Hi, y’all! My name was Briana Thomas but is now Briana (Thomas) Burkholder, thanks to the handsome man in the picture below. I started blogging – and the Trim Healthy Mama healthy eating lifestyle – in 2013 at the age of 17. I’ll let you do the math to figure out how old I am now. 😉 I’m passionate about making healthy eating easy, budget friendly, and fun. You can find tons of recipes in the RECIPE INDEX here on my website as well as in my two cookbooks, Necessary Food (2016) and Convenient Food (2018)! I love to make healthier versions of the yummy Mennonite church cookbook recipes I grew up on, but I also venture out into (my version of) ethnic cuisines and some zany Briana creations as well. Gotta keep life interesting. Especially for those poor clerks at the grocery store when I show up with a cart load of fresh produce that they’ve never seen before. (“What’s this?” Rutabaga.)
Growing Up & Hobbies
I grew up as the oldest child in a wonderful family in Upstate South Carolina. (AKA the most beautiful, friendliest, best-of-both-worlds spot in, well, the whole world!) I always enjoyed school, especially algebra, and I’m pretty nitpicky about grammar. If you find mistakes anywhere on my blog (that were not used for stylistic purposes), please let me know. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and O. Henry and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are some of my favorite authors! PS – I love getting book recommendations from my blog readers!
Music has always been a big part of my life. One of my earliest memories is my grandma singing “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” while rocking me to sleep, and I’ve always loved the 4-part harmony a cappella singing at church. When I attended a youth Bible school and participated in a choir for several weeks at age 18, I became hooked on sacred choral music. Since then I’ve attended Shenandoah Christian Music Camp a few times and toured with their Chamber Choir, taken some voice lessons, sang with Laudate Mennonite Ensemble in 2016 and 2018, went to South Africa for a 3-week tour with Aspire Ensemble in 2017, and participated in a community choir in Louisiana. These experiences have been some of the best of my life and have led me to so many of my good friends! I love choral music because it is a) worship and b) communal. Choral music, just like church and family and all the most beautiful and essential things in this world, needs community to thrive. You can see some of my music posts HERE.
Horses have been my other main hobby in life, but unfortunately I have not had horses around since getting married. Traveler, the cantankerous but lovable flea speckled grey Arab cross you see posing on my first cookbook cover, passed away in December of 2020 back home with my family in South Carolina after living a good long life. Once my husband Ryan is finished with his medical training, hopefully we can settle down in a place with some land and a pasture and I can once again have a few horses to take care of. Not only are horses great companions, but they can teach you a lot about life – and body language, and self control, and responsibility, and hard work, and even child training! You can see some of my horse posts HERE.
Circa 2010 – age 14
God is absolutely first and foremost in my life – above “hobby” status, I trust! My goal in life is to bring glory to my Father in Heaven and share the redemptive work of Jesus Christ with those around me so they can find a home in God’s family just as I have. Occasionally I write devotional-type posts, which you can find HERE.
How the Blog Came to Be
I really struggled with OCPD tendencies during high school, although I was never formally diagnosed. My original plan was to go to college to get a degree in counseling and then open a therapeutic riding program/horse farm as a ministry, but because school seemed to trigger the OCPD, I took a gap year before jumping into college.
In that year (living at home with my family) I started the blog as a creative outlet – something I’d been thinking about for awhile but didn’t have time to do while still in school. I waitressed for a few months before realizing that I could monetize this blogging hobby of mine! I started blogging full time, learning the ropes through lots of experimentation, research, and online tutorials. I abandoned the college idea when I realized that God had other plans in store for me for which I did not need a degree.
I took some part time jobs on the side – mostly having to do with horses and selling peaches for my grandparents in Holmes County, Ohio. People were soon requesting a cookbook of my recipes so I (self)published Necessary Food in 2016.
I met my future husband in the spring of 2017 and we were married in February of 2018, after which I moved to Louisiana to join him where he was doing his intern year of Internal Medicine residency. I immediately jumped into working on Convenient Food, my second cookbook, which was published in the fall of 2018. Since then I’ve decided to take a break on big projects for awhile. 😛 The blog has been relegated to hobby status so I can focus on my calling as a wife and mother.
You can CLICK HERE to read some of my blogging tips posts!
Note: I previously wrote that I struggled with OCD tendencies, but after doing more research and getting my doctor husband’s opinion, I’m pretty sure it’s actually OCPD. I do still deal with it, although it’s under control much better than it used to be, thanks in part to maturity and also a low dose medication – and 100% thanks to God, the ultimate Healer.
How I Met My Husband
As of February 17th, 2018, I am now Briana Thomas Burkholder! A very interesting young man waltzed into my life unexpectedly in the spring of 2017…you can read PART 1 and PART 2 of our love story here on the blog (and CLICK HERE to see some wedding pictures). My husband Ryan is now a board certified Internal Medicine doctor finishing his gastroenterology fellowship, and we make our home in Ohio at present. Ryan adds so much color, stability, and leadership to my life; I learn SO much from him!
Transitioning from “single entrepreneur” to “wife” (and now “mother!”) has had its challenges and I’m still trying to find the balance between work and home life and teaching myself to slow down a little, but God is faithfully showing me where He wants me. Marriage has been the most refining but rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced, and Ryan and I balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses quite well – with a little friction at times. We’re both independent and driven firstborns, after all! (For all you MBTI nerds out there, I’m an INTJ and Ryan is an ENTJ. It’s an interesting combination for sure.)
If I wouldn’t have struggled with OCPD in high school and taken a gap year before jumping into college, I probably wouldn’t have started the blog when I did. It probably wouldn’t have existed, or at least not become as well read as it is, and I may never have met Ryan! (Read our love story to find out how we met.) Talk about a God thing!
Finally a Trim Healthy Mama
2020 brought a lot of changes – to the world, and to us! We welcomed sweet Hadassah in August, and a whole new phase of identity change and work/life balance began. I’m still learning and growing, but boy, is it ever fun. You can see ALL THE MOTHERHOOD POSTS HERE.
The Blog Name
When I was a youthful 17 year old still living at home, I started my first blog on Google Blogspot under the unwieldy moniker “Capall Equine Photography and Training” because horse training and photography were my original passions – not recipe creation. (Capall is the Gaelic word for horse.) My mom had started Trim Healthy Mama a few months before, and after I graduated I realized that I enjoyed creating recipes that fit this new healthy lifestyle, so I published some on my blog as a means of getting traffic to it – which I would eventually mine for my horse photography and training business…haha. The blog quickly took off (this was right on the upswing of Trim Healthy Mama when there weren’t that many bloggers in the pool!) to my great surprise, and before a year had passed I realized that I should switch to WordPress like most successful bloggers and switch gears. I rebranded under my name – Briana Thomas – because I wanted this blog to be unmistakably me and I figured it would be a short, simple name to remember.
Fast forward to that time my name changed – when I got married! I wanted to take my husband’s name “in real life,” but I knew I would lose a lot of brand recognition and blog traffic if I changed my web address, site name, logo, and everything I had worked so hard to build. My husband understood and was fine with my leaving my business name as-is, so I’m Briana Burkholder in day to day life and Briana Thomas or Briana Thomas Burkholder on the blog.
Trim Healthy Mama
I follow a healthy eating lifestyle called Trim Healthy Mama and have done so since 2013. This is a way of life for me, and when I’m at home I stick to the plan most of the time. When traveling I do the best I can, but I eat what I’m served and I’m definitely not above a splurge now and then. When you’ve been doing this for 8+ years, you realize that it’s not so much about the occasional ice cream cone as it is the majority of the choices you make in a week’s time. Trim Healthy Mama is a low glycemic eating plan that focuses on healthy fats and healthy carbs – but not in the same meal! All the recipes on my site are THM friendly to the best of my knowledge, and a lot of them are acceptable to other eating plans as well! The S recipes focus on healthy fats and are low in carbs, and the E recipes focus on healthy carbs and are low in fats. You can CLICK HERE to check out my tips for Starting THM and find out more about the plan. CLICK HERE to read my most recent update post!
Random Fun Fact
My name gets misspelled and mispronounced more than 50% of the time on the first try, and about 25% of the time on subsequent encounters. For the record, my name is pronounced “Bree-AH-nah.” Not “Bree-ANN-nah.” Because it has one n, not two. If you get it wrong, I answer to both by necessity. 😛
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