I know for most of you, there’s NOTHING better than a freshly baked cookie. Hot out of the oven, melted chocolate chips, butter coating your mouth, delicious chew and crumb as you devour the morsel. Yea, nothing better.
For most people, this experience is routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just as eating pizza, sandwiches, french toast, or cereal is just a normal rite of passage. All these items contain a wheat product, and because of this they all contain the protein gluten. *For %5 of the population wheat intolerance equates a life with NONE of these foods.
This intolerance is called Celiac’s Disease. Celiac’s Disease is an auto-immune disease, with an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Having an allergy to gluten is like being allergic to air, it’s everywhere. It is the building block of most foods we consume and because of this is widely used. Because wheat is such an important ingredient in many foods we consume daily, living with Celiac’s Disease is incredibly difficult and trying. Also there is a large part of the population who live with the disease without ever being diagnosed.
On the bright side, more research is being done than ever to produce high quality “Celiac friendly” foods. Although Celiac’s Disease is increasingly becoming common knowledge, and there are manufacturers producing gluten-free products; most of them taste like cardboard. (In my opinion)
Now imagine having Celiac’s Disease, and not being able to enjoy that cookie experience…
Recently I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a friend, Katie Madonna Lee, whom I met several years ago while she was attending film school and I was visiting a friend in New York City. The years have passed, and now she is an accomplished film maker and I live with that friend, in New York City. Of all the things to come both our ways, one thing that Katie has come to find is that she has Celiac’s Disease. The diagnosis may seem like a nail in the coffin, but for Katie it was a relief. An answer to years of uncomfortable feelings, pain, and not knowing why she felt this way. Coping with Celiac’s was something she had to learn. She had to adopt a new way of life. When she finally started feeling better, that’s when she realized that there weren’t any “good gluten-free baked goods.” Then and there she decided to change that and get in the kitchen. Through this process she developed Yummy NYC, a line of gluten-free, vegan cookies.
For Katie heading to film school meant a different diet. “Food has been the core of my life since I was child, my father was a Tex-mex chef, my aunt a very popular cake decorator and I worked in high volume restaurant kitchens and cafes since I was 15 years old. My life with food changed when I went to college and became a filmmaker. The hours were restrictive and I would have limited or no time to cook. Unfortunately, pizza, hamburgers, starchy foods are staples choices on film sets and on campuses. The stress and schedules and lack of raw, whole foods took its toll.“
With limited meals options and undiagnosed Celiac’s Disease, Katie started feeling it… quickly.
“After years of struggling with rashes, ill-health, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which runs in my family.“
Once diagnosed, Katie did her research and found that creating a new diet, her way, would give her the happiness and inspiration she needed.
“I was the first in my family to deal with it through maintaining a gluten-free diet and incorporating both elements of veganism and raw food diets as well. I lost a lot of weight and my skin is awesome now! The day I was diagnosed, my doctor said to me, “Your life is going to be rough, there’s nothing you can really eat.” Which was true. That is if you depend on mainstream diets to provide choices for you. I discovered so many more foods, and choices because of Celiac disease.“
Katie had a hard time at first, but once she was aware of herself and her limitations she grew comfortable with her Gluten-free lifestyle. In time she decided something was missing, and she was going to figure out how to change that.
“Of course, the first three to four months were devastating. I felt that the whole world was saying “No” to me. Especially when I went for my comfort food: cookies. I ate every product out there and I could not find anything that could match what my palate was missing. I knew I would have to dive right into alternatives.“
Katie got to work. Using techniques she learned from family members, she started to make her own cookies. Made from all natural ingredients.
“The one thing I noticed with gluten-free baked goods is that they go heavy on the sugar to mask the loss of texture and over all bland taste of the Gluten-free Three (that’s what I call the most popular gluten-free flours used in baked goods: Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Potato Flour Starch). The main issue is always finding a binding ingredient, which is why I use Flaxseed meal and coconut flour. It gives the cookies that kick and also is fulled with nutrients and solves your binding problem. I used many baking techniques I learned from my aunt and all the knowledge working in kitchens for years, which helps when baking in a commercial kitchen.“
Through this process of being diagnosed, and living with Celiac’s Disease, Katie has developed a line of cookies that are gluten-free, contain nothing but all natural, organic ingredients that she sources herself. She ultimately has created a product that is delicious and perfect for people with Celiac’s Disease or anyone for that matter that just wants to enjoy another delicious cookie experience!
Katie’s company, Yummy NYC, brings you vegan cookies that taste like COOKIES!
The other day I received samples from Katie. Her instructions were to keep them refrigerated and enjoy. So I stashed them away till after dinner… and then. I popped one in my mouth. It was the Double Chocolate Cherry, and it was out of this world. So complex in flavor.. tangy, subtly sweet, chewy, with great mouth feel. I loved it.
Next, I enjoyed the Peanut Butter Poppers, very strong peanut butter flavor, sweet and creamy. A peanut butter lover’s dream.
Then I had the Chips in a Blanket, this cookie had the best “cookie texture.” It was chewy, and had great flavor.
Last but not least was the Banana Bread Chocolate Chip, this one had a strong banana flavor, great crunch, nice texture, and overall delicious cookie.
All cookies were delicious and tasted authentic. Like real food, and it’s because they are. Katie grinds flaxseed meal fresh daily, buys products from purveyors that hold true to their promises so that she can deliver “the best” to her customers.
This is a great company and I hope you try her cookies, simply amazing!
Where to buy:
Via online at www.yummyvegan.org. “We bake by order and deliver in the city. We sell glass jars of Yummy Cookies for $5 and a large jar for $20, free shipping for orders over $25 dollars.”
For more information, follow Yummy NYC at
Celiac.org is a site set up to inform the public about the conditions associated with Celiac’s Disease, diagnosing, and living with systems. There is also ways to help their cause through volunteering and donations.
If you are feeling charitable, please make donations at Celiac’s Donations.
[* Statistical information gathered from Living Well]
Thank you for reading. Please email me with questions at