Recipes made with love, that love you back …
I was born in Derry and now live in Strabane but I was brought up in Manchester. I have always had a passion for cooking and come from a family of foodies. When I was 11 my mum and dad had twins and I used to help with the family meals. When the kids at school were making fairy cakes in our cookery lessons I was making Devilled Chicken!
Growing up we all enjoyed tasty food and often ate rich dishes such as lasagne and as I grew older I became more interested in healthy eating, opening a healthy eating cafe in Manchester which I sold when I returned home to Ireland 10 years ago.
Like many people I have often struggled with my weight. Then I joined a national slimming club, and after losing over 2 1/2 stone I went on to be a consultant.
This reignited my passion for food and I started experimenting with healthier alternatives, creating my own recipes which I not only test with my family & friends but also my members. Then I found that there was much more I could do and I wanted to share my recipes to help more people enjoy healthier alternatives. I set up my recipe blog www.withloverecipes.com just over 2 years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength and to date there has been over 41000 views!
As well as creating savoury recipes and also because I have a sweet tooth, I started to experiment with sweet recipes including cakes and Cheesecakes and I wanted to make them appealing for the whole family but also high protein so that they would be an healthier alternative to protein bars and shakes which are often high in sugar and fat. This got me thinking about what’s currently available and I noticed if a person was gluten free then the recipe would often contain lots of sugar and fat, or if someone needed a diabetic recipe it would more than likely contain gluten and fat. So that was my own personal challenge and I set about creating sugar free, fat free & low fat, High protein alternatives. Then my friends little girl (who’s 9 years old) was diagnosed with intolerances, including gluten free and dairy free, so I set about making cakes that she would enjoy. I developed a Baked Cheesecake which was high in protein but as Katie was also intolerant to dairy I went further and made a gluten free, sugar free & dairy free cake, in a variety of flavours - which she loves.
At the end of last year I attended the BBC Good Food Show and just by chance spotted a stand from Derry. I got to speak with Karen Marran from Foodovation which is based at NWRC and I told her my ideas. When she said they could help me I was blown away. With their encouragement, I applied for an Innovation Grant from Invest NI to bring my products onto the market and to my astonishment I was accepted and there was over 140 applications for the innovation voucher in the running.
I am now in the process of getting the Protein Cheesecake & Gluten Free Cakes ready for the market and I am very fortunate to be working with Foodovation who are taking me through the process step by step. The products will be tested for their nutritional value and shelf life before moving on to next stage of engaging a production partner. Then it will be ready to hit the shops!
My ambition is to help even more people whether they are looking to eat healthier, lose weight or just enjoy good food without the guilt and to make it suitable for the whole family and their dietary requirements. Then hopefully I will follow this with even more products and a recipe book.
I have hundreds of recipes ready to get out there and even more than I haven’t even thought of yet.
I believe that there is always an alternative and I love a challenge when it comes to creating new recipes and hopefully the more I do then the more I can help this generation and next the generation in the fight against obesity & good health.
I also have a healthy eating recipe in the Strabane Weekly.
I feel honoured to be given the opportunity by Invest NI and Foodovation and hope to see my products in the big stores such as Asda & Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s & SuperValu as well as locally in shops & cafes by the end of August/beginning of September this year. Then everyone will know that when they see the label ‘with love recipes’ they really can have their cake and eat it!