Delicious cakes designed for people on a raw food diet
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 May 2017
Monica Santos of Charged Berry has achieved the impossible - delicious cakes that are good for you. Emma Mayoh reports.
Convention dictates that cake is sinful – and if it isn’t then you aren’t baking it right. The word conjures up images of fluffy Victoria sponges with cream and jam oozing out of the sides, cupcakes with mountains of swirly icing on top and carrot cake that we convince ourselves is part of our five a day.
But Monica Santos, who runs Charged Berry at Botany Bay in Chorley, proves you can have your cake and eat it. The 40-year-old produces stunning raw cakes that are packed with healthy ingredients and don’t contain wheat, gluten, dairy, refined sugar or preservatives.
She started eating raw herself ten years ago after she was diagnosed with coeliac disease – a condition where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten. She had endured years of ill health and had been diagnosed with everything from irritable bowel syndrome to depression.
‘Life was really difficult,’ said Monica, who lives in Chorley with husband, Elisio, brother, Miguel and children, Lucas, 21 and Alex, 14. ‘I just couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even manage the ten minute walk to collect my children from school. By 3pm I was done. I needed to go to bed.
‘When the doctor suggested it might be depression, it was the final straw for me. I knew I wasn’t depressed. I was ill. I started doing my own research and then finally got diagnosed with coeliac disease. It was a real light bulb moment for me. Things just started to get better.’
While Monica admits the transition of removing allergens from her diet was her toughest challenge, today, she is a different person. She started to make raw cakes for friends which led to her launching her business.
And what Monica proves convincingly is that raw doesn’t mean joyless. In fact, her raw cakes, bliss balls, energy bars and smoothies, regularly put smiles on the faces of her customers.
‘When you have to cut things like wheat and dairy out of your diet it is a challenge,’ said Monica. ‘Starters and mains are easier but when it comes to gluten free desserts, it is a nightmare. Eating out is really affected.
‘With my cakes the focus is on all the wonderful, nutrition and healthy ingredients that are in the cakes. It’s not about what isn’t in them or saying that people are missing out because they have food allergies. They are charged full of foods that will fill you with energy and make you feel good.’
Monica, who used to work as a linguist for the NHS, sells her products via her website and from her shop in Botany Bay, near Chorley, as well as supplying other cafes and delis, including The Health Bar in Lytham. She also creates stunning celebration cakes.
She has ambitions to start supplying restaurants. She is currently in talks with a leading Manchester restaurant.
‘It can be so difficult eating out,’ she said. ‘It would be great to be able to offer fantastic, delicious desserts for everyone.
‘I feel very positive about the future. My life is so different just from making this change. I’m looking forward to doing more.’ n