PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) – Most days, Rene Courville wakes early in the morning and heads straight to the kitchen of her Prairieville-based home. This is because since May of last year her kitchen has become her bakery.
The business is called ‘Balanced Bites by Rene‘ and it has exploded in popularity.
“I definitely didn’t think it would be like this. At first, I was happy to get one or two orders a week, and now I’m like oh no, please no more. I can take no more. I’m sorry,” says Courville.
Before this decision, customers could call her at the last minute with requests for baked goods. But now, these requests must be made one to two weeks in advance.
The reason she’s so busy is because all of her products are gluten-free.
For those with dietary ailments, like celiac disease, Rene is there to help. She says the closest baker that is making gluten-free goods is in New Orleans.
“Once you get completely off of gluten and when you eat it again, then you get very sick. It’s one of those all. You have to be all in 100 percent all the time. You can’t do 80-20. You have to do it all the time. So, it makes it very difficult for people,” she says.
After she was diagnosed with celiac disease about a decade ago, Rene had to change her way of cooking completely.
”My husband could never find gluten-free cakes for me for my birthday and such. So, I figured if we had that issue others have that need as well,” Courville says.
After graduating from LSU with a food science degree, the Baton Rouge native combined her love of cooking, decorating, and her new skill set to help others with food allergies.
”Probably the hardest was no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no corn which powdered sugar has corn in it. Which many people don’t know. Frosting normally has shortening, which has soy. And no artificial color. So, I made them a cookie cake,” says Courville.
She says the biggest compliment she receives is when people can’t tell the difference.
”I love it when people do that. Yea, I gave it to my whole family and they couldn’t believe that are not gluten-free and they couldn’t tell it was gluten-free. Especially if it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, with no artificial colors, like all of it. And they’re like, yea couldn’t tell. Makes me happy,” she says.
Although the plan right now is for Rene to continue working out of her kitchen, she does have plans to start nutrition counseling and even grocery store tours for those that need help navigating their dietary issues.