Baked Goods That Feed Your Karma
People make changes to their diet for a variety of reasons: a new allergy, a new baby, a new pair of jeans … a new kidney? Though Anna Kaschner’s decision to go gluten free did coincide with her recent organ transplant, she explains that it wasn’t quite as simple as a new kidney resulting in a new diet.
“It didn’t exactly happen in that linear of a way,” Kaschner says. Instead, it was sometime between her 2005 diagnosis of kidney disease and her 2009 transplant when she became fed up with her steroid treatments and was looking for other options.
“I was grappling with work and school, and this illness that came out of nowhere and then these high doses of steroids, my body reacted in all sorts of crazy ways,” she says. “I decided to start focusing on the things I could change. I have kidney disease, which I can’t change, but instead I changed how I reacted to it.”
In Kaschner’s search for a better way to adapt to her condition, she went to an acupuncturist who suggested a gluten free diet. Though she was skeptical at first, the recommendation turned out to be a turning point for her health, allowing her to feel better throughout her dialysis and eventual surgery.
But making a drastic dietary change and surviving a kidney transplant are only the first two chapters in her amazing story. Not one to do anything halfway, when Kaschner was in recovery, she decided that if she was going to commit herself permanently to a gluten-free diet, she needed to make some major changes to the world of gluten-free eating.
“I was in the hospital for 11 days,” Kaschner recalls. “They had a gluten-free menu for in-patients and it was the worst, most nutritionally vacant food I'd ever had in my life. My family had to run to the nearest hospital to get me food I could eat.”
And even then, the store-bought options for gluten-free eating weren’t the kinds of foods she could imagine herself making a lifelong commitment to eating.
“If you look in the gluten-free section of the grocery store, you’ll find all of these hyper-processed foods. They taste bad, they look bad – you can't survive on that. While I was getting better, I made a pact with myself: there has to be better option for people with gluten-free diets, and I was going to do something to make that happen.”
Having worked as a cook for years, the Organic Farming, CSA Management, and Crop Production graduate from MSU decided to take her dietary needs into her own hands and share the results with the world. Just months after her surgery she began Feed Your Karma, her own gluten-free company providing baked goods and baking classes for people with dietary needs similar to her own.
“It’s kind of been a dream of mine to have something of my own,” says Kaschner. “Anybody who ever worked as a chef has had that dream, but it didn't seem like it could really manifest for me.”
Feeding Everyone's Karma
Feed Your Karma has turned out to be not only something of Kaschner’s own, but something businesses and people all over the Lansing area have begun to attach themselves to as well. In addition to having her foods available through orders and at the Allen Street Market, a line of Kaschner’s snacks can be found at Just B Yoga
, the donation-based studio on Island Avenue in Lansing. Michigan Avenue’s Soup Spoon Café
also offers a Feed Your Karma delight in the Flourless Chocolate Torte.
The good news for anyone whose mouth just began to water is that while an all gluten-free diet is most helpful for people like Kaschner with kidney disease, those with celiac disease and other health issues, these gluten-free options are just as delicious and nutritionally beneficial for everyone.
According to Kaschner, foods made without gluten have the tendency to make eaters feel less heavy or weighed down – something for which traditional baked goods and snack foods have a reputation. Not to mention that many foods typical eaters consume on a regular basis are naturally gluten-free.
“Whole food is always better than processed food,” she says, noting that fresh fruits and vegetables are key parts of her diet.
The Sky is The Limit
Kaschner didn’t stop with changing her diet and building a business based around it. For her, the dietary overhaul was a part of lifestyle change centered on health. And now that she had a healthier body, she intends to make the most of it.
“Ever since [I started feeling better], I was like, ‘it feels good to have a body, let's use it,’” she says. “I decided to do a triathlon in June, so I started training.”
If training for a triathlon with a brand-new kidney sounds like a challenge, add to that equation that Kaschner had never participated in any type of sport before.
“I was never into athletics,” she says. “Running the mile in class gave me chemical reaction.”
Though it was just as tough as one might imagine, Kaschner began running, working out and training. Now, challenging herself physically has become the norm. She completed her triathlon and was a part of the winning team in this year’s Capital City Dragon Boat race.
“At first I was like, ‘oh god this is miserable,’ but I got over that hump. Now on the other side of it, I feel good. My body is really healthy.
The next stop? The Ironman. Only one kidney transplant recipient has completed the famously rigorous Ironman, and Kaschner wants to be the second – as well as the first female kidney recipient – to do it.
That’s not where her future goals end. As Feed Your Karma continues to grow, Kaschner is looking to expand her class offerings, find more outlets to sell some of her specialty items and bring more delicious gluten-free foods to people whose lives could benefit from them.
Kaschner explains that the average kidney transplant lasts about seven years. She has no idea what to expect down the road, but she’s not waiting around to make things happen. Between running the next race and baking the next gluten-free holiday pie, she’s got her hands full for the foreseeable future.
Natalie Burg is the news editor for Capital Gains.
is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Anna Kaschner baking Feed Your Karma products
Photos © Dave Trumpie