VEGETARIAN JOURNAL

Vegetarian Journal Jul/Aug 2000

Guide to Vegan Cookies

by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD


"Cookies? You're going to be reviewing cookies? Can we help?" My children were quite excited about this product review; here was something they were experts on! We've had a lot of fun the past month or two tasting and evaluating all sorts of vegan cookies. Where did we find them? The supermarket had some in the natural foods section. We found more in the natural foods store. Even more turned up on the web. While we were pleased with the many vegan cookies we found, we were surprised how many "natural" cookies had egg whites, whey, honey, and other animal ingredients added to them.

There were two basic kinds of cookies. The first were fairly small in size; a serving was 3 or more cookies. Animal crackers, sandwich cremes, ginger snaps, and others fell into this category. The second kind were large cookies—a single cookie weighed 2 or 3 ounces and had a diameter of 4 inches or more. These cookies were frequently packaged singly.

Certainly flavor is a major consideration when choosing a cookie. For a special occasion, perhaps it should be the only consideration. However, if the urge for something sweet strikes on a daily basis, other factors may be important. Cookies and cakes have been shown to be one of the major suppliers of fat in diets of children and adults in the US. If you are trying to limit your fat intake, look for lower fat cookies. The larger cookies had 200 or more calories per one-cookie serving; all right if you can stop with just one. For some people, this may be easier than trying to limit themselves to only 20 animal crackers. Others would prefer to have more, but smaller cookies. Sodium content of cookies is also quite variable. None we found were super-high in sodium but if you are concerned about sodium intake, the cookies which are lower in sodium have a quite acceptable taste. Cholesterol levels in vegan cookies are not a concern.

Most cookies don't provide much besides calories, fat, and sugar. Whole grain cookies do provide more fiber than those made with refined grains, as do cookies which contain raisins or other fruits. Cookies with pumpkin or carrots as ingredients can be a good source of vitamin A. Nana's Mild & Wild Carrot Ginger Cookies had 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, and Alternative Baking Company's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Pumpkin Spice Cookies had 25%. Of course, you could eat a carrot and meet your vitamin A needs in a lower calorie and less processed way!

Vegan cookies made from whole grains are becoming increasingly common. Check the label for whole wheat flour, rolled oats, and other whole grains. We did not find any vegan cookies which contained artificial flavors or colors (what a difference compared to standard supermarket cookies!). Similarly, few cookies had hydrogenated fats. Most contained canola or sunflower oil or no oil at all.

A number of companies are electing to use organic ingredients in their cookies. Products from Allison's, Barbara's Bakery, Cookie Lover's, Country Choice, Frookies, Health Valley, Heaven Scent, Mi-Del, Nana's Cookies, and the Vermont Maple Cookie Company are all made with at least some organic ingredients.

So, how did they taste? Our absolute favorites were the "big" cookies from Allison's, Alternative Baking Company, Boston Cookie Company, and Vermont Maple Cookie Company. They were thick, chewy, sweet, and tasted as if they had been made the same day we ate them. Everyone's chocolate chip cookies were a hit. We also found a uniquely fresh lemony flavor in Allison's Lavender Lemon Cookies and Alternative Baking Company's Lemon Poppyseed Cookies. The smaller cookies tasted more like the cookies which you buy in boxes at the store. If you are longing for sandwich cremes, graham crackers, animal crackers, or ginger snaps, these are fine choices, taste-wise. So, if you're longing for cookies and don't have time to bake, try some packaged vegan cookies; you'll probably find some of your own favorites!

The number of cookies and the weight of a serving (in ounces) are listed in parentheses following the name of the cookie. Products containing some organic ingredients are indicated by "org." Products are listed from lowest to highest calories per serving.

Cookie Calories Fat (gms) Sodium (mg)
Barbara's Bakery Fig Bars, org (1=2/3 oz)† 60 0 50
Heaven Scent Oatmeal Date (1=3/4 oz) 73 1 56
Essen Smart Soy Ginger & Spice (1=1 oz) 98 2 83
Barbara's Bakery Snackimals, org (8=1 0z)† 100 5 45
Health Valley Health Chips/ Date Delight/ Apricot Delight/ Raisin Oatmeal, org (3=1 oz)† 100 0 80
Heaven Scent Vanilla, org (1 oz) 104 3 65
Heaven Scent Windmill, org (1 oz) 108 4 119
Hain Animal Cookies (9=1 oz) 110 2 80
Country Choice Animal Cookies, org (8=1 oz)† 110 2 100
Nana's Cookies, org (1=1 oz)† 115 3 4
Health Valley Amaranth/Rice Bran/Oat Bran Crackers, org (7=1 oz)† 115 3 75
Cookie Lover's Creme Supremes/ Mint Creme Supremes, org (2=1 3/4 oz)† 120 5 90
Frookie Funky Monkeys, org (12=1 oz)† 120 4 105
Frookie Animal Frackers (10=1 oz) 130 5 90
Mi-Del Snaps, org (5=1 oz)† 130 4 130
Frookie Oatmeal Raisin (3=1 oz) 130 5 135
Frookie Frookwich 150 6 95
Alternative Baking Company Snickerdoodles (1=1 3/4 oz) 170 2 70
Alternative Baking Company (1=1 3/4 oz)* 190 6 55
Alternative Baking Company (1=2 oz)** 225 6 250
Alternative Baking Company (1=2 1/4 oz)*** 250 10 190
Vermont Maple Cookie Co. Oatmeal Raisin/Chocolate Chip/
Maple Coconut Walnut/ Ginger Spice, org (1=3 oz)†
260 5 50
Boston Cookie Company (1=3 1/2 oz) 280 10 280

†Average of all flavors; *Average of Chocolate Cherry Chunk, Peanut Fudge Fusion, Hula Nut, Happy Trails; **Average of Lemon Poppyseed, Pumpkin Spice; ***Average of Chocolate Chip, Espresso Chocolate Chip, and Oatmeal Raisin

Some readers will be concerned about the type of sweetener used in a cookie. A variety of sweeteners were used. The main type of sweetener used in each brand of cookie we looked at is listed below.

Cane Juice / Dehydrated Cane Juice:
Alternative Baking Company
Barbara's Bakery Cookies
Boston Cookies
Cookie Lover's Cookies
Country Choice Animal Cookies
Essen Smart Soy Cookies
Hain Cookies
Health Valley Cookies
Mi-Del Cookies

Concentrated Fruit Juice / Fruit Juice:
Alternative Baking Company (Hula Nut Bar)
Animal Frackers, Frookie Oatmeal Raisin, Funky Monkeys
Heaven Scent Cookies

Fruitrim (fruit juice and natural grain dextrins):
Nana's Cookies

Fruit:
Barbara's Fig Bars

Naturally Milled Sugar:
Frookwiches

Maple Syrup:
Allison's Cookies
The Vermont Maple
Cookie Company

Some cookies are available only in selected areas or by mail order. Here is contact information for those brands:
Allison's Gourmet
: (800)361-8296, www.allisonsgourmet.com; Alternative Baking Company: (888) 488-9725, www.planetvegan.com; Boston Cookie Company: www.bostoncookies.com; Nana's Cookies: (800) 836-7534, www.healthycrowd.com; The Vermont Maple Cookie Company: (800) 496-9274, www.vermontmaplecookie.com.


Excerpts from the Sep/Oct 2000 Issue


The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

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September 8, 2003

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