Up until last week, Caroline Granger and I had never met. Yes, she had become a part of the She’s Fit to Lead team. Yes, she had written some killer articles. And yes, I was totally awed by “CarolineCooksClean,” her Instagram site, with over 8,000 followers. But we still hadn’t met. And I had my questions! Was that dazzling smile that I saw on Facebook for real? Could someone really do everything she does – cook, run a social media business, swim, volunteer, participate in greek life and other clubs, belong to honor societies and manage a pre-med workload and still smile like that? Could it be?
Well, quite unintentionally, this interviewer put that smile to the test. Caroline – huge organic chemistry exam (at 5:00 on a Friday – ew, I say), but kind enough to agree to meet me at Starbucks for a half hour. Me, chronically late (or as I like to think about it perpetually over optimistic about what can be accomplished in a day, and the ability of major highways to magically shorten to make it all possible), and in this case lost, and a half hour late, leaving Caroline stuck studying in Starbucks. And when I arrived, she was gracious, charming, witty, wise, mature, and above all, genuinely smiling, and that is something that many people twice her age with half as much to do could not possibly pull off. Welcome to the Fit List, Caroline Granger!
How did you start CarolineCooksClean?
I started CarolineCooksClean over spring break of my freshman year at U Miami because I was always known to be that girl who filled her snapchat stories with food and I really felt pride in my enthusiasm to live a healthy lifestyle. I guess I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the world and show people that eating for your health can be extremely flavorful and fun and that “going on a diet” or juice cleanse or other self-depriving lifestyle change is not the only or best way to go about losing some weight and/or feeling better in your own skin.
When you first started Caroline Cooks Clean was it for fun or did you know it was going to be a business?
Honestly, I started CarolineCooksClean completely for fun. It was sort of an excuse to try out all of the pinterest recipes that were stacked up in my boards but I had never tried. It was also a nice and convenient place to store all of my photos in one spot! Originally, CarolineCooksClean was actually a health and fitness blog, but I changed it to exclusively a clean cooking and clean eating blog once I realized that was where I was the most popular and that clean eating and clean cooking was becoming a trend. I’m an experimenter, so I always make up new recipes and they somehow always turn out great which made it fun and easy for me to share my creations each day. I have also learned throughout my life that you need to specialize in one subject and not focus on a broad realm of things. This way, your followers will know what to expect from you and will be pleased to see the same theme from you every day instead of never knowing what they’re going to get and ending up really confused. You need to know who you are and stay constant with that, otherwise your blog will just seem unorderly and scrambled together.
When did you start thinking of it as a business? What changed?
I’d say that I started thinking of my blog as a business type when I had my first contact with a company. Over this past summer, I got a direct message on Instagram from Halo Top Creamery who wanted to send me free coupons for their products because they really thought I would love it and they wanted me to post about their ice cream so that my followers would hear about it from someone they trust and respect. Once I realized that companies were actually interested in what I had to say about their products and wanted me to try them, I decided that my blog really was worth something big.
You’re a teenager interacting with food brands, some of them really big companies! Do you ever worry about them taking you seriously? What do you do to make sure they do?
Surprisingly, not really. I know that I’m young, but I also know that I respect myself and that my peers respect me. I have never had confidence issues when it comes to my intelligence or whether or not others will see me as their equal. As a kid growing up, my parents never laughed at me for saying something that didn’t make complete sense and they never told me that something I liked was stupid or wrong to like. If I was passionate about something, which for me is science and the medical field (along with cooking), my passions were embraced. I like to think that they are the reason I am as confident of a person as I am today. I have never once doubted that I will be successful and become all that I’ve ever wanted to be. I will always be happy, I will become a doctor, and I will always be successful. This might sound a little like arrogance, but this is confidence. To be a confident individual, and to be fit to lead, means that you apply your confidence in yourself to every single aspect of your life. I believe that confidence is the key to everything. When you believe in yourself, and truly believe in yourself, anything is possible. I have absolute faith in that.
Pre-med? Sorority? Other clubs and honor societies? Friends? Family? Caroline Cooks Clean? How do you do it all? What’s your advice for maintaining balance?
I get this question a lot. Right now I am enrolled in 18 credits of classes, a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major on the Pre-Medical Track with double minors in Chemistry and Biology, I am in the General Honors Program, on the Dean’s List, a research assistant in the McCabe Lab of Neuroscience, the Vice President of National Biological Honor Society, a member of our club swim team, a member of Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity, a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, a swim instructor at our campus pool, a volunteer at Holtz Children’s Hospital, and I’m a contributing writer for She’s Fit to Lead, and I run CarolineCooksClean. I also have a great social life with many friends that I love, a boyfriend, an amazing relationship with my family, and I exercise every single day. Does that even sound possible? Guess what – it is! Although I do admit, I am pretty much busy every second of every day, I enjoy it. I enjoy being busy. Embracing a busy lifestyle to me means having a real purpose in life. I am either helping others, spending time with friends, learning a TON of new things, or on my feet running to my next commitment, with a coffee in hand, of course. It’s not easy, but I love it, so I make it all happen for myself. I think the biggest reason why I can handle an insane amount of responsibility is because I have a positive attitude. I really enjoy what I do. I may always be scrambling to get to my next class or next meeting, but I always have a smile on my face. I’m always laughing at myself when I mess up, which I think is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you are happy with your own life. You can’t take yourself too seriously all of the time. That’s exhausting. I’d say my biggest piece of advice regarding living a busy lifestyle is that you only get to have this life once. You only get to be nineteen one time. 365 days of nineteen, that’s all you get. Make the most of it. Have fun with it. You’ll look back and love yourself and your life instead of being miserable. Life’s too short to be anything but happy.
Do you always eat clean?
Not always, but 99%! There are so many wholesome foods out there to enjoy it’s hard for me to resort to something as artificial and boring as, let’s say, donuts or pizza. I’d rather have some guava chia pudding or a donut peach or something that tastes great and is great for my body at the same time.
What’s your favorite clean meal?
Oatmeal. Always oatmeal. It’s probably the most versatile thing I make for breakfast with smoothie bowls as a close second. I can’t live without my oats. They’ve turned me into a happy and chipper morning person.
What’s your favorite “cheat”? Do you think of it that way?
I don’t think of “junk food” as a cheat meal. The reason I say this is because I don’t think my every day diet is something I need to “cheat” from. Why would I cheat away from something that already has everything I could ever ask for? A clean diet is the whole package. It’s beautiful, versatile, easy to make, cheap (if you know what you’re doing), keeps you energized, fit, and leaves you feeling absolutely amazing. I don’t think consuming junk food should be glorified as something to look forward to. Think about it this way: we don’t look forward to falling off of our bikes because we know we will get hurt, right? Well guess what. Junk food like chips or soda or pizza or that piece of cheesecake you stare at every time you walk inside the Cheesecake Factory are going to hurt your body. They have saturated fats and toxins that will contaminate your body. Why would you look forward to that process? Eating junk food and enjoying it is you consciously hurting your body on purpose because you want to. That sounds pretty weird to me.
Chia? It scares me! Give us a quick, easy and yummy chia recipe.
Chia pudding! 1 cup unsweetened almond milk with 3 tbs chia seeds, stirred and refrigerated for a half hour. Add fruit or cinnamon and enjoy J
What’s trending for 18-24 year old women right now in the world of food?
Oatmeal, Smoothie Bowls, Chia Seeds, Acai bowls. Especially during this season, pumpkin. Pumpkin everything.
Your generation seems obsessed with looking at pictures of really fatty, gooey, gloppy unhealthy food but eating clean. True? If yes, how do you explain? Do you use Caroline Cooks Clean to try to change that?
Yes. I think this gives my generation a bad relationship with food. So many girls, even many girls I know, struggle with eating disorders and have an absolutely terrible relationship with food. Obsessing over ice creams, baked goods, desserts, cakes, chocolates, cheesy items, and then actually not eating any of them and freaking out about eating really anything at all is such a bad way to live. Food porn is ok, but I think if you’re focusing on living a healthy and happy lifestyle you should embrace the things that will make you feel good in the long run. None of the foods I listed above will do that for you. I use CarolineCooksClean to show girls that you can make healthy food pretty. Healthy food can make you drool. I’m all about wholesome, raw ingredients, probiotics, healthy fats, and really getting the whole nutritional value of the food you’re consuming. Food is fuel. We want it to be wholesome, not zero calorie, zero fat, zero sugar, because you actually need calories, sugar, and fat to survive. You just need a reasonable amount of it and you need it to be natural.
How do you motivate others?
I motivate others by being myself. I want others to be inspired to become the best version of themselves. Instead of people telling me “I wish I were you”, I want people to tell me “you helped me become who I’ve always wanted to be”. I have used my life to be the person I’m inspired by. I hope that I can inspire others to become their own inspirations as well.
What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you?
To me, being Fit to Lead means being confident enough in yourself so that you can help others become that confident too. A leader is someone others use for guidance, knowledge, and confidence. A leader helps others figure out what they were meant to do in this life and who they were meant to be. She helps others to follow their dreams by inspiring them with her own actions. I believe that I am fit to lead because I help others hone in on their inner creativity by also inspiring them to live their lives happily and healthfully. The truth about life is that food means so little in the large scheme. Happiness is everything. Relationships with friends and family are everything. Living to experience the world is what will help you reach your true potential. I hope that by sharing my life with the world, my followers will be inspired to live the best life they possibly can.
Thanks Caroline! We’re proud to have you on our Fit List.