Some recipes — like this chocolate chip mint smoothie– are too good to post about just once.
My Ultra Dreamy Chocolate Chip Mint Smoothie was one of the first recipes I posted. In fact, I didn’t even originally post it on Vitamin Sunshine. When I first started blogging, it was at the urging of a friend who thought it would be fun to write a blog together. Our combined blog didn’t end up taking off– but I found I had a strong interest in blogging. I transferred the best posts from that original blog over to Vitamin Sunshine when I started it.
I knew from the beginning photography is an important (maybe the most important) aspect of blogging. It’s not the writing that draws people in. It’s the pictures! There’s a reason Pinterest is the #1 referral site for bloggers.
This past week, I’ve been working on some very exciting behind-the-scenes projects for Vitamin Sunshine. The increased traffic to my blog has made me realize the potential of this hobby. I rephotographed the chocolate chip mint smoothie for one of them, and decided it would be a fun opportunity to repost the recipe, include the much better photos, and do a recap on what I’ve learned about creating images for a food blog.
I’m certainly not an expert yet– but the photos below of the original smoothie shot, and the new one, show the growth I’ve made!
Lesson #1: Use Appropriate Staging Tools
Part of learning how to stage my photos was just the result of practice. And the other part of it was because of super helpful posts from other bloggers.
When I first started, I was using table linens, and taking most of the photos outside on my patio table. Crazy! I was having to iron and wash linens every time I took photos. It took forever, and was labor intensive. Not only that- my photos didn’t look that great.
At some point, I realized that I should be using photography backgrounds. Since I live in Malaysia, where ordering online isn’t very easy, and even running to photography stores can be a challenge, I started to think about how to make my own. But in Kuala Lumpur, I couldn’t even find boards to use to paint my own! No lumber stores- houses are mostly made out of concrete here.
Alex had a fabulous idea- floor tiles. I bought 5 huge floor tiles, and although they are heavy, they look good in my shots, are easy to clean, don’t have to be ironed, and can be left set up all the time.
Lesson #2: Know how to Edit Photos in Lightroom/Photoshop
This is actually a recent revelation of mine, thanks for Ashley McLaughlin at Edible Perspective. I’ve mentioned her photography posts on here several times- because they are incredibly helpful, free, and once you’ve learned a little photography lingo, very easy to follow.
Her recent posts on editing in Lightroom– The First 5 Edits I Make in Lightroom, and How to Diminish Noise in Your Photo with Lightroom –have taken my photos to the next level. It took reading these posts, and practicing her recommendations on shots of my own, to realize this was what I was missing.
Here is a shot I re-edited after reading her tutorials. The different is small, but when the photos are shown large on screen, it makes a big difference.
Lesson #3: Graphics Help!
I was using horrible fonts when I first started out! I was rushing to get them done, and not really paying attention to the placement. I wasn’t being creative. I wasn’t using cute little hearts, or pleasing colors.
One of the things that helped was downloading some free for commercial use fonts from 1001 Free Fonts. They were very easy to install, and I can use them in Photoshop, Word, anywhere on my Mac that I need to create nice looking text images.
I started playing with text spacing, aligning different length words with each other, and choosing colors that would bring out colors in the photos I wanted to play up.
While I stand by my early recipes, my images weren’t selling them. You really should try the Green-Infused Apple Cider, and the Thai Spring Rolls (the “no-peanut” sauce is to die for!)- don’t let the poor images stop you!
Lesson #4: People like Promises!
This goes along with Lesson #3 on graphics. The photos that are repinned the most on Pinterest are the ones that offer something to the viewers. My most popular pins are my Metabolism Booster Smoothie, and my Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee Concentrate. The titles and graphics show value to viewers, so people are more likely to repin, or click on the pins.
Now- Back to the Chocolate Chip Mint Smoothie!
It’s what you’re really here for- a recipe for a kickass smoothie, packed with greens, healthy fats, protein, and my favorite health food- dark chocolate, that tastes like an indulgent milkshake.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. BUT NOT in this case. ♥
- ½ cup coconut milk (canned)
- ½ cup plain or greek yogurt
- 1 frozen banana (cut into quarters)
- 14 frozen spinach "cubes" -- see notes below*
- 6 large ice cubes
- 10 g plain whey protein isolate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract (not pure peppermint)**
- 1 teaspoon honey (optional- I don't find it needs any)***
- 2 tablespoons 85% dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
- Add the liquid ingredients first, followed by the rest of the smoothie ingredients, leaving out the chocolate chips. Process until very smooth and creamy, and the spinach is fully incorporated.
- Add the chocolate, and pulse 5-6 times until the chocolate is broken up, but still in chunks.
**Peppermint extracts vary greatly. The first one I tried was a pure peppermint, and it was way too strong. Right now I am using Queen's, an Australian brand. If you haven't used peppermint extract before, start out with a small amount, and add more to taste.
***If you are new to green smoothies, adding a small amount of honey soften the tang of the yogurt and round out the peppermint flavor. I used to put it in, but prefer them without any added sweetener now.
Now, I plan on working on something I have read about in plenty of other bloggers’ “What I’ve Learned…” posts: Asking for social shares!
I have quite a few readers daily on here now, and still have a low comment and social share ratio.
So– if you enjoyed this post, please share it, or leave a comment below!