Cookbook Photography

Cookbook Dream: Bring joy to people with food allergies, restrictions, and energy limitations while helping an important cause!

Hi, my name is Rachel

I was a specialty food shop owner when my life was upended by illness. Like many disabled people, my savings were quickly drained by medical bills and just getting by. Not only did I have to sell my shop, give up my livelihood, and my passion, I also suddenly couldn’t tolerate any of the foods I’d built a career and life around. I feared I’d never be able to enjoy a meal with others again, one of life’s great pleasures.

It turns out my fear is shared by people with a variety of chronic conditions, food allergies or sensitivities, and energy limitations for preparing meals. Figuring out what we can now eat can be a painful, long learning curve. Surprisingly, people with very different conditions often end up eliminating the same foods to help them feel better.* Not cured, but when you’re really sick, incremental improvement is huge.

As a homebound person with no stamina, I had to figure out unfussy dishes within these new food parameters with short ingredient lists so they’d be easy to prepare. The recipes I was finding were lackluster, so I started to create my own recipes using the skills I’d honed in my food career. I never imagined the process of creating foundational recipes would rekindle my passion for food. Yet with every coconut milk swap and citrus squeeze, a dream began to emerge of a cookbook of my recipes that could bring joy back to all sorts of people living with chronic illness, food allergies, and energy limitations.

100% of the cookbook royalties are being donated to Open Medicine Foundation.

Pictured: chocolate mini-bundt cake + chocolate ganache drizzle
(gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar-free)

Food could still be one of life’s great pleasures, a delicious and full sensory experience with everyday dishes that celebrate what’s in them rather than what’s left out. I could share these dishes with people I love —with no apologies or explanations. As I began to tell others of my dream, people with all sorts of conditions—multiple sclerosis, diabetes, celiac disease, mast cell activation, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions as well as ME/CFS and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that I have—experience so many of the same losses around food. They were excited about my cookbook for not only weeknight meals but also for holidays and family events -- gatherings that can be so difficult for us or the people cooking for us. I had to make this cookbook dream a reality for all of them too.

After eight years of working at this, I’ve created seventy-five recipes ready for publication. I landed a great publisher who gave me a generous advance (for a first-time cookbook author) to apply towards the photography. High quality food photos are essential for a successful cookbook today, but publishing has changed and authors must bring all of the creative work to the table. So after my advance, I still have to raise $39K to make the book a reality. And if that weren’t enough, in order for the book to be released next year the photos have to be taken soon. I’ve raised $8K so far from my patient community, which is remarkable given how disabled so many are, and the financial insecurity we all face.

I don’t claim this to be a cure for my conditions or any others -- though a lot of doctors and nutritionists are fans, and people with many conditions report feeling better eating this way. I’m still mostly homebound. My husband does all of the grocery shopping and helps me with prep—for which I’m so grateful. Many people without support have that extra hurdle for cooking, so my recipes have them in mind. I’m also very thankful that as limited as I am, I’m still considered among the more moderately ill; some of the most severely afflicted by ME/CFS develop sensitivities to foods so profound that they need feeding tubes to survive. It is for these fellow patients that I’m giving all of the profits from the first year of this cookbook to the Open Medicine Foundation, one of the best hopes we have for finding causes, treatments, and a cure for this terrible disease.

Dr. Ron Davis is one of the researchers OMF helps fund – he’s working tirelessly to help save his severely ill son Whitney.

If I can raise the funds for photography, my book, All in Good Taste, will be released next year (June 2024) in both the US and UK (with metric conversions for our friends abroad). Without the funds, this cookbook will not come to fruition.

Please support my dream of a cookbook for so many people living with food limitations, and to help people like Whitney and those with ME/CFS along the way.

Why does the photography cost so much?
This is actually a modest budget for seventy-five professional food photos. The costs include Studio rental for 9 days, a Prop stylist who sources the linens, background surfaces, dishware, serveware and flatware needed for each recipe, the Photographer (who's staying on his friend's sofa to keep costs down) who handles the lighting set-up, photography of each dish and the author, then all the post-production editing. Photography assistant who helps the photographer with lighting, breaking down scenes, and running errands, Food stylist who shops for all of the ingredients, preps in advance, cooks and styles each recipe, and Food styling assistant who shops, preps, cooks, cleans, washes dishes, handles mishaps, and helps maintain the schedule. I’ll be there; it’ll be the biggest nine days I’ve attempted in more than eleven years.

* Every recipe is free of these commonly triggering foods: gluten, grains and pseudo-grains, dairy, soy, nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes), legumes, squash, spinach, pork, shellfish, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, cashews and peanuts.

I’ve had some help putting this campaign together from fellow disabled ME patients, all of us working as best we can within limitations to “still accomplish something meaningful.”

THANK YOU for your support!

Donations (318)

  • Jill Easton
    • $25 
    • 3 d
  • Chrisanna Johnson
    • $25 
    • 3 d
  • Janet Dafoe
    • $100 
    • 4 d
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 4 d
  • Anonymous
    • $30 
    • 27 d


Rachel Riggs
San Diego, CA

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