Steinhardt sophomore Anneka Miller made the Instagram account @atastyteaspoon for her business in Jan. 2019 as an outlet for her mental health. She used the account to help express her own daily thoughts, but wanted to reach out to others who might share her struggle.
“I was hoping to help other people,” she said. “I struggled with a really bad eating disorder for about two to three years, and I started getting over it when I was starting college.”
Her content mainly consists of recipes, lifestyle and wellness tips, musings on physical and mental health and plenty of aesthetically pleasing pictures. Initially attracted to the pictures Miller posted, her followers soon grew to appreciate her authenticity and transparency.
“The main way I gain followers is by taking good pictures — I feel like that’s so hard for me,” she said. “But also, being super authentic and vulnerable in my responses, ‘cause like people aren’t looking for bullsh-t that’s like ‘I wanted to be skinny,’ which I feel like happens a lot.”
She doesn’t try to market to a specific group and, consequently, her audience spans from people ages 18 to 64.
“I get a lot of moms reaching out to me if they wanna get healthier, or feed their family something healthy but yummy,” Miller said.
Steinhardt sophomore Marilyn Ronnel and Steinhardt junior Natalie Vallone are both nutrition students who follow Tasty Teaspoon. They shared why they love Miller’s account.
“I really like her positive outtake on nutrition,” Ronnel said. “She’s all about real eating, and it’s a nice reminder to see her stories pop up saying like ‘drink lots of water’ or like ‘it’s okay to go get some ice cream.’”
Vallone commended Miller on her content-sharing methods.
“I love to see what’s going on in the nutrition social media world,” Vallone said. “I think Anneka does a really good job of sharing current recipes and nutrition news without forcing her opinion on anyone. I also appreciate that she is studying nutrition so she’s giving fact-based information.”
While she curates all her own recipes now, when first starting Tasty Teaspoon, Miller would find recipes in magazines or take her mom’s recipes and try to “vegan-ify” or “health-ify” them.
Miller follows a vegan diet, but not all of her recipes are vegan, appealing to a wide audience. But after taking classes in nutrition and science, she understands which foods work best together for the perfect conglomeration of taste, texture and nutrients.
Although her account appears to be aesthetic and innovative, she revealed that she personally struggles with finding a balance of what to post, between her original recipes, “Deep Talks with Anneka” and daily reminders to drink water.
“What to post?” she asked. “It’s kind of hard — I get in ruts of what to post food-wise and I’m always like ‘it has to look beautiful, it has to look perfect.’”
Miller’s personal favorite Tasty Teaspoon recipe is her mom’s butternut squash soup, but her most popular recipes are cookies and fudges.
“I try to avoid making them because I have zero self-control,” she joked. “My sweets recipes do the best, but I like savory better.”
Ronnel is one follower who tried her almond butter fudge.
“It’s kind of along with her brand about guilt-free eating and desserts, and you can have sweets but still with good-for-you ingredients,” she said.
With Tasty Teaspoon constantly growing, Miller eagerly pursues outside partnerships with companies. Her growing count of 5,600 Instagram followers help her gain sponsorship opportunities — most commonly, she is sent free food and gets paid by the company to post a picture of it. She gets close to 40 partnership offers in a week sometimes, so she is picky about which ones she chooses, and prefers to work with brands she uses herself and whose values align with hers.
“A skinny tea company offered to pay me $500 for a single post, but it’s just something I’m super against,” she said.
“Best bread I’ve ever had, and I don’t even like bread,” she said, referring to Zukkee Kitchen.
Additionally, she has been invited to events through Tasty Teaspoon, where she has been able to network and even meet some of her followers.
“I met a girl who was like ‘Are you the Tasty Teaspoon?’” Miller said. “I called my mom, and I cried in my Uber.”
Although her work is rewarding, Miller admitted it is stressful juggling the demands of managing a company and being a full-time NYU student, though she acknowledges how her stress might be self-inflicted. She also admitted that her major adds a lot of pressure, but it is also helpful that it goes hand in hand with the business.
“I like to regurgitate whatever I learned in class onto Tasty Teaspoon,” she said.
Miller plans to use what she’s learned from class and her work with Tasty Teaspoon to help her pursue her future career goals.
“I’m trying to establish a presence so that if I ever apply to be a host on the Food Network, that would be such a dream, it’s like acting and cooking combined,” she said. “Watch out Rachael Ray!”
Above all, Miller hopes to do what she originally set out to accomplish when she started the account — to help people.“My goal is just to help people who have gone through what I’ve gone through and helping America’s health epidemic,” she said. “If I can help make something that tastes good and is healthy at the same time, then that’s what I’ll do.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, February 24, 2020 print edition. Email Addison Aloian at [email protected]