Kitchen Rag Customer Spotlight 2016-09-22T06:42:27+00:00

The Kitchen Rag

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The Kitchen Rag is the Avada-powered virtual kitchen of Diana Glasser. Focusing heavily on the power of nutritious food, the site is packed full of delicious, healthy recipes, consistently useful lifestyle advice and insights into Diana’s daily life.

The site is a marital co-production with husband Clayton Glasser pulling the technical strings while Diana concentrates on content.

The pair were kind enough to take time out of a trip back to Diana’s homeland of Moldova to answer a few questions about the site and Avada’s role in its production.

The Kitchen Rag

Introducing Clayton and Diana Glasser

Q: Hello guys! Can you tell us a little about your personal backgrounds, how you met and how long The Kitchen Rag has been going?

Diana: I was born in Eastern Europe four years before the collapse of the Soviet Union and, as a child, I watched my country, the Republic of Moldova, fight for independence and weather a civil war. Despite these grim political realities, I had a pretty happy childhood on a traditional farm in one of my country’s many rural villages.

I came to the US as an eighteen year old to attend Gutenberg College in Eugene, Oregon. The culture shock was severe and it took me a few years to begin sharing my background and where I come from. As a senior I met Clayton and we got married in 2009.

The Kitchen Rag was born in 2012 after I was accepted for a Masters in Holistic Nutrition at Hawthorn University. I wanted to share with my friends and family what I was learning in my classes.

My audience grew rather quickly. By 2013 the blog had reached over 100,000 unique page views in one month, and by 2014 The Kitchen Rag had over 10,000 Facebook fans. I was both flattered and amazed that anyone besides my community would read my articles and I still am!

The Kitchen Rag and my nutrition degree have taken me on an incredible journey and I am so thankful and blessed to be supported and encouraged by my readers.

Clayton: I hail from Cleveland, but moved to Oregon in 2007 to attend Gutenberg, where Diana and I met. I’ve been taking the internet apart and putting it back together since grade school, but I started doing web development professionally around 2010.

I offer a range of services to clients, including web design and development, branding, and website maintenance. I mostly stick to the front end, but I’m focusing on becoming a truly full stack web dev this year. My favorite aspect of web development is design and I consider web design to be part of a larger scope of interest for me that includes design of all kinds.

My other day job is ecological landscape design and consulting, which I do through my firmTransterraform.

Q: From reading the blog and looking at Clayton’s site, I’m guessing that Clayton is taking care of most of the technical setup while Diana concentrates on content. Would that be right?

Clayton: Basically. Diana’s focus is on creating and sharing thoughtful, well researched information about health and nutrition. Mine is on making sure she has an effective platform to do so.

There is overlap. For example, I will edit Diana’s blog posts, and she will show me how to use the latest social media technologies. Only one of us has an MS in Holistic Nutrition though and only one of us knows how to use Git. It adds up to more than the sum of its parts and that’s a unique benefit of a being a web dev married to a blogger.

The Kitchen Rag

Q: The site covers a very broad range of content ranging from nutritional matters to tips on birthing. How do you sum up its overall mission?

Diana: The site’s mission is to educate my readers about physical and emotional health. I’m interested in a broad range of topics related to health; I share what I have learned in my studies, my kitchen, my marriage, my childhood, and from my audience.

The primary focus is on nutrition but people are complex systems and every aspect of life affects our ability to thrive. Nutrition is critical, but also a kind of jumping off point for larger questions.

Q: There’s a lot of coverage of probiotics and fermented food on the site and science is certainly starting to prove the importance of the gut biome. What are your top tips for the average person looking to explore this area?

Diana: Recent studies have shown a direct relationship between gut biome and brain health. Compromised gut flora can contribute not only to a broad range of digestive ailments but also to brain inflammation and deterioration. We are in much need of educating ourselves about how to maintain the health of our gut biome.

The first step is using probiotic fermented foods. I highly recommend Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation as a starting point for learning more about this. My blog also has easy recipes with step-by-step instructions and photos for both sauerkraut and pickles.

If you are too intimidated or busy to make your own, more and more grocery stores carry properly fermented sauerkraut and pickles (ones made with only water, salt, and vegetables) too. Once there are a couple of fermented foods on your kitchen counter, start eating at least a tablespoon of them with every meal. This will provide you with much needed probiotics to balance and maintain a healthy gut biome.

Q: Diana, you have an incredible backstory having experienced the fall of Soviet Union first-hand as a child in Moldava before moving to the States. Do you plan on going back for an extended time period at any stage?

Diana: We are actually home in Moldova right now! We try to come visit every year. We might move back for a longer period of time – it’s not out of the question. Our life is in Eugene and we love it there but it breaks my heart every time I get on the plane to fly away from Moldova. I could see myself choosing to come back at some point in my life.

Q: If you could recommend one 30-day lifestyle change challenge to the average American, what would it be?

I recommend the Grocery Store Challenge. For thirty days, only shop on the periphery of the grocery store and do not go into the inner aisles.

The aisles are mostly full of prepackaged, processed, and refined foods whereas the periphery usually contains the fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy. Of course the bakery is usually there too – full of delicious carbs and sweet treats – but I recommend skipping this section too.

This challenge can help you understand and taste the difference between processed and whole foods. If you come across a box with a long ingredient list full of words you can’t understand, leave it on the shelf. Buy food you will have to wash, chop, boil, season, sautee, and otherwise prepare at home. Enjoy being your own chef. 🙂

Q: What’s your go-to comfort meal for a lazy Sunday?

Diana: Bratwurst and lacto-fermented sauerkraut, definitely.

Clayton: With a medley of several different mustards from our ridiculously large collection. Mmm, mustard.

Q: The Kitchen Rag seems to be mostly monetized with Amazon Associates at the moment but it seems like you could take it in a variety of interesting ways in the future. Do you have plans to branch out into your own products or other commercial areas in the future?

Diana: Yes. Right now, I recommend products that I genuinely believe will be useful to my readers using the Amazon Affiliates program.

As of just this last August, I have finished earning my MS in Holistic Nutrition and I plan to move forward with establishing a nutritional counselling practice as soon as possible. This will very likely involve some exciting new resources on the website, such as online consultations, personalized meal plans, exclusive content, and more, but this is currently in the planning stages.

If you’re interested in getting some more personal interaction with me, or taking some more serious steps to improve your health, stay in touch on Facebook for news about these new opportunities.

Q: You have an excellently presented list of popular posts throughout the site. What’s your personal favorite?

Diana: You’re Pooping Wrong. It’s my favorite because I love that my most popular post of all time is called “You’re Pooping Wrong”!

Clayton: Our Popular Posts widget is custom built by the way. Its styling has a significant impact on the appearance of the website so it needed the extra TLC. We also curate its content manually because we need intelligent control over what’s included.

What Does Avada Bring to the Kitchen Rag?

Q: Avada is currently powering the thekitchenrag.com site. What made you plump for WordPress as a platform and Avada as a theme solution?

Clayton: WordPress is open source, and I like to support open source projects whenever I can – even when it’s more cumbersome than alternatives – because I believe it’s an equitable and robust model. In this case however, no concessions need to be made since WordPress has the combination of flexibility, power, and ease of use that usually suits my projects better than other options.

For big complex apps, starting from scratch is obviously necessary but, with a simple informational blog and website like The Kitchen Rag, building it from the ground up would be a waste of time. The universe of plugins available for WordPress has definitely eliminated hundreds of hours I would have needed to spend creating all the doohickeys that make the website such an effective and cohesive platform for Diana’s content.

I’ve deployed scores of client projects using “multi-purpose” WP themes and Avada is the best one I’ve used, so I keep coming back to it. Themes with that many configurable options are often bloated and oddly engineered and I’m frequently frustrated trying to use them, even if they can do what I need one way or another. By contrast, I find Avada to be highly intuitive, quick to deploy and it virtually never lacks support for a feature I need.

Q: The Kitchen Rag has a light fresh look with nicely integrated imagery throughout. How did Avada help you showcase your content?

Clayton: Avada is so flexible right out of the box that all I had to do was visualize how I wanted the site to look and then implement it using the very effective Fusion Theme Options.

On the odd occasion where my vision didn’t quite fit with the Avada template’s range, I found the CSS conventions used to be fairly straightforward and was able to customize the easily enough.

We are going for a clean, minimal style and Avada’s highly customizable but style-agnostic approach made this really simple.

Q: Is there a particular Avada feature that made it stand out in terms of either design or development?

Clayton: I really appreciate the granularity with which I can control the colors of page elements and the appearance of text via Theme Options.

Many themes, even multi-purpose ones, do not give the user such specific controls for these elements. Also, the ability to create individual full-width containers within blank page templates is something I love and employ on virtually every homepage I make with Avada.

Q: Is there a particular area of existing functionality you’d like to see us build out further with Avada? Or any missing features you’d love to see in the next release?

Clayton: I think one of the things that makes The Kitchen Rag a standout site is the unconventional use of a filterable masonry portfolio template as an interface for finding recipes from the blog.

This was a use case that originally required template modifications and a child theme but, after some communication with the support team and a few updates, the ability to link to blog posts via the masonry template as we have done is now natively supported.

I’d like to see the filterable masonry layout templates be generally extended to empower users to present more types of content – posts, pages, portfolios, media, even HTML page elements – in masonry format.

And Finally…

Q: Finally, if you could give one piece of nutritional advice to any of your readers and recommend one book to read (on any topic), what would they be?

Diana: Listen to your body. Our bodies give us lots of feedback that we were never encouraged to listen to or taught to interpret. Don’t beat your body into submission with caffeine, sugar, alcohol, starvation, contrived diets, or anything else.

Discover what makes you feel truly good and what makes you feel truly bad by paying close attention to the messages your body is sending you. It’s you. Trust yourself.

One book to read: Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan.

Clayton: Listen to my wife; she knows her stuff. Recommended book? The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas.

Conclusion

We’re delighted Diana and Clayton took time out to answer our questions in such depth and were excited to hear Clayton’s take on the critical role Theme Fusion products play in supporting their site.

The Kitchen Rag is a fabulous example of blogging done right. A core set of topics covered by an expert who can transmit their passion is a recipe for long-term success and Diana’s take on nutrition and health is consistently illuminating, useful and entertaining.

We invite you to explore Avada’s use across The Kitchen Rag and pick up some healthy tips and tricks while you’re at it!

The Kitchen Rag

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