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About Us

Jo and their family dog, Frank, who also suffers with multiple allergies.
Hello, I’m Jo, business owner & creator, blogger, recipe creator and professional gluten free cake tester (well, one can only dream *coughs… I eat cake all the time* Shhh!). Before we get started, lets set something straight… I LOVEEEE food.
Some people may feel that being diagnosed as a Coeliac is a curse, for me it was a fun, new challenge! Whilst there are still times I resent it (like the wedding that you go to, assured that you would be fully catered for and you are served is a bowl of dry salad), on a whole I weirdly love it.
I have cooked since I was really young. In fact, entrepreneurship might have always been destined for me, I must have been maybe 8 or 9 years of age and I used to make crumbles and cake for family and family friends in return for pocket money. I used traditional recipes and tweaked them a little to my tastebuds, I also used to bake by eye… not a scale or scoop in sight! These days I am reasonably more technical with my baking, although I am often caught tweaking or messing about with even my own recipes!
Anyway, being diagnosed reignited my passion for creating dishes and lit the fuse inside of me wanting to recreate my own version of recipes, proving that you can have meals that are deliciously gluten free. Having lived with Coeliac Disease for over 12 years and multiple food allergies that have come about along the way, I made it my mission to be able to enjoy food still and to make it fun.
These days we have double whammy, my daughter (who is now 8) is also dairy and wheat intolerant, so I have had to learn how to cook food that young people enjoy too.
 

*** My story and diagnosis ***

I live with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Coeliac Disease, Dairy Intolerance, multiple food/medication allergies and Idiopathic Anaphylaxis, a rare life-threatening blood disorder linked to frequent multiple allergic reactions. It means days can be difficult, and we don’t know what type of day I am going to have until it starts. They can be full of pain, extreme tiredness, or multiple anaphylaxis reactions which are mainly triggered by food, liquids, hormones, and stress triggers. Needless to say, anything can change our day in an instant. It also means I know all too well the beneficial effects on the body when you follow the right diet for you.  

As a family we do everything we can do to make life a little bit easier for ourselves. Part of this is to eat and live as chemical and toxic free as possible and to eat as clean as we can, while catering for our allergies and intolerances.

Since the beginning years I have spent so much time researching and finding ways to heal the body naturally and ways to enjoy gluten free food, I wanted to put this knowledge to good use and share it with other people.

A lot of people wonder about the diagnosis steps for Coeliac disease. For me it was a little more complicated than it needed to be, I was incorrectly advised to follow the full the FODMAP diet for many years as they didn’t know what to do with me, and was advised to stop eating gluten straight away, which gave us more issues when they were unable to get firm results by biopsy (I tested positive/negative). 3 biopsies later, multiple blood tests and investigations, the Gastro team finally diagnosed with NCGI (Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity)/unconfirmed Coeliac Disease as I failed prep for the last biopsy. The symptoms of me eating gluten are too severe to be able to consume it. They decided it was too stressful for my body to keep trying and, fortunately, years on, that side of my health is in good order now that the gluten has been removed from my diet.

This past year I have had additional family history given to me, that would have been helpful with diagnosis all those years ago, and Coeliac’s runs in one side of my bloodline. My Granny had forever had tummy issues but as a generational thing, she accepted that it was part of normal life. She has now been given the diagnosis and can certainly see the improvements from living with the diet that is right for her.

If you too are suffering, I really must insist that you seek medical help from your doctor and ask for a referral to the nutritionist/dietician dept for further testing. For some people, once you stop eating gluten, it’s a case of no return, and it can leave you with more problems. Going it alone, without medical assistance can cause you issues later down the line with testing, and of course, the right thing to do is to make sure that you are treating the right illness.

If you have started to look into creating a food diary, so you can track your symptoms and your daily diet, I do sell one within my clean living shop, link here.  

Cooke's Free From

*** THE BUSINESS ***

The business… We’re not talking mob family, were talking my creation Cooke’s Free From and the reason that you are reading this page. I created my business for people who have allergies & intolerances or that just want to live a cleaner lifestyle through the foods that they consume, giving them quality food that does not compromise on taste.

Located on the edge of the New Forest, in the south of England, Cooke’s Free From features a curated selection of products based on exceptional quality and taste. I have created a fresh approach to your bakery and free from shopping and am passionate about the products that are on offer. I hope you will find the perfect something for every taste bud!

We are proud to say our products are gluten free, Nut Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Soya Free, in fact they are made without the top 14 allergens as described by EC regulations: The 14 allergens are: celerycereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats), crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggsfishlupinmilkmolluscs (such as mussels and oysters), mustardpeanutssesamesoybeanssulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).

You may know the business under it’s previous moniker – The Modern Apothecary. I do still sell eco daily living products, however these have been separated off from the main business, into a shop of their own, which you can find here here.

Living well for the body and the planet is a huge part of my business ethos. All of our bakery products are packaged in eco-friendly, wood pulp packaging that is biodegradable at home or will compost naturally within your waste. During lockdowns, I have streamlined the process as much as possible, reducing deliveries so they are direct to the customer, doing our part to reduce co2 emissions and I encourage shopping in bulk when and where you can.

We opened at the end of March 2020 and feel lucky to have won two awards: Theo Paphitis’s Small Business Sunday and #QueenOf sustainable living on Twitter. Hopefully, there are some more to come!

Life is a roller coaster, its up to us to choose how we ride it!

Thank you for choosing me to join you on your journey!!

Jojo xx

Small Business Sunday Winner - Jo Cooke BestJo Cooke Best - Queen of Sustainable Living Badge