niche of bloggers who shared my interests in cooking, eating, and working out.

Reading these blogs was an escape from my desk job and a huge source of inspiration.  And now that I’ve taken the plunge and left my 9-5, Pickles & Honey is a way for me to contribute my own passions to this community.

The main focus of Pickles & Honey isn’t puggles (although, rest assured, they definitely make appearances), but the name stuck with me.

What are a couple favorite healthy dishes you enjoy making?

It’s so hard to choose just two! Homemade hummus is definitely a staple for me, and I love that I can throw some chickpeas, tahini, and seasoning into my food processor to create a quick and healthy snack or meal when I’m short on time.  I recently made a Cool Ranch Hummus that tastes eerily like Doritos, but uses fresh herbs and apple cider vinegar in place of scary artificial ingredients. I’m obsessed!

Up until this past year, I was never really a breakfast person and I would just throw together a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal most mornings, but Sunday morning pancakes have become a tradition that I look forward to each week. There’s just something about making pancakes that forces you to slow down and enjoy the moment, and I think everyone should have a go-to recipe. I have two: my favorite vegan pancakes and gluten-free pancakes that are perfectly crispy around the edges, but also a little chewy and doughy in the center.

Both recipes are slightly sweet, fluffy, and take about the same amount of time as making a store-bought mix. They’re that simple.

How do you come up with new recipes?

I find inspiration for my recipes from just about everywhere. Farmer’s markets and local, seasonal produce, memorable restaurant meals, other bloggers, and even TV shows like Chopped and Top Chef. All of these sources encourage me to combine ingredients in new and interesting ways or re-create childhood favorites. My current cravings – whether they’re for light, refreshing salads or more decadent desserts – also dictate my recipe posts. If I’m craving chocolate, for example, you can bet I’m going to figure out a way to work it into a recipe that week!

What are some healthy food tips you have learned?

It’s all about balance for me when it comes to food. When I initially started cooking for myself, I was big on making substitutions like replacing all of the oil in cookies with applesauce or only using light coconut milk instead of full-fat. Sometimes that worked, but most of the time the recipes tasted a little off. Over the years, I’ve learned to “health-ify” recipes without compromising the end results. So, I might use half coconut oil and half applesauce when I bake muffins, or trade sugar for a smaller amount of agave nectar because agave is about twice as sweet. I also love using naturally creamy avocados in place of mayonnaise in sandwiches, greens like collards and kale in place of bread, and nutritional yeast instead of cheese. Nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of B12, which can be more difficult to find in a vegan diet.

In general, I’m moving away from packaged, processed foods and incorporating whole, plant-based foods in their place. Instead of reaching for convenience foods like cereal in the mornings, simple carbs as snacks, and chocolate chips for dessert, I’m enjoying lots of produce. And as a result, my energy is much more consistent throughout the day (I’m not crashing at my desk at 3pm) and my cravings for sweets are less intense. I’ve never eaten or felt better!



For more from Amanda, visit her blog, http://www.picklesnhoney.com/, and follow her on Twitter @PicklesNHoney


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