Crushing On > Marla Meridith of Family Fresh Cooking

by heidi on October 25, 2011

FoodieCrush-Family-Fresh-Cooking-Marla-MeridithLet’s just start with the fact that she gets up each morning at 4 a.m.

Then let’s explore that she has a husband, a daughter who is turning 8 years old this week and a 4 year old son, all of whom constantly keep her on her toes. And of course there’s the consistent creating, blogging and networking—of which she’s become a social media master. Oh,  and did I mention she does it all sugar-free?

Who IS this woman who doesn’t stop? Where can we get her Energizer Bunny stamina? It’s pretty simple really, just read her blog and follow her lead. Follow her to Energizerland.

FoodieCrush Family Fresh Cooking Gluten Free Pumpkin PieGluten Free Pumpkin Pie Tarts > Family Fresh Cooking

Marla Meridith is the creator of the family-oriented blog Family Fresh Cooking. I found her because somehow through the internet webs, just as I was starting the blog in support of my online magazine, SHE found ME. She was quick to comment on my posts and tweet a friendly “hi.” And for someone like me who’s new to the foodie blogger niche, it confirmed the mission of FoodieCrush, of promoting food bloggers and not just their talents but their personalities, was spot on target. In turn, her actions and words have inspired me to do the same for other blossoming bloggers. Pay it forward.

FoodieCrush-Peanut-Pumpkin-Coffee-Cake-Family-Fresh-Cookingphoto > foodiecrush // recipe > Family Fresh Cooking

Following down Marla’s path of October pumpkin love, I was stoked to give one of Meredith’s recipes a go. Super healthy with two kinds of flour, toasted peanuts and sweetened with stevia, Marla’s Toasted Peanut Pumpkin Coffee Cake is a terrific choice for giving the kids—ahem, and yourself—and is a healthy breakfast treat or afternoon snack. I adapted it by adding chocolate chips. What can I say? Hey, chocolate is healthy too.

I could carry on with a whole litany of gushes and props to Marla and her blog, but I’m betting you’d rather hear more about her in her own words. Did I mention she’s pretty funny too?

Thank you Marla for being our FoodieCrush!

I started my blog  Family Fresh Cooking as a re-birth of my creative ambitions. Prior to launching it in June 2009 I had not a clue what a blog even was. I worked in textile and graphic design – before I had kids. A few of the companies I worked with were Disney, Scholastic and Warner Bros. There was a focus on kids all along…

Chicken with Coconut, Lime and Peanut Sauce > Family Fresh Cooking

As a freelancer we were the first ones cut in the economic down turn. With that change I craved reinvention. Some how food, recipe development, photography and a blog came about. Family Fresh Cooking and everything associated with it has become a full time job that I love!

FoodieCrush Magazine Family Fresh CookingEveryone’s Favorite Teeny Tiny Potatoes > Family Fresh Cooking

My blog has a family focus, but I write recipes to encourage all people of all ages to eat healthy, whole foods made at home. Making healthy food beautiful is a niche I felt was very natural for me. I love creating a helpful and fun online community. Some ways I do that on my blog are with Happy Posts and Project Lunch Box.

Project Lunch Box > Family Fresh Cooking

The recipes I develop run the gamut of gluten free, low fat, dairy free, vegan, not so vegan, meat loving and everything in between. The one constant is you’ll find is there are virtually no refined sugars and flours on my blog. You will not find overly processed food either. I prefer whole foods that offer great flavor, real nutrients and keep us going with out crashes and unnecessary “stuff.” We are not gluten free in our house. Many of my recipes are though. There is a need for great tasting healthy GF recipes. If the need is there I will go for it! Same thing applies to vegan recipes. I embrace all lifestyle choices.

This is one of the most favorite photos I snapped this summer of my hubs and kids ~ Marla

My blog goes way beyond food these days and I cover a great deal of travel too. It’s a good thing as I cannot sit still!  If you are in the LA area on November 12-14th I will be speaking at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) on Sunday at 9:30am. The topic is time management….stay tuned!

This portrait I took of my daughter this summer thrills me. Makes me feel very alive~ Marla

Q&A with Marla and FoodieCrush

1. Describe your blog in 3 words:
Exciting, Bold, FUN…with a twist of Unexpected (it was unexpected for me to add a 4th description, right?!)

2. If you could be one food blogger other than yourself, who would you be?
 Matt Armendariz. He is sharp, witty, cute and he is great with an iron. His perfectly pressed gingham shirts always impress me.

3. Which 3 blogs do you follow/are obsessed with/can’t live a day without?
Tartelette: Helene reminds me to be a caring and thoughtful person with her kind words and beautiful clicks. I need to be reminded to be nice…
La Tartine Gourmande: Stunning blog that takes me far, far away.
Matt Bites: Matt takes great pictures, makes me laugh. And makes me laugh more.

4. What is the one kitchen tool you could never give up?
Whisks of all shapes and sizes. I like the way they look and I like to stir the pot.

5. What dish are you obsessed with mastering that you just can’t get quite right?
Fish on the grill. My favorite part is the skin and it always sticks to the hot grates. I pick it off and eat it like crispy chips. Hopefully I did not just gross anyone out.

6. What did you have for dinner last night?
Grilled Trout, Steam Veggies and Salsa. My go-to kinda meal.

7. What’s one secret talent outside of the kitchen nobody knows about you?
I qualified and ran Boston Marathon back in 2005.  When training I lived on that vile sugar syrup called “Goo” I would never, ever do that again. The marathon or the Goo.

8. You’re happiest when cooking/eating:
Grilled Salmon and Stuffed French Toast. Never ever together.

9. Your blog is a wonderful resource for families to live and eat healthy. What are your top 3 tips for parents trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle for their children?
a) Clean & prep fruits and veggies before you plan on using them so they are always ready to grab.
b)  Make a big batch of things like oatmeal so you can have a healthy breakfast ready on the fly.
c)  Eat 5-6 meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar stable and your mind & body running at peak performance.

10. The one secret ingredient to your success is:
Not taking myself too seriously and taking myself too seriously in mindful balance. Waking up at 4am to get stuff done.

Thank you Marla! When not blogging you can find Marla on FacebookTwitterStumbleUponInstagram and Pinterest too.

And when you’re done stalking her, find more of FoodieCrush here: subscribe to foodiecrush and follow me on twitterFacebook and Pinterest

61 comments |

Posted in: crushing,food blogger interview,food bloggers

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Bev Weidner October 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

I looooooove Marla! This is so fantastic. But the 4am thing? AREYOUOUTOFYOURMIND?

XO, dear lady!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Bev, I am always out of my mind ;) Love you girl!

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kelley October 25, 2011 at 10:01 am

I could never get up at 4a by choice and I don’t think I could ever live sugar free but an inspiration none the less!! Beautiful photos are article!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Kelley, lets not worry about the sugar free thing. We just need to focus on skiing together ;)

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Barbara @ Barbara Bakes October 25, 2011 at 10:11 am

I have to agree with Bev – 4 am! So fun to read more about Marla. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Blogher Food last year and she is so sweet, a little bundle of energy.

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Love meeting you Barbara! Again soon OK? xxoo

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Lori @ RecipeGirl October 25, 2011 at 10:24 am

I guess I’m crazy too, but I agree w/ the 4AM thing. It’s my most creative, productive time of the day! Love ya Marla!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Girl, I knew you woke up early but I did not realize you are as crazy as me! love that :)

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Katie @ Epicurean Mom October 25, 2011 at 10:30 am

Yes, I must agree…I just love Marla!! Sweet as ever, very talented and such an inspiration!!

xo
Katie @ Epicurean Mom

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Hi Katie! Love you back :) It was fun visiting your blog too!!

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Cookie and Kate October 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I’m a Marla admirer, too! I’ve wondered how she seems to get so much done. Wish I could attend the food blog conference so I could learn her secrets, though I’ll never be able to wake up at 4 am!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm

One day we will meet & it will be FABULOUS :) xo

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Kelly October 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I love Marla and her fabulous blog!! Perfect crush and love the write up!! :)

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm

XXOO Love you too girl!

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Jt Clough | Big Island Dog October 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Such awesome information. I’ve recently gotten into foods in a different way than ever. I’ve sort of become obsessed with building the immune system and the best way to do that is through what we eat.

I’m a regular reader of foodiecrush and mahalo for featuring Marla’s blog. It is awesome as well and goes along with one of the biggest things I’m learning about how to build your immune system. NO SUGAR!

As along time athlete who has done distance things beyond marathons I had to LOL at the comment about the Boston Marathon, the Gu and the never doing it again. I’m with Marla. No more Gu ever and I’m also past the endurance stuff. I love to go out and train but let’s keep things in a balanced way is my motto now.

And… I get up at 4:45 am. It gives me time to get some writing done and go paddle on the ocean when the sun comes up most days!

I always look forward to the next thing you put on your blog! I’m going to have to say that this is truly “A Good Thing”.

Aloha Wags!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Jt….these changes you have made sound freeing and fabulous! Amazing how much more energy we can have when we let go of sugars and processed ingredients.
Love the idea of paddling first thing in the morning!
Forgot that Goo is spelled Gu ;)

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm

So glad to inspire your movement toward a healthier lifestyle, and your no sugar movement JT. Keep it up!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga October 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Marla is one of my best friends. She is amazing. When we meet up, afterwards…I feel like a new person after our chitchat and gabfest and Marla’s beautiful energy. She is a doll and I love her so much!

Thanks for featuring her, her fabulous recipes and thoughts, and of course her stunning photography skills!

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marla October 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Averie, you are soooo sweet. So happy you like the post & I can’t wait for our next meet up. It has been waaayy too long girl!! xxoo

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Shawnda October 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I absolutely love Marla’s passion and intensity for family, food, and blogging. She’s such a fun gal!

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Marla seems to do it all, and so effortlessly too. But best of all, as you say, with a great attitude.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Awww, thanks Shawnda! I hope to see you again soon. Wasn’t Mexico sooooo fun last year!

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Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. October 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

Great post! Marla is one of the first bloggers I met thru someone who actually said I reminded her exactly of Marla (our energy levels, work ethic, style and drive). She introduced us via twitter, and Marla called me on the phone. We talked for over an hour and have been friends ever since. She asks me for advice or I give it to her w/out her asking. I always tell her she is going to soar, and I know I’m right about that….

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm

You are so on the nose Alison. You both inspire so many, so happy to have you in the foodie blogosphere.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Alison, you are such a wonderful & true friend. Yes, we both share lots of the same kinda energy :) xxoo

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Yvette ~ Muy Bueno Cookbook October 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I have a secret crush on Marla too…WOW! She is such an amazing mother, wife, cook, and photographer. And not to mention so healthy and sweet!
Marla: My only question is, if you get up at 4AM what time do you go to sleep? I’m a night owl and need to find some balance :( Maybe I need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier?
Beautiful crush post!

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I think I need to do an addendum, don’t I? I can’t believe I didn’t ask, its usually a topic of conversation for me in every day life. I’m serious, it is! I’ll ask and find out.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Yvette, I am smitten that you are crushing too :) I go to bed around 9:30pm. I feel VERY tired about 6pm….
Thanks for all of your sweetness!

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Paula @ Dishing the Divine October 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I get up at 4 a.m. every day too, but that’s usually for a quick bathroom break and then back to bed I go! :)

I love the Q&A here. Made me smile to get an “inside view!” :)

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Oh Paula, that is the way it goes, right? SO glad you liked the inside glimpse, Marla is inspiring isn’t she? But then you’re pretty awesome yourself :)

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Your triple threat chocolate chip cookies need to happen in my world. Some day :)

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen October 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I’m always in awe of Marla’s energy, and she makes such amazing food!

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Oh Sylvie, and we’re so in awe of you! Love being inspired and inspiring likewise. But, you pretty much rock lady.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I agree with Heidi…you ROCK. And you make gorgeous food. And you are an amazing photographer.

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Dixie Caviar October 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

I often just lurk around my favorite blogs — never commenting or tweeting — because my shy girl tendencies seem to get the best of me. Now I realize I just need to get out there and do it; the food blog community is a (mostly) friendly place!

So how about I start with you? Thanks, Foodie Crush, for sharing all the recipe and blogger love!

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Yes, yes you do! We’re all in this together, time to join hands and rise together. Thanks for posting, so honored you felt compelled to do so. Really, I am.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Dixie…I am so glad that we inspired you to say hi too! No need to lurk. We are nice, right Heidi?!

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carly {carlyklock} October 27, 2011 at 11:49 am

I think I’ll stick with 5am – it works just fine for me! :)

You truly are an inspiration to so many people, Marla. Heidi – thanks for featuring her and giving us a glimpse into the person behind the blog.

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Sheesh! You early risers, I need your secrets! XO

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thanks Carly! You are so sweet and I always love when you pop over to say *hi*

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Erin @naturallyella October 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I’m behind in keeping up with my blogs and just got to this post! I don’t think you could have picked a more inspirational person! Great post, Heidi (and keep up the great work, Marla!)

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heidi October 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

She is pretty darn on it, right? Makes me feel like a bump on a log. :)

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Girl, that must be one designer log ’cause you got it going on!

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hi Erin! You are so sweet. I love your blog too. A true inspiration.

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Cookin' Canuck October 28, 2011 at 9:56 am

I adore Marla and am constantly inspired by her energy, her recipes and her photos. She definitely has made me think about ways to make snacks and meals a healthy as possible for my family.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Dara, you are a wonderful friend to me and I am so happy to know you. I always look forward to seeing all of the greatness on your blog too!

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Biana | Simple and Tasty Recipes October 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Marla, thank you for sharing your story and recipes!

I like peanut sauce with chicken, so will be checking out the Chicken with Coconut, Lime and Peanut Sauce recipe.

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marla October 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Biana, I hope you like that recipe. For some reason it’s the most popular one on my blog.

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gretchen October 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm

i have to admit i’m a little stuck on the 4 am bit. for that i am extremely impressed, marla! if only my circadian rhythm worked like that… maybe it would help to have a loaf of that pretty peanut pumpkin coffee cake waiting in the kitchen next to my coffee pot. but i don’t know, even then.

i definitely agree with the kind statements about marla’s friendliness in the blog world. if there was a welcome committee for new bloggers, she’d be on it… always a friendly comment and a generous spirit. and though i don’t know you well, marla, i’d surely say you’re “nice” too! :)

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marla October 30, 2011 at 7:16 am

Gretchen, thanks for all of your sweetness. I just pinned like all of your recipes :)

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Kelly Lester October 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm

GORGEOUS lady, GORGEOUS family. (The pic of hunky hubby with the toweled kids is especially”aaahhh” inspiring). What a beautiful post about my exceedingly talented friend. Honored to know her :)

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marla October 30, 2011 at 7:07 am

Thanks Kelly! You have me giggling over here :) I am so happy we are great pals for reals :) XXOO

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Sheila @Eat2gather October 31, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I got to meet Marla briefly at blogger food I would agree energizer bunny did come to mind! She was sweet and fun. What a fun post ;)! I agree with the top comment…4am is kookookachoo. But on the other hand between 12 and 2am are my most productive times….pick your poisen. Hugs!

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Kulsum at JourneyKitchen November 2, 2011 at 3:23 am

4 am??? I love you Marla but 4 a.m. is making me look like I sleep all day! You are awesome :-)

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Kathy @ Food Wine Thyme April 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I love reading your Crushing On…. posts. I read Marla’s blog all the time. She proves that we can accomplish anything with a little sacrifice and dedication. Great post

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