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Hi, and welcome to A Clean Bake! I’m Nora, the baker.
People used to know me as The Carb Queen. For most of my life, my diet consisted of four food groups: pasta, bread, cheese, and cookies. Actually, that’s being a little dramatic. I ate a lot of cupcakes too. Growing up, I was a vegetarian who lacked a firm grasp of good nutrition and my daily meals consisted mostly of sugar, carbs and dairy. Feel free to cringe openly. It sounds kind of gross to me too, in retrospect.
I wish I could say that I had the self control to just wake up one morning and overhaul my diet because it was The Right Thing To Do, but that’s just not the case. I had to get very sick with a severe leaky gut, SIBO and a lot of other issues in order to finally become motivated to make a major change. I could barely eat, I wasn’t sleeping, I was in pain all the time, and it was a challenge just to make it through the day. I wouldn’t have wished it on my worst enemy, but there was also a silver lining: over time, I learned to listen to my body, trust my gut (literally) and figure out what was right for me.
I channeled my Type-A obsessiveness (that had, in part, gotten me into this situation to begin with) into figuring out what was wrong. After a lot of trial and error, what ultimately ended up making my gut – and lots of other little problems I didn’t even realize I had – feel better was an unrefined, low carb and low sugar, (mostly) grain-free diet centered around lean protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
But I certainly couldn’t give up dessert altogether for the rest of my life. That’s no way to live!
I’ll admit, I had a lot less trouble re-learning how to eat than I did re-learning how to bake without my beloved wheat, butter and refined sugar (before this, I briefly ran a conventional baking blog that is no longer active). I searched the internet for recipes and tips, but since I didn’t fit cleanly into any diet box – most gluten-free recipes include dairy and often highly refined grains and starches; most vegans eat wheat (which I don’t), but no eggs (which I do); and paleo was too restrictive for me to commit to fully – it was impossible to find anything that I didn’t need to heavily adapt to make safe for myself to eat. (You can read more about my health journey here, here, and here.)
So, I started developing my own recipes instead, and decided to share them here in the hope of being able to help others who are in the same boat as I am: they want to continue to enjoy food (especially dessert!) despite having to cut common ingredients out of their diets. Although you’ll find plenty of savory entrees and sides on this site, I am most proud of the desserts, which have been tested again and again (remember that Type A obsessiveness I mentioned?) until they are nearly indistinguishable from the “real thing”. I don’t believe in deprivation, even on an elimination diet, so instead, I come up with loophole recipes for when you think that you can never eat your favorite treats again. And there’s always a lot of chocolate 😉
So what does “A Clean Bake” mean? Well, it is a play on the phrase a clean break which, after coming to terms with my illness, I was forced to make from my old diet and my old blog. But it’s also about the importance of clean eating, and how easy and fulfilling it is to leave sugary, processed foods behind without feeling like you’re missing out. You won’t find any gluten or refined sugar here; everything is naturally sweetened, and 90% of the recipes are grain free (paleo-friendly) and low carb, with the exception of the occasional gluten free whole grain. I also have a wide variety of vegan recipes if dairy and eggs are a problem for you. No matter who you are, if you’re here, get ready to eat well!
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