Going Against the Grain
I come from a long line of family that loves to cook and bake. It’s in our blood – and perhaps more than savouring our creations, we love to offer them to others as a gesture of our love and caring. As a kid, I would join forces with my mom in creating an array of treats to offer to people at Christmastime; as a teen, I spent years working alongside my grandmother in our family’s restaurant. It was through these ladies that I developed the knack for cooking and baking; subconsciously picking up tips and techniques whilst developing confidence in the kitchen. I’ve learned that the best cooking instruction there is, is simply to not be afraid of it!
As an adult, I’ve loved cooking and baking for others. I carried on my mom’s Christmas baking tradition, and LOVE when I get asked to bring something to a family dinner. Potlucks are my jam.
2 years ago, my boyfriend Joel was forced to adopt the Auto Immune Protocol to help mitigate and heal Crohn’s disease. If you’re not familiar with the AIP diet, it is the strictest of all elimination diets – no grains, no eggs, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine, no nightshade vegetables, no legumes, no alcohol, no nuts or seeds. The list goes on. The AIP diet is a mighty powerful strategy that assists in regulating the immune system, which gives the body an opportunity to heal.
When he first told me about his plan to adopt this lifestyle, admittedly my brain went to “OMG WHAT ABOUT ME?!” Selfish, I know. The side effect of a rigid diet is that it has pretty huge implications for your social activity too. And when you follow a strict diet, I can assure you that the first thing you’ll really start to notice, is just how much of our engagement as humans is centred around food. Following an AIP diet and attending foody social events are mutually exclusive. Sangria and nachos on the patio in the summer? Nope. Wing night at the bar? Nope. Ice cream on a hot day? Nope. Pizza party? Nope. Invitations to go to dinner at a friend’s house? Nope. Restaurants of any kind? In theory, maybe…. but also a bit too risky and challenging to navigate.
So, for at least a solid year or more, we didn’t do any of these things. We avoided them completely. Joel brought his own food wherever he went, and got plenty of eye-rolls for doing so. When you follow AIP, you really cannot trust anyone else’s cooking but your own. It took him a good while before he felt comfortable trusting mine, and I understood the ins and outs almost as well as he did!
BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?! Me. As the person who loves to take care of others. The person that loves to cook and bake and show love with food. I honestly felt at a loss…and for a good while, had to mourn the loss of that part of myself. That year, I even chose not to do any Christmas baking.
With all elimination diets, over time Joel was able to reintroduce some things – eggs and nuts, for starters. And that’s when I got my baking mojo back. The addition of those 2 ingredients alone opened up a world of opportunity to provide once again. I started to dabble more in grain-free, sugar-free baking. I’d look at regular recipes and think to myself “how could I make this AIP”. I had a few disasters in the kitchen, but also a lot of happy accidents that lead to new creations. As I gained confidence with this new style of baking, I was again able to offer Joel some treats that, at the very least, helped him to feel a bit more “normal”. Breads, muffins, cookies, squares, macaroons, pizza crusts and crackers have become a part of my regular repertoire. Avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts, cassava and monk fruit have become staples in my pantry. I’ve even made my own dark chocolate from scratch! By default, I have adopted this style of baking for my own enjoyment too. As Joel so often says “it’s not just AIP good, it’s GOOD-good”.
It was Joel who first introduced me to the Hold The Carbs products – the ingredients so carefully matching the recipes I’d been creating from scratch. And I do still love making things from scratch, but also love the convenience of pre-packaged mixes when time is at a premium. I am looking forward to experimenting with the HTC products, and hopefully offering a few of my own recipes as well!