Q&A: Founder of Bonnievilles Power Cookies
This Newton native created a healthy cookie that’s gluten free, vegan, and made with all natural ingredients. Too good to be true?
A cookie that’s healthy seems like a paradox, right? Not for Newton resident and former personal trainer Bonnie Clancy, the founder of Bonnievilles Power Cookies. She created a line of healthy cookies that’ll get vegans and gluten-free converts cheering. Each cookie hold about 7 grams of protein, an entire serving of whole grains, and plenty of dietary fiber. The cookies are also made without additives or refined sugars.
Basically, Clancy created a great tasting “protein bar” but in the form of a cookie that is now available in Whole Foods locations throughout New England. We caught up with Clancy to find out how she managed to create a cookie that’s nutritious, delicious, and powering top athletes.
How did you start Bonnievilles?
I was a private trainer with my own exercise studio. I was also teaching healthy, vegan cooking classes and I would sell some of the foods I would make in class at local farmers’ markets. One of those treats was a healthy peanut butter cookie that would sell out every time. From there I made a couple of different kinds of variations, and they would also always sell really well.
How did Bonnievilles expand?
It started with just my sister-in-law and me baking the cookies in my kitchen. One day I went into Whole Foods and asked a worker if they sold peanut butter in bulk. He asked me why, and when I told him he told me to bring in some of the cookies. Turns out he was what Whole Foods calls a forager, which is an employee who finds local food companies to sell in the stores. So we started in that one store in Newton in 2011, and we have since expanded into Whole Foods in every New England state, except Vermont.
Why did you decide to make it a power cookie instead of a power bar?
I love cookies, and am always looking for something sweet to close off a meal. We wanted to give people the warmth and comforting feeling of eating a cookie but with a lot of nutritional value. Also a lot of people want the protein but don’t necessarily like protein bars.
What makes this cookie healthy?
It’s the ingredients. We don’t use any evaporated cane juice or cane sugar, because they have no nutritional value. Instead we use maple syrup and brown rice syrup. These sugars keep you fuller longer because you burn through them slower. Also maple syrup has zinc in it, which is a mineral that helps keep your immune system healthy.
What other types of ingredient’s do you use?
All of our ingredients gives something nutritional back to your body. They are also all natural and unrefined. For example, a lot of the spices we use have antioxidants, like cinnamon. Brown rice flour and oat flour provides each cookie with an entire serving of whole grains, and the oat flour along with the coconut also makes them high in dietary fiber. Then a lot of the protein comes from the nut butters we use, which is what makes it a power cookie.
What does it mean for an ingredient to be unrefined?
You want unrefined ingredients because there are no additives. Additives are just extra calories and don’t provide any nutrition for your body.
Why did you decide to make the cookies vegan and gluten-free?
They started out as vegan because I don’t eat dairy, and they became gluten-free because the ingredients we were using just happen to be. We didn’t mean it to be that way, but it’s great to be accessible to people with various different dietary restrictions.
Is it only vegans and allergy-free folks eating your cookies?
All types of people eat our cookies, but because they are high in protein and nutrition they are especially great for athletes. There’s actually a woman who is walking the entire Appalachian Trail for six months, and she’s having our cookies sent to her along her way.
How can we stay healthy without sacrificing the foods we love, like cookies?
I think that you just have to be more conscience about what you are putting into your body. Make sure that you can pronounce all the ingredients on a label and you know what they are. Eating healthy isn’t necessarily about the calorie count.