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Stephanie Seege has always been into food but discovered years later the gluten-free and dairy-free way of living. Now she is an established gluten-free cookbook author working on her second book with a number of interesting projects in the pipeline.
We had a chat with Stephanie and asked her more about her lifestyle.
How did you get into a gluten-free lifestyle?
I have been extremely sick since I was three months old, suffering from severe eczema, all kinds of allergies and asthma. Throughout my life I’ve tried literally everything out there and in 2010 I finally met an Indian doctor who helped me change my diet, which finally sparked positive change. At that time I didn’t know anything about a gluten-free and dairy-free way of living and realized that none of the cookbooks out there were suitable for my diet. So then I started writing my first book and that kept me on track and inspired me to learn more, with the intention of helping others in the future. Now, five years later, I’m working on my second book and feel better than ever.
What has been the hardest thing to replicate food-wise?
You’ll hit your head against a wall again and again if you are determined to eat in the exact same way as before leaving out something as particular as gluten. Going gluten-free is about realizing how much there is that you can use instead, appreciating it, perhaps noticing how much better you feel (not a given – I’m not here to preach about what is right and wrong) and learning how to make incredible food.
Don’t sit around being sad about never eating Ciabatta again, but instead have a look at all the delicious and highly nutritional recipes and products that are available. My Chia Seed Crackers are highly addictive and absolutely delicious!
Bread is the most difficult thing – it’s possible, but requires a number of different gluten-free flours and starches, which isn’t exactly convenient for someone with limited time and resources.
Who inspires you?
My mother is a great cook and makes valuable suggestions for what would be interesting to try. My brother and father are excellent in front of the barbecue and have taught me so much. I also love going to restaurants, trying something new and making a similar dish at home, probably much faster and using lighter ingredients.
I also love cooking for my friends and listen to them carefully – every time someone comes over I tend to make 3-5 dishes, way too much food, and force all guests to bring plastic containers for doggy bags. They mostly leave quite content.
Have you been into food for a young age?
Yes – but very traditional food (meaning lots of gluten and dairy and refined sugar). My father has been in the food business in Finland for the last 30 years, which is why I grew up in a house filled with all kinds of samples and products that needed testing. I have also been lucky in the sense that I got to travel a lot in my childhood and have therefore been exposed to food from all over the world. These experiences are invaluable – and still it felt like starting anew when I changed my diet. The cooking skills I had previously learned were useful, but everything else felt quite overwhelming and I didn’t know where to find certain ingredients or how to use them properly.
What’s next for Stephanie Seege?
Today I’m actually launching my new website thisishelpings.com, and this project started about seven months ago when I started re-branding my business. I’ve thought a lot about different ways of helping other people and using my (partially quite bad) experiences and knowledge to make life better for others. Hence, I chose the name HELPINGS for everything I now do. I will be doing cooking classes with the Head Chef Marco Goldin at Cantina del Ponte during spring, I’m actively working on my second cookbook, spending a lot of time in the kitchen and have a number of cool projects in the pipeline that still need to remain secret.