Pretty and paleo: Simple, whole, natural cupcakes.
Neanderthal granola? Cro-Magnon cupcakes? Not quite, but a new Madison bakery has set out to create goods that could conceivably have been made by a caveman.
Well, maybe not. But a remarkably clever cavewoman could, if modern success is any indication. Paleo Mama Bakery has been open only six months, but its wares are already available at five groceries and by special order.
The so-called paleolithic diet — paleo diet for short — has been around for at least a dozen years. There are many variations, but its central tenet is that one of modern man’s problems is that we’re serving futuristic menus to old-fashioned bodies.
Paleo proponents argue that, when you look back at human evolution, it’s clear that we were made to eat simple foods, with little grain and even less dairy. Our metabolisms haven’t evolved fast enough to cope with modern processed foods, thus the prevalence of gluten and lactose intolerance, among other disorders.
That’s the theory, anyway. Paleo practitioners cite personal experience.
“I started to get sick with my first pregnancy, and realized after my daughter was born that I had an autoimmune disease,” recalls Belle Pleva, founder of Paleo Mama Bakery. That was eight years ago. “I saw several different doctors, and they all wanted me to try different meds. Nothing was really helping me.”
The former schoolteacher hit on the paleo diet after discovering a similar diet that limits complex carbohydrates. “I don’t follow either one strictly,” says Pleva. “I just found what works best for me. The main thing was getting rid of the refined sugars and the grains.”
While she experienced relief from her symptoms, she also found a paleo problem. “I’ve always liked to bake, and when I came across this diet, that was something that I struggled with,” she says. “You can’t go to a store and just buy something.”
But now you can. Paleo Mama baked goods are available at both Willy Street Co-op locations, Fresh Madison Market and all three area Hy-Vee groceries.
“I’m expanding pretty quickly,” says Preva. “There’s a lot of interest out there. It’s a little crazy. I have 18 different products right now.” They include cakes, cupcakes, cookies, granola and crackers.
Instead of sugar, Pleva bakes with raw honey. Her flours are made from almonds and coconut. “They are more expensive than traditional ingredients, but part of this is when possible, it’s all local,” she says.
Some of her products and their ingredients include grasshopper mint “Little Raw Cheesecakes” (avocado, raw hazelnut, cacao powder, honey, peppermint, vanilla beans), graham crackers (almond flour, apple sauce, honey, turmeric) and spicy tortilla chips (almond flour, eggs, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, cumin and chili powder).
Special requests from individual consumers are welcome, and she also does catering. Preva has an online ordering system for pick-up orders.
While many may find her toothsome treats to be just what the doctor ordered, could cavemen really have come up with the same baked goods?
“I highly doubt that they ate these types of foods,” says Preva, laughing. “But these are all made with real, simple, whole, natural ingredients. There’s nothing processed.”