Rachel Eugley has a sweet tooth. It’s what drove her to the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. There she studied various ingredients, mixing and matching different tastes and textures until her palate found the perfect blend of delectable indulgences. Sounds heavenly, right?
But for Eugley, it was no easy task. That’s because she suffers from celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder that requires her to avoid gluten, the protein found in most baked goods.
Instead of it being a hindrance, however, Eugley has used her dietary limitations to open her own gluten-free bakery called Raegamuffins in Veazie. The 24-year-old is now celebrating her third year of confectionery bliss.
“We have quite a few people who need a gluten-free diet, but we have a lot of customers who are not gluten free that come here because we are also tree and peanut free,” Eugley said. “We also have vegan and dairy-free items, so a lot of people come because we’re an allergy-friendly, safe environment.”
Eugley has to avoid wheat, rye, barley, malt, or any sort of gluten in her recipes, not just for her own taste buds but also for her gluten-free customers. To make up for it, she adds a double portion of creativity when whipping together cupcakes, brownies, donuts, and breads.
“It was hard [at first] to find flour. We can’t have an all-purpose flour mixture. We have to mix our own flour for different items and we have to have it shipped here,” Eugley said. “But what I’m most proud of is our bread recipe. That took me probably two years to figure out. It’s what we make our oatmeal bread, baguettes, cinnamon buns, and bagels out of. If we didn’t have breads, I probably wouldn’t be open.”
With just three employees, Eugley and her staff start their days at 5 a.m., cooking up muffins and donuts before opening their doors to customers from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
“Our menu changes every day. Usually we have six different muffin flavors, nine donut flavors, several cookies and cupcakes, and some type of bar like a Twinkie bar, but we have the same four or five breads,” Eugley said.
One of her special concoctions is nearly impossible to keep stocked: “My coconut macaroons,” she said. “People will have a meltdown if we don’t have them. They’re my biggest seller, besides bread.”
But Eugley admits her all time favorite dessert is an American classic.
“I love chocolate chip cookies. It’s my go-to thing,” Eugley said.
And despite working around goodies all day, Eugley’s waistline hasn’t budged. So what’s her secret?
“There’s a huge difference between tasting and eating,” she explained. “We don’t come in and indulge and eat cookies and donuts all day. Everything’s in moderation.”
It may sound like a sweet gig, but Eugley, unlike most, has been forced to find balance early in her life—both personally and professionally—for the sake of her health.
“I have narcolepsy and cataplexy. If I get really emotional—happy, sad, excited or frightened—I tend to fall down,” she explained. “So it’s planning stuff out. I go to sleep at night, I wake up in the morning and I need an hour to get myself situated. Then [I] push through the day and go home and nap. You really have to take care of yourself and figure out what works for you, even if it is something strange, and push yourself through it.”
Finding that perfect balance between her health and her passion has helped Eugley enjoy life and her business baking success.
“Our regulars are what keep us going,” Eugley said. “It’s exciting when new people come in but I think it’s more exciting when regulars come in because it lets you know you’re doing something right.”