Blissful Basil is a food blog featuring wholesome, plant-based recipes. Since July 2010 the blog has featured pescatarian, vegetarian and now solely vegan dishes that make up one part of a balanced lifestyle.
7 Questions with Ashley Melillo:
1) How do you reset to be creative?
For most of my life, finding my creative groove was a completely anomalous process. I would get bursts of inspiration and ideas all at once and at random moments, and then days, weeks, even months would roll by in which I’d feel totally uninspired. About a year ago, I started taking note of when these creative floods would happen, and there was one common denominator between them all: I was relaxed. I used to poke fun at the fact that my best recipes were written while upside down in yoga class, in the middle of the night after waking from a dream, or while reading a book in the sun on vacation. Once I realized that a relaxed state increased my creativity, I knew I had to dedicate time each and every day to allowing myself to truly relax and unplug. Just 15 to 30 minutes is enough for me to reset, and my go-to relaxers are meditation and yoga. However, squeezing in a weekend getaway or extended vacation a few times a year is a definite must for me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just take me out of my usual element and make it difficult to connect to wifi, and the creative juices start flowing.
2) How do you stay on top of the cutting edge?
With the way technology has exploded in recent years, we’ve become constant consumers of information. This is both an amazing opportunity and a slippery slope of comparison and unwanted influence. As a food blogger, I initially thought that the answer to staying on top of the cutting edge was to read as many food blogs as possible. However, I quickly learned that doing so stifled my own creative thoughts and veiled my ideas with someone else’s perception of what was valuable in recipe development at that moment. A knockoff of someone else’s cutting edge recipe isn’t exactly ground-breaking. I’ve found that it’s best to observe general trends and movement within the industry while consuming responsibly and engaging in the activities that nurture my own creativity.
3) What is your favorite way to interact with viewers of your site?
I love engaging with readers on social media, especially Pinterest and Instagram, but there is nothing like receiving a thoughtful, heartfelt email. I make it a priority to respond to each and every email even if it takes me a few days to write back, because without these meaningful connections, Blissful Basil would be nothing more than a collection of recipes and photos.
4) Are there any adjacent industries outside your own that you actively source for inspiration?
I often reach to the health/wellness industry for inspiration on budding trends, research and facts. This information keeps me up-to-date with movements that might influence the way I develop recipes or ingredients I might include/exclude.
5) Where do you see the future of blogs heading?
I’ve been completely surprised by the growing number of blogs of all genres and the attention they’ve garnered in recent years. More and more frequently, bloggers are viewed as experts within their content areas, and they often have a strong platform on which to convey a message. I think that other industries will continue to look to bloggers to collaborate and connect in order to communicate messages to consumers.
6) What is the mission of your blog?
To demonstrate that eating healthfully and compassionately can be incredibly delicious. The way we eat is part of our identity, just as political and religious values are. Because of this, we tend to be highly sensitive to criticism or unwanted opinions regarding what we should and should not eat. For this reason, I choose to lead by example rather than force my lifestyle choices or opinions onto anyone in my life or reading my blog. Am I excited when a reader reaches out to me and says she’s embraced a fully plant-based lifestyle because of my blog? Absolutely, if it is the right choice for her. Is it my goal for every person that reads Blissful Basil to make that transition? Not necessarily. It’s my goal to encourage others to love themselves, their bodies included and to eat in a way that exemplifies this self-compassion and promotes their
own health and well-being to the fullest extent possible.
7) What makes your blog different? How can viewers leverage the content on your blog?
I’d like to think that my background in psychology helps set my blog apart from others, because I occasionally weave mental wellness and happiness tidbits into my posts. Readers can leverage the content simply by reading as there is a lot of power in those numbers. When I see a specific post doing well, I make note and create similar recipes in the future. They can also leverage the content by commenting with questions or suggestions -- I love receiving their input!