By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Marci Prebianca and her husband Paul are trying to prove baked goods can be sweet and healthy.
The pair own and operate Marci’s Bakery in upper Stoney Creek. The bakery specializes in brownies, cookies, muffins and mixes that are gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan.
“We use ground brown rice, ground almonds, ground flaxseeds and ground sunflower seeds – that’s the basis of everything we do, so you’re getting fibre and protein,” Marci said. “We also use the purest, darkest cocoa that we can get our hands on, which is the best for antioxidants, retaining vitamins and also high fibre content and sweeten with natural sweeteners.”
Marci first established Marci’s Bakery in 1989.
The bakery began as a retail, wholesale catering operation with three locations.
“We made a whole slew of cookies, muffins and squares; we used healthier flours, like spelt and organic whole wheat and also had a gluten-free line,” Marci said. “Then we suffered a huge tragedy – we lost a child, a son – and six months after that, we closed up shop. I had two sons, so I had to be a mom to them, grieve and deal with the emotional pain of losing a child; it was a very difficult time.”
Marci and Paul later welcomed a fourth child, a girl. Marci was a stay-at-home mom for about six years, before deciding to get back into the industry.
“At the time when we lost our son, I thought, ‘I don’t want to do anything because I want to honour him for as long as I can and if I go back into work then I’m not honouring him.’ I thought, ‘How can I go on and he can’t? It’s not fair,’” she said. “At the same time, each day that went by, as much as I didn’t like it, I got a bit better. I slowly learned that you can start again, you can get up, put one foot in front of the other and have joy again. I learned that there is opportunity after that to keep on going.”
Marci later approached Goodness Me and was hired as a bakery manager for the company.
She worked for Goodness Me for three years.
“I always wanted to restart the business, but I wanted to do it differently, in a smaller way, the right way,” Marci said. “I chose to focus on 10 or so products, not 800 like I had in the former business. I chose, this time, to zone in on a smaller number and make them the best that I possibly can, both taste-wise and health-wise.”
Marci and Paul re-launched Marci’s Bakery in December 2011.
“There are a lot of people who cannot eat your average brownie, cookie or muffin and who want yummy tasting gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan goodies. The trouble is that a lot of gluten-free baked goods out there are unhealthy. Gluten-free is not equal to ‘good for you,’” Marci said. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, ethically, I want people to have a smile inside and out, I want to meet as many health needs as I can.’ This means excluding unhealthy ingredients and using only great-tasting, nutrient-rich ingredients that taste outstanding. It took about 15 months to formulate these recipes and now we probably eat as many as we sell. Our baking is life-altering and based on truth.”
Marci said foods aren’t the same as they used to be.
“When our grandmothers used to bake and they used wheat flour, whole wheat flour, even white flour, it wasn’t what is on the shelves today; wheat, if it’s not organic, is being genetically modified and because of that, it contains a higher percentage of gluten than it did in grandma’s days. Our bodies were not designed to digest that amount of gluten,” she said. “That’s why more and more people are finding they have a gluten sensitivity because they’re still eating the bread and the bread products that are mass produced out there and they’re loaded with at least a higher percentage of gluten than their bodies are used to. Over time, we may adapt, the jury’s out on that, but it is hurting people.”
Marci and Paul, whose products can be found in about 21 stores in Ontario, including all five Goodness Me locations, agree there’s nowhere else they’d rather be than in the kitchen creating more recipes that are gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and packed with healthy ingredients.
“This has always been a dream,” Marci said. “Our slogan is Baking for life. That’s what we do.”