Monday, June 15, 2009

Article for Indy Magazine

All natural cookies – less guilt, more flavor, better for you.

We’ve all grown up with the Keebler Elves and the pink and white frosted animal crackers. Bags of Chips Ahoy cookies and those tricolored packs of wafers were always in our kitchen pantry. These treats were OK for go-to snacking as a kid, but when Mom or Grandma baked up some homemade cookies from scratch, those lifeless, flavorless cupboard cookies were temporarily forgotten.

What we never took into account is that Grandma’s cookies were all natural. She was not throwing in any artificial preservatives. She did not have butter made from cows subjected to growth hormones. She had simple, good ingredients. Ingredients that when combined could melt away all traces of sorrow with one single bite.

With fewer and fewer people baking their own treats today, we have somewhat forgotten the grandeur of the homemade cookie. It is just so easy to go to the store and pick up tube of cookie dough and even easier to grab a cellophane-wrapped, behemoth along with your morning coffee. These cookies are just a shadow compared to the rich flavors and decadent textures of a made-from-scratch, all natural cookie.

My story begins in college, where a longing for home was eased with freshly baked goods. After I left the nest, I had to learn how to cook for myself. I was not about to pack on the “freshman fifteen” with excess alcohol and dorm food, so I collected cook books, ripped out recipes in magazines, and watched the Food Network like it was my job. After many years of experimenting, I got the hang of it. I learned that I preferred baking to cooking, and my friends preferred my baked goods over my cooked concoctions anyway. I was lucky to have grown up in a household that cooked dinner six nights out of the week. I learned the importance of a balanced diet early on. I knew it was better to eat as many whole foods as possible and to minimize the intake of processed foods. This way of life snuck into my baking, and my baking was all the better for it.

After college and with no clear path ahead of me, I had an epiphany. I was going to bake delicious, all natural, made-from-scratch cookies for the masses. I knew that this was not a novel idea, but I also knew that if I did not do it, I would regret it later in life. So I called upon my friend, graphic designer, and now co-founder of our business, Karli, for help. Her enthusiasm for the idea was supreme as she also shared my passion for homey, all natural treats.

And so the business of making these tasty, yet all natural cookies went under way. You might be thinking, “I am all for the home-made cookie idea, but what’s so special about all natural cookies.” Firstly, all natural cookies do not have any artificial preservatives like those stale remnants on the shelves. Studies are being conducted on the effects of preservatives in the body. Our bodies have no use for such foreign substances. Artificial preservatives have no nutritional benefits; some researchers say that preservatives have the capability to cause various types of cancer. Yes, it is nice to be able to store your food for longer periods of time, but why not just get cookies without them. Are you really going to save a cookie for later, really? I think not. Just take advantage of a freshly baked cookie, and enjoy it at its peak.

Another factor that makes all natural cookies better is that they do not have any ingredients containing growth hormones or antibiotics. Cookies made with dairy products free of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) are better for you. RBGH has been said to increase chances of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. (

Eggs are another main ingredient in most cookies. Free range chickens do not eat antibiotic filled chicken feed. These lucky chickens eat whatever bugs and grubs they can find. Eggs from free range chickens are more nutritious than your basic white carton eggs. They contain “1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene” than eggs from caged chickens. Not to mention, free range eggs taste SO much better. (

All natural cookies may or may not (but should) contain organic ingredients. Most packaging will advertise if the food contains any organic ingredients. The more organic ingredients, the better these cookies will be for your health. Organic food products have not been exposed to chemical pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics, or synthetic hormones among other things. Organic foods are minimally processed, therefore easy for the body to digest and convert to nutrients.
Unfortunately, the government has not regulated the use of the term “all natural”, so be sure to read the food labels carefully and ask questions when you can. That is why there is a phone number listed on most packaging. One tip to eating all naturally is just to simplify. Eat foods with simple ingredients. Simple food = good food.

I hope you will turn your back on the cookie blasphemies found in the snack food isle. Pick up some all natural cookies or bake some yourself. Return to the feeling of bliss that was once given to you by Grandma. Keep it simple. Your body will thank you for it.

-Sarah Richcreek of The Hot Cookie, LLC.

PS - I am not a researcher, nor professional in the field of food science. I just believe wholeheartedly about the benefits of natural and organic foods. Thanks!

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