Sue Kakuk is the creator of Kakookies, possibly our newest favorite thing to try not to eat fifty of. We really do love them. We asked Sue, who is also a Pilsbury Bake-Off Finalist, some questions about her cookies, so finally you can meet the baker behind the best cookie around.
Tell us about how you came up with the idea for a cookie? There is just something about a cookie that is more comforting to eat than an energy or protein bar. It could be memories of baking with your Mom, grabbing a handful to share with your friends, or sneaking cookies from the cookie jar. Even big kids get their hand caught in the cookie jar! Cookies are a hand-held serving that travel well. Cookies say you care!
Why a gluten-free cookie? They are gluten-free and flour less, so they won't elevate blood sugar, was any disease a concern when coming up with the ingredient combination? Tell us. I believe in good, clean eating and since my husband and I did all the meal prep for 18 hungry, calorie-consuming cyclists, I needed to accommodate a variety of different diets. The first year I baked up a GF version of my trustworthy breakfast cookie recipe that I’d been sending to my daughter in Vermont. They were a hit and just as popular as the original. The following year of Training Camp, I was eager to challenge myself to accommodate a dairy allergy and a vegan diet. Again I succeeded in creating delicious gluten free and vegan friendly cookies that were equally popular, but I began to question the use of the powdered starches and man-made products as good fuel for these amazing athletes. I had strayed from my original focus of that first breakfast cookie I was sending to Vermont ~ A healthy cookie that offered better nutrition and healthier calories, not empty ones.
After redeveloping my recipe (that part is a secret) to meet my original goals, and sending samples across the country to my willing taste-testers, I am pleased to offer Kakookies; “Nutritious AND Delicious”, home-style cookies that just so happen to be gluten, dairy and egg free. Unlike other GF baked goods, I am not trying to copy a traditional recipe by substituting flours and calling it a GF chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie. Rather, Kakookies rely on the wholesome ingredients to deliver expressive and distinctive flavor. This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote describes my intent:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Whoa, thats a lot of research and it turned out delicious. So, what exactly is your history in food preparation? My history in food preparation revolves around “family time”. Preparing meals together is quality time with my husband. When the kids were young, we had weekly family nights when the kids took turns cooking meals. It was important for my families health and wellness. Over the years I soon discovered that good food on the table means I get to see my family and friends more often!
My garden also inspires my food prep. There is nothing more satisfying than eating a meal, appreciating every ingredient and knowing where it came from. We built a root cellar to store our garden produce but my husband Jay decided he could claim half as a wine cellar to complement our comfort food throughout the winter. I also make my own sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and apple cider vinegar.
Um, you're holding out on us! Send us some pickled goodies! And we have to ask, any new flavors of Kakookies coming out? Yes. Hazelnut Espresso and Walnut Apple Crisp. I am also working on a few savory varieties.
What's your favorite flavor? Of course I like them all; it really depends on my mood. I reach for the Pecan Apricot when I am camping, the Almond Cranberry for breakfast on the go, and Cashew Blondie is usually a mid day snack.
We heard about your Kakookies from a cyclist who had them at a race, came back and told us we NEEDED to carry them. So, what's your connection to cycling? My daughter was a collegiate cyclist at UVM. I was always so appreciative to her host families that when our local race, Nature Valley Grand Prix (now North Star Grand Prix) needed host families, my husband and I decided it was time for us to give back. It was such a rewarding experience for us, the following year we offered our home and kitchen labor to host 4 day training camps for the Pro Chase composite mens and women’s teams as well as the Womens Collegiate All Stars. This year we sponsored a team in 2014 “Kakookies Collegiate All Stars” women team. These talented young women are wonderful ambassadors of humanity and we feel so fortunate to be a part of their journey. Hosting cycling teams has been our blessing. They have been my inspiration, my taste testers, and my supporters.
Is this your full time thing now? This has become a full time job. On weekends, we spend time at our 140 acre farm on the Apple River in Wisconsin. I love to camp, canoe, visit National Parks and would love to support our cycling friends by traveling to races across the country. It is so satisfying to be a “Host Mom and Dad” !
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be, and don't say Kakookies? Avocados. And a food that I can’t live without - onions and garlic.