Meet Dallas native Jordan Urtso, the chef behind Skinny Girl Standard! She’s a food connoisseur with the biggest heart, who believes food really does bring people together. She started her blog last year to keep her recipes organized, and now she is sharing those oh-so-delicious (an seemingly, impossibly healthy) recipes with the world–all the while keeping her shapely physique, well, shapely!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up with three sisters – we stole each other’s clothes often and well. Um, my parents are the most supportive and loving people you’ll ever meet. I’m engaged to my college “sweetheart” – we’re getting married on April 18th at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida and I am freaking out in a really fantastic sort of way. And most importantly, and above all else, I am a Christian. That is easily the biggest and most important part of me.
I love to bake. I love how food brings people together. It’s not the Super Bowl without chips and beer and it’s not a wedding without a wedding cake, right? That’s how we are – how the world goes. We gather around food and celebrate with food.
Our problem as a society is knowing what’s in our food. Understanding what calories mean, what over-eating does to the body. I’m passionate about this subject because I never paid attention to that stuff before – I was low on energy, I was moody, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand that what you put into your body is what you get out of life, and therefore, I was a little sad, a little “emo” when I shouldn’t have been. But discovering the truth about food is why I am where I am today. I was clueless, I realize, for a reason.
How did you come up with the idea of Skinny Girl Standard? I come from an Italian family. We eat pizza and pasta and breadsticks, we drink wine, like it’s done in Sicily. I’m not sure if we’re trying to channel our ancestral line, or if we like pizza and pasta because pizza and pasta are delicious, but for whatever reason, I grew up swimming in the stuff.
Anyway, I was a freshman in college, not eating awesome Italian food, eating lots and lots of Saltine crackers because they were convenient and cheap, and my weight started to fall off. That wasn’t normal. That was abnormal. I remember coming home for winter break and my mom being a bit freaked out. What are you doing? Are you dieting? Are you remembering to eat? I think she had heard a couple of chilling stories on the news – girls resorting to weird practices, diet pills even, to lose weight – and it scared her. I told her that it just happened, that I didn’t know my body well enough to understand why it decided to thin out, and over break, I ended up gaining quite a few pounds back to make a point. Back at school a little run down, wheels turned, things fell into place and everything started to make sense. That’s when I decided to get educated.
It took me a year to wean off of anything artificial…. I also developed an insane sweet tooth and that’s when I thought, “What if I could make really unhealthy desserts… like carrot cake, which is my favorite – healthy for people who want to keep it off?” And an idea, or a website, was born.
What was the hardest part of getting started? Believing that I could do something really great, something that could help others. That, coming from my hands, was hilarious to me. I don’t know why. I figured I’d build a website, I’d keep my recipes there if I forgot how many eggs go in a certain dish, stuff like that, but when it came time to send my recipes out into the world, I was panicked. What if someone had a bad experience with one of my desserts? What if someone was offended by my intentions?
And then I had this moment – I was sitting in my kitchen – when I just laughed out loud for minutes. “Jordan, you know yourself. You know you want to help people. You know your gifts and blessings. God wants you to do this. What more do you need?”
How do you maintain a balance between other aspects of your life and blogging? God is first above everything, since He gave me everything and is everything. So I put God first. And after God, my family, Ryan and his family, then my friends immediately after – that’s how things fall.
My blog is so important to me. I love that it has assisted others in losing weight and overcoming their eating disorders, but the people in my life surpass that. It’s all about priorities.
My blog won’t hug me at night, it won’t comfort me, it won’t laugh with me. It is one of my passions, I will never give it up, but it is also my job. I treat it like a job. I go to work, I work hard, and then I leave it alone when I need to spend time with my loved ones. Loving people madly makes this part very easy for me.
How do you stay connected with bloggers and creatives like yourself? I am all about collaborating and supporting anyone in the blogging community… big or small. One of my best friends is a blogger, Jordan Bosstick. She’s probably my favorite person in the world, and while her blog revolves around all things made in America, we share a vision.
We are educators, in a way. We just want people to want to be educated. We are not claiming to be the brightest minds out there, we aren’t in MENSA, but we support each other. We have always been about supporting each other. That’s the American way, to us. So whenever I come in contact with a blogger, or someone else in the field, I am determined to make that connection… give them a shout on Instagram, Twitter, Skinny Girl Standard.
There are enough people out there to support every blog on the planet, and when we get greedy and when we refuse to help others, we shoot ourselves in the foot. We limit ourselves. Bloggers don’t want to work with greedy bloggers, that’s what I’ve noticed.
The blogging world is about people, period. And when we make it about money or fame or ourselves, we’re playing a very dangerous game. So yeah . . . I believe in supporting others, 100%, however you can.
What’s your favorite social media channel for personal use? Oh, Instagram… Instagram all day and all night. I’m a visual person…show me something delicious and I’ll show you how fast this girl can bake.
Who do you look up to? I should say Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, both of which are true, by the way… Or Steve Carell. because I wish I was funny… but I’ll be really honest here.
On a daily basis, I look up to my fiancé Ryan for his good-naturedness and steadfast loyalty. Jesus, who wasn’t soft spoken but was strong in his convictions, passionate, graceful and lastly, in love with mankind. My mom, for her ability to put others before herself even in difficult and challenging situations. My dad, for protecting the ones he loves at any cost. My older sister, for always standing firm in her beliefs. My younger sister, for never being crippled by excuses. My youngest sister, for seeking out the Lord in all situations. And lastly, my puppy, Mercedes, who loves and forgives me even after I leave her at home during a thunderstorm.
What advice do you have for other bloggers? Be yourself… Never try to copy a successful blogger. Seek out inspiration, but allow that inspiration to inspire you, not change you. Grow every day. Do good with your blog, and good will be given back to you. Ignore all negativity. You don’t need it, and harping on it will only hurt you. But be strong. Be strong enough to know your own intentions and understand that they will always be enough.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? It was in a movie. It wasn’t given to me specifically, but when I heard it, I just thought, “Wow. I’ll tell that to my kids one day.” It was from Blow. George’s dad says, “Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again, but life goes on.”
It seems like depressing advice at first, but when you really look at it, all it’s saying is that you’ll always want more out of life. You will never be perfectly content… And if you’re greedy, that just may be the end of you. On the other hand, the world will sometimes be too much. But in any case, pick yourself up and remain faithful.
What do you love about blogging? What do I love? Gosh, so many things. Okay, I love how a teenage girl on Instagram told me yesterday that I helped her overcome her eating disorder. And that one time last month when a 67-year-old woman new to the Internet told me that she lost 30 plus pounds making my recipes.
I love the moments when I’m reminded that my blog isn’t about me… it isn’t even about food, it’s about helping someone, somewhere with something he or she is struggling with. It’s why God got me into this gig…and I’ll do it until He pulls me out of it.