My Story

Tool for health - sweet like candi

I started my business, Sweet Like Candi, a little over a year ago because I saw the need for delicious gluten free and sugar free treats.

I have had an interesting health and food journey – in my eyes, both food and health are inexorably linked. I am a firm believer that you are what you eat.

I suffered in excess of eight years of my life with intestinal ulcers, bloating, insomnia, brain fog, mood swings and a number of other uncomfortable and painful symptoms, until I was lead to a Homeopath, (after all a doctor could prescribe to me were anti-depressants, which I refused to take).

Months of elimination tests culminated in some blood tests that stated that I had intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast and garlic.

Knowledge is power, and I equipped myself with as much information as I could on the subject. At first, I was immensely overwhelmed because when reading food labels, it became apparent that these items were in the majority of store bought and ready-made foods.

This sparked my passion for cooking because I realized that the only way that I was going to be able to eat anything, was to make it myself.

Baking became my biggest challenge as I was determined to bake without the likes of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and yeast. I realized that baking was a science, and the only way to bake without an ingredient was to figure out what the ingredient actually did, in order to replace it.

I did extensive research, wrote articles, experimented for hours on end, forced my friends to be my guinea pigs, and eventually I started a blog about my food journey because I reasoned that there must be other people out there in the same position as me.

Six years ago, it wasn’t an easy task to eat out at restaurants, if you had allergies or intolerances. Trying to explain what I wanted to eat became a five day game, because I would forget to mention no basting on my steak or no dressing on my salad, and landed up sending my food back more often than not. My friends, I’m sure, dreaded going out with me. So, I was faced with a choice, stay at home or just not be strict when going out and suffer the consequences. I still wanted a social life, so I chose the latter, which became a bit of a downward spiral as one cheat lead to another, and one compromise led to another until eventually I was not healing myself.

I landed up at an Iridologist who looked into my eye and summed up my health woes in one word – Candida. Candida is a yeast infection. The organism Candida Albicans is already present in our bodies, such as the mouth and gut, in order for us to function correctly. Factors such as stress, poor diet, a compromised immune system, extended use of antibiotics, alcohol and birth control pills can cause it to grow out of control.

In my case, the Candida was the worst he had seen. It was in every organ of my body and he said that if I continued the way I was going, I might not be able to fall pregnant. And thus started my new blog, and my new food journey, Sweet Like Candida.

This blog is just focused on eliminating gluten and sugar – and I thought how amazing it was to be able to bake with eggs and dairy again.

I started finding ways to replace the sugar and gluten, making my own gluten free flour mixes and I even made a few cakes using beans. I pushed the boundaries with ingredients, much like I had done before.

But, even though I now had a new eating plan, I wasn’t feeling healthy and I still wasn’t losing the fat roll around my middle – a sure fire sign that I was insulin resistant.

Around this time, my step mom found out that she had Type 2 Diabetes. Her health journey led her to Tim Noakes, The Real Meal Revolution and Banting, which in a nut shell is about eating real food and avoiding anything processed and ready-made. In an ironic twist of fate, it seemed like my food journey had come full circle.

I devoured the Real Meal Revolution book from cover to cover and became excited when it mentioned reversing Candida, which had by now become my life’s mission.

The main aim with Candida is to starve it of all sugar, and foods which convert into sugar, which it feeds on – thus Banting is the perfect diet for me.

When I learned about the phenomenon of hidden carbs in foods, it was like a light bulb went on in my head; it made complete sense to me, because although I wasn’t eating gluten or sugar, per se, I was still eating rice and potatoes and some fruits and vegetables, which all, because of their hidden carbs, converted into sugar in the body, fueling my Candida.

The book made me feel like someone understood where I was coming from, and how I still absolutely needed my food to taste delicious and that I didn’t want to feel deprived because I was eliminating certain things from my diet.

The huge amount of fat did cause me to panic at first because all my life I had been taught that fat was bad and unhealthy. But, with the constant repetition from my step mom that fats are good and carbs and hidden carbs are the enemy, my mind began to shift as I tested it out and began to see the results in myself.

I no longer experienced the yo-yo effect with my weight – losing it and then putting it back on. The bloating stopped and so did the mind fog and mood swings. I had so much energy, with no more tired slumps or lethargy. I was happier than I had felt in forever and I just wanted to share my good fortune with the world, and so began my new task, with my new business – Sweet Like Candi.

Sweet Like Candi specializes in cakes, desserts and savoury items for all occasions. Some examples include: cauliflower pizza bases, bread, truffle squares and a variety of cakes and cupcakes. Only the best ingredients are used: free range eggs; grass fed butter, cream and yoghurt; organic chocolate, cocoa and coconut oil; vanilla extract (to name a few).

The reason I choose to use xylitol in my baking is because it does not convert into sugar in the body like other sweeteners such as fructose, honey, coconut sugar and agave – although these are all seen as natural, they have the same effect on the body as sugar. Xylitol also has proven anti-fungal properties, inhibits Candida yeast and reduces tooth decay. (Although it is not safe for dogs and may have a laxative effect in some people.)

All of my products are Banting, low carb, Diabetic friendly, grain free, sugar free – as well as dairy and egg free (where applicable).

Children’s diets have become very important to me – I feel that the sooner we start, not only feeding them better, but educating them on the foods that they consume, the better they will feel and the better equipped they will be to fight, and even prevent, health issues in the future. I am constantly creating treats and snacks that are delicious, healthy and kid approved.

I am excited about a healthy future. All it takes is a choice and the want to live a happy, fulfilled life.

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Creamy Roasted Garlic Macadamia “Polenta” with Sundried Tomato Jam

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My phone rang, it was ZZ2 with an unexpected delivery. In my line of work, I receive deliveries all the time, but this was no ordinary delivery – it was the ZZ2 Mouthwatering Box!

I raced downstairs to collect my bounty of some of South Africa’s best produce. The box popped with delicious colour; I spied tomatoes in a multitude of shapes and hues; from large “every day” tomatoes, to tomatoes with beautiful names such as Romanita, Bacio, Rigoletta and Sante, but what peaked my fancy the most were the sundried tomatoes! The box also included onions, garlic, avos and even a nifty avo tool!

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I was beyond excited to get cooking! How could I not be with such fantastic ingredients?

I wanted to create something that would celebrate these ingredients, and my mind went straight to Italy. It must have been the exotic tomato names! But also because Italians are known for celebrating food in every sense of the word.

Winter is here, and to me, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of creamy polenta. Since polenta is a grain and I am Banting, I decided to create my own “polenta”. I wanted something with a neutral colour, I first thought of coconut, but it has quite a sweet taste, and then I went to almond, but it was still not quite right. I settled on Macadamia flour because of its earthiness, which would go perfectly with this dish. But, if you would like to recreate this dish at home, please feel free to use almond flour or polenta 🙂

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With the box of deliciousness, ZZ2 had asked us to create a dish that would hero two or more of the ingredients. I chose the garlic, Bacio vine tomatoes and of course, the sundried tomatoes.

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Creamy Roasted Garlic Macadamia “Polenta” with Sundried Tomato Jam, Roasted Tomatoes, Mushroom, Rocket and Macadamia Nut Oil

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

Macadamia Polenta:
1 cup macadamia nut flour
1 – 11/2 cups water
1/2 tsp Oryx desert salt (or similar)
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream (or more water)
1 knob butter
handful grated white cheese (parmesan, pecorino or cheddar)
1 head ZZ2 garlic, broken into cloves

Sundried Tomato Jam:
1/2 cup ZZ2 sundried tomatoes
water
pinch chilli flakes *optional
fresh thyme
pinch of xylitol *optional
salt and pepper to taste

Other:
2 large brown mushrooms
ZZ2 Bacio vine tomatoes
rocket
cheese shavings
macadamia nut oil or olive oil

Method:

This is a multi-tasking kind of recipe. You can move onto the next process, while the previous element is cooking, or you can follow the recipe step-by-step – it’s up to you.

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Place garlic cloves on an oven tray, skin still on, and roast until soft and “squishy” and when they can slide easily out of the skins (the kitchen will start to smell amazing at this point)
While that is happening, put sundried tomatoes into a pan and just cover with water to allow them to re-hydrate for a few minutes. Bring water to the boil once the tomatoes are plump
Add in the rest of the ingredients and reduce down until you have a jam-like consistency
Mash 1 clove of roasted garlic into the jam and leave on low heat, while you get on with the rest of the processes
Taste as you go. I chose the sundried tomatoes because they are packed full of flavour. You are looking for a punchy jam that zings with flavour
Add macadamia nut flour, salt and 1 cup of water to a saucepan and stir with a whisk to smooth out the lumps
Cook on medium heat until it forms a porridge-like consistency and the flour has cooked out and the liquid has been absorbed – reduce the heat to a simmer here (you may need to keep adding some liquid until you are happy with the consistency). Stir with the whisk every now and again. It will take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of macadamia nut flour you use
Mash about 6 cloves of roasted garlic and stir into your “polenta” – this should provide a beautiful, yet subtle garlic flavour
Stir some cream, butter and cheese into the “polenta”. You should have something that is smooth, creamy and a little runny in consistency
Add salt and pepper to taste and keep on low heat until ready to serve
Place the mushrooms and vine tomatoes on a baking tray. Season your mushrooms with salt and pepper and drizzle them, as well as the vine tomatoes, with macadamia nut oil or olive oil
Roast until the tomato skins are wrinkled and the mushrooms have started to change colour and release their juices

To plate, place some “polenta” into a bowl or onto a plate, top with the tomato jam and slices of mushroom and the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle with a little macadamia nut oil or olive oil, finish off with a few shavings of cheese.

And there you have the perfect Winter warmer, using some of the best ingredients South Africa has to offer.

To win your very own Mouthwatering Box, an avo tool and a Checkers voucher worth R1000, tell ZZ2 what you’d create with this same box of ingredients by leaving your entry as a comment on their Facebook Page here. Good luck 🙂

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