Pictured: Andrea Lee, Raw Food Baker, With Her Creations. Her Offerings Are Made from Wholesome Ingredients Such as Beans, Dates and Oats
The inspiration behind “The Clean Addicts” bakery
“It was difficult to compromise my love for desserts! I always had a hard time finding healthier alternatives that contain minimal ingredients, and no preservatives or unrefined sugars in Singapore,” she said.
Andrea then started experimenting with different ingredients and recipes to create healthier alternatives to desserts that she and her family loved.
Vegan Matcha and Dark Cacao Protein Balls That Are Gluten- and Refined Sugar-Free
She wanted to “incorporate real whole foods in (our) desserts, that come with a myriad of health benefits.”
“I believe food can be our medicine, but (coming up with healthy and delicious desserts) wasn’t an easy feat,” she said. “After countless late night experimentations, I managed to produce wholesome and guilt-free versions of fudge cakes that her family and friends can’t resist!”
And thus, whole-foods bakery The Clean Addicts was born officially in 2017.
Her personal battle with binge eating
A healthy lifestyle soon spiralled into an obsession, and it came to a point where she was simultaneously afraid of many foods, including avocados and fruits, but would also binge eat ice cream, biscuits and other treats.
She shared that at one point, the scale “determined (her) self worth and how (she) felt every day”.
It took Andrea years, alongside intervention and support from friends and loved ones, to build a better relationship with food. Now, she sees food as medicine, which helps fuel and heal the body, instead of something to be feared.
She also runs a Telegram support group on disordered eating and body image.
The challenges of creating “whole foods desserts”
Creating a product that is not yet common on the market comes with its own set of challenges. Whole food desserts usually cost more than offerings from typical bakeries, due to the higher costs of raw ingredients as well as the man hours it takes to prepare the ingredients.
“Our cakes are flourless. We use dates as sugar substitute, oats and seeds as flour substitute and beans as butter substitute,” Andrea shared.
Flourless Hojicha and Dark Chocolate Wholefoods Fudge Cake, Suitable for Vegans and Those Avoiding Gluten and Refined Sugar
This makes Andrea’s fudge cake “a lot more nutrient-dense and 60% lower in calories compared to conventional fudge cakes that are laden with butter and refined sugars,” she said.
Andrea is also strict about preparing ingredients in ways that best preserve their nutrients, even if it is more time consuming.
“In the raw food theory, we soak the cashews for at least 8 hours to remove the enzyme inhibitors. It is easy to use the shortcut of boiling to soften them quickly but the vitamins and minerals will be gone.
“We go through the raw food theory method as we believe it will benefit the health of our customers,” she said. “While the cost price of real foods is higher, we try to stick to our guns and offer wholesome treats.”
None of her products contain artificial colours or flavours. Even the cake frostings and decorations are made using whole, real foods such as freeze dried fruits.
Andrea’s Healthy Wholesome Moon Cake Offerings Come in Two of Her Bestselling Flavours This Year: Matcha with Sesame and Dark Hojicha, with Snowskin Made from Chia
Staying strong through legal troubles
She had a failed partnership with an investor that resulted in a lawsuit. During that time, she could not bake or post anything on social media.
“I felt really lost in life… (and) I have been keeping this dark period of my life (to myself), known to only my close family and friends… it was a rough time, and it was embarrassing and hard for friends of my age who had no businesses to relate to…” she said.
Even Andrea’s father, whose opinions she highly respects, urged her to give up on her bakery business.
“I fell into depression for 6-8 months during the period of the lawsuit… I had no knowledge about how to engage a lawyer and my parents had to help me find a lawyer to be in charge of my case,” she admitted.
When the legal troubles were finally settled, Andrea knew she “wasn’t over with (her) bakery”.
“Ultimately, I knew I wanted to have a brand of my own that I can inspire others to lead healthier and happier lives through food or by educating others. Feeding others with my wholesome desserts and allowing me to receive feedback on them almost instantly makes me ecstatic and honoured to be part of your journey to good health and happiness,” she said.
“I’m glad I still persevered and hung on till today!”
Three tips from Andrea on setting up your own business
Number two: Your customers are your stakeholders so listen to their feedback and be receptive to change and adapt, like how COVID has taught many businesses a lot to pivot – or you will lose out.
Number three: Lastly, if you need help, don’t be scared to ask for it!