Culinary Calling

Motivated by an allergy-inflicted son, a Sherman Oaks woman kneads her way into the forefront of the healthy baked goods industry.

Debbie Adler is something of an expert at reinventing herself. She’s been a certified public accountant, an off-Broadway actress, a comedienne and playwright, and a TV development executive. But with her recent career turn, Debbie seems to have finally found her calling—as creator and owner of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes, a Valley-based bakery. She is also the author of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery.

“My husband is a doctor, and I was amazed at all the stories of people
getting sick from sugar. When our son was born and diagnosed with severe and life-threatening food allergies, I decided I not only wanted to do something new for myself—but help him and others live a better life,” she says. 

Two years of trial and error and a perennially messy kitchen later, Debbie found herself armed with a plethora of delicious creations that she was motivated to share. The recipes feature ingredients like coconut nectar, buckwheat flour and low-glycemic (and FDA-approved) sweeteners like stevia, which preserves healthy enzymes, minerals and vitamins in  baked goods—not something all over-the-counter “gluten-free” products
can claim. 

To test the waters, Debbie made several batches of her uber-healthy cupcakes for her neighborhood elementary school’s annual fair. Much to her delight, they sold out. School moms spread the word, and before she knew it she had orders from heads of studios and celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow who, as Debbie tells it, needed yummy treats for her gluten-free hubby. 

Fast-forward two years, and Debbie’s cookbook is on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide. And, Whole Foods Market has come calling. Debbie is working on a book tour for the grocery store chain, and plans are in the works for a teaching tour across the county. 

“It’s my mission to educate people on what allergy-free and gluten-free really means and that they don’t have to suffer with desserts that aren’t palatable. They can make their own amazing treats at home that are healthier for them,” she shares.

And for those who are baking-challenged, there’s more good news: Debbie also delivers. 

To see more of photojournalist Remy Haynes’ reinvention stories, go to