Chef Linda Lee Murtha's specialty bakery, The Best Ever Low Carb Cakes, has taken on a life of its own since coming to Massapequa in 2005.
It has helped change the lives of people with such dietary disorders as diabetes and celiac disease, by keeping their carb intake down while indulging in low carb, sugar free and 100 percent gluten free original desserts.
Murtha was always a wizard in the kitchen and she credits her talent to working with a line of great cooks in her family. But professionally, Murtha was a banker before becoming a baker.
She was pursuing her CFA Chartered Financial Analyst certification when her life took a sudden, horrible turn.
Her father, who was a Type 1 diabetic, suffered a fatal heart attack in the summer of 2001.
But the tragedy made her realize her true calling, to use her passion for cooking to make a difference in the lives of people who, like her father, are often left deprived when it comes to indulging their sweet tooth with the rest of the family.
She moved from her New York City apartment back to her Massapequa roots, where she grew up, and attended the French Culinary Institute. After finishing the program, she opened up The Best Ever Low Carb Cakes. She says it's the "best" thing she ever did.
"I remember sitting around the family dinner table and realizing that there was nothing for my father to eat," Murtha explained. "Nobody should ever feel like an outcast at their own table. What I do is make the kind of cakes and cookies that everyone at the table can eat."
Serving as a haven for tasty, guilt-free treats, people from all over Long Island have been flocking to Murtha's shop for her wide variety of original deserts, which have been selling like hot cakes. Among Murtha's large selection of delectables are cakes, pound cakes, donuts and muffins, which are available retail and made for order.
Arthur Monty of Massapequa is among Murtha's many regular customers. The 71-year-old grandfather, who is Type 2 diabetic and has a son and grandson with Type 1 diabetes, first discovered the store while Murtha was offering samplings during an annual walk benefiting the American Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He's been a fan ever since, regularly ordering cakes from the shop twice a week.
"Up until The Best Low Carb Ever Cakes, options were limited for people like us with diabetes and anything that was out there on the market was full of artificial sweeteners, which aren't necessarily good for you and leave a terrible aftertaste," Monty said.
"What is so great about Linda is that it is inconceivable that the deserts can taste so good and yet be sugar free and low carb," he continued. "It's unlike anything I've ever tasted and appeals to anyone – even those who don't have to watch their carb and sugar intake. You can't taste the difference.
"Thanks to Linda, we now have a reprieve in fulfilling our cravings and taste buds just like everyone else and can enjoy a treat that would otherwise be detrimental to our health."
Murtha actively experiments with new recipes to broaden desert options for people with dietary challenges, as well as for those who are simply living a on a low carb, sugar free diet, a lifestyle she has adopted for nearly 10 years. Her secret recipe for all of her low carb, sugar free treats lies in almond flour, an unprocessed, low carb flour comprised of finely ground almonds that is rich in antioxidants and calcium and a good source for essential omega fatty acids.
While Massapequa and the rest of Long Island have been taking advantage of Linda's healthy sweets over the last five years, she has expanded her business to and is now accepting orders from around the country.