"Food is meant to be real! Real ingredients. Real, delicious flavor. Real nutrition."
And with that culinary professional Stephanie Lyman completely won me over. The swearing and delicious food to follow were the proverbial icing on the cake. Real recognizes real.
Busy in the process of revamping 8 years of nutrition material, plus new content and developing over 200 nutritionist created, tested and approved recipes, I found it was time to call in a pro to assist me.
Truth be told I'm not sure what I hate more: baking or the fact people think baked goods "have to be" bad for you. As someone who has no interest in baked goods, I know I have no business recipe testing them. My clients deserve the best and that includes recipes they can actually create and love.
Do you remember what originally got you into cooking and baking?
I come from a larger family. Our family had four kids and then there were all my cousins. When we were all younger, we all grew up together. Sunday was always a big family dinner at the house.
I was also the oldest daughter, so I fell into the role of mommy’s helper. I always got to be a huge part of these large meals. My family is also really active in the church and so we were often bringing food and preparing food for large groups, cooking for the rescue mission and just spending time experimenting and letting our friends and neighbors reap the benefits.
I think food is what brings us together and that’s awesome. I love cooking for people.
When I was little I would spend a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. There was always something going on with grandma. She taught me how to make jelly from fruit in their trees, cookies, pasta, everything!
What I love about work (Colorado Coffee Merchants) is how the menu is small and changes all the time, so it’s like cooking for my family. I get to care for them everyday. We have a lot of regulars and it’s so great knowing I’m such a big part of their day.
How long have you been doing this?
Cooking and baking? My whole life.
I’ve worked in food since I was about 16 years old. My first job was actually at a chocolate shop doing dishes. I knew that I wanted to work in sweets, but that was really eye opening for me. From the business perspective and what it’s like when everything is handmade. I like that it’s such an art form and skill. It’s a passion played out right before your very eyes! It’s like the magic of tv, but in your very own kitchen!
That’s been about 14 years ago. I’ve been really fortunate because I’ve only really ever worked in food.
Over the next few months you’ll be creating recipes with certain nutrient benefits in mind. When we first discussed this project and I sent you a list of focus foods for pain and inflammation, what was your initial thought?
You can’t make cookies with shortening and all this artificial junk. You may have someone that has diabetes and wants cookies, so they make it with Splenda and think that’s okay. No! It’s like picking random things to snack on from a hardware bin. It’s not food. It’s not a thing. Stop doing that.
When you’re working with your clients you give them a focus foods lists. Like when we made the pumpkin bars you gave me a list for pain. Dates…. Pumpkin…Spices… Nuts. Those things aren’t bad. In fact, they’re an amazing combination that I think would satisfy any kind of cravings for sweets
People are just bombarded with too much garbage. It doesn’t have to be total garbage that you’re eating.There is plenty out there you can eat that is real, sweet and satisfying. It barely takes any effort to change your recipes over if you know what you’re looking out for.
Your job sounds amazing! Getting to create amazing food everyday with local, sustainably grown ingredients sounds like every foodie’s dream come true.
I like that everything first and foremost is made from scratch. Not as in we opened a box and added water. It’s made from scratch in that we grind our flour in house daily. We make bread daily. Our butter is made in house, as well as all our own condiments. We even cure our own bacon!
Everything that we use is either grown locally or purchased through a local small business.
The farmer brings his wheat to me on his truck; All our meats and cheeses come from a ranch here in Colorado; all summer, all of our produce is from a farm literally just down the street.
We really want to make sure that we support our local producers. We’re a small business and we rely on their support, as much as they do ours. We have to prop up our community so everyone can continue to grow and prosper!
We still have to go out to go buy some ingredients. But anything that can’t be made we buy from a local organic food market. We’re supporting our neighbors in some form.
Another thing that’s huge to me is that the menu changes all the time. We only make enough that we are going to sell. Our goal is to sell out every day so that we don’t have waste. Anything that doesn’t sell we donate to locals in need. We compost as much of our food scraps as we can and we recycle all of our containers we go through.
Did you ever think that your love of baking would land you on a nutritionist’s website? You’re the baking professional and live the life of a baker, did you ever think that you could help others live a happier, healthier life with those skills?
Well, not baking necessarily. Something that I am passionate about is nutrition for kids. A lot of kids grow up not knowing anything about where their food comes from, and it’s not fair! I would love to be part of a program that goes to schools, teaches kids about what real food is, and why it’s all so important. I just haven’t gotten to yet!
I am glad that I have met you and am able to take on this project. I like that I’m going to be able to use my skills to help others.
I’m excited to be part of your website because I am learning so much and it’s beneficial for me too. I like learning how I can improve food for health issues. I’m really excited about that and I like that this is going to help others too. I want to show people how to improve the recipes they’re already making for health and flavor.
Often when people discuss desserts they use words like “sinful,” “guilty pleasure,” etcetera, which puts a negative association with both the food and enjoying it. How would you describe the nutrient rich desserts and foods you’re making for the Premier Pass that creates a positive association and image?
Those terms don’t build you up, they tear you down. Instead of thinking of it as a bad dessert, think of it as food that is nourishing your body but in dessert form.
I think it goes back to how people want to look at those foods that way. Dessert doesn’t have to be bad! It can be good. Like the pumpkin bars we made taste like heaven and help your knees feel better.
What has been your most hilarious, outrageous experience in baking?
Probably the most horrifying was once when I had a wedding cake that got knocked over. It was this gorgeous 4 tier cake supported by crystal vases. It was breathtaking and one of my most favorite cakes I’ve ever done!
They changed the time of their reception without telling me and so it sat out for about half the day. On top of that, they had the buffet line going in front of the cake and someone knocked it over. I went to go help her clean it up and fix what I could. But it was like a cartoon when I got there. It was everywhere!
It was heartbreaking at the time. I loved that cake and it was her important day and someone knocked it over. Hopefully she finds it funny today!
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