If you haven’t heard of Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas of Sweet Laurel, it’s about time you have. These two childhood friends teamed up to create the Paleo baking company, Sweet Laurel, that would make anyone’s wildest dessert/baking dreams come true. Everything they bake is organic and in it’s natural state, no preservatives. This is what separates Sweet Laurel from other bakeries…there’s no compromising on ingredients.
When I heard these two were hosting a workshop about grain-free baking, I knew I had to be there. Not only did I get to test out some of their latest creations, I learned a lot too. From their Lavender Scones to their Savory Tart with Cauliflower Crust (I’ve included the recipe at the bottom!), I am hooked!
After the workshop, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Laurel and Claire to get the inside scoop about everything Sweet Laurel and grain-free baking:
What was the inspiration behind Sweet Laurel and what was involved in the decision to go Paleo?
Laurel: I’m a lifelong baker and health seeker. Currently healing through a completely organic, whole foods diet. I have eliminated all grains, dairy, and refined sugars after a few years of intensely listening to my body. I actually was struggling with an auto-immune disorder and it had left my body in chaos. Once I started eliminating everything that caused my inflammation, the end result was basically Paleo. I had improved my gut health and delved into making delicious treats I could eat. The more I baked, the more I realized how many people were searching for desserts just like these. This led to the launch of Sweet Laurel, a bakery that not only provides delicious food, but education as well.
Claire: I’m the cook, writer, and photographer behind The Kitchy Kitchen. I knew I was tasting something special when Laurel brought over one of her cakes! With my mouth full, I asked if we could partner together to form the Sweet Laurel brand. We both believe that the best food is the simplest, and made with the best ingredients.
When it comes to gut health, how does it affect overall wellness?
The lining of the gut works as the gatekeeper, deciding what stays in and what’s allowed to pass through into the bloodstream. In order for this process to work, the gut ecosystem must be healthy. Two of the most important variables that determine gut health are the integrity of the GI mucosal lining and the type and diversity of gut flora. Both of which depend on “good bacteria.”
What is chronic inflammation and what are some of the causes?
Inflammation is the body’s natural protective response, circling the wagons with increased blood flow (which makes the hurt area red and warm), increased sensitivity, and increased white blood cell action. Inflammation itself isn’t bad, it’s the signal that something bad has happened. However, inflammation is supposed to be responsive-not chronic. Chronic inflammation may not be as obvious as acute inflammation (like when you twist an ankle), but the results can be painful. When your body is working over time to heal itself, it’s not as efficient with simply living. Some causes of this inflammation can be toxic diet, poor gut health, and a sedentary lifestyle.
What are some important tools you can provide for body for optimal gut health?
First, it’s important to nourish your body with anti-inflammatory foods. These are foods that are not processed, filled with trans fats, or refined sugars. Begin eating whole foods that are not processed and filled with sugars. Think of strawberry Yoplait vs. strawberries with coconut cream. Kit Kat bar vs. some almonds, dates, and cacao.
Some other tools to benefit your gut health and overall wellbeing would be fermented foods, probiotics, and plenty of purified water. These are the KEYS to gut health. The gut is so overlooked yet so important. It has been referred to as the second brain because of it’s power as a mood maker, hormone stimulator, and chief absorber of the food we eat. The gut creates 80-90% of the serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is the “feel good hormone.” It helps dictate things like mood, energy, and happiness.
So, when it comes to grain-free baking, what are the main ingredients you use?
In grain-free baking, we use almond and coconut flours instead of wheat. Almond flour actually lower in carbs and has more protein than wheat flour but also still has that texture and moisture! So it’s perfect to bake with. Coconut flour is another flour we use in baking. It’s higher in fiber than almond flour so it’s a bit dryer. It’s a great binder but in some recipes, you may need to add some more liquid. Another ingredient we use is coconut oil. It’s rich in saturated fat aka the GOOD fat! It boosts metabolism and is the easiest fat to digest. When it comes to taste and flavor, we only use Himalayan Pink Salt. This is because it’s high in minerals, pH balancing, and there are no additives. Many of our recipes include cacao or/and Grade B 100% maple syrup for some added sweetness. It can be heated and is the strongest flavor out of all the grades. For those who aren’t vegan, we also use organic room tempature eggs. When baking with coconut oil, it’s important to use room tempeture because the cold eggs will harden in contact with the oil. If you are vegan, we used ground flax seed + 3 tb of water as an egg substitute.
For more information about Sweet Laurel (as well as dates for their future workshops), visit them at their website and sign up for their yummy newsletter!
Paleo Savory Tart With Cauliflower Crust And Roasted Vegetable Pisto:
- 2 cups cauliflower, riced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons coconut flour (you can go up to a ¼ cup)
- ½ cup pisto (recipe below)
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, roasted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for garnish
- Mix the cauliflower, garlic, sea salt, oregano, egg, and coconut flour, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Using your hands, pat the dough into a 9-inch circle and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the flatbread from the oven and spoon on pisto (recipe below.)
- Top with roasted cherry tomatoes and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until everything is nice and hot and the crust is a deep golden brown.
NOTE: To “rice” the cauliflower, pass the cauliflower through the food processor until florets become rice size crumbles
- 4 small heirloom tomatoes (or plum tomatoes)
- 1 small Japanese eggplant
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 red onion, not peeled
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
- 1 tablespoon ximenez sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Set oven to 425 F
- Cut all of the vegetables in half, place on baking pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle heavily in olive oil
- Place the garlic cloves on a sheet of tin foil, and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
- Wrap the tin foil into a bundle around the garlic, and toss onto a pan.
- Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, or until very soft (the onion may take as long as 45 minutes.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the skin from the tomatoes and peel the onion. Scoop out the flesh from the eggplant.
- Turn the oven up to 450 F
- Place the vegetables into a food processor, add the thyme, tomato paste, vinegar, a pinch of salt, and good amount of pepper. Pulse several times, to roughly chop and combine the mixture. Taste and add more salt and pepper. Drizzle in remaining olive oil and pulse one or two more times (it should have a rough texture, not pureed like baby food.)
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.