In February of this year, I applied to a television show on Food Network called Cupcake Wars. I was unemployed at the time and was supplementing my income by baking treats on the side. I figured an appearance on Cupcake Wars would be just what I needed to launch my career and perhaps even buy a food truck (or at least invest the money in my baking business). I had big plans. Paint the sucker pink and drive around to all the sugar fiends in Sacramento just as addicted to buttercream as I was!
Then there was my little weight problem. By March of this year, I was tipping the scales at 150ish. (I am 5'1"). Though this is not an obese number by any means, this was heavier than I had ever been since my early twenties. The tipping point is when I got in my Smart car and the tires went flat. JUST KIDDING! It was when I couldn't FIT into anything but TWO dresses in my closet... Things had to change and fast.
I decided I should stop baking completely. I needed to break up with sugar. It was fun while it lasted. I turned down at least 40-50 people requesting cakes or wanting me to make food for their event or fundraiser. I have to tell you it was really hard for me to say no, but I just didn't want the temptation to distract me from my path--The path to looking RIDICULOUS!! (see Urban Dictionary definition #2).
I began a style of eating called Paleo, the Paleo diet encourages taking in meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and eating to satiety. I cut out all refined foods, and mostly anything that comes from a box.
I combined this with an exercise routine I kind of just formed myself. I call it ghetto crossfit. The exercise routine involves hard cardio for short intervals, followed by resistance training that incorporates the entire body in the movements, followed by more hard cardio. In the fitness world, this is also referred to as HIIT or high intensity interval training. I listened to several podcasts to learn as much as I could about nutrition and really, to get my head right. To get me thinking positively about myself. I really love Jillian Michaels, Latest in Paleo with Angelo Coppola, Mark Sisson's website, and more recently there is an Everyday Paleo Podcast (Sarah Fragoso and Chrissy Gower) and Being Primal TV (Dean Dwyer).
I feel like I have only just begun to live!! I can't believe I did it all over again and lost the weight and kicked the sugar! I am in the best shape of my life thanks to the Paleo diet and proper nutrition combined with the right amount of exercise at the right intensity and frequency.
So, last week, I got a call from Food Network. And when Food Network calls, you pick up! It was a casting agent from Cupcake Wars. He said he received my application from a few months ago, and they wanted to invite me to submit a video application. Wow. But I didn't really bake anymore. Hmmm... what to do? I wanted this chance to prove myself, to represent Sacramento, a city I love so much... If I was going to bake again, I wanted to do it my way.
Everything I made for the audition was Paleo. Gluten-free, no refined sugars. All organic ingredients, down to the coconut oil and the small amount of (clarified) butter I used for fat.
I made Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Avocado and Honey Frosting, a Chocolate Cabernet Cupcake with Chocolate Date Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting, and a Vanilla Almond Cake with Chocolate Almond Butter Frosting. All the cakes were sweetened with honey or stevia, or even just the dates and their natural sweetness. The "flour" in the cakes was either almond or coconut or a combo of both. And they all turned out really well, as this was my first attempt at gluten-free baking without a gluten-free mix. I love that. I didn't put ANYTHING in those treats that was a chemical or had a preservative. There were no food colorings or dyes used. There were no trans fats. Just all REAL food. When you eat REAL food with real fats, it gives you genuine energy and not a sugar high. You stay fuller longer.
I recruited someone to work with me that I had worked with before, Moriah Piper, of Moriah's Marvelous Cakes. I felt she would make a great team member if I were selected for the show.
Together we devised a few cupcakes that stuck to my organic, local theme, even though they contained sugar. People should have a choice, even though I feel really strongly about not wanting to sell a treat I would not eat myself. ;)
Here are some pictures from the audition taken by Debbie Cunningham:
Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Avocado and Honey Frosting
Chocolate Cabernet Cake "Kettlebells" with Date Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting
And now the audition itself! It was shot and edited by Marsh Wildman. There is a cameo at the end by the wonderful Scott Fenner, a local chef recently profiled in the Sacramento Bee. The video was shot at House Kitchen & Bar (thank you Chris Nestor). And all of the ingredients I used to make the cupcakes came from Nugget Market in Roseville.
If you could watch this and "like" the video on You Tube, share it with your friends, leave a comment, etc... I would be so very happy!
UPDATE!! Here is the new video!!
Thank you to Donahue Photography :D