I don't want to spend too much time explaining my absence from this blog. Suffice to say I have moved house. Well, we are physically living in a different home but we are nowhere near finished with the unpacking and proper sorting of rooms. Our enthusiasm completely died after the mammoth task of packing up our old place. We will get there eventually.
Lots of great and interesting things have happened between my last blog post and this one but the one big event that got my arse on this seat, however, was that I met Sandra Ramacher. Who is she I hear you say? It is difficult to put into words what this woman has meant to me. In fact, without her self published cookbook 'Healing Foods', I wouldn't be where I am today and glutenfreek would not exist. You see, her book was my introduction to eating for gut health, specifically through the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). It was the first time I realised that there is another way, other than drugs, to treat Crohn's Disease (and all other autoimmune conditions).
All those years ago, the Internet was not what it is today. It existed but there was not yet the connectivity and mass sharing of information on it that there is now. So this book was like a shining beacon in the darkness of lack of information. I didn't follow the diet to the letter but it did get me to sway from wheat-based foods to almonds, from sugar to honey, and from milk and soft cheeses to non-dairy milks and hard cheeses. The biggest and easiest change that this book led me to was to switch traditional cakes and desserts filled with refined sugars, gluten, and milk to delicious, moist, grain-free, lactose-free and sugar-free versions.
What a revelation it was to discover that these healthy cakes tasted even better than 'normal' ones.
I was sold. With such a sweet tooth I finally realised that having Crohn's Disease did not mean I had to miss out on my favourite foods anymore. Woohoo!
I started making lots of cakes from Sandra's cookbook and then started tweaking my favourites to make them more "cake-like". I'd happily make my way through a whole Pear Hazelnut loaf each week, for example, with copious cups of tea. Soon my friends starting asking me to make cakes for their kids' birthdays and it felt great to know I was playing a small part in helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle. Whenever I went to a cafe, however, the only gf option at that time was the Orange and Almond cake. It was always super sweet, had a terrible, pasty mouthfeel, and was very expensive. I'd always leave the cafe thinking, "My cakes are so much better than this", so when the opportunity arose to bake cakes for a new local cafe, I jumped at it without really knowing what the hell I was doing.
It didn't matter as long as I was one step closer to my dream of having delicious and healthy cakes available in the cafes I frequented. This was the birth of glutenfreek.
To say it has been difficult would be an understatement, but I have also learnt so much along the way too. One of the most satisfying things has been the support I've been able to give others who were going through health problems; either through just baking healthy cakes or by recommending Sandra's cookbook (SCD)…..which leads me to our recent meeting.
Through Sandra's blog I discovered that she is looking to move back to this part of the world and contacted her immediately saying I'd love to meet her one day to tell her what she has meant to me. To my surprise she responded quickly and mentioned she had some free time within the next couple of days. Naturally I suggested we meet at the local cafe, Little Cove Coffee, which not only serves the best house roasted coffee in Noosa, but also supports glutenfreek, stocking both the sweet and savoury options.
Sandra arrived before I did as I was madly gathering the few treats I had at home for her to try. In my rush I realised I was super nervous; it felt like I was meeting a rockstar, and, in my world, I guess she is!
There was so much to talk about, from the two of us, and I'm not quite sure I was able to express her significance in my life as effectively as I'd hoped. What struck me the most about her, though, was how real she is; not a health fanatic at all, which was so refreshing. Sandra understands how hard it can be to maintain great eating/lifestyle habits when we get busy or when "life" gets in the way. The other thing that struck me was that Sandra wrote the book out of a need to help herself. Out of frustration really, because there wasn't really anything else like this out there. She was due to have her whole colon removed because of Ulcerative Colitis. A week out from surgery she had a moment of panic, and googled natural ways to heal herself. The first page that came up was SCD and Elaine Gottschall's groundbreaking book "Breaking the Vicious Cycle". She began following the gut-healing diet and her bleeding stopped within three days. She cancelled her surgery, kept going with the diet, and continued to improve. Eventually her dissatisfaction with the limited variety in that book led Sandra to experiment with some of her favourite family foods, changing them into SCD approved recipes, and "Healing Foods" was born.
We spoke for nearly three hours and I felt we both got something out of meeting the other. My favourite part was when she mentioned how great it was to be able to find good food, that she can safely eat, in a cafe environment.
That comment felt like the realisation of a dream for me; that perhaps all the hard work of the past 3.5 years was for that moment alone.
Her words finally made me realise I'd achieved what I'd originally set out to do, and who better to say it than the very person who inspired the dream in the first place. Thank you Sandra xo