Updated: May 29, 2018
The idea for the new Okanagan-based healthy snacking company, Sugar Free Please, came to creator, June Alexander, after throwing a dinner party in her home. Four out of nine people invited to that party were on an anti-candida diet. In her own life, Alexander had made a habit of eating a low carbohydrate, low sugar diet, and at her party she noticed that her zero carb / zero sugar offerings equaled happy people.
Having migrated to the Okanagan from Alberta (where she’d operated an interior design business), June was in the market for a new business venture. She decided to check into the healthy snack market. She discovered that gluten-free and other special dietary groups were already eating that way by default, and yet there were no ready-made products available on market. She had stumbled upon a huge community.
After spending some time developing recipes, Alexander took her snacks and desserts to local area farmers markets. There, she discovered she could not stay in stock. Her snacks and desserts were snatched up, and people wanted more. It quickly became apparent that Sugar-Free Please had the potential to be a self-sustaining, full-time business. It was time to do the work necessary to become a licensed sugar free bakery.
Starting in August of 2017, Alexander developed recipes -- mainly through a process of trial and error. She chose a company name, developed nutritional labels, had a website created, found packaging without chemicals that might leach into her products, developed inventory sheets and financial breakdowns, and became an incorporated business. By October, she had a lease on a commercial kitchen and was set to sell products for Christmas.
Sugar Free Please offers multiple snack and dessert options. They do not use sugar in their products, sweetening with very low glycemic, natural sweeteners instead. These sugar substitutes do not contribute to the growth of pathogens and are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancer-producing agents. They taste good and, as pre-biotic and pro-biotic products, are good for the body. They don’t, however, always act the way traditional sweeteners (sugars) might, and this has created a significant amount of trial and error in the creation of these recipes. Says Alexander,
Everything contains sugars (even if they are healthy, they still spike blood sugar levels)
and most contain grains, which convert to sugar and spike blood sugar levels. Even the
usual gluten-free offerings are super high starch. They simply exchange starch (wheat,
oats) for more starch (rice, tapioca, potato). My recipes are the complete opposite of
most gluten free baking. Many are Keto-friendly, having high fat and/or high fibre
content with vey low carbohydrates. SFP flours are high protein, fibre or fat.
She believes, "Carb intake should come from low starch vegetables, so muffins, desserts, snacks and crackers should provide the fibre, protein and fats we need from super healthy sources." Alexander feels this level of nutritional complexity makes her company unique to the market.
The recipes of Sugar Free Please utilize high fibre, high protein, high fat flours. This means, says Alexander, “They clean you out instead of clogging you up and spiking blood sugar and insulin.”
To remain economically viable for the consumer while still using higher-cost ingredients, June purchases in bulk, ordering from the United States and driving the two-hour trip to pick up her orders, as this is currently the most cost-effective way to purchase her products. She also orders locally where she can, using local vegetables, golden berries, organic BC farm dairy products and organic free-range eggs.
Although Sugar Free Please is located in the fruit growing region of the Okanagan of British Columbia, fruit spikes blood sugar levels. As a result, Alexander’s recipes only use organic lemons, a few wild blackberries, and a small number of raspberries, which she buys dehydrated.
“It isn’t all dessert food,” she tells me, correcting an error in my thinking. “It’s the things people miss when they stop eating carbs: crackers, bagels, muffins, cereal, breakfasts, snacks. Also desserts.”
In fact, Sugar Free Please has 40 recipes developed, although currently the offered list has been limited to ensure that the company offers the best possible quality in its formative year. There are also products she refuses to sell. Having tried some healthy snacks which simply do not taste like the product they purport to be, June made a firm policy that if her healthy alternatives don’t actually taste like the original, she simply will not offer that item.
“People everywhere have dietary restrictions or simply want to eat healthier,” Alexander tells me. “I want to be there for them; I care about that. I want people to walk away better for eating my desserts. People make dietary choices to be healthy, but we are inundated with sugars. [Dietary] restriction only works if you can stay on it. If I can provide for people, that’s my only mission. That is exciting to me.”
She backs up this philosophy by taking me back to the farmers market and telling me the story of the woman who came back twice in one day, buying $27 worth of food each time. This woman was moved to tears because Sugar Free Please made an immense difference for her family. The woman’s daughter had several inhibiting health restrictions. The ingredient list in Sugar Free Please means now her daughter can eat treats, too.
“If people are going to trust me with their daughters, I am going to do right by them," June tells me. To do so, she draws on the Master's Degree knowledge (Masters in Nutrition, The Edison Institute of Nutrition) of team member, Eileen Harris. According to Alexander, where it comes to eating well, people need to know and listen to their own bodies, and where appropriate, talk with their doctors for further guidance.
For more information on Sugar Free Please, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sugarfreepleasecanada/