THUNDER BAY -- A nurse, a nutritionist, a fitness trainer and now a business owner, Jenni Ritchie is constantly growing and learning. She is the owner of Buff Bakery, which provides low-carb (and often gluten free) baked goods and baking mixes for clients counting their carbs.
The business started organically when she started posting recipes on Facebook for people enrolled in the nutrition program at Synergee Fitness (owned by Ritchie’s mother.) “Someone asked me to make it for them, so I started making things on the side and selling them,” she says. Demand grew, and in February 2018, she got a spot at the Thunder Bay Country Market. Her products can be found at Kelly’s Nutrition Centre, Vitality Natural Food Market, Safeway and the airport as well. “I really thought I would just make a couple dozen muffins and I would have a good time! I never thought it was going to be a business,” she laughs.
Her customers may be diabetic or have other chronic illness that require them to monitor their nutritional intake, be following a keto diet (high in fats, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrates) or simply trying to adjust their lifestyle to meet their fitness goals. She uses a stevia-based sweetener, maple syrup or honey, and the only flours she uses are coconut, almond and gluten-free oats.
A regular store-bought muffin may have anywhere between 50 to 70 grams of carbs, whereas Buff Bakery’s banana chocolate chip muffin only has 12 grams. The only sugar in their muffin is from the dark chocolate chips and the bananas. “We provide the carb content for those who need to count their carbs,” Ritchie says, “so we are diabetic-appropriate.”
Ritchie still works part time as a nurse, as well as at Synergee Fitness. She spends almost half her time on Buff Bakery, and employs five people. As a mother of a toddler, balancing work and family is not always easy, but she has more motivation to make it work. “Being a mom makes me want to work harder, not just to provide for him, but because I want him to grow up knowing that you can do anything you want, there’s no reason not to follow your passion, even if it’s unconventional. You can chase a dream and if you work hard, you can do anything. I really try to set that model for him,” she says.
*Buff Bakery will be renamed Superior Bakes on July 20.