By Daniela Degrassi
As I am visiting Northern California, I have been very fortunate to connect with some of the vendors in our Vegan Wedding Directory. After last week’s exquisite visit with S+M Vegan chefs, this week I want to share Sasha’s story with you.
Sasha is the founder of Clean Sweets by Sasha. She moved about a year ago from the frenetic New York lifestyle to the apparently more calming scenery of the San Francisco Bay Area. Surely soothing with its views of nature all around, but try driving on 101 at any given hour of the day, and you may reconsider 🙂 – Jokes aside, Sasha found her ideal environment in her new home to focus on her passion, and transform it into a business venture.
Photo Daniela Degrassi
After needing to experiment with an ‘elimination diet’ (a procedure used to identify foods that may be causing an adverse effect in a person, in which all suspected foods are excluded from the diet and then reintroduced one at a time) Sasha started to play around in her kitchen to satisfy her sweet tooth, creating new recipes to please her palate and oblige her doctor recommendations that she eliminate all grains, dairy, processed sugar, and soy from her diet to help with some skin issues she was facing.
As you may know, many dessert options that tout themselves as being “gluten free” or “vegan” are still not healthy, and often contain refined sugar in addition to other questionable ingredients (like unhealthy oils, gums, cellulose, maltodextrin, etc.) that are needed to maintain a taste and texture that people expect.
Test after test, Sasha perfected flavorful recipes using only a few simple ingredients. All of her products are free of grains, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, soy, gums, stabilizers, artificial colors and flavoring.
Grains and flours are replaced by almonds, and coconut oil used in lieu of unhealthy fats. Sweeteners like maple syrup and coconut sugar (which are naturally low glycemic) replace refined sugars. These ingredients contain various vitamins and minerals, and are higher in fiber, protein, and healthy fats which keep you satiated for longer periods of time – without the sugar crash that is commonly associated with traditional baked goods.
Instead of leaving you feeling sluggish or in need of a nap, these desserts will power you through your day, and provide you with loads of energy for all the things you love to do.
In fact, when Sasha and I met around lunchtime to bake cookies, by just tasting two of them after they came out of the oven, I had no need to eat anything else until dinner time!
Sasha laid out just 5 ingredients for the almond-chocolate-chips cookies she prepared under my curious eyes: almond flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, pink salt, and chocolate chips sweetened with coconut sugar. She gently mixed all the ingredients by hand using a spatula and once the mixture was of the right consistency, she first formed small balls of dough the size of a spoon which she laid on a parchment paper and then flattened each cookie covering it with the paper and pressing it gently. Then they would need to cook in the oven for about 15 minutes (for a full video coverage of this recipe check out The Kind Bride Instagram TV Channel) .
And the aroma that permeated Sasha’s kitchen when it was time to remove the cookies from the oven created such an anticipation for the tasting! But, pictures where in order before I could enjoy a good bite! When it was finally time for my lunch treat, the result was a perfect balance of moisture/crunchiness and sweetness/saltiness to stimulate the palate and their exceptionally nutritious ingredients left me satisfied with eating just two cookies. Well, at least until it was time for my dinner dessert! Yes, cause Sasha prepared a lovely packaging for me and I got to take the whole batch home!!
How can you enjoy Sasha’s healthy sweets? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’re in luck! Besides a variety of cookies, cupcakes, muffins, donuts, brownies to enjoy at your pre-wedding celebration parties (indeed at any party, you know that, right?), Sasha also customizes vegan wedding cakes. Her signature flavors are chocolate, vanilla, coconut, lemon, banana, carrot cake with frosting of chocolate, vanilla, coconut, strawberry. Contact Sasha for a tasting and follow her Instagram feed for inspiration!
A feminist and independent spirit since she could remember (her childhood heroines were Pippi Longstockings and Katharine Hepburn) Daniela Degrassi found her creative outlet as a lifestyle photographer, working mainly in Northern California where she lived for 15 years before moving back to her native Italy to continue to be her autistic sister’s primary caregiver. Vegan since 2014, she found a perfect way to carry her message of compassion while celebrating her love for the wedding industry launching The Kind Bride in February 2018.