Guilt-free sweets and eats

Brittney Duncan

Photo by Suzy Tolen

Brittney Duncan moved to Chico last summer after her husband got a job in the area, and subsequently found herself unemployed. During that transition period, she wondered whether she should hit the job hunt hard or fulfill her childhood dream of owning a dessert business. She decided to go for the latter, but her focus on sweets has a twist: They are made without animal byproducts, gluten or sugar. Ducan had long suffered from gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux and found relief by changing her diet. She eliminated meat and dairy over the course of a couple of years. Then, she started experimenting with a diet of raw foods. Today, she estimates that 80 percent of what she eats is raw. Eating this way, she says, gives her a clearer sense of focus and much more energy. She also attributes her clearer skin to the food fare. Duncan never lost her sweet tooth, so she experimented and found that many desserts could be made with raw, vegan ingredients. That's when she got the idea for her unique treats. She turned to Kickstarter to crowdfund her start-up costs, and with the help of her friends and family, Rawkin' Live Foods was born last October. While Duncan started with recipes such as her Salted Caramel Crownies, Cacao Berry Sin Cakes and Avocado Cream Pies, she's now expanded into entrees such as Cabbage Cup Tacos, made with those leafy greens, along with ground nuts and seasoning and topped with fresh pico de gallo. People can find Duncan's treats at the Thursday Night Market, Chico Natural Foods Cooperative, or order them online through her website,

What raw ingredients do you use?

Nothing we use is ever heated above 105 degrees. Everything maintains its original, intended nutritional content, instead of cooking things and cooking off a lot of nutrients and the vitamins.

How does that factor into baking?

I don't bake anything. Nothing is ever heated. All I do is use a food processor, a blender, a knife and a cutting board. Everything is made up of dates, fruits, nuts, agave nectar, those kinds of things.

Why start this business?

I became raw vegan a couple of years ago. I had just started a health journey, experimenting with my own diet, seeing what felt better for me personally. I went from eating meat and slowly worked my way toward veganism and discovered raw vegan foods and just how much nutritional punch it packs. If you're eating it raw, you're getting so much raw nutrients and minerals. After I did that, I started playing with desserts, of course, because I had a sweet tooth. I was blown away with what I could do and I would feed them to all my meat- and dairy-eating friends and everybody was just blown away. So I figured why not? Let's see what the rest of the world thinks.

How do you develop your recipes?

They're inspired by desserts and foods that are normally made with dairy and gluten. I try to imitate them; I just start playing and testing recipes over and over and over and over again until I find something that resembles what I'm copying.