Margareta beams as I arrive on her doorstep. She was really looking forward to telling ‘her pure kitchen story’. She invited me into her home for a nice cup of tea. The table is already set and there’s a small bowl of mixed nuts and gluten-free cookies.
She already has a list of all the things she wants to tell me, because it’s a lot. A lot of health problems, especially before she discovered the pure kitchen. For 15 years she has suffered with exhaustion, thyroid dysfunction, headache and migraine, intestinal cramps, heartburn, arthritis, vitiligo… After years of searching and numerous visits to the doctor and specialists, along with the associated drug treatments, Margareta just decided one day to drastically change her eating habits: she would no longer eat gluten, lactose products or sugar. September 23, 2013: the date is stilled etched in her memory. Her health problems melted away and 2 to 3 weeks later, she was a totally different woman. Her illnesses didn’t return and she was brimming with energy!
It was during this period that she discovered Pascale Naessens’ cookbooks. The recipes helped her to start her new diet without any problems and to maintain it for almost two years. She wasn’t merely drawn to the recipes, but to Pascale’s life philosophy and the books’ beautiful, stylish design. In this philosophy, the enjoyment of food takes pride of place with her. A plate with Margareta’s motto hangs in her kitchen: “The quality of life is proportional to the ability to enjoy it.”
Margareta has convinced her mother and daughter of the benefits of the pure kitchen, because the whole family suffers from the same kinds of health problems. Because Pascale’s recipes have brought about such a change in her life, she has a huge emotional connection with the cookbooks. She recommends them to everyone and hopes that her government will also recognize the advantages of healthier, low-carbohydrate cooking and promote it, because it would save an enormous amount on healthcare costs!
When I ask Margareta if she sometimes experiences difficult moments with her new diet, she has to think long and hard. The aroma of freshly baked bread or a croissant still makes her mouth water, but she also enjoys a nice slice of bread made from teff-flour*. It also takes more planning: you can’t just go and buy a sandwich in the afternoon at work; you have to know exactly what you’re going to take. That’s why she always has a box of mixed nuts and a piece of fruit with her when she leaves the house. She has found a valuable and tasty gluten-free alternative in an organic shop for typical carbohydrates like pasta and potatoes such as millet, rice, corn, buckwheat and amaranth.
A beaming, happy woman is sitting in front of me. After two years, she can still hardly believe that she has been completely recovered from her headaches and other ailments, and especially because the results were so quick and so lasting. When I ask her if she has advice for other people, she tells me that we have to realize that change is always hard. You have to persevere, but what you receive at the end of it is a wonderful gift!
*teff is a type of grain grown in Africa, It’s gluten-free and easy to digest.
Photograph: Benno de Wilde
A plate with Margareta’s motto hangs in her kitchen: 'The quality of life is proportional to the ability to enjoy it.'