#TheWomen

Yusra Rifai

Dessert innovation at its best

Yusra Rifai
Dessert innovator & founder of Rawk Me

Delectable sugar-free desserts

“I came to Bahrain ten years ago, to work in interior design. I was born and brought up in the UK, but this region and culture is not unfamiliar to me as a I have a Lebanese and Tunisian heritage. When I came here, I didn’t think I would end up staying for so long. I thought it would be just a couple of years and then I would be off. One job led to another and then I met Mazen, my Bahraini husband. We got married five years ago and Bahrain has become my home.

I was always a sugar addict. Three years ago, having gained a considerable amount of weight though my pregnancy, I decided I wanted to make a change. I wanted to feel healthier and be a better role model for my son. After reading and researching, I opted to go cold turkey and cut out sugar from my diet. This included eliminating milk, white bread and generally all refined carbohydrates like white flour, white rice and pasta. In doing so, I noticed a dramatic difference within weeks. Not only did I lose the weight but I felt a shift in my mind, I could see more clearly, and it was easier to focus. Then I thought, if this is how I feel, imagine how children feel when they’re on a sugar high!

When my child began eating solids, I educated myself and became more nutritionally aware about what I was feeding him. Now, sugar is not part of our family’s diet. We follow what I call an ancestral diet, consuming no refined foods, instead opting for wholesome and natural ingredients. Essentially, we are simplifying our dietary choices and going back to basics.

Despite going sugar-free, I still had a craving for cake but everything out there was too sweet for me! I started making my own sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan cakes from scratch. At first it was all about experimentation. The first time I made one of my cakes was for a close friend’s birthday. It was just a recipe I had found online, but it was delicious and everyone loved it, so I kept researching and bought myself some recipe books to help me experiment in the kitchen.

One of Rawk Me’s delicious creations

This is how my business Rawk Me was born. I wanted to create cakes that were delicious and good for you! Once I became more confident with my desserts, I conducted tasting sessions and approached cafes about stocking my products. I was thrilled with the positive feedback. The desserts are sweetened using dates and berries. Everything we use is natural we are trying to focus on ingredients we can source locally in Bahrain. Being in this region, dates are a key ingredient and we have created desserts with Arabic coffee, black lime, cinnamon and tahini too. We’re always trying to recreate classic desserts giving them a healthy twist. Our Banoffee pie is one of our most popular desserts.

My business partner Layla AlSharif got involved with the business a few months ago. For a long time, I had admired her work as an extraordinary cake decorator. She used to order from me and one day she offered to show me how I could make my cakes look better. I jumped at the chance. We realized that we clicked and had the potential to develop something special. Now I develop the recipes and Layla takes care of the cake design aspect and manages a lot of the day to day business. We weren’t friends before, so we don’t have unrealistic expectations of one another. We are complementing each other well. We’ve been very lucky so far as since we’ve met, so much has fallen into place.

I believe women have the ability to think outside the square and come up with unique ways in which we can express creativity and independence. In the process of expressing my own creativity, I am proud to have introduced to Bahrain, a product that is honest and a true reflection of what I believe in.”

Yusra and Layla
Layla’s story is also on our website now:  http://100bahrainstories.com/layla-alsharif/

 

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