My first encounter with a veggie noodle happened back in 2011 while I was on a food-based cleanse. Eating only vegetables (and only certain ones, at that) for days on end can turn anyone against them, even a veggie nerd like me. By day 3 there was not a single veggie that sounded good to me. Being hungry but not wanting anything is a strange sensation!
My cleanse guide sent me to the Whole Foods Market raw bar at the flagship store in downtown Austin, where I was able to order a cleanse-compliant zucchini noodle pesto dish. I was really impressed. I ate it for every meal for the next week until even those glorious noodles were dead to me. I couldn’t look at a veggie noodle again after that for a very long time.
Fast-forward a few years later when I was hit by health challenges and told I needed to go gluten-free. I had already been dairy-free for years at that point thanks to an allergy, so processing this huge diet change was both bewildering and terrifying. My initial reaction was, “I’ll just get a new doctor!” Guess what, the second doctor told me the same thing.
I spent the next 6 months wasting away as I tried to learn how to eat in this new way (I was also running my previous company, Greenling, so not a ton of time to meal plan here.) I had about 3 places where I knew I could eat, and I soon had a breakdown trying to decipher a menu when my family wanted to go elsewhere. I just wanted to order something without being the difficult person at the table for once! I’d rather eat a bowl of iceberg so I look like I fit in, or worse, be that guy that brought his own food to a restaurant. It was horrible, I felt so limited. My life would never be the same.
First world problems, right? I was finally feeling great again physically but it took an emotional toll. Soon after, I got my young kids tested and found out they had the same gene for gluten intolerance as me, meaning the whole family was in this mess. After several disheartening meals of gummy gluten free pasta noodles, I remembered veggie noodles. After an eager hand spiralizer purchase, my hopes were deflated. The tool was really hard to use and made a huge mess. The noodles were mushy and stringy, not nearly as good as what I had had before and nowhere near where I thought they could be. That was the veritable lightbulb moment for Cece’s® Veggie Co. – great noodles were possible, and I wanted to figure out how to make them. I soon embarked on a journey to create the perfect noodle.
I bought every manual and commercial machine out there and compared more attributes than I think anyone knew a noodle could exhibit. None of them made the perfect noodle. My engineering background really shined as I made spreadsheets with rankings for “mouth-feel” and “fork behavior.” I invented and patented my own machine. A machine that finally made the perfect noodle!
Also, my 3-year-old daughter Cece became our first noodle fan – all of a sudden she loved eating her veggies! She helped with the experiments and I caught her sneaking handfuls of the noodles as we were testing. When it hit me that my kid was independently (and enthusiastically) consuming more vegetables, I knew we were onto something very special. And that’s the simple, but twisted, way that Cece’s Veggie Co. was born.