If you enjoy a special diet, welcome home. You've found that gluten, sweets, dairy, or nightshades are not what you need. You miss your favorite sweets and other foods, but know they will not make you healthy and happy.
For me - and perhaps for you - this has been an interesting journey of finding health by giving up the foods that don't serve my body, one at a time. Paleo Desserts was motivated by my enormous passion for sweets - a passion so strong I had to find a way to create sweets that are also good for me and every body. Visit me at janeshealthykitchen.com and paleodesserts.com.
I'm a natural foods chef and health practitioner. At one time, I could eat everything, and then I began to have allergic reactions. This motivated me to invent new ways to prepare food. All of my recipes are deliciously gluten-free, celiac-friendly, Paleo, diabetic friendly, hypo-allergenic, free of dairy, soy, peanuts, and nightshades. Many are vegan, raw and tree-nut free. Now I can enjoy food again. Hooray!
My book, grew out of a personal journey as a pastry chef, head chef, and food lover. I wrote Paleo Desserts - 125 Delicious Everyday Favorites Gluten and Grain-free, because I wanted to re-create all the classic American desserts that I love, in a Paleolithic, or hunt-and-gather version. Any caveperson could make them, that is, if he or she had a food processor! The sweetener is natural chicory root, and the "flour" is pure coconut meat (not processed coconut flour). Yet these desserts are low-carb, truly delicious and healthy for almost everyone. In fact, people can't tell the difference.
I come from a long line of foodies, nature enthusiasts, and artists. I've done many creative things in my life - this may be my 9th serious career - I've lost count: Pastry chef, head chef, costume designer, author, accountant, restaurant manager, business owner, Venetian glass importer, MBA, opera diva, yogi, healer, jewelry designer, broker, property manager, world traveler, teacher.
As a child I was very robust and healthy. However at the age of 30 I began to feel seriously challenged with adrenal exhaustion, allergies, digestive problems, and the deep emotions that are involved.
The first thing I had to give up was gluten, about 30 years ago. That was hard. No bread, cakes, cookies, sandwiches. But I felt so much better! My sinuses cleared, my energy was balanced through the day. I slept better and lost weight. I assumed gluten would be all that I'd have to eliminate, so I created a recipe file of quick and delicious gluten-free meals. Soon after that I had to give up coffee. The withdrawal period was pretty tough, as coffee is highly addictive. My body WANTED its caffeine every morning. I moved over to green tea, and later I had to completely give up caffeine for pure water and herbal teas. My stress level went down, my jangled nerves relaxed, and my health improved.
I lived in Venice, Italy and sang opera. I learned to shop "Venetian style", which means every day of the year is a farmer's market. What fun! I just scanned the array of fresh fruits and vegetables picked that very morning using my subtle eyes, to find the perfect elixir for my body that day. Whatever was shining with the most delicious light and life, I bought that. And my health improved! This taught me the importance of freshness and life force in the food we eat. It showed me that listening to my body's desires each day, as opposed to my unhealthy cravings, would lead me toward optimum health.
I traveled the world singing opera, and ate mostly in restaurants. I noticed my food reactions were much less in other countries. Yet every time I returned to the USA, my digestive problems flared up again. Why was that? So I began to search out the myriad other factors contributing to intolerances, such as pesticides, farming methods, preservatives, molds, and hidden ingredients in packaged food. Soon after, I eliminated GMO corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and all genetically modified foods from my diet. I felt a huge improvement in my equilibrium on a cellular level, and my endurance came back.
Each change was a radical re-adjustment in my diet and daily life. I began to see a pattern of refinement in my body, so I was more willing to accept and embrace it.
Soon after I had to eliminate dairy and cheese, except for fermented goat products. Without dairy, my colds stopped altogether and my edema, or water retention, disappeared completely.
With each dietary change, my recipe file had to be re-written. I'm an experienced chef, and this was no small task. Slowly over a period of 3 decades the pile of original recipes grew to fill several notebooks of delightful treats, like Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling, Blueberry Pancakes with Berrylicious Sauce, and Instant Chocolate Mousse. These recipes taste just as satisfying as the standard formulas, but the ingredients are quite different. Some would say my diet is "very limited," but I certainly don't feel deprived. My diet is limited to healthy foods only. Every day I enjoy delicious - no - incredibly luscious - gourmet meals that are quick and easy to make. I'm 64 now, and I eat 3 meals a day. You can do the math and that's a lot of recipes. This is a really fun job.
By far the hardest thing for me to give up was sugars. I mean ALL sugars. Since I crave sweets, I moved to so-called "natural sugars". I bought granulated fructose by the case, indulged in date sugar, coconut nectar, agave, and maple syrup. But eliminate all sugars? No way. I love sweets, and I resisted this change for many years. My naturopath kept mentioning fructose, fruit sugars, and the complications sugar causes with bacteria in the intestines. She showed me undeniable evidence that sugar destroys the metabolic balance in the body and accelerates ageing. It robs calcium from the bones to maintain a life-sustaining ph in the blood, leading to arthritis and osteoporosis. She showed me proof that sugar exacerbates food reactions. Sugar cross-reacts with gluten, grains, coffee, and yeast, creating a vicious cycle of metabolic ups and downs. She showed me that fructose, natural fruit sugar, is actually far worse for the body than table sugar because it is digested in the liver, causing arteriosclerosis and high triglyceride fat deposits that are an invitation to heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Finally I became very ill with chronic fatigue, total adrenal failure and almost died.
At that time I owned a successful jewelry design business using hand-made Venetian glass. The stress was enormous, and I experienced 2 frozen shoulders, total digestive failure, and cancer. During that critical period, each moment and each breath was about healing my body. I studied every healing modality I could find, including traditional, modern, and energy medicine. Finally I gave in to overwhelming evidence and stopped eating all sugars. Since sugar is highly addictive, it was like getting off a drug. All the bacteria in my body rebelled. The withdrawal period was a slow process of re-orienting my body and reminding it who is in charge. For six months every afternoon was a battle of wills. I survived the transition with a fitness routine, yoga, qigong, and lots of unsweetened chocolate. Now my metabolism is balanced once again, and that's a miracle.
When I gave up sugars, my health took a quantum leap forward. It was immediate. I've been off sugar for 10 years now. I avoid all sweeteners that are high in carbs, such as agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, honey and coconut syrup. But I still craved sweets! I studied the effects of all the so-called "natural" sweeteners in my body, and the only ones that resonated well were pure stevia leaves (which have a strong aftertaste), Erythritol, and Chicory root.
Chicory root? What's that? Well, it is a delicious natural sweetener called Just Like Sugar Table Top, which has zero calories, zero carbs, and zero glycemic index. I don't sell it, I have no ties with the manufacturer - I just love it and I use it. When I first tasted desserts made with Just Like Sugar, I couldn't believe how delicious. I felt no blood sugar rush or insulin response in my body. Hooray! Just like Sugar doesn't ferment, so it helps prevent tooth cavities. Chicory root fiber acts as a pre-biotic in the gut, building healthy intestinal flora. Since Just Like Sugar Table Top has no calories, all these desserts are lower in calories. It feels like winning combination to me.
I recently found I'm intolerant to nightshade vegetables. That's the solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers. So now I'm developing a line of delicious Italian menus that are nightshade-free. Such as Paleo Pizza, Paleo Lasagna, and Spaghetti with No-Tomato Sauce. Like I said, this is a fun job!
Because of my journey with food and health, I sold my business, got certified in all the healing modalities that had been instrumental in restoring my health, and opened a private healing practice at Quantum Body Healing.com. I specialize in intuitive energy medicine such as BodyTalk, Reiki, EFT and Accunect. And I wrote Paleo Desserts.