As a bakery owner, it was rare to actually leave the store to have a proper meal. I often found myself eating muffins for lunch, or scrounging the last of the oatmeal for a somewhat healthier option. Vegetables and protein weren’t available much, but my body was used to a carb and sugar-heavy diet, so I didn’t mind – at least at first. It is easy to get sick of your own products, but when you want to make sure the quality is up to your standards, and you are trying to develop new recipes, you can’t help but eat more than you should.
The New York times recently reported on the difficulty of Staying Fit when Food is Your Job and talked about how “the image of the roly-poly chef is an enduring stereotype, and sometimes for good reason.” When your life is in a restaurant or cafe and you are constantly surrounded by food, you lose perspective.
Now that the bakery is closed, I have time to focus on my health again. This includes mentally relaxing and, just as important, spending time evaluating the nutritional balance of foods that go into my body. I finally had a “sugar overdose”, and felt that I needed to regain a balance. My friend and former owner of the Polka Dot Cake Studio had the same reaction after she closed her bakery, and enrolled in the Natural Gourmet Institute to focus on nutrition after spending years making cakes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that either of us have rejected sweets, we just decided that we needed to learn more about it.
I have always liked the idea of all natural products. I don’t eat artificial sweeteners and I avoid food-coloring whenever possible, but I haven’t fully explored the world natural sweeteners, whole grains, flour alternatives, etc. that are available. I recently picked up Heidi Swanson’s book, Super Natural Cooking, where she talks about how alternative sweeteners are just starting to become more widely available, and she compared it to the world of salt which has exploded in the past few years. I look forward to having things like unrefined sugar and agave available in more stores than just Whole Foods, for a less expensive price, but in order for that to happen I think that more recipes have to be developed for them and more education has to happen.
I’m taking my time on developing ideas for my cookbook, because I want to explore this world a little bit more so I can include options for people that are concerned with healthy alternatives or have allergy restrictions. I will always enjoy a sugary, chocolate-filled dessert, but sometimes you just want, or need, another option. I don’t want to eat a dessert just because it’s made with healthier ingredients. It has to taste great, or I don’t want it at all.
What are some of your favorite wholesome desserts?