Born and raised in France, Carine Claudepierre’s parents managed a candy factory so her childhood was full of sugar. So what’s she doing writing a book on clean baking using recipes that are free from refined sugar or dairy products?
A prediabetes diagnosis three years ago led her to give up the pleasures of home baking, but using her skills as a research scientist she began to develop innovative baking recipes that worked with her new healthier dietary requirements. Now her food blog Sweetashoney attracts and inspires hundreds of thousands of readers.
I caught up with Carine to talk about baking without sugar, the importance of good health, and her new book.
What is clean baking and how did your interest in it start?
I developed prediabetes after the birth of my first child Emma in 2013. I was a keen baker, passionate about French baking and I loved sweets – my parents owned a candy factory in France!
I created the clean baking recipes to show everyone that we can eat sweet treats and feel good. I reversed my prediabetes while enjoying those recipes every week. It was my goal. I wanted to show how we can create beautiful decadent baking recipes that energise our body and don’t overload us on sugar.
What importance does clean baking have in your life today?
Clean baking is my way to enjoy delicious and healthy sweet treats and feel energised. My clean baking recipes taste as good as any regular baking recipes and each recipe makes my friends and I happy. Plus, the recipes have been developed to be low in sugar, high in fiber and they make me feel satisfied and energised. It is my solution to enjoy delicious baking without impacting my blood sugar level.
Why do you think there is so much growing interest in recipes that cater to special eating requirements?
Everyone has a busy life and we don’t take time to prepare simple homemade meal ourselves any more. We buy more ready-made/processed food and we overload our body with substances that can’t be tolerated in excess e.g sugar, gluten, grains or lactose.
Lots of people who start a diet simply want to feel more energised and better in their bodies. They quickly notice how some ingredients upset heir gut balance and energy. That is why people jump on special diets excluding lactose, grains and more. We all want to feel good and be happy but still be able to share delicious meals with friends and family.
What does keeping yourself healthy mean to you?
To me being healthy is not about dieting or excluding specific ingredients. Healthy means balance. Healthy means eating real food – food that is as close as possible of its original state like raw fruits, vegetables and nuts.
When it comes to flours, sweeteners or grains I believe that a healthy choice is to pick the product with less than three ingredients listed on the ingredients list and one that contains plenty of fibre (>10g per 100 g are my favorites) to protect your gut bacteria, and less saturated fat.
What do you do to keep fit?
Fitness has been a huge part of my change of lifestyle from 2013. Before changing my diet I was not exercising much. Since figuring out how to eat to feel energised, I began running a lot. I even ran my first half-marathon in 2015!
How do you wind down at the end of a busy day?
I love yoga and bush walks. I live in West Auckland not far from the a lake and trees. I love to listen to piano music, or go for a walk alone in the bush and have a peaceful time just between me and nature. It is where I find my inner energy.
What can readers expect to find in your new book?
My readers will find simple baking recipes that are delicious and make them feel energised and happy. All the recipes in this cookbook can be prepared in less than 20 minutes with very basic ingredients.
I did all the shopping at my local Pak ‘n Save for this book to make the recipes accessible to anyone who wants to bake a little bit healthier.
What are the main problems people need to navigate when switching to clean baking?
I think the most common issue when you start is to stock up your pantry with the right ingredients – especially the flours. In my Clean Bakery cookbook I provide a list of flours, sweeteners and dairy products that you must have on hand to succeed with any recipe in the book.
If you set up your pantry right at the beginning there is nothing complicated about clean baking. I even found it easier than classic baking which sometimes requires specific equipment or techniques. With clean baking everyone can bake a delicious treat!
What are your favourite recipes in the book and why?
I am a huge chocolate lover and I absolutely adore the chocolate bean brownie (Flourless Fudgy Chocolate Brownie with Red Beans) and Strawberry Chocolate Cake (Moist Chocolate & Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache).