I have always been interested in food, recipes and health. Here is my life long journey to what lead me to Homemade By Lola:
My love for food started as a child. One of the (many) things I dreamed of being was a food critic. Then as a young adult, I dreamed of being a Chef. My awareness of food as nutrition, began when I had high cholesterol from ages 9 - 13 and again as a teenager and young adult as I was suffering from chronic migraines. Even though I would lose most of my eyesight, become nauseous and get sick -- at times even while driving -- from these migraines, I decided to take matters into my own hands and change my diet instead of taking the medicines prescribed to me. That being said, I am not against medicines if you truly need them. Please consult a doctor if you suffer from migraines. I wanted to try the holistic route before trying prescriptions -- and it worked wonders for me! I never had to take a prescription for migraines and cured myself by changing my diet alone. This meant no fast food, no sodas and no red wine since 2006.
Fast forward a couple years to 2010 when my husband, Justin Van Aken, and I met. I was a server and he was a Co-Chef at his fathers restaurant, Norman's 180, in Coral Gables, FL. Seeing him for the first time gave me butterflies but it wasn't until he made me his mothers recipe for garlic bread (in Key West in what would later become our first home together with our baby girl) when I had a feeling that we would someday be married. What can I say? I love a man that can cook and hold his family in high regard!
Two years later, after much mentoring in the kitchen and traveling with the family to assist with cooking events, we married in a beautiful farm in Homestead, FL and birthed our daughter, Audrey, in Key West.
While I was pregnant in Key West, I started baking. It all started when I was craving flan and I swore nobody could make it quite right. I should mention here that I didn't actually TRY anyones flan -- but who argues with hormones?? So, even though I had never made flan before, I believed I could make an amazing flan and set out to it. May I just say how delicious it was! There was no looking back from there. I was unstoppable. I was a baking machine! My husband and I couldn't eat my baked goods quickly enough; we couldn't even give it away quickly enough! After suggestions from several friends, and finally mustering up the courage, my at-home baking business, "Lola's Homemade", was born. Now we had a new challenge, I couldn't BAKE quickly enough to keep up with the demand!
My interest in the affects of our choices in food in connection with our health came up again as a mother while living in Atlanta, Ga in 2015. When my daughter was 2 years old, she had a serious and constant sinus issue. After working with her pediatrician and only seeing temporarily results, I consulted with the Dr. again and decided to go the holistic route by changing her food intake. We cut off all dairy from her diet and It Worked! This was a big deal for our family because just about every one of our meals had dairy in it at some point. It felt as if I had to learn how to cook all over again.
I've learned a lot since then and continued questioning the affects of food on our bodies. This lead our family to giving up meat and dairy and bringing us to where we are now. My husband is mainly plant-based with vegetarian and pescatarian (only local, fresh caught seafood in Key West) tendencies, our daughter is mainly plant-based with the rare and occasional tendency for seafood and chicken and I'm mainly plant based with raw vegan tendencies while rarely and occasionally, I'll also have local, fresh caught seafood in Key West. I'm not saying that this is the one and only right way to eat but as for me and my family, this is hat works best for us, thus far.
I started Homemade by Lola (this website) after years of family and friends reaching out to me for baked goods, recipes and tips on how or what to cook. As a mom, a wife -- and what feels like a modern day settler, moving 9 times in 8 years from Miami, Fl to Key West, Fl to Atlanta, Ga and back again -- I don't always have the time to respond to my loved ones even though I always want to. Through all these moves, I've had to reinvent myself professionally but the one thing that has always stayed true is my love and curiosity for food and my eagerness to share it with the world. This how my website and Instagram, "Homemade by Lola" was born. These two forums allow me to continue helping the community around me find ways to feed and nourish themselves and their loved ones while staying connected.
I hope I've covered all the basis!
Peace, love, plants and sunshine!
Lola Van Aken