Tara Milhelm holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Food and Nutrition and is a board certified holistic health coach, registered yoga instructor, and author. She started blogging in 2012 as a way to encourage young women to begin to love themselves even more, despite the media’s message, through yoga, nourishment, and travel inspiration. TheWholeTara, formerly known as SkinnybyTara, is where Tara spreads the joy of living a whole lifestyle filled with self-love. Tara recently launched TheWholeTara Recipe App which has over 80 clean and nourishing vegetarian recipes.
We caught up with Tara to get the low down on what it’s like to create your own recipe app.
Hi Tara! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you share a little bit about your personal health journey?
My journey started at around 13 as a competitive tennis player. I began to become interested in healthy eating and optimising my game through good nutrition. I then went on to study Nutrition and Dietetics at university and created my health blog in the process. From then on, through my yoga, fitness, and recipe endeavours, I’ve built a following and continued to inspire people.
How did you first get into blogging?
I got into blogging when I was about 18 years old as a college student. I didn’t set out to start a blog, but rather I was posting photos of my food and yoga. People started to take a liking to my recipes and that’s when I decided to post my recipes on a website platform.
How did you begin to meaningfully engage with your audience when you first started blogging?
Even when I first started as a blogger, I always responded and listened to my audience. I think it’s so important to build up that relationship. When followers wanted a certain recipe or were curious about how to prepare something, I made tutorials and recipes to their liking. It’s one of my greatest prides being able to communicate with my audience.
“I love french fries, cheesy things, and decadent desserts”
How would you describe your dietary lifestyle?
I live a lifestyle of balance. I love french fries, cheesy things, and decadent desserts, but I know I can’t eat that all the time. I also love avocado, quinoa, and fruits of all sorts, so I maintain this natural balance that I really enjoy. Eating has always been an enjoyable experience for me, so I don’t want to ever sacrifice that. There are ways to enjoy clean foods in a delicious way too.
What inspired you to create your own recipe app?
My followers were always asking for more and more recipes and I wanted to find a way to provide them in a quick and easy platform. It’s so stressful to be on your computer while cooking, trying to make the recipe and spilling ingredients all over your keyboard. Having it on your smartphone makes the process much simpler and you can create a shopping list and a Favourites list to keep track of your recipes.
Why did you choose to create an app instead of a cookbook or recipe ebook?
I thought about an ebook, but again it’s the same thing as having it online. I love cookbooks and maybe one day I’ll create that, but I felt that an app was a great place to start. The wonderful thing about the app is that it’s also very interactive. You can see my blog posts from the app itself, which really ties together my brand.
What obstacles did you face when developing your recipe app?
Creating, developing, and photographing the recipes was no easy feat. We wanted to make sure we got a variety of recipes and that everything made sense when it was put together. My team and I spent very long days and nights coming up with the ‘perfect’ recipes to go on the app.
What process do you go through for each recipe before it gets put on the app?
First we come up with several lists of recipes from each category. We then purchase all of the ingredients and get to work playing in the kitchen. We don’t want recipes that are too similar to each other or that are too ‘basic’. It’s a long process!
What advice would you give someone looking to create their own recipe app?
It’s a great idea, but it takes a lot of time and commitment. Make sure you set aside an ample amount of time to get everything done, and definitely pay attention to detail!
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt so far from working in the food industry?
EAT BEFORE YOU START TESTING! We ended up eating so much during the recipe making phase, so I always advised my team members to eat a meal before so it doesn’t detract from the recipe making process.
“I believe in balance”
What are the absolute no-nos that you see other fitness and nutrition ‘experts’ do in the industry?
I see a lot of people telling others what they should eat and drink for weight loss or optimum health and preaching that their way is the only way. I think this throws people off because everyone is pitching something completely different, yet none of it takes into account that everyone’s bodies and lifestyles are different! I believe in balance. This does not mean eating cheeseburgers all day, nor does it mean only eating salads. It’s eating what you want when you want with a regulated sense of control around food.
Finally, do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by?
Yes! I have many, but one of my favourites is, “let the ocean worry about being blue”. It’s just another way to say that worrying won’t do us good and it usually won’t change the outcome. I feel really at peace knowing that I can just let go and enjoy the moment that I am in without worrying about what’s happening around me.