In February 2007, my health began to decline. You may ask, “Well, where was your health at this point?” Great question. I was a young 20-something with a constant flow of energy who ate anything she wanted and never got sick. My health allowed me to play many sports and pull all nighters without the use of caffeine or stimulants when necessary (I was a procrastinator and would leave term papers until the very end). This is where my health was the beginning of 2007.
So my taken-for-granted health began it’s decline in February 2007. My health continued this downward spiral almost taking my life. No doctor could save me. I saw over 26 doctors, including specialists in infectious disease, rheumatoid arthritis, neurology, dermatology, endocrinology , acupuncture, chiropractic medicine and integrative internal medicine. I saw these specialists and more in a 2 year period that spanned several states, and not one of them could pinpoint what was going on. They all agreed something was wrong and that it was only worsening with various pill treatments, and various therapies did not seem to help. During this time I lost most of my friends, became distant from my family as I was unable to communicate what was going on, mainly due to embarrassment. I lost my ability to keep up with any of my hobbies, sports and exercise.
I was in denial of my illness for quite sometime. I continued working until I no longer could trust that my legs would not give out from under me without warning, or that my mind would not go “black” and within a few seconds I would no longer recognize where I was or what I was doing. I would act like I was extremely busy to friends and family so they wouldn’t judge me perhaps thinking I was a hypochondriac. I would then wonder to myself, “Am I crazy? Is this all mental? Am I imaging the layers of skin peeling from my body and my piercing blue lips in the mirror?”
I would go from being so cold trying to hide my blue lips and piling on mounds of winter clothing in 80 degree temperatures, and then later that day being so hot that filling my bathtub with ice and lying in it seemed like the only way to cool down. There were times when I would begin to stand up after being seated and fall right to the floor as my legs gave out. There were periods of blackness where my eyesight would fade to a blackish-grey color not allowing me to see. Every moment of my life was filled with pain and uncertainty.
During these trying times I gave everything I had to stay positive. I decided I would stop pounding on doctors doors for answers only to leave their offices in tears of frustration. I would turn to myself and my body for answers. I would devote every morsel of energy I had to change the path my health was on.
I spent most of my time researching how to fix the multitude of problems I was experiencing that were leaving my body and mind crippled. After 3 years of research, trial and error experimentation with alternative therapies/treatments and a complete diet adjustment, I was seeing great results. I am a true believer that food is your lifeblood. If we feed our bodies garbage, this will filter through all our bodily systems and wreak havoc upon our bodies and minds, eventually bringing us to our demise.
Learning the inner workings of how the human body digests and utilizes food, along with nutritional knowledge of foods, herbs and spices, has given me the ability to heal myself. This knowledge is something so powerful, important and vital to each and every one of us; I want to share it to make everyone aware they can take their health into their own hands.
Over the last 3 years, I have coached dozens of people to understanding how food affects their health. I have helped those looking to lose weight, diabetics, people with food allergies and people who just do not feel right. These people have been able to take this information to achieve the best (happiest, healthiest) person they can be. This coaching has allowed me to help many people. But I want to help more. I want the average American to know about the intertwining of food and health. I want everyone to know a healthy breakfast is not Starbucks oatmeal, a bagel with cream cheese, an english muffin with peanut butter or pop tarts. I want everyone to know that a bagel with cream cheese will impact how well he/she will function throughout the day and there is a domino-like effect of bad food choices.
In trying to help as many people as possible, I asked myself, “What is one of the worst foods the average person eats regularly?” My answer: desserts. Many people love their desserts. Whether the dessert is the flour-less chocolate cake after dinner, the blueberry muffin at Starbucks with the 2pm pick-me-up or the fruit snack snagged from the vending machine, these foods are all less than ideal for you!
That is when I hit the kitchen and began experimenting with real foods to create real desserts. I use only the purest ingredients, meaning no artificial anything, no preservatives, no fillers, no additives, no genetically modified foods (GMOs), no ingredients containing MSG and I use organic whenever possible. During my research, testing and experience, I have noticed that many people feel much better without dairy in their diets. Therefore, you will not find dairy in any of the desserts I bake. I do not use any animal products or by-products in my baking, so no eggs, cheese, butter, gelatin, honey, etc.
Through research, my personal experience and clients’ experiences I have realized sugar is a food to steer clear of. Yes, even unrefined, unprocessed, all natural sugar. This includes agave nectar, honey, molasses, unrefined cane sugar, brown rice syrup and pure maple syrup. Of course, you will have sugars present in your diet, but my concern is with eliminating sugars from the dessert portion of the diet. This also includes all artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols and food additives, such as maltodextrin (Stevia in the Raw) and dextrose (PureVia) . All of these artificial sweeteners are commonly used to sweeten sugar-free foods or no sugar-added foods. Sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, sorbitol, erythritol (Truvia) and xylitol cause gastrointestinal distress with cramping, diarrhea and flatulence. Food additives such as maltodextrin and dextrose are derived via partial hydrolysis from starch (corn) and are absorbed as rapidly as glucose. Since none of these are appealing to me and I stick to the “pure” ingredient guideline, I do not use any of these in my baking.
My journey to find the most pure ingredients to use in my baking has taken me to local farms, farmers markets and to the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore. Yes, I have developed many recipes and baked goods that I am very content with, but I continue to research the latest health/nutritional developments so I may incorporate my findings into my recipes. My goal is to deliver a variety of delicious healthy muffins that will make you feel great and not feel a moment of guilt afterwards (well, unless you eat a dozen muffins in a sitting…).