Today we’d like to introduce you to Sana Siddiqui.
Sana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Absolutely! So, I have been developing food recipes for a while now. After I got married and moved to a different state, we used to entertain a lot of friends. And, one way to stay connected to my family was through sharing pictures online of the food I used to make. This was the same time when friends started asking me to create a blog and share recipes. I was humbled and thankful to them, but apart from posting a couple of recipes on different online portals, I never thought of creating my own blog.
It wasn’t till 2015 when I went through severe Postpartum Depression that turned into Postpartum Psychosis for two weeks, and I was unable to initially find the right resources that could help me heal, the realization came that while we had many bloggers discussing numerous subjects ranging from fashion to DIYs and everything in between. No one was talking about one of the most important subject that affects our daily lives, and that is mental wellness.
After talking to fellow moms and even random strangers, I discovered that Mental illnesses are more common than we think, yet they still seem to be a controversial topic of discussion which makes people too embarrassed and hesitant to talk about, resulting in them suffering silently. And, while we have a plethora of recipe websites online, we rarely see a platform that encourages healthy eating, indulging occasionally and self-care all at the same time.
Because, balancing is the key to a healthy life, and the food we eat directly affects our physical health which is also closely tied to our mental health. The UnModern Woman came into being to cover all these topics under one umbrella.
This is the place where we eat healthy yet tasty, struggle and succeed, share sad and joyful moments. Talk about confidence yet guilt at the same time. Here we are “Defying Cultural Norms, One Thought at a Time.”
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Yes and no. I love experimenting to create new recipes, and writing has been a part of me since I was a child. To me, cooking and writing are both therapeutic ways of expression that give us more freedom than any other form of creativity. So, the process of creating content happens naturally. That is the fun and easy part.
Having said that, being a mom of three young kids comes with its own trials. No matter how many times you have done it. Every child brings something new to the table, and every day is a new experience. As humans, our needs are always evolving, and there are times when finding the right work-life balance can be challenging, especially if you are working from home.
Since most of my writing is emotions coming out as words. It can be challenging when I am in the middle of typing something, and my toddler needs to be tended. Your rhythm goes thrown off within seconds, and then getting back in that emotive state can be a bit of a struggle.
When things like that happen, and they happen quite often in a 24-hour period. It reminds me that this is exactly the reason why I share what I share. From the recipes to the tips to those motivating Instagram captions. I aim to tell others that there will always be challenges coming our way. While some might seem minute, others can be major, and it’s up to us, to keep on going, and remind ourselves about the bigger picture that lays ahead of us.
Another exciting challenge and I call it exciting because it gives me an opportunity to change viewpoints with dialogue, is talking about a subject that often makes people a little uncomfortable. That is Mental Health. We are very lucky that our country has great medical resources pertaining to physical health, but we still lack awareness when it comes to preserving mental health. There is a lot of focus on medical issues related to our body but not to our mind. And, making people understand that, through writing alone can be a bit of a challenge too.
That is why through writing I aim to inspire my readers to embrace their choices, validate what they are feeling, and at the same time encourage them to support each other no matter what their individual differences might be.
Please tell us about The UnModern Woman. What do you do?
I am a lifestyle blogger who shares healthy and indulgent recipes of various cuisines, tips on how to manage daily life as a mom, along with a strong dose of self-appreciation, mind positivity, and the importance of expressing our emotions in a healthy way.
What do you specialize in or are known for?
I specialize in healthy Pakistani recipes. And, because growing up, I experienced multicultural food from different states and countries. Given the right ingredients and cooking tools, I can pretty much whip up anything from a complex “Biryani” to your classic “Egg Salad.” Contrary to the popular believe delicious food doesn’t always have to be unhealthy, so that is one thing I share through my recipes. Food that inspires us to enjoy a variety of flavors while nourishing our body at the same time.
Also, just like food brings people together, so does sharing thoughts and emotions. Be it words, life tips or our personal experiences. The UnModern Woman is also known as someone who thinks quite often about how and why and doesn’t hesitate to put those thoughts into words. My readers love that uncensored and unfiltered authenticity and connect with me on a whole new level because of that.
What are you most proud of as a company?
Something, that makes me very proud is that we have built a small community of women, especially mothers who share their everyday struggles of thinking about what to feed their kids to just processing their basic emotions. I love getting messages from women telling me how my words positively impacted them or made them feel normal in a world where being “abnormal” is considered the new fashionable thing, yet we still have a long way to go in embracing those abnormalities.
It’s also a very humbling experience when people send me pictures of food recipes they tried and how their family and friends loved it. It gives me the drive to keep on working to produce more.
What sets you apart from others?
What sets The UnModern Woman apart from others is that this is truly a place where you can find everything that nurtures us as human beings. We eat every day, and we think every day. Yet, these are the two most important things we pay little attention to. The UnModern Woman is not just one person, but every woman who believes in embracing differences and that self-care is an important part of being human. You can be a stay at home mom and be struggling with an aspect of your life or be a working mom and be struggling with another aspect of your life. I keep it honest with words that truly resonate with others and that’s something people love and keep coming back for. We also discuss the single most important issue people still hesitate to talk about. That is Mental Health. It’s something majority of us have trouble with at least once in our lifetime, yet it’s still considered a taboo subject to talk about. Unlike giving you a typical picture of what a Woman or Mom should look like, I take my readers on a ride of happiness, sadness and all the other emotions in between.
Then there is the food aspect. Contrary to popular belief, tasty doesn’t always have to be unhealthy. On the blog, you can expect to find recipes for Broiled Moroccan Salmon to a Pakistani Kulfi (pronounced Kul-fee), to your Classic American Style Tuna Salad. Due to their carefully chosen and often unique ingredients, these recipes nourish the body all while making our taste buds travel different continents at the same time. Under each recipe, you will also find nutritional count. Something that can be hard to find online in ethnic recipes.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
There are many, but here are two that really stand out. When I was ten years old, my Baba (father) had stopped traffic in the middle of a roundabout to rescue a dying sparrow. He had brought it home, and all we had done was give the bird water and bread for a couple of days till it healed, and eventually flew away. That incident was a very precious learning moment for me, that given the right intention and attention anything can heal. It is a life lesson that stuck on and even now helps me show empathy and compassion for anything living around us. It’s a memory that always brings a smile to my face.
Then there is this another fond memory. It’s of me cooking for the first time at the age of twelve. I had made Chinese Chicken Chow Mein, and I remember being so fascinated by the process of mixing so many elements that resulted in something bursting with flavors. All thanks to my mother for that memory. She is the one who to this day, inspires me to not just cook delicious, but also healthy food.
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The UnModern Woman