I have always loved to play with food. I remember as a kid mashing bananas with my bare hands before adding them to a food processor to make a banana milkshake. There was something so satisfying about getting my hands messy with food. I loved helping my mom in the kitchen who was always making something, like homemade pasta or lollypops for the holidays.
This hasn’t changed for me – I love trying new recipes or reworking old ones. And I honestly don’t think I ever follow a recipe to the letter because I always end up changing something. Maybe it is partly due to rebellion but mostly out of necessity because of our food restrictions. The process is creative and (usually) enjoyable, especially when things turn out delicious or at least edible. While I enjoy eating what I make (like the chocolate pudding I made tonight), I think it’s the process I enjoy the most – figuring out what kinds of ingredients to use in place of the foods we can’t eat or don’t like.
Currently my son and I are on two very different diets, which make things challenging at times. When I can’t eat the food he doesn’t like, food sometimes gets wasted. Or, if he can’t eat what I make for myself, this makes for an unhappy boy. Living with food allergies and restrictions is tough, especially for kids!
It has been a process for me to know what type of diet and kinds of foods work for my body. I found out I had food allergies when I was eighteen due to persistent skin rashes and eczema, stomach aches and other digestive problems. My symptoms were alleviated to some degree by eliminating my food allergens from my diet, but it wasn’t easy.
There simply wasn’t a lot of information available about being gluten-free in the late 90’s much less edible alternatives to bread that I could eat. So I would often eat foods that would continue to trigger my symptoms, creating a cycle that I didn’t know how to escape. However, it was during this time that I started experimenting more in the kitchen because of my restrictions which began my journey of cooking allergy-free.
Fast forward about twelve years. The most amazing and best day of my life occurred when I gave birth to my son. However, the weeks that followed were anything but easy. He was colicky and I was also experiencing post-partum depression and anxiety.
Due to desperation, I decided to try eliminating common food allergens from my diet because I had read that these foods can cause babies to have colic when they are breastfeeding. Within a day of taking these foods out of my diet, my son was no longer in digestive distress like he had been. The change was night and day.
Things weren’t perfect though and over the next several years it took a lot of trial and error, eliminating food allergens, seeing doctors and chiropractors and trying different diets such as the GAPS diet to come to a place of knowing what kind of diet works best for each of us. It hasn’t been easy but I’m also grateful for the journey.
I often get asked how I started cooking for people. Honestly, it was because I took a job as a cook at a retreat center in 2005 because I wasn’t making enough money selling my artwork. However, I was somewhat surprised to find that cooking for people created a whole new passion for me. I already knew how to cook and I loved doing it. But I had just never considered doing it as actual “work.”
People ended up requesting my food so much that I began my personal chef business in 2006. I did my training through the APPCA and I have been cooking almost exclusively for people with food allergies and restrictions for almost ten years now. I really love being able to bring delicious food to people on limited diets.
I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions or would just like to share your own experience , I’d love to hear about it. Click here to contact me.