A 30-day gluten-free challenge led Nichole and Angel DiGiuseppi to a new career path.
On Sunday, they opened The Organic Cave, a Paleo bakery, in New Town.
About a year ago the couple, who live in St. Peters, eliminated gluten, grain, soy and dairy from their diet for 30 days in an effort to address allergies and migraines.
"We felt amazing," Nichole DiGiuseppi, 42, said. "We realized we felt great not eating those things. We didn't realize we felt so bad until we got rid of those things."
The DiGiuseppis adopted the Paleo diet, but found they missed eating cookies, cakes and muffins. They found it difficult to find prepared items at stores that didn't have soy or dairy.
So Nichole DiGiuseppi decided to make her own treats. In May, she started selling gluten-free baked items at the Lake Saint Louis Farmers Market and by June her products were being sold at O'Fallon Nutrition.
Nichole DiGiuseppi said she was shocked to see the demand for the products at the farmers market.
"We met so many people that were looking for the same thing because even when they went to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, they couldn't find anything," she said.
The couple made the decision to open their own shop after Cheri's Kitchen, where they'd been baking their treats, closed.
"We were like we have to do it and we have to do it fast," Nichole DiGiuseppi said.
They opened The Organic Cave just down the street from Cheri's Kitchen in New Town on Dec. 2.
On Wednesday, Joy Thomure, of St. Charles, wandered into the shop to pick up an assortment of items for her adult children and her husband. Thomure's entire family has started doing the Paleo diet after Thomure and her husband lost more than 20 pounds each while on it.
This is the first bakery Thomure has found that serves Paleo-friendly items. "I haven't found any bakeries, but we don't go to many bakeries anymore," she said.
Beyond people who try the Paleo diet to lose weight, Nichole DiGiuseppi said many of her customers have an allergy to gluten, grain, soy or dairy. When doctors recommend they eliminate those items from their diet, people end up eating a version of the Paleo diet.
Their products are made with almond or coconut flour and are sweetened with raw honey or raw stevia. They sell a garlic cheddar biscuit which has cheese, but the rest of their products don't contain dairy.
The shop is offering lemon poppy, orange carrot walnut and chocolate chip muffins, a paleo bar, chocolate cake and cherry almond bites, among other items..
Nichole DiGiuseppi said she's also working a recipe for a loaf of bread that isn't quite ready yet. She has plans to expand her menu and also where they are sold.
Currently, her treats are sold at Picasso's in St. Charles, O'Fallon Nutrition and Local Harvest Bakery in Kirkwood and St. Louis.
"We would like to have our products available for people in all the grocery stores," Nichole DiGiuseppi said. "Nationwide would be awesome. I'm shooting for the stars here."
The Organic Cave is open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
3323-1 Domain Street