meet juliet & melissA
Like many people, Juliet Cavallaro’s journey to wellness started long before she was aware. After experiencing weight fluctuations as an adolescent, Juliet began a strict diet and exercise regimen that she rarely wavered from. It wasn’t until many years later she learned that her concerns did not lie in how much she ate, but what she ate. In the summer of 2014, she visited Greece with her husband where she only ate foods typical of a Mediterranean diet. Quickly, Juliet realized that her uncomfortable bloating had gone away and her usually aggravated stomach was at ease. The difference was so apparent, she became determined to look further into the effect of food on the body upon her return. Working in a prestigious NYC dermatology practice, she had the unique opportunity to do so.
At the time, her office was connecting gut health to skin health and Juliet was able to spearhead the creation of a wellness division there. Committed to learning more about her body, she underwent a slew of testing to ascertain food intolerance, chemical and environmental sensitivity, and cortisol levels in her system. The findings of these wellness tests were her “ah-ha moment” that has now shaped the rest of her life. She learned she was highly intolerant of many foods she consumed regularly, especially dairy and food containing gluten. With this knowledge, Juliet completely overhauled her diet, removing everything she was sensitive to. The results were remarkable. Her skin cleared up, her stomach was at peace, and energy was through the roof. In all, her quality of life greatly improved.
Always one with a sweet tooth, Juliet felt that her new diet was missing something: dessert! However, most desserts are filled with dairy ingredients, sugar, and gluten-containing flour. Bakeries were a land mine, the dessert menus of restaurants sure to make her feel sick. And so, she began baking, researching alternatives to wheat flour, milk, butter, and sugar. Using family and friends as taste testers, she would arrive to get togethers with trays of “healthy treats, not cheats.” Their immediate popularity was all she needed to keep going.
It was at CrossFit Nine7 that Juliet met friend and eventual Co-Founder, Melissa. They became close during the challenging workouts and realized they had more than fitness in common; they were both invested in nutrition and reworked dessert recipes to create healthy versions. From then on, a partnership was born. Well baked by Juliet and Melissa is the result of their individual wellness journeys and combined hard work. Through countless baking sessions trying out and testing different ingredients, they have put together a menu of their best recipes. Their goods are all organic, gluten and dairy free, with low sugar making it easy for fitness fanatics and those with celiac disease or sensitive stomachs to enjoy a delicious treat.
Today, Juliet is a student at the Integrative Institute of Nutrition. It was important to her to back up her personal education in wellness with professional credentials and she will be graduating in summer 2017 with a certification in Health Coaching. Until then, she is excited to share her passion for wellness through baking. She is always thrilled to see customers’ surprise when they read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists of Well baked’s products. She believes if we are more aware of how we are fueling our bodies, we can change how they run and, in turn, improve our lives. With Well baked, she is proud to be helping to make that change happen, one healthy dessert at a time.
Melissa Megias had always been a health conscious person. But, in 2012, her relationship to her health changed forever. That April, she was diagnosed with desmoplastic melanoma when a cancerous mole was discovered on her chin. Thankfully, it was caught early and a MOHS procedure was able to remove all of the cancerous tissue. A few weeks after being diagnosed, Melissa was declared clear. Although the cancer was fully removed, the experience was a shock and she decided to become even more committed to taking care of her body, both inside and out. She improved her diet, began a yoga practice, and was a gym regular.
After a few years, she felt the need to shake up her workout routine and was introduced to Crossfit by her then boyfriend, now husband, in 2015. She immediately fell in love with the challenging workouts and competitive atmosphere and has not looked back since. Taking part in a Paleo diet challenge caused Melissa to see what a difference clean eating could do for your body. She began educating herself on organic vs. non-organic foods and made sure she ate clean as much as she could. In November of 2015, she got engaged and kicked her workouts into high gear.In January of 2016, Melissa noticed she wasn’t performing as well at the gym and couldn’t breathe at times. After several tests, she was given an inhaler and told she had asthma. In March of that same year, she found a lump in her shoulder. Melissa was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma – stage 4 cancer – in both of her lungs, shoulder, and abdominal area.
The news of another cancer diagnosis was unthinkable for Melissa. She was 31, planning her dream wedding… and battling cancer? She discovered her own strength at that time and delved into treatment options. In late April of 2016, she began immunotherapy treatment, receiving two drugs through IV every three weeks. During this treatment, she saw her body undergo rapid changes. Suddenly, her stomach was rejecting foods she had never had a problem with before. Directed by her doctors, she began eliminating more and more foods to find a safe diet that her body could tolerate, essentially becoming gluten and dairy free.
Fueled by necessity, Melissa started baking all her own food. She always loved sweets and muffins and was determined to find a way to still include some of her favorite desserts into her new diet. They were an instant hit with family and friends. After joining forces with Juliet, they started using Crossfit get togethers as informal focus groups, trying out new recipes on their friends and fielding feedback on their products. With stellar reviews and a growing amount of orders under their belts, they decided to launch Well baked by Juliet and Melissa.
Utilizing her background in education, Melissa has dedicated herself to teaching customers the importance of knowing what you put in your body and finding the foods that strengthen you, never weaken. It is possible to live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy satisfying sweets, and Melissa would know. Due to her own dietary restrictions, her determination to create ways to enjoy the everyday treats she’s always loved has been freeing for her. She’s brought that invincible drive to her physical fitness as well, training to run the Long Island Half Marathon this spring and the New York City Marathon in the fall.
Melissa has found healthy baking to be an uplifting place to focus her hope, purpose, and energy while continuing to undergo immunotherapy. Through Well baked, she plans on pursuing that purpose and growing that hope during the course of her treatment and throughout her recovery.