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Rachel’s commitment – finding ways for people ME, EDS, MCAS and similar illnesses to be able to enjoy good (really good) food again.

As almost anyone with ME can attest, we often have a complicated relationship with food. We likely have an increased need for nutrients, yet often have little stamina to cook for ourselves. And then there’s the ever-growing list of foods that don’t play nicely with our ME and similar diseases.

It’s easy to understand why so many of us now think of cooking or eating as something we do to more survive than truly enjoy. That’s a shame, because in a world with so many challenges – looking forward to a good meal – is one pleasurable thing one would not like to have to give up.

Rachel Riggs knows that to her core. Prior to ME, her lifelong love of cooking served her well as an owner of a specialty food shop. She loved helping people discover new ingredients and flavors and incorporate them into unique dishes.

Then came ME. Not only did she have to give up her business and career, like many of us, she was soon cooking for survival. She told me that “I never imagined my passion for food would ever return.”

But slowly, as she found treatments that restored some of her own functioning, she began to develop new recipes – recipes that were easy to prepare and accommodated her burgeoning food sensitivities. She began doing what she did before – creating unique dishes and tastes – but with a new twist.

“With every coconut milk swap and citrus squeeze, the tide began to turn. I began developing a collection of recipes that I knew many others could eat and share with friends – without explanations, excuses, or apologies.”

An idea began to form – a cookbook created by a person with ME – for people with ME and other chronic illnesses. Many gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. cookbooks are out there – but none are created for people with energy issues. We’ve seen this pattern before – a professional gets sick with ME, has to drop out – but then finds some way to use their talents to support their new community.

Rachel Riggs smoothie

Smoothie.

That’s what Rachel is committed to doing. A lifelong “foodie”, her goal is to create the possibility of good tasting food for people with food sensitivities. That means creating recipes with short ingredient lists that take minimal preparation but still produce healthy and yummy meals. (I know she knows yummy – I’ve eaten at her place before. Check out her dark chocolate pots de crème recipe she shared with the San Diego Union Tribune a couple of years ago.)

That means publishing a cookbook. She’s received a publishing contract for a new cookbook called “All in Good Taste” that features 75 recipes of nutrient-dense meals and desserts that allow people with food sensitivities to enjoy the full sensory experience of an excellent meal – that took minimal preparation. Her baking recipes, for instance, can be made with a single bowl and a whisk. She says:

“These are unfussy recipes with short ingredient lists that are easy to prepare for those living with chronic illness, food allergies, and energy limitations – or any food lover who cares about nutrition!”

The recipes are free of many problematic foods such a nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes), soy, grains, gluten, legumes, squash, pseudo-grains, pork, spinach, shellfish, dairy, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, cashews and peanuts.”

The book is slated to be published in June 2024 in both the US and UK (using metric measurements for the latter).

Here, though, we enter into the world of publishing. It turns out that producing a beautiful, picture-rich cookbook is not a simple thing at all!

vegies and dip rachel riggs

Veggies and dip.

Her contract requires that Rachel provides professionally produced pictures, and that means that a surprising number of professionals need to be involved. They include a prop stylist (who provides the linens, backgrounds, dishware, serveware, and flatware for each dish), a professional photographer and photographer’s assistant (lighting set-up, photography and continuity of look, post-production cropping and re-touching of photos), and a food stylist and an assistant (shop, prep, cook, style, clean, wash dishes, handle mishaps, and help keep everything on schedule.)

While Rachel has a publishing contract paying for the studio rental, prep and photography will cost $39,375, beyond the advance she was given by the publisher. She is committed to raising that money through GoFundMe.

The good news is that once the cookbook is published, Rachel will donate the royalties from the entire first year to the Open Medicine Foundation. Supporting her cookbook, then, also supports ME research.

Rachel’s decision to plough money back into ME research didn’t surprise me at all. She’s supported Bob Naviaux’s ME work as a volunteer for many years and founded an ME Facebook group. Check out her cleanfoodist account on Instagram where she explores new ways to cook for people with ME and similar illnesses.

Please support Rachel’s effort here

https://www.gofundme.com/f/gnf57-cookbook-photography

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