GARFIELD, N.J. – Christina Vene of Garfield creates some tantalizing treats with her new Cakes of Wrath business -- but don't worry about them torpedoing your diet.
Vene the past year lost 130 pounds through gastric sleeve surgery, exercise and better nutrition, and she enjoys her creations as much as anyone.
“I eat dessert all the time. I love dessert. Now, instead of having half a cake, I’ll have a piece of cake,” said Vene, 28. “My surgery has taught me about balance. Since my surgery, I’m always baking something"
Case in point: She’s now experimenting with a peanut butter and jelly cake to join favorites such as Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake, Irish Trinity Cake, carrot cake and chocolate ganache raspberry.
The Paramus native always loved to cook, but she found little joy in food when she was overeating.
She wasn’t sick, she said. No diabetes. No hypertension. Vene was healthy on paper.
But her weight held her back.
“I was really unhappy,” Vene said. “It starts to be cyclical: You’re unhappy about your weight, so you’re going to have a snack, and now you’re unhappy that you’re unhappy, so you’re going to have another snack.”
Now that Vene is working out at Retro Fitness in Wallington, cooking healthy meals and trying new foods — fiddlehead ferns, anyone? — she is pursuing deferred dreams.
A year ago, she said, she couldn't have stayed on her feet baking cakes for 12 hours in a hot kitchen.
“I would have been in horrible pain — back pain, foot pain, hip pain,” she said. “Today I can do it and I feel really good.”
Vene bakes in the commercial kitchen at Empanada Mania in Bergenfield, which is as practical as it is inspirational. The public may soon be able to buy an Italian Cookie Empanada.
And still Vene's dreams continue.
She's engaged to be married in 2017 (her fiance, Chris Grant, took the before and after photos above) and will attend trapeze school on Pier 40 in New York City for her birthday next month.
"It feels good to feel good," Vene said.