You won’t know what it is because we invented it.
This is the first time anyone has done this. It’s an experiment in some ways. Not the evidence – we’ve been working on that for a decade. But teaching baking as Lifestyle Medicine is actually totally new.
What is BALM?
Well BALM stands for Baking as Lifestyle Medicine. Occasionally you will see it written as BLAM – but that it just because Vanessa is dyslexic and she gets over excited about publishing things on the website before any of the team has had the chance to proof read her work – it is most definitely BALM.
Why have a go?
Well we know it works and what else are you going to do? If you carry on doing what you have always done then nothing will change. Apparently expecting something to change, whilst repeating the same behaviour could be considered a form of madness. So we may just save your sanity.
How do you know that it works?
Well we did a tonne of teaching and a tonne of research. We also teach some very clever people, like doctors and psychiatrists and professors…and they like what we do – and you really can bake yourself well.
Will my bread be any good?
It might be. If you follow the recipes and pay attention in class. Only kidding. The recipes are fool proof, with the timings, temperature and flour detailed in them. They are tested and taught by baker Vanessa Kimbell. She’s been baking for 40 years (yes she is that old!) and she has written lots of books. She’s somewhat unconventional, and so you never know what else she might get you doing, (she once got the class doing kegal exercises between the stretch and folding of the dough) but she will get you baking amazing bread.
We teach Baking as Lifestyle Medicine at the Sourdough School. There are libraries full of lessons and recipes, and studies, if you are interested in learning more. There are videos and tutorials and there are the live sessions. You get to talk – if you want. If you prefer you can email in your questions, and just listen in.
Will my mental health improve?
If you are someone who needs to improve your physical and mental health, then you might like to know that we teach an evidence based approach. We know it works in real life. We tested on real people. We got to experiment on them, and test their microbiomes, and score their mood. Guess what? Both improved. You might also need to do the kegal exercises for twelve sessions too as Vanessa is known for the occasional outrageously funny quip – expect to learn and laugh – just ask her to show you how to remember DDT.
We are not big, and we do not have loads of money
We build the website and the programme by working long hours and not taking the money out of the business. So we wish we had loads of money – but we don’t. Everytime we get some money we make more lessons, and we make more cool things happen. We like being small, and we are good at what we do. We’ve been teaching about Baking as Lifestyle Medicine for many years, and specialist in gut health – even before it was trendy.
Are you the best place to learn to make sourdough bread online?
Yes – we are brilliant. And our approach is unique. It is about so much more than just bread.
Do something that matters.
Most of what we do in life is mundane, so when it comes to bread we like some passion in our loaves.
Let’s not accept the only way to bake as big holes. We will get light and airy bread, but I’m just as interested in big poops. Yes you really did read that. Digestion and the gut are central to your mental health and you will learn all about it.
Your Club membership is about more than high holes – it is an alternative way to learn and by becoming part of a community of food activists as you learn to bake bread that improves health, reduces environmental damage, and challenges the dynamics of inequalities in the food system. You get to make a difference, and we think that matters.
We also teach you alternative and delicious ways to avoid junk, whilst discovering some seriously delicious and affordable alternatives. It’s a great way learn to bake, eat and share bread.
Now this is flipping great
So when we said that Vanessa has a naughty sense of humour (you picked up on this right?) you might love that the funding for the social prescribing comes from the licence fees that are paid by industrial bread producers to improve the nutrition in their bread. We all need to up our game, when it some to bread, and Vanessa isn’t a bread snob. We don’t do elitism. Yes you will learn to make artisan bread, but sourdough is not just to be made by virgins in the moonlight or bearded hipsters (all welcome to join including bearded hipster virgins who bake in the night) it is a process that should be the main way all bread is made.
I heard there is a fund to help with ingredients if I am finding it difficult to afford the ingredients
You heard right. We’re working on an application form, but if you need help don’t just flounder around, and feel awkward. Just email and ask. We are here to help, and we will ask that you pass it on when you get the chance. It will return to us when we need it.
Screw conventional learning
Yawn yawn. Learning online is boring. Our approach is different – and we totally reimagined and redesigned online learning to give you the opportunity to be part of a movement in social justice.
With live classes, and libraries, and a forum and competitions, and a magazine, and you will discover that the team are fabulous. Passionate and generous and a little bit bread crazy.
We do cool stuff with your money!
Even if you are a subsidised members you are making a difference. Why? Well we reinvest your fees to bring about change, and you get to talk to the people doing this – our teachers and guests – and you become part of a community that has purpose. The Club has evolved over many years, but we consider this the virtual way to attend The Sourdough School where we go above and beyond to support, inspire and empower. We should warn you though…there is no going back. Sourdough baking is a cult.
The cult status? Well try mentioning sourdough to your hair dresser, and see if they pause for breath. Oh you mean will your health improve? Yes I am afraid so.
You see if you eat well (and we do teach you to do this too) then you feel better. Our approach to teaching is evidence based (you can see an overview of the case studies taught on the Diploma at the School here), interactive, and you will learn more than you knew there was to know about baking and how you can support health by baking as lifestyle medicine.
Just make sure that you join the live sessions and the forums where people will genuinely be interested in the new flour you are using.
Next…you can read about the 30 seriously great things you get with your membership
“Vanessa Kimbell’s expert advice completely demystifies the art of sourdough bread making. Her simple approach to sourdough means that even a novice baker will be confidently baking with wild yeast in no time.”— Bakerybits.co.uk, The UK’s leading
supplier of artisan bread making equipment
What is our favourite part of running the Club?
Well, we love adding new recipes as Vanessa develops them, and we all love the live lessons and getting to know you and your baking. You have weekly face to face live sessions with our expert team including the amazing @VanessaKimbell as well as our house GP, Nutritionist, Wellbeing Expert and Lifestyle Coach.
Here are just some of the benefits of membership from learning to bake your way to better health.
What do other people say?
“This is a journey. And these aren’t just courses. Kimbell wants to change the bread we eat, one loaf at a time. She’s the real deal: a total inspiration.”–Diana Henry, is the author of nine cookery books and the Cookery Writer for The Telegraph
“If you are going to eat bread, then Sourdough is a good option. My advice? Eat bread in moderation as part of a Mediterranean diet made with wholegrain flour, that has been long slow fermented. This kind of sourdough will have higher levels of fibre and resistant starch, so it is more satiating. It also provides more fibre that is loved by the positive microbes in your gut. A great resource for learning this approach is from The Sourdough School, run by baker Vanessa Kimbell.“Dr Michael Mosely is a science presenter, journalist and executive producer. He is also the author of the international bestselling books.