Meet Ariel Rapaport, the chef and bright personality behind the website Colored in Flour. She brings a colorful, fun perspective to the world of gluten-free baking and celiac advocacy. Rapaport believes color is one of the most important factors of dessert presentation.
Try some of her whimsical, eye-catching cupcake recipes here.
Gluten-Free Living: Can you tell us about yourself and Colored in Flour?
Ariel Rapaport: I am a very passionate baker with a love for color, candy and cake, and Colored in Flour is all about colorful gluten-free baking!
You may be wondering why I chose to represent myself and my brand with colorful gluten-free desserts. Well, if you think about how color appeals to the senses, especially in terms of sight and taste, it has a very positive, impactful and responsive effect. In other words, the more colorful your plate of food or dessert is, the more likely you are to want to indulge in and enjoy it! I also add personality to my photos because baking is a time to have fun!
It is ultimately my intention to raise awareness for celiac disease through utilizing color— all I want to see in my lifetime is a cure for celiac disease.
Since color seems to be quite a successful eye catcher, maybe somehow, someday, all my hard work will make a positive, impactful and responsive effect to make this happen.
GFL: When did you go gluten free and why did you start?
AR: I have been gluten free for the past 12 years of my life since I started the diet in my late teens. I had no choice other than to go gluten free because I was diagnosed with celiac disease through a blood test and endoscopy.
Instead of being able to enjoy my cake, it caused me physical pain and harm to my body. No, the stomach pain wasn’t from eating too much cake, it was because my body was perceiving the cake as harmful due to my celiac disease that wasn’t discovered until years later. It’s a shame because there were many years of my childhood where I could have thrived and been healthy.
Growing up, my grandmother taught me how to bake cakes, flavor them, frost them, and decorate them. It was part of our bonding experience as a family. The saying goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” was totally true for me because I wasn’t physically able to enjoy the cakes I made with my grandmother. I’ll never forget how painful it was to eat cake and anything else in between.
My celiac disease has been a huge cause of physical and emotional pain in my life and has so often made life seem very un-colorful and unexciting. Yet, without my celiac disease, I wouldn’t have created Colored in Flour! So I guess you could say that I in fact figured out a way to have my cake and eat it too and I hope I can inspire anyone in the gluten-free community that they can also!
GFL: What are (or were) some of the challenges of the gluten-free diet for you?
AR: It is important for me to go into the details about the challenges I face being gluten free because I’m sure many others face the same challenges as well.
For me, the longer that I am gluten free, the more difficult my life becomes. Out of all the years I have been gluten free, I am not going to say this is an easy lifestyle and that it gets easier, especially if you have celiac disease.
In fact, this is what makes life even more challenging being gluten free: There needs to be more dedicated gluten-free resources available to make living the gluten-free lifestyle easier. The gluten-free diet is a major life challenge! All of us with celiac disease do not have a choice with our diet and we certainly do not have a choice with how our bodies react to the foods our bodies perceive as an attack, but we do have a choice with our health and how we treat our bodies.
Which leads me to the biggest challenge I face with the gluten-free diet: dining out.
Talk about challenges! Celiac disease puts a huge damper on my social life in terms of dining out. The way I see it, and my hope is to inspire others to realize this as well: I’d rather have my health than to risk my health knowing the consequences of celiac disease, which includes the worst of them all: cancer.
It is my belief that if we want our health conditions to be taken seriously by the world around us, we need to advocate for more 100% dedicated gluten-free facilities to open. If 100% dedicated gluten-free facilities were to become just as available as regular restaurants are, the world would be a better place for those who can’t eat gluten.
As my form of advocacy, I have stopped walking into any restaurant or bakery and asking to be “accommodated.”
The risk of cancer is not worth it. It took me a long time to realize that this is not fair for me, it’s not fair for the restaurant or bakery, and it’s not fair for my health to request an accommodation.
My fellow gluten-free community members, disclaimers are there for a reason! We must not ignore them! I never want to risk developing cancer. On the flip side, how facilities are falsely and freely able to use the term “gluten free” to market to those with health issues I see as one of the leading contributors to this issue. We need to overcome the challenges we face being gluten free, be strong, advocate for our health, and work together to put an end to mislabeling. We simply need more dedicated gluten-free resources, or even better: a cure for celiac disease, so that our lives become significantly less challenging living gluten free.
GFL: What are your tips to gluten-free bakers?
AR: I remember when I made my very first gluten-free cake. It didn’t come out perfectly and it didn’t taste that great either. Maybe you are a novice gluten-free baker and you are experiencing the same issues that I faced when I first started gluten-free baking over 12 years ago.
The key that I find to successful gluten-free baking is using only the highest quality ingredients.
For instance, everything from vanilla extract, to butter, to eggs and all-purpose gluten-free flour are all key to producing a successful outcome in gluten-free baking. To find the best flour to work with, my best advice is to experiment with what you like and what looks good to you. Just remember, no two gluten-free flours are ever the same.
Additionally, to learn how to make exciting, fun and colorful gluten-free recipes that are exactly like regular baking, check out my website, www.coloredinflour.com! By subscribing to my emails, you will receive the latest recipes, articles, and other fun and exciting news to come! I post new recipes frequently and I am only getting started with how much fun there is yet to come! I am also on social media @coloredinflour.