In the early summer of 2017, Alex and I were standing in the kitchen making breakfast, our typical go-to of a massive cast-iron skillet filled with veggies and eggs, and Alex halfheartedly says “we should start a site called Cast Iron Keto.” Alex is like this, he has great branding/business ideas and I wish we could create them all. That time though, I knew I could make it happen. At the time, I owned a Paleo food blog called Wicked Spatula that I founded in 2011, 2012? What is time these days? I had success with it and knew that I could take everything I learned from that first site and create something even better, something Alex and I were both passionate about, those things being anything related to food and the ketogenic diet which we had been on for a few months while Alex was training for his first triathlon.
We hit the ground running, within a few short weeks we had thrown up a website with a few recipes and we were off. Cast Iron Keto grew quickly in the time before TikTok and IG Reels dominated every post you see on social media. We built an engaged audience who supported us by sharing our work and we supported them by creating inventive recipes that toed the line between healthy and indulgent. We were on a roll but then life started to happen, as it does.
Between 2017 and summer 2021 Alex finished up his second Bachelor’s degree program then decided to come on board with me to scale our businesses, we founded Healthful Creative – our content agency, we sold our first home in TN, bought an RV to travel full-time, wrote a cookbook, moved to Portland, OR, moved back to Asheville, NC in 2020 when the pandemic hit to be closer to family, then finally moved back to Portland a few months ago when we realized it was truly home.
We’ve been through quite a lot of changes the past few years not even touching on the numerous health struggles that I have and am going through. Between autoimmune diseases, PCOS, multiple miscarriages, and too many ER trips to count over the past few years, we knew that something had to change.
I’m always one to try and fix my diet first, thinking that everything will fall into place if I just land on the right one for my body. It went all-natural, Pescatarian, Paleo, then gluten-free, then Keto, then AIP, then this then that, and everything in between. You’re desperate when you feel like you’ll never be healthy again and you don’t know why. Spoiler, health is about so much more than just food or your body size. I’ve felt better at 260 pounds than I have at 170. True health is tied to many different factors and diet is just one component of that. Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that food is medicine and we both truly believe, and there’s plenty of research to back it up, that a Ketogenic leaning diet free from processed foods is the best way to eat for long term health. However, the vast amount of animal-based ingredients in most Keto recipes is simply not sustainable or healthy, in our opinion. There’s also tons of research that shows that a plant-based diet is the best diet for long-term health. Again, you can find a research study to back up an all chocolate chip cookie diet if you really wanted to. I was and am tired of looking for the holy grail of the “perfect diet” to fix all of my issues because it simply doesn’t exist and if it did, there’s no telling if that same way of eating will serve you for a year, a month, or a decade as your body, needs, and environment change. It’s not just about food. So where did that leave us now that we believed that both a plant-based diet and a Keto diet were the best option for us but that there’s no one-size-fits-all to dietary choices?
In August of 2020 we decided to go plant-based for a few months, this was after months of debilitating stomach issues on my end and some high cholesterol readings on Alex’s. Within a few short days, the stomach issues that I’ve attributed to vegetables (specifically cruciferous ones) for years shockingly vanished all the while eating tons of cauliflower and broccoli. Over the next few months, Alex stayed the course but I added in a bit of dairy again and immediately got very, very sick. I begrudgingly cut out dairy again, got to feeling better, then added back in some chicken and fish and was sick all over again. The conclusion is that eating plant-based has almost 100% fixed my digestive issues. One’s I’ve dealt with since I was a child. Alex’s cholesterol was back to a healthy range within a few months. So, with this newfound way of eating we were left with the gigantic elephant in the room question, what did that mean for Cast Iron Keto?
It’s a weird thing to have your eating habits and dietary choices tied up in how you make a living. We’re so fortunate to have worked over the last decade to ensure that we have a reliable source of passive income through ad revenue but without fresh content hitting the site, that can dry up quickly. We have to continue to create content for this brand to be sustainable. We are also fortunate to have a great team of creators that work for us but the ROI isn’t there for outsourcing all content. We also considered selling as we did with my first site, Wicked Spatula, but we love this community, the story behind the brand, and our mission. So, we landed on the one option that feels true for us…
We’re excited to announce that moving forward Cast Iron Keto recipes will be 100% plant-based and keto-friendly! We know this will be a shock to some of you that have come to know our content as meat and dairy heavy. Our decision to transition to a plant-based lifestyle is a personal one and we’re not here to try to convince anyone that one way of eating is right for them. While we have always emphasized the importance of vegetables on a ketogenic diet, as well as the importance of sourcing humanely raised meats and sustainably sourced seafood, we believe a plant-based diet is the best diet for our bodies and the planet. This is our opinion and we respect that a lot of you will disagree. Do know that while we won’t be sharing recipes with animal-based ingredients going forward, you’ll still be able to access your favorite CIK recipes in our archive. We respect the vast differences in dietary needs and dietary beliefs and hope that you’ll continue to stick around for all the veggie goodness we’ll keep bringing your way, even if you also serve it with a steak on the side.
Do know that this decision was not one that we took lightly. One reader on Facebook called us “corporate sell-outs for plant-based propaganda companies”. First, how rude, but second, we have actually canceled multiple contracts with animal-based product brands over the past year if we weren’t able to outsource that content. This decision has nothing to do with financial gain but the fact is that this site is always going to be a bit personal unless we grow so large that we have a full-time staff (we don’t foresee that happening or even really desire that) and yes, it is a business that does need to make money so that Alex and I can support ourselves and other creatives.
You may have noticed that we also changed up our colors a bit and we’re excited about the new look. We have a full website redesign scheduled for late next year with all sorts of great features and we can’t wait for that. In the meantime, I hope my Google degree in web design isn’t too horrid.
Lastly, thank you for reading this far. This is by far the most personal update we’ve ever shared here but we believe that sharing our struggles, inspirations, failures, and all the normal human life things creates connections and brings us all closer together. So thanks for being here and we can’t wait for CIK 2.0!