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.

Baking Banting Part 1: Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners and Natural Sweeteners

Baking is not for everyone – and neither is the Banting lifestyle, according to Professor Tim Noakes.

If you are carbohydrate resistant, meaning that your body struggles to remove glucose from your bloodstream, which causes the pancreas to over-secrete insulin, thus directing the glucose into the fat cells, where it is stored as fat – resulting in increased weight gain, continual hunger, lethargy and irritability – then this diet is for you.

And is it for me, as a Candida sufferer, and a person that has struggled with stomach issues, weight problems and a myriad of other symptoms, for most of my life.

But, if your body can metabolise carbohydrates effectively and you do not put on any weight, despite eating a high carbohydrate diet, then you may not benefit in any way from this eating plan.

Although, in the same breath, when it comes to baking and eating dessert, the healthier the better, in my opinion, no matter your body type.

Sugar has been proven to be as addictive as cocaine and heroine and is the catalyst of many ailments including heart disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and of course obesity.

What’s even more shocking, as an avid food label reader for over 5 years (this comes with the territory when you have to eliminate certain foods from your diet), sugar is in practically every ready-made product imaginable; breads, sauces, ready-made meals, drinks, tinned foods, low-fat products, the list goes on and on… Is it any wonder that so many of us are suffering from poor health?

Our body is not designed to consume so much sugar, in fact, according to Professor Tim Noakes, our body can only accommodate 8 grams of glucose at a time.

Fructose, dubbed as the “healthy sugar” as it is said to be found in fruit – is not removed from our bloodstream like glucose, via insulin, but is rather left to the liver to remove and when the liver becomes overwhelmed with the amount of fructose it contains, it converts it into liver fat, which increases our chances of insulin resistance, hardened arteries and heart disease.

Fructose also suppresses the hormone leptin, which tells you when you are full. In other words, your brain lets you consume it without limit.

Knowing these facts about sugar should be enough to eliminate it from your life, or at the very least, your baking. But what would you substitute the sugar with as artificial sweeteners are known to be unhealthy for you?

There are a number of natural sweeteners on the market, such as stevia and erythritol, but my natural sweetener of choice is Xylitol and only the birch bark kind because it contains zero carbs. Xylitol has similar baking properties to sugar and can be substituted more or less 1 to 1.

As with every product, the quality varies. If you are unsure of what is in a product, I highly recommend finding out from the manufacturer because your health is at stake.

Some Xylitols are made from corn cobs, and hopefully not the corn itself, while other makes of Xylitol may spike Diabetics because the manufacturer has included extra ingredients in the Xylitol.

For this reason, I choose to use Sally-Ann Creed’s Xylitol as I can trust that I am getting the best product, which is extremely important to me, not just for my own health, but for my customers as well.

I pride myself on selecting my suppliers with care because I not only want to ensure a pleasurable eating experience for my clientele, but a beneficial one too.

I am a proud re-seller of Sally-Ann’s Xylitol, please contact me if you would like to make a purchase, or you can buy directly from her.

Celebrations with a Chocolate Cake (This is not a Banting Recipe)

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Today, I am celebrating!

  • I’m celebrating starting a new blog and having a fresh start. (To me, there’s something exciting about a white page, eager to be filled with words that are formed from my own thoughts.)
  • I’m celebrating my journey back to health and back to myself.
  • I’m celebrating having my creativity back.
  • I’m celebrating each moment that life hands me.
  • I’m celebrating food!
  • And I’m celebrating the fact that I don’t need a reason to celebrate. I am celebrating for celebration’s sake 🙂 *throws confetti on self*

What better way to celebrate than with cake? Chocolate cake! Gooey, moussey, gluten-free, sugar-free, delicious, too-good to be true, phone-in-the-morning-to-book-your-slice-of-cake cake!

I found this recipe by chance and when I first read it, I thought to myself – never, ever in my life will I make a cake that contains beans as one of the key ingredients! I mean how bizarre is that? But, you know what? I’m so glad I ignored myself and tried the recipe anyway! And the customers of Doubleshot Coffee Shop in Plettenberg Bay are also really happy that I did too, because they actually phone in the morning to book a slice of cake – so scared are they to miss out on their daily fix haha. How cool is that?

Next time you find yourself in Plett, make sure you visit this little gem (in the Checkers Centre) – Doubleshot is famous for their coffee (they use Espresso Lab Micro Roasters), which they have perfected like a fine art and you might even get to taste my cake 😛 Follow them on twitter.

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Healthy, Flourless, Sugar-Free Chocolate Cake

Makes a 23cm one layer cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of unseasoned kidney beans
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 Cup Xylitol
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water

Mint Chocolate variation:
2 teaspoons mint extract (in place of 2 teaspoons vanilla)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Spray a 23cm cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute.
  • Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water.
  • Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps!
  • Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
  • Beat butter with Xylitol until light and fluffy.
  • Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition.
  • Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix.
  • Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water, and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes and then turn temperature up to 180 degrees, bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until cooked.
  • Cake is done when the top is rounded and firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven. After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again onto a cooling rack.
  • Let cool until cake reaches room temperature
  • Frost immediately before serving
  • This cake just tastes better with age – so if you let it rest for about 8 hours it will be even more delicious!

Healthy Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Makes enough to thickly cover one layer, or fill and ice a halved stacked layer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Xylitol powdered (grind in a pestle and mortar)
  • 5-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Preparation:

  • Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy.
  • Powder Xylitol in a coffee grinder, Magic Bullet or pestle and mortar, until extremely fine in texture (reminiscent of powdered sugar). Let sweetener settle in grinder before opening the top.
  • Stir powdered sweetener into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth.
  • Slowly blend in the cocoa powder (this can be a rather messy job), vanilla, and sea salt.
  • Mix in the yoghurt.
  • Spread over cake.

And ENJOY! Devour, lick all the yumminess from your fingers and then go back for seconds… because I know you won’t be able to resist! 😀

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