Juana Canton of Little Neck has been baking for family and friends for over 40 years, but just launched her own business to sell cookies in February 2013. Mama Juana’s Treats specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and low-glycemic cookies.
Image Source: Mama Juana’s Treats
Tempting flavors like banana peanut butter, red velvet, and oatmeal cranberry chocolate chip are satisfying and flavorful, but are made with healthful ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, agave syrup, flax seeds, carob, and organic beets for coloring. The cookies are currently being sold at Vitality & Health Natural Market in Astoria (GMAP), and they will soon hit the shelves at a Whole Foods in Jericho, in Nassau County.
Canton has personal reasons for wanting to create healthier alternatives to the traditional treats everyone loves. First, she has been redesigning her own diet since being diagnosed with diverticulitis, and later, diabetes. She became vegetarian eight years ago, then went fully vegan, and follows a low-glycemic diet to control her diabetes. She wanted to continue baking, so found ways to make her recipes free of animal products and low in sugar.
Since changing her diet was so effective in improving her own health, Canton developed a passion for nutrition. At the middle school in Astoria where she works as a lunch coordinator, she enjoys helping students make healthier choices, and has introduced both a vegetarian meal and a gluten-free meal to the menu.
One of her cookies is inspired by an 8th grader named Carla, who came to her upset one day because she found out she had to start following a strict gluten-free diet. Now Mama Juana’s Treats puts out a gluten-free oatmeal cookie named after Carla. Just as she developed her first gluten-free product, Canton keeps finding new ways to make her recipes healthier, while maintaining their indulgent flavor.