I’m not a trained chef, in fact I trained as an actress at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but that’s another story. I got my passion for cooking early, aged four and a bit, helping my grandmother make her famous apple pies.
As a youngster I enjoyed family meal times around the table, however this was to change when aged ten I started to experience a lot of bothersome symptoms after eating: bloating, abdominal pain, and lethargy were amongst them. Doctors wrongly diagnosed IBS, and told me to up my fibre intake, but that only made things worse. However, it didn’t diminish my passion for cooking and aged twelve I started working in a pub kitchen, probably taking on rather more responsibility than I should have, due to an alcoholic and often errant landlady! But I was far from overwhelmed, in fact, I remember enjoying the challenge.
So I continued to develop my kitchen skills even though my reactions to food grew worse; eventually I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Coeliac disease. This means I can’t eat Gluten (a protein found in Wheat, Rye and Barley) and in addition to that, I am intolerant to Cows Milk.
Though the source of my discomfort had been discovered, meal times remained far from enjoyable. I had to eat differently from everyone else, and my food was often pretty bland and boring, certainly not appealing fare that everyone would be happy to tuck into. At first, all I could do was cope; foods without gluten and cow’s milk were incredibly tricky to find. But as the years went by the choice for people with food intolerances steadily increased and it became easier to experiment with new fantastic, and not so fantastic ingredients. It was at this time I realized my mission – To create dishes that I could eat but also share with family and friends who would find them as tasty and satisfying as ‘normal’ food. I set about this task with gusto!
I’ve been on this journey now for fifteen years learning to cook with some of the most tasty, nutritious, health- promoting ingredients on the planet, foodstuffs that are now readily available but unknown to most people. I can honestly say that the meals I create though Gluten Free, Cow Milk free and low GI, are totally indulgent, delicious and healthy and as a result I cook and share food regularly with friends and family. Most of them may not have diagnosed food intolerances but they prefer my food because they feel the benefits too. Not least, my niece and nephew aged 3 and 5, who together with their parents, appreciate nutrition that is more natural, and has less sugar; no tantrums as a result of energy crashes!
The alternative/healthy food market is thriving as the number of people with conditions similar to mine continues to grow. I’ve actually seen the future of this market too, having recently lived in Los Angeles for eighteen months, shopping in supermarkets whose shelves are abundant with alternative, healthy and nutritious ingredients.
A lot of People don’t think about the food they eat until they are faced with related health issues and I’m saying why let it get to that point? I’d like to share my knowledge of alternative eating with everyone because I believe it is healthier, guilt free and responsible. I don’t advocate diets and think everyone should be able to eat delicious food, without it causing weight gain, bloating, acid reflux, asthma and chronic fatigue syndrome etc., in fact a plethora of conditions that affect our nation, and I absolutely know that this is attainable.