Battle to find a mother inspired by healthy eating to open a whole cafe on the street
A mother says she fought for healthy food inspired her to open a health food cafe in Street.
Mahalia Purchase had five miscarriages before the birth of her first child and then struggled with food intolerance.
But she says an online documentary about healthy eating inspired her to change her life.
And after learning about allergies and intolerances, she opened a cafe bringing a flavor of South American and Caribbean cuisine to Street.
Proud mother of two children, Mahalia Purchase, 46, was born in Guyana (British Guiana) in the northeast of South America.
She says: “I love to cook and my parents ran a restaurant in Guyana. I was helping in the kitchen.
“Cooking and food are my passion.
“Obviously in the past I cooked the wrong things, I was overweight, unfit and in poor health.
“Now I have discovered the science of diet and its effect on the body. I can eat healthy and know the impact it will have on my body. “
She moved to Great Britain in 2002.
It was while living in London that she met her husband, Shaun Purchase, through an online Christian dating site.
Mr. Purchase was born in Butleigh near Street and lives in Street. So she moved to Somerset and the couple got married in 2005.
The wedding was in Guyana.
The couple have settled into married life and are working in Somerset.
Ms. Purchase has worked for Somerset County Council with adults with special needs.
Ms. Purchase said, “I had had five miscarriages, partly because of my weight, partly because of a lot of antibiotics and a lack of exercise.
“When I finally had a full pregnancy and our daughter was born, I thought that was it, a change was needed.
“I tried diets but they didn’t work. I was lighter but still not healthy.
“When I had to accompany the children to school, it took me 20 minutes instead of 10.
“Having the kids made me realize that I had to change something.
“In October 2015, I decided that I had to change my lifestyle for my children and for myself.”
“After my pregnancy, I became intolerant of dairy products.
“Both children had allergies, our son was badly affected.
“Three years of poor sleep for him and us and the treatments didn’t seem to work.
“I’ve had dermatologists tell me one thing, but what I saw was another.
“With what I had learned from research and documentary, I set out to make a difference in our lives.
“I went through the elimination process to find out what they were intolerant of.
“I found out that my son was intolerant of sulfates, dairy and gluten, my daughter was also intolerant and I couldn’t watch them suffer anymore, no parent could.”
By following the advice of the online documentary and using her skills and knowledge of healthy foods, her health and that of her children improved.
Walking to school was a 10 minute walk now and quickly led to the jogging house.
Now Ms. Purchase is participating in the Street Parkrun.
With a new zest for life, Mrs. Purchase decided to share her new knowledge with the community.
She gave up working full time, took out relief blanket, and looked for new ways to make money.
With her passion for cooking, it made sense to cook healthy foods that she loved and started a pop-up kitchen in Street.
Ms. Purchase said, “People were very nice and positive about the food. They kept saying why don’t you open a store?
“Even though the food can be gluten-free or vegan, it is still tasty and natural, so people who are not vegans can also benefit.
“I’m not a vegan myself, I eat chicken and fish every now and then, I speak to everyone.”
With comments as positive as “there is nothing else like it in the village,” she set out to find a store.
On August 24, 2019, Ms. Purchase opened her Whole Food Cafe in High Street, Street.
Ms. Purchase said, “I had to change my original concept once opened.
“I intended the store to be take out, but people also continued to ask for food there.
“I needed to have things like plates, cutlery, chairs and a table to do this.
“Within a week it was coffee and take out.”
The menu is designed to allow people with allergies or intolerance to eat out or have take out knowing it will be safe.
For those who don’t have such worries, the menu is as varied and tasty as any you might find, with the exception of perhaps one recipe – Pepperpot.
It is a Guyanese recipe influenced by the ethical blend of the country’s indigenous peoples with African and European influences similar to Caribbean culture and cuisine.
As Christmas approaches, the Pepperpot looks set to make its Street debut.
Pepperpot is an indigenous dish that is traditionally served at Christmas and at special events.
It is a meat dish, but fish can be used, accompanied by another indigenous specialty, cassava bread.
Usually made from beef or wild game.
It can be made with chicken or fish.
The sauce is herbal made from cassava root vegetable.
The meat is strongly flavored with spices and cassareep, a sauce made from cassava root and flavored with Caribbean hot peppers.
The dish takes several hours to cook and is prepared in a large pot because it can be reheated and served the following days so that the cassareep begins to preserve the meat.
Ms. Purchase said: “What I offer are healthy and tasty meals made with natural products and fresh ingredients. Lots of plant-based foods.
“I have experienced what food can do for our bodies. Now I want to give something back to the community that has supported and encouraged me.
“I can advise and talk to you about any dieting or weight issues, absolutely free of charge. Not eating or dieting is not enough.
“Eating healthy foods and feeling full is important.
“The portions I serve are generous but because it’s healthy, it’s not going to make you fat.
“My children, like many, are difficult. I make sure that they have a good breakfast and a good evening meal and that they can snack in the middle of the day.
“Bringing foods they don’t like to picky eaters doesn’t have to be a battle. Smoothies are a great way to present things. “
The cafe already has customers from all over and attracts local customers.
Ms Purchase said: “I had a whole family of celiac disease sufferers eat here who said how grateful they were to have the opportunity to eat out and be able to feel at home. comfortable that their needs were understood.
“I can offer dairy-free alternatives, vegetarian and vegan options as well as healthy non-vegan or vegetarian options. “
Gluten is also seen as a problem for female hormones, and Ms. Purchase runs a Facebook group to help and support women.
Ms. Purchase is considering the idea of having a “low cost meal” menu outside of peak hours.
Ms. Purchase said: “I plan to put on a menu, let’s say right after school, full of healthy but inexpensive meals for a few pounds.
“I hope to encourage low-income people to try a healthy alternative to low-cost prepared meals from the supermarket.
“For me, it’s not all about the money, it’s about eating healthy. My prices are much lower and the portions are generous.
“My hot boxes can feed three people, there is so much in it and everything is healthy.
“I want to help those who are looking for support to improve their lives and their diet. Anyone can come and ask for advice and I will help you.
“I don’t want others to have to go through what I’ve been through before changing my lifestyle.
“My husband thinks I’m nuts doing this. He’s not intolerant of anything and thinks he’s healthy, but he’s very supportive and proud.”
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