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Conversations with Kristen Garrison

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Garrison.

Hi Kristen, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I never wanted to be a culinary nutritionist. Truth be told, I never wanted to be particularly healthy. I only wanted to “look” like I was. I was unsure whether my weight gain and the decline of my health could be blamed on genetics, quitting ballet at age seven, or my discovery of Little Debbie. I only knew that as friends were getting taller and more active and social, I was becoming wider, more sedentary, and bookish. My story is like so many others: from at least one family member suffering from diabetes to close relatives diagnosed with a range of disorders from Multiple Sclerosis, sleep apnea, hypertension, and pre-diabetes, to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Alzheimer’s.

In the last few years, I have lost an aunt and a grandfather to cancer and my grandmother to dementia. By the time I finished my first master’s program, I had attempted more diets than I had had years on the Earth, struggled with an eating disorder, and had unimpressive results after undergoing Lap Band Surgery. I earned my first Master’s degree studying forensics and attempting to solve the mysteries of the dead, but recent life experiences have motivated me to instead solve the mysteries of the living; to help people live longer, more fulfilling lives. I want to help anyone who has ever struggled with finding healthy versions of their favorite foods–foods that they can only have as a “treat” because of their negative health effects. I have spent years learning the benefits (and downfalls) of myriad food, lifestyle, and health trends. The biggest takeaway is this: people should eat more whole, unprocessed, less-refined, and sugar-laden foods and be more active. Once I improved my health, I found myself being called upon by my parents, friends, and family members to make healthy versions of their favorite foods–especially celebration desserts and holiday meals. The best part is that it seems to be working; at family gatherings, we’re modifying recipes so that we all feel better about (and after) eating them. Ultimately the goal is to communicate what I learn to effectively change and improve the health behaviors of my family, friends, and community. The feeling that I get when people enjoy my “keto sweets and treats” is one of the best feelings in the world.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It hasn’t been easy; there is a lot of skepticism about keto. What it really boils down to, if you’ll forgive the pun, is that I use real food that helps you feel satisfied both physically and mentally so you don’t feel like you’re missing out when you opt to improve your health by cutting out sugary foods and high-carb meals…in fact, you might even make some folks jealous! Starting a home bakery with a full-time job is a challenge every week, but when I’ve mastered a new menu item, sharing it and having people enjoy it makes it totally worthwhile.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I make keto sweets and treats that harken back to the foods you’re only supposed to have on “special occasions”. I love the look on a customer’s face or the messages I get when they try something I’ve made and they’re trying to reconcile their enjoyment of it with all the people who say, “you’re going to feel so deprived eating that way!” I am constantly trying to learn and grow as a baker and confectioner; I watch so many shows and videos for techniques to practice and perfect…I mean, my Master’s are in Forensics and Nutrition, so I didn’t have the time or ability to go to culinary school. I love that my customers are willing to learn what works best *with* me.; it feels like we’re all in this together!

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Keto-friendly foods are huge right now. Regardless of whether you’re a proponent of high fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs (the tenets of the ketogenic way of eating), I think we’re all getting to the point as a society where we’re recognizing that constant consumption of high-sugar, overly processed foods are NOT IT. This is so encouraging to me as a Culinary Nutritionist and Keto Chef-Baker because it means that more keto-friendly foods are making their way into the marketplace. Someday, I hope to have some of my own recipes in local grocery stores and online markets as well.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kristen Garrison, BaKeto Bakery

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