Belfast Telegraph

The Northern Ireland woman behind guilt free, no fat, no sugar healthy sweet treats

Sharron McCormick
Sharron McCormick
Some of her products
Some of her products
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

A woman who has created a no fat, no sugar, healthy chocolate cake from vegetables is hoping for sweet success when she opens her guilt free cafe in Co Tyrone later this month.

Strabane native Sharron McCormick (48) has been creating foodie masterpieces for years as the head of a slimming club in the town.

So popular were her unique, food allergy and intolerance friendly, no fat and no sugar tasty meals and treats (think sticky toffee pudding made with sweet potatoes and cake made with butternut squash), she gathered them together in a cook book - With Love Recipes.

Now she plans to open an outlet, a vintage cafe and production unit that will supply shops with her innovative products.

"I like good food and I like tasty food," she explained.

"And when I joined a slimming group I tried to find an alternative to salad and started creating my own recipes and it all spiralled from there.

"I can make things out of anything.

"I'm like the Nutty Professor in the kitchen. I've made sticky toffee puddings out of sweet potato and chocolate cake from beetroot or butternut squash and courgettes.

"I don't really know how I do it but I seem to have a knack for tasting and blending things together. And they taste amazing.

"I decided to put my recipes down into a book. I have enough recipes for another two or three books, if I'm honest.

"I'm creating something every single day.

"Because I'm a weight loss consultant, I create food for my members every week as a taster and give them the recipes. And they were blown away and kept asking me to put them in a book.

"So I started a blog, which I had never done before. Before long I had nearly 50,000 people with me there. I was just posting recipes, but because they were gluten free, fat free, dairy free, zero per cent added sugar, everyone could have them and people loved that."

Sharron says that a pal's daughter inspired many of the recipes.

"My friend's little girl, who is only nine, was diagnosed with a whole host of food intolerances," she said.

"She couldn't have gluten, dairy, sugar, she was intolerant to tomatoes. So I started developing recipes that would help her.

"I made pizza bases out of turkey mince and the topping I made with blended sweet red pepper instead of tomatoes.

"I made chip shop curry sauce with mushy peas. I made her a whole host of things and she has absolutely loved them. It has changed her life.

"So that is how the recipe book was born. With Love Recipes really came from the fact that I sign everything 'with love' and the recipes are made with love, they are created with love and they are going to love you back.

"The recipes will help those with food intolerances and also people with diabetes. One of my weight loss group members is a doctor and she is planning to take the book to be certified by Diabetes UK and the Coeliac Society."

Sharron says the recipes have made a real difference.

"The feedback I'm getting has been phenomenal," she added.

"I've had messages from people to say that I've changed their lives. People who haven't been able to eat certain foods, like burgers or pizza, can now enjoy them.

"I'm helping people enjoy a healthy lifestyle, guilt free, so they are not missing out on anything. I'm trying to cover as many allergies and intolerances as possible so that the whole family can eat together, whether there are family members who are gluten intolerant or diabetic.

"At the moment a lot of these 'free from' products are really high in fat or in sugar or in gluten.

"I've developed recipes that are healthy and cover all the intolerances.

"I would like to see every home have a copy of the book. It's going to help everyone and improve people's lifestyles."

Sharron is opening premises in the Orchard Industrial Estate in Strabane at the end of January. It will be a healthy eating vintage-style cafe as well as a production centre from which she will supply shops. She'll also serve up five jobs in her endeavour.

"I have guilt free cake products coming out first and then a range of sauces," she said.

"We are opening a guilt free cafe, so everything in it will be healthy. Part of the cafe will be a production area and we are going to have a cookery area also so that we can teach people how to cook the products, and we will also host business meetings and events as well as doing outside catering."

Sharron has plans to open similar healthy eating cafes in towns and cities across Northern Ireland.

You can check out Sharron's recipe blog on www.withloverecipes.com.

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