Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interview with Arnel McAtee, Creator of Arnel's Originals!

 At the AZ Gluten Free Expo, I met a lot of Vendors. As I mentioned, a few stuck out as being amazing and one did not. One of the amazing Vendors was Arnel. She was kind, bubbly and really put herself in her product. She lived the gluten free lifestyle 110% and she was excited to share this with every single person at the expo. I didn't just want to do a shout out and say, "Hey, buy her bread, it is tasty!", I wanted you to get a feel for Arnel like I did.
Michelle: I remember you telling me that it took you eight years to come up with your final recipe for your bread mix, do you remember how many recipes you came up with before you found the right one?

Arnel:I couldn't even guess how many loafs of bread we consumed over the years that were less than exciting. Since 1996, my only purpose as I baked was to feed and nourish my gluten intolerant family. Creating the business called Arnel's Originals: Good and Gluten Free was only born two years ago, after both our daughters went off to college.  If I recall, right from the git-go I was able to bake a nice and soft loaf with a great flavor using only wholesome ingredients. Later on, I worked on the integrity of the bread structure, (so it wouldn't fall apart after 4 or 5 days,) and moisture retention (so it wouldn't dry out.)

Michelle: What makes your breads and mixes stand out from the others?
Arnel:Besides using mostly organic grains and making sure the bread is also free from dairy, soy, and corn products,  the bread can be toasted and eaten for a sandwich many hours later. It's that texture, combined with a great taste and heightened nutrition, that sets my bread apart from the rest. The first ingredient in the bread is Organic Buckwheat, which is amazingly nutritious. Buckwheat is actually a seed which contains the eight essential amino acids. I would never use it, however, if the flavor weren't just divine. I know of no other gluten free bread that tastes, behaves, and nourishes the body so well.

Michelle: You were so cheerful at the Expo! How many Expo's do you average a year and what is your advice on a cheerful disposition?
Arnel:Many of my passions are rolled up in what I do for the gluten free world and my "cheerful disposition" as you call it, is just the joy I feel for what I do. I've always enjoyed cooking and creating but its being of service to others that feeds my soul. I get to do that weekly when I greet customers at the weekly Farmer's Market in Ojai, California and of course when I attend gluten free or health food conferences a few times a year. 

Michelle: You went gluten free after your daughters did, are there any gluten products that you miss sometimes? 
Arnel:I can honestly say that I don't miss anything made of gluten. I always loved eating bagels but not any more; they make me feel awful. Occasionally, I come across a food item that I recall with fond memories. When that happens, I saunter over to that food, lean down, and inhale slowly. That wonderful aroma fills me with contentment and I am good to go. Because I get a central nervous system reaction  (anxiety for one) along with digestive and arthritic discomforts, I am never tempted to eat gluten.  

Michelle: What advice would you give to someone new to the gluten free lifestyle? 
Arnel: If eating gluten wrecks havoc with your body, it won't go away, and as you age, it will become harder and harder for your body to bounce back. Sometimes gluten causes permanent damage to your intestines.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, deprived, and perhaps angry about needing to be on a gluten free diet, remember that those feelings are temporary; they will dissipate.  Here's the advice, "Don't let your feelings guide your actions,"  use your logic.  With so many choices now a days, eating gluten free is no big deal. I would say that it is a "little deal" and at best a minor inconvenience, which a small price to pay for good health. I was diagnosed at age 43 and in the last 15 years of living without gluten, I have never felt better or been happier. Take care of yourself; you're worth it!

Gluten free mixes (Bread, All Purpose Flour/Pie Crust, and Pancake/ Breading ) are available through  web site or can be obtained without shipping costs at the GF Country Store in Gilbert AZ and 20 other stores in California.Fresh bread can only be purchased at the Ojai Farmer's Market on Sunday mornings. I would like to thank Arnel for taking the time to be interviewed.

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