This is episode 47 of the Healthpreneur Podcast, and today we are going to be talking with Kelly Bejelly! Kelly is the CEO and co-founder of 20 Dishes, which is a really cool meal planning recipe app that helps people plan out healthy meals and cook them in the most efficient way possible.
In addition to helping people save time and stay healthy with 20 Dishes, Kelly runs a popular grain-free food blog called “A Girl Worth Saving.” She develops all the recipes, writes all the posts, and takes all the pictures. Kelly is also the author of The Paleo Eats Cookbook: 111 Comforting Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, and Dairy-Free Recipes for the Foodie in You.
So, with all that going on, you’re probably waiting for me to list off all the credentials Kelly has. Here’s the cool thing—she has no background in nutrition. She happens to be a great cook and she has a passion for learning. So if you’ve ever felt limited because you don’t have a lot of degrees and certifications, give this interview a listen. This is inspiring stuff and it just goes to show that if you have a passion for something, there’s really no limit to what you can accomplish.
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In This Episode Kelly and I discuss:
- Kelly’s journey through 30 years of cooking and the start of 20 Dishes.
- What it means to be a health crusader.
- The value of a support group, especially for bloggers.
- Getting through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
- Loving what you do.
3:00 – 11:30 – From recipes, to cookbooks, to a full on meal planning software.
11:30 – 21:00 – Limiting beliefs and some tips for bloggers
21:00 – 26:00 – Intuition.
26:00 – 29:00 – Loving what you do.
29:00 – 33:00 – The Rapid-Five questions.
What You Missed:
In our last episode, our guest was not really involved in the health and wellness space. He deals with relationships—and he’s really good at it. The reason I wanted to have him on is because I firmly believe that there is nothing more important than relationships, in every aspect of your life.
Whether it’s your marriage, kids, business partners, investors, friends, family—relationships matter. Tony Dilorenzo is an expert and he talked to us about all things relationships. Tony has the number one marriage podcast on iTunes, called the ONE Extraordinary Marriage Show. He speaks to a worldwide audience about sex, love, commitments, challenges, and making relationships a priority.
If you’re thinking this episode is worthless—you’ve got a lot to learn, let me tell you. I really can’t stress enough how important relationships are in your personal life and in business. I think this episode will help you to take a step back and focus on what is most important in your life.
Hey guys, what’s up? Yuri here. Welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast. In the last episode, we talked with Tony DiLorenzo about the power of having a strong marriage and how that can tie over into the business. He also talked about his life-transforming 60-day sex challenge. If you missed that episode, be sure and check it out after this one.
Today we’re speaking with Kelly Bejelly, who is the CEO and co-founder of 20 Dishes—which is a really cool meal planning recipe app. She’s also a recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the popular grain-free food blog called “A Girl Worth Saving”. She’s also the author of The Paleo Eats Cookbook: 111 Comforting Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, and Dairy-Free Recipes for the Foodie in You.
What’s cool about Kelly is that she actually has no background in nutrition. If you’ve ever been limited by the belief that you have to have a degree and a bunch of certifications, all sorts of stuff before you actually get started—I think you’ll find this interview rather inspiring.
Kelly has simply taken her own asset, her own journey, and shared what she’s gone through, what’s worked for her. I think you’ll really find some golden nuggets out of this interview.
If you want to learn more about what she’s up to, you can head over to her website at 20Dishes.com. Without any further ado, let’s bring Kelly onto the show.
Yuri: Hey, Kelly! Welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast. How’s it going?
Kelly: Great. Thank you so much for having me on and letting me share my story.
Yuri: Absolutely. I’m excited to chat with you because you’re doing some pretty cool stuff in the recipe, food blogging space.
That’s a space that’s kind of near and dear to my heart, because we built a lot of our health and fitness business off amazing recipes and nutrition stuff. I’m always fascinated by the world of food blogging because there’s some amazing bloggers like yourself out there building some great things, building awesome recipes, lots of traffic, lots of followers.
It’s always been something that I have found inspiring and just pretty awesome. With that said, what’s new and exciting in the world of Kelly these days?
Kelly’s journey through 30 years of cooking and the start of 20 Dishes
Kelly: Well, I am still cooking up recipes. I kind of do two things. I started my journey with my site “A Girl Worth Saving”. I started sharing my journey going paleo.
At the time I went paleo, I had some severe health issues. I was morbidly obese. I had anxiety, depression, and I was pre-diabetic.
Then I just started. I cleaned up my diet. I really feel in alignment with the grain-free lifestyle. I just started sharing recipes.
I had no idea how something that that, to me seems so natural and so fun and so simple, really changed people’s lives.
I’m not Celiac, but a lot of my readers are coming to me with health issues like that. I think it really hit home for me when a mom left a comment on my pretzel recipe, which is egg-free and grain-free, all that stuff.
She was so excited because her daughter could finally take something to school and be like the other kids. I was like, “Wow.” I had no idea. Again, that’s something to me that’s like, “Oh. I just love to cook.”
I’ve been cooking for 30 years now, and it’s something that goes into people’s homes and becomes part of their lives and helps them.
I was like, “This is amazing.” It’s another reason why I love what I do and why I also started a meal planning site, but it’s not just meal planning. 20 Dishes is sort of like that saying, “If you teach a man to fish, he can feed himself forever.”
From recipes, to cookbooks, to a full on meal planning software
With 20 Dishes, we actually make it super simple for people to prep a week of meals really quickly. If you’ve ever gotten a recipe book and you try to meal plan in there … It can be overwhelming, especially when you’re new.
Even if you’re not new, if you’re a busy mom like me, you’re looking at 10 recipes and you create the shopping list and then cook all the recipes. The way that people typically think is, “Oh, I’m going to cook a recipe, so I’m going to chop everything for this recipe this day, and the next day I’ll chop the ingredients for the next recipe.”
With 20 Dishes, we actually tell you how to prep your entire meal. We tell you, “Do this, do this, do this,” so you don’t have to think. You just follow instructions.
Again, I love creating, I love helping people. When you’re in the hustle, when you’re doing it, you’re going through all the highs and lows of being a business owner, it’s always like, “Wow, I’m really helping people.”
One of our clients, she went from spending 20 hours a week—which is like a part-time job—prepping and cooking and shopping and all that stuff for her family of four, to 2 hours.
We were like, “Whoa. This is amazing. I didn’t realize that we were doing this.” Even though we do it, it’s like I didn’t realize we were doing this.
Yuri: That’s great. So you were creating recipes and you had the cookbook. What was the moment in time where you said, “You know what? Let’s build a software, a meal planner, that is just going to make things a lot easier?”
What was the moment in time, and why did you think that was a great idea?
Kelly: Honestly, I ask people what they want. I don’t ever assume, because usually when I assume stuff it’s wrong.
Yuri: It always goes wrong, doesn’t it?
Kelly: I have an amazing business partner, Orleatha, and she had actually come up with this system. She’s a busy mom and she realized people are cooking the way they cooked when their great grandma cooked.
People don’t have the same amount of time anymore. This is a way to streamline it.
She talked to chefs. Actually Orleatha came to me with the idea and I was like, “Let me see if my audience needs help with this, with meal planning, and getting in and out of the kitchen.”
They said yes, and we said, “Okay. Let’s do it.” That’s how it happened. I’m like, “Is there a need for this?” If there isn’t, I don’t have the time to invest in trying to build something that no one wants.
Yuri: Sure. Did you have a developer build this platform out? Was that a lengthy process?
Kelly: Yes. We’ve been working with an amazing developer for three years. We totally lucked out. We started off just like anyone green. We went to Upwork and found a company on there first.
It was kind of a nightmare to be honest with you. We gave them some examples of how we wanted it to look, and then we realized later they actually were using the source code from another site in our work.
We’re like, “What is this?” We looked around. We’re like, “Okay. We’re not ever using Upwork. We’re never going to work with anyone else overseas.” Someone in the states. Then I’m totally a believer in the idea that the universe, that God, is one of our owners.
We’re like, “Help.” It always happens that way. We need help, we’re looking for this, and then the right person shows up. I’m eternally grateful for that.
Yuri: That’s awesome. I think part of it is just getting clear on what you want. When you have that clarity and you ask for help, it just ends up presenting itself.
Kelly: Exactly. That is the wonderful thing about our team. We’ve built an amazing small team of people who help us—because there’s no way you can ever do these things alone. You start thinking, “Oh. I can do this alone,” and it’s like, “No. Not if you want a life, if you plan to have life back.”
Limiting beliefs and some tips for bloggers
Yuri: I want to talk about the blog for a second. Just so everyone knows, you don’t have a professional background as a nutritionist or a dietician, correct?
Kelly: Correct. I do not.
Yuri: Was that ever a limiting belief? I know a lot of people get hung up on, “Oh my God. I need to get my degree and my Master’s and my PhD in order to share stuff with people.”
Was that ever something that was a roadblock for you?
Kelly: It hasn’t been. When I started blogging, I was a newly stay-at-home mom. We were single income, and I was in this mode of, “I must create something to help the family. I must build this.”
I had actually started my blog five years ago. I forgot about it, and then I picked it back up. I was like, “Oh. I can actually make money doing this, and I can help.” There have been so many times, so many things have come up where if I had to just be like, “No. I have to do anything and everything to get this done.”
And if I hadn’t done that, those mindset traps that people fall into would’ve presented themselves. I was in this mode of, “I am a train. I am a steamroller. I’m going to do whatever I have to do.”
I’ve always been very honest with my audience. I’m like, “Hey, I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not an NTP or whatever. I’m just a woman who loves to cook and is blessed to know how to throw together ingredients that taste wonderful without a lot of work.”
Yuri: I call people like you health crusaders. I don’t even like saying “people like you.” That’s a terrible word.
Health crusaders. You don’t need accreditations, right? I think people, and obviously your business is a great example, they just want to relate to other people. It’s like, “Hey, here’s Kelly who’s gone through a journey. I can relate to that. I’m kind of like her, I love her recipes.”
That’s all that matters. You’ve built a great following and a great blog just on delivering value from what’s been working for you. That’s awesome.
Kelly: I know. It’s a blessing. One thing I always think of is that I started my blog a little bit after the economy was in the pits. I was like, “I built this business. I’m making income. I’m helping support the family, and I don’t see that. I don’t see that.” Obviously everyone’s going through their own journey, and I’m not saying anything about their journey, but for me it was like, “No. This is amazing.”
The internet is really, to me, like the old west. Stake your claim. You can create whatever you put the effort to online.
Yuri: As you said, you kind of create your own economy. You’re not going to get fired unless somehow everyone loses their ability to earn money and thus pay you money.
When a lot of the stuff goes south, you’re continuing to add value, you’re continuing to serve your customers, there’s always going to be a market for what it is you’re doing and who you’re serving. That’s why it’s such an amazing opportunity we have, nowadays, to be able to do this stuff.
Talk to me about when you got started. One of the biggest things people get hung up on when it comes to blogging and content creation is seeing the traction from their work. It’s like, “I put in this time to write this article. I’m getting no traffic to my website. I’m not making money.”
What realistic expectation can you give people in terms of advice? From the time you started, what type of frequency were you posting with? When did traction start to pick up? Were there other things that you did to help with all that?
The value of a support group, especially for bloggers
Kelly: I was kind of blessed when I started. I’m always blessed, I’m going to say that, I’m going to put that out to the universe.
I found a blogger support group. If you’re serious about blogging, you have to learn to network with other bloggers and work with other bloggers. You have to get rid of that mindset that helping other people hurts your success, because it’s the total opposite.
So I was posting about three times a week, and I was just putting anything on there. I think at first everyone is just like, “Oh. I want viral stuff,” but you have no idea how to create viral stuff when you first start. If you do, then it’s total luck or you have a mentor or something.
I started realizing that the content that people interacted with most was my recipes, so it made sense to just solely focus on that because that was what was the most shareable, the most commented on. Again, I was part of a really amazing blogger community where we did reciprocal sharing. Reciprocal likes, tweets, comments, etc.
The internet has changed, obviously, quite a bit, and you rarely get comments anymore on blogs. Well, you do on recipes if it’s terrible or if they absolutely love it. There’s never any, “This was good.”
It probably took … Let me think … Within a year, I was making money. I was really maximizing.
First, I was just doing ad work—like ads on your website—and doing some brand work that I would manage to get by pitching myself. Honestly, it was like six months after I went to full recipes that my traffic started growing quite a bit, and I got approached by a publisher to do my cookbook “Paleo Eats”.
That’s when I was like, “Oh. I’m totally in alignment with this.”
Now, one of the things that I’ve found that I have to really work on as an entrepreneur, as someone who doesn’t have a “boss”, is focus.
Yuri: I don’t think anyone can relate to that. NOT!
Kelly: I create these rabbit holes. I’m like, “Why did I spend my time on this?” It’s not, necessarily, that there’s no return on it, but I should have just focused. My word for the next 10 years is focus.
Yuri: That’s a good one.
Kelly: But really, networking. There’s tons of groups on Facebook where you can reach out and do reciprocal sharing. If you know how to take really good photos—I taught myself how to take the photos that I take—then that’s going to really help tremendously.
Yuri: That’s huge. Do you repost those photos on Pinterest or Instagram?
Kelly: Yes, definitely. Pinterest. Facebook. I don’t actually do a ton on Facebook anymore, but Pinterest.
SEO is really important. There’s different websites like Food Gawker that you can share your photos on, but your photo quality has to be really … They’re really, really picky, so your photo quality has to be really up there to get selected.
Yuri: It’s funny because, for us, we found that Pinterest is the second biggest source of traffic to our blog. That won’t happen if you have crappy looking photos.
If you’re going to do the recipe thing, do it properly. If someone doesn’t know how to take good pictures, either hire a food photographer, or are there any resources that you’d recommend to help people learn how to do proper photos?
Kelly: Yeah. The book that I love was Plate to Pickle. It just really changed how looked at photography. I have before and afters, and I’m like, “Whoa.”
It’s pretty significant. Pinch of Yum has a course as well.
Yuri: Yeah. Actually that’s one of the ones I bought for my wife way back in the day.
Kelly: That one’s really good.
Yuri: It is good. We’ll be sure to link up to that in the show notes for you guys so you can check those out if you’re interested in the food blogging route. In your journey building out the blog, doing the cookbook, what’s been one of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced? How you have overcome it, and what’s a lesson you learned from it?
Getting through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship
Kelly: I think for me it’s, again, focus. That has been the thing for me. I get ideas all the time and learning to say, “No. That’s a great idea. Let’s write it down, and let’s not touch that for 10 years” is hard.
When I look at my journey, there’s been a ton of ups, there’s been a ton of downs. It’s so hard, especially when you’re in a down, to go, “What’s the long view? This is just this moment, but what is it going to be like in two years? It’s not going to be like this.”
Yuri: Let me jump in there for a second. I want to ask you about this, because this is interesting. During the down moments, did you ever find yourself making a decision that was a very quick fix, that may have been incongruent with the bigger vision or your core values?
Was there a bad move that you made where you were like, “Well, shit. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that?”
Kelly: I haven’t. Usually when I get to those moments, I just want to give up.
Yuri: How do you stop yourself from giving up?
Kelly: Well, I usually take a break. I take a moment.
Usually that means I’m working too much. I need to look at my work-life balance a little bit better, and I need to change my focus and just step away for a second. Just take a breath and realize that this is just one moment in time, and it’s not forever.
Then I come back. I do something fun. I do something to change my energy, and then I go, “Okay. I can fix anything. I’m not doing this by myself, so what’s the answer?”
I’m very much a woman who’s always talking to the universe.
Yuri: Love the universe. Such a good place.
Kelly: Very, very good information and help too.
Yuri: You’re looking for outside guidance, taking that time to change your state, get in a better mental place, and coming back and looking for guidance to help you tackle that problem and keep on going forward. Nice.
Kelly: Yeah. Interesting, it’s usually more not outside guidance from a person. Inner guidance.
Yuri: For sure. Do you believe that your intuition is your best compass?
Kelly: Yes. 100%. Even if I don’t like what it says, it’s best to just do it.
Yuri: Do you find that you feel it? You’re like, “Okay. This is the right answer,” but then you override with your brain thinking, “Well, maybe I’ll just kind of push that aside”?
You have that intuitive thought or that feeling, you’re like, “This is what I should do,” but then you do something opposite? Or are you pretty congruent with that feeling and being led by that?
Kelly: It’s so funny. That’s something that I’ve made a big change for. In the past, it was like, “Oh no. No, no, no. I’m not going to do that.”
I’ve realized that while there might be, I’ll say, contrast when you follow your intuition at first, in the long run it’s always for the best. It’s always what makes you happy.
Instead of just listening to my intuition, now I choose to follow my intuition and just say, “I might be afraid. I might not like this, but I know that in the long run it’s going to be amazing.”
Yuri: I couldn’t agree more. We all have that, and I think it’s the ability to just eventually get to the point where you just listen to it.
Kelly: Right. You have to fall on your face a lot to get there.
Yuri: What’s worked for you to help you do that?
Kelly: Honestly, I just look at the past decisions that I’ve made. And most people just don’t learn. At least not me. I’m one of those people that has to bang my head in the wall like 20 times before I figure it out.
Yuri: Me too. It’s frustrating.
Kelly: Right! So, I started working with an amazing healer who I do counseling with. You have to work on your mindset stuff.
There’s so much you learn when you’re a kid that just creates big walls that you think you can never jump over unless you work on it. And I realized, “Dude! My life could be so much easier if I just followed my intuition instead of thinking something bad was going to happen.”
That took me two years. It wasn’t overnight. It wasn’t a quick fix, a pill. It was constant, “I know that there’s so much more out there for me, and I’m not willing to settle for these limiting things that I learned when I was younger.”
Yuri: That’s awesome. What do you think is an important mindset for entrepreneurs to have for lasting success?
Loving what you do
Kelly: God, that’s a hard one because there’s so many different things.
So, I love what I do. It’s not always easy, but I love it. I think you have to love what you do, and realize that just because it’s something that you love, doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be easy. And I love easy stuff.
If you love it, if you feel it in your heart and it’s like, “God. I’m changing lives. I’m doing amazing things that I never thought I would do, but it’s really hard and a lot of times I’m banging my head against the wall,” you have to remember that you love it.
And you have to be willing to be told “no” a million times.
Yuri: That’s true.
Kelly: That’s just all part of it. You wouldn’t get the same “juice” out of something that’s boring, right? Sure, you could go get a job where you know you’re always going to get paid the same amount every month. It’s really safe.
But if you’ve ever built something and made something and gone through that, the feeling that you get when you achieve what you want is amazing.
Yuri: Couldn’t agree more. That’s why entrepreneurship is the best. I think it’s the ultimate spiritual journey because you learn so much about yourself. You have to grow in order to continue growing your business, because you have so many challenges and obstacles en route.
It’s not something I think a lot of nine-to-fivers deal with as much as we do, so we really are blessed for what we’re able to create out of thin air, for the most part.
Kelly: Exactly. I agree with you.
Yuri: Also, you talked about the journey—you have to love it because it’s not easy—and it’s very true.
I’ve got three kids. I love them, but they’re not easy. That doesn’t mean I’m going to throw them away. It’s the same thing with your business. You have to do something you love, otherwise it’s going to be a long road.
Nice. Well, Kelly, this has been a lot of fun. Are you ready for the rapid five?
Kelly: I am.
The Rapid-Five questions
Yuri: Alight, you’ve got no knowledge of these questions. I’m just going to fire them at you. Whatever comes to mind is basically the right answer. Number one, what is your biggest weakness?
Kelly: Distraction, for sure. I get so many ideas. I can be talking to my husband and be like, “I should do this, I should make this, and I should create this.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no, no.”
Yuri: Is your business partner more of an implementer? Or a visionary like you are?
Kelly: Oh. She’s definitely like me.
Yuri: That’s got to be interesting.
Kelly: We’ve gone down so many rabbit holes together.
Yuri: Second question, what is your biggest strength?
Kelly: I am really good at creating communities.
Yuri: I think that’s a female thing. I find that’s more female than a guy thing for sure. There’s a lot of amazing women that I know who do such a good job at that, and the guys are like, “Whatever. I never go on Facebook. I never communicate with my audience.”
That’s too bad, because it’s such a great asset. It really is all about community.
Kelly: Yeah. It is. It really is.
Yuri: Number three, what’s one skill you’ve become dangerously good at in order to grow your business?
Kelly: You know what? I’m going to have to say learning. I am always learning. Always learning code, learning how to share on social media … I am a total introvert, so how to network. Just my ability to be like, “Okay, I don’t know how to do this. I’m going to learn how to do it,” and I do.
Yuri: That’s awesome. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Kelly: I meditate.
Yuri: Do you do guided or your own?
Kelly: I do my own. I usually do self Reiki since I am a Reiki master, and I meditate for seriously two minutes because I have two kids, and I have to take my little one to school. It doesn’t have to be forever just as long as I get it in.
Yuri: Good for you. Finally, complete this sentence. I know I’m being successful when ____.
Kelly: When I am present
Yuri: That’s a good one.
Kelly: I am not thinking about all these other things. I am completely present with whatever is going on in my life.
Yuri: Kelly, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your journey, your wisdom, with us on the podcast. What is the best place for our listeners to check out what you’re up to online and follow your work?
Kelly: I’m going to say you can find me at 20Dishes.com, because there’s a lot of fun stuff we’re doing over there showing people to fish.
Yuri: Great. Kelly, once again thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to join us. It’s been a lot of fun. Hope you guys enjoyed this one.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our interview today. Kelly’s got some pretty cool stuff going on. Again, if you’re interested in checking out how she’s doing her whole meal planning thing in a really cool app type of way, check out 20Dishes.com. Looks like some pretty cool stuff.
Just a couple things that I want to remind you of. Next week, we’ve got a great solo round where I’m going to be talking to you about something. I’m not even sure what I’m going to be talking to you about, and I’m going to keep it as a surprise—mostly because I’m not quite sure what I’ll be speaking about until we get closer to that release date on Monday.
Normally, I’m pretty ahead of schedule. I’m really bang on with our calendar, and I’ve got a good idea what I want to talk about and the types of people we’re going to bring onto the show, but next week is a surprise. Tune in for the surprise. It’ll be worth it, as it always is.
I want to thank you, once again, for taking the time to join me, and again I’m going to continue to say this over and over and over. You’re going to get sick and tired of my saying this, but the reason this podcast exists, the reason you’re listening to this, is because you have, I believe, an amazing message or gift that people need to know about. My goal—my why, the reason for what I do—is really to empower people like yourself, empower entrepreneurs like you, to help you shine your light on more people.
That’s what this is all about. So go out there and continue shining your light. There’s a lot of darkness in the world, and by you shining your light brighter and brighter, we can illuminate what’s possible on this amazing planet.
I want to thank you once again for taking the time today to join me. Remember to subscribe to the podcast over on iTunes. If you haven’t yet done so, grab my book Health Profit Secrets. It’s not my book. It’s my thoughts that I put onto paper that are really going to serve you in your business.
Inside this book, you’re going to discover four fundamental secrets that all successful online health businesses have in common and how you can deploy them in your business for lasting success. Again, the book is free. Just cover a minimal cost of shipping, and it will be sent to your front door.
With that said, that is all for today. Again, thank you for joining me. I hope you have an amazing day.
Go out, be great, do great, and I’ll see you in our surprise solo round in the next episode.
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