Welcome! I’m Kari, and I’m Southern Bytes.

I love food. I love to cook, eat, experiment in the kitchen, and work in the garden to grow our own food. I live with my husband and our border collie mix, Melly, just north of Chattanooga, TN, and have been running Southern Bytes for four years – it has been a whirlwind. (But I’ve been cooking for nearly 20 years!) I’m a web developer for food bloggers as my day job, so the merging of careers has been exciting.

My husband and I love traveling to try new food and unique beers, and then I try to recreate the food at home. My husband is from Louisiana, and we love New Orleans – we got married there – so be prepared for Cajun cuisine overload!

Background & Education

I learned to love cooking from an early age, but I didn’t always cook well. I started making food from scratch right before college and eventually started learning to grow my own food. This sparked my desire to become a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2015.

At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned a lot about nutrition and balance. A lot of what I learned in school is incorporated into my approach to meals and planning. At home, I still cook a lot of Paleo food, but we also enjoy plenty of goodies and wholesome Southern food as well.

Before studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I studied Math and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Vermont. When I finished school, I felt a little lost because I didn’t really want to be an engineer.

I worked as a dog walker and pet sitter for a while, and then I became a vet tech. I worked as a vet tech and worked closely with a holistic vet focusing on animal nutrition for a long time until I got really burnt out from it. I was gaining weight, I was stressed out, and all I did was work. I eventually went back to just pet sitting and ended up falling into nutrition after losing a lot of weight with the Paleo diet. I enjoyed it, but it still didn’t feel like my place. I finally found my “thing” when I started building a website for my health coaching business. I loved it. I started diving deeper into web development and learned the basics – then I did a coding bootcamp. It felt like l had finally figured out how to use my engineering skills, challenge my brain, and enjoy my work.

Then, it got even better because I found a job where I could work as technical support for FOOD BLOGS. I am now the Updates & Maintenance Team Leader for NerdPress – we probably support a lot of blogs that you visit – and every day is a balance of working, gardening, cooking, and blogging.

A man and a woman in a car wearing flannel and sunglasses in black and white.
Michael and I love to take weekend trips to explore hole in the wall towns and try unique restaurants and breweries. (And we love to make goofy faces!)

Now that I’m crazy busy, I still cook a lot of food from scratch because I do have some strange food “intolerances.” I call them “intolerances” because they are not quite allergies, but they can be pretty horrible. If I eat whey, poblano peppers, and the occasional mystery ingredient at a restaurant – I can end up hunched over in excruciating pain with extreme nausea. It is pretty severe and is often totally random! I also found out on a business trip that I am also quite allergic to hibiscus, which is a very trendy secret addition to cocktails. (That was fun.)

My husband, on the other hand, well – I think he has a hollow leg. He is a great partner to have in life and in the kitchen because he will go along with any of my crazy schemes. He will try anything, but he is also honest and will also tell me if something doesn’t taste good. If you ask him about arrowroot powder, he will be happy to tell you his opinion about what happens if you don’t make a slurry first.

I’m excited for you to join us in our kitchen and on our adventures!

A newly married couple making stupid faces while cutting their wedding cake.

About the Southern Bytes Blog and Recipes

What You’ll Find Here

  • Recipes that are Easy to Make at Home using everyday ingredients. I like to embrace the philosophy of true Louisiana cooking – taking the simplest of ingredients and making something extraordinary.
  • Recipes that can be adapted for most dietary restrictions. (I try to include variations for Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Vegetarian diets in my recipes.)
  • Southern Classics that have been tested and tasted by the toughest critics (Michael and my mother-in-law 😉 ).
  • Italian Classics that I have learned from my mother (that had to be changed into recipes as they were originally written as “a handful of this, a splash of that!”)
  • Spanish Recipes from my best friend and Spanish “sister” from Leon, Spain.
  • Cajun and Creole Classics that have been passed down through several generations.
  • Quick Meals and Instant Pot Favorites to help you make the most of your time.
  • Takeout Copycat Recipes because cooking with your family and knowing what is in your food is so much more enjoyable.
  • Tips for how to make basic dishes perfectly every single time – Instant Pot Chicken Breast, Drop Biscuits, and Instant Pot Yogurt.

What You Won’t Find Here

  • I don’t believe in counting calories, low-calorie, counting macros, Weight Watchers, etc. That kind of dieting works for some people, but for me, it caused a lot of anxiety, extreme thinking, restriction, and negative thoughts.
  • I try my hardest to not use things like $25 Vanilla Beans (except for making vanilla extract) or $30 cuts of steak. I can’t afford that, and I don’t expect you to, either. My recipes are here to show you how to make a $5 piece of meat taste like a million bucks.
  • I don’t have a professional photographer. I’m sorry. My pictures are real. They are taken in my kitchen, and most are taken on the floor – sometimes, I carry food out onto my porch for better lighting.
  • You won’t find tofu. I will make suggestions for substituting tofu for meat in recipes, but processed meat substitutes, tofu, tempeh, etc., make me feel VERY SICK. I will assume that if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you have experience properly cooking these foods, and if you don’t, Iosune at the Simple Vegan Blog, Julie over at the Simple Veganista, and Katie at Hey Nutrition Lady can help you with some good vegan recipes!

Most Popular Southern Bytes Recipes

Online Publications I’ve Been Featured In

Some of my recipes have been featured in some pretty cool places:

Recent Recipes

More Southern Bytes Recipes →