For Brianne Coglon, food is so much more than something we chew and swallow. A registered nurse and self-professed digestive system fanatic, she believes that the journey food takes through our body is equally as important as the pleasure it gives to our taste buds.
“I’ve always had stomach issues,” she said. “And for the longest time I just thought, this is how I am.”
In July, Coglon launched Flour Petal, a specialty cake company in Kitchener that emphasizes its use of local wholesome ingredients and artful floral designs.
“My baking love started in university,” Coglon said. “But at that point I wasn’t into the nutrition and health and wellness side of food the way I am now.”
After finishing university, Coglon and her partner moved to Calgary to be close to her family.
“Kind of near the end of my time in Calgary, I started getting more into figuring out my health issues,” she said.
When Coglon and her partner moved to Kitchener in August of last year, she had some time off while looking for work.
“I spent this time experimenting and trying to combine my love for baking with my beliefs about wellness and nutrition,” she said.
Coglon began identifying the elements of baking that make desserts so irresistibly addictive.
“White flour and even some of the gluten free flours such as white rice flour contain a lot of starches which make them very high on the glycemic index,” she said. “When you have it, it breaks down right away in your small intestine upon arrival and then shoots out sugar to your blood system causing your blood sugar to skyrocket. This causes a lot of systemic inflammation.”
It is evident that Coglon has put significant time into the research and development of Flour Petal’s offerings, sourcing ingredients that have both a nutritional benefit but are still enjoyable to consume. She admits that the world of nutrition and healthy eating are difficult to navigate.
“I find that there are so many buzzwords out there these days. People will say, ‘oh, it’s vegan, or it’s gluten-free,’ and they will equate that with it automatically being better for you. There’s definitely a disconnect between what people think is healthy and what is actually healthy,” she said.
Coglon works hard to ensure that the cakes and other treats she prepares are reminiscent of desserts as you traditionally know and love them.
“I’ve worked really hard on my recipes to make sure that the consistency isn’t too dry or too dense,” she said.
She said she understands that sugar plays a huge role in our lives and that it is hard to avoid.
“I’m trying to promote a happy medium. Sugar is sugar and it breaks down into the same molecules in your body, but at least with maple syrup and honey, you get more antioxidants or with date paste and apple sauce you get fiber and vitamins and minerals. So it’s just trying to get something where there was nothing before,” she said.
A quick glance at the Flour Petal cake menu will leave you salivating. Cake bases range from the traditional chocolate to the adventurous grapefruit olive oil. Frostings include maple syrup swiss meringue buttercream and coconut whipped cream, and you can also choose fillings such as berry chia jam or lemon curd, and a final cake drip option like beet coconut caramel. To top it off, Coglon includes either dried or seasonal fresh edible floral arrangements that are herbicide and pesticide free, from Bakkerlane farms just outside of Waterloo.
While Coglon’s day (and sometimes night) job has her working as an operating room nurse, she dreams of one day turning her fledgling business into a full-time gig.
“My ultimate dream is to have my own store where I can do cake consults and also sell cookies, mini-cakes, and cakes-by-slices,” she said. “This would also be somewhere where I can also sell small bouquets of flowers and have candles and cards. It would be a very welcoming space.”