Irene Ross (www.neverendingwellness.com) is a health coach based in New York City.
When Erin McKenna, the owner of Babycakes, discovered she had food allergies, she couldn’t find a vegan bakery to satisfy her sweet tooth. So she decided to start her own bakery, late 2005.
Today, Babycakes is a thriving enterprise. The certified vegan, Kosher and parve bakery evokes memories of a sweet shop from the 1960’s, complete with memorabilia from that decade, and many, many dolls. Babycakes offers vegan, sugar free, dairy/soy free, and (mostly) gluten free donuts, brownies, cookies, cupcakes and other heavenly pastries. A Los Angeles location opened last year, and a Babycakes cookbook is available at both locations.
Celebrities (like Madonna) have been seen consuming the cupcakes. Babycakes also boasts a ton of press, including stories the New York Daily News, NY Post, Gourmet, InStyle, and Parade, among others. In 2010, New York featured the Babycakes donut in the “Best of New York” feature. In 2008, Babycakes was featured in Inc., with Erin McKenna and celebrity chef Tom Colicchio appearing on that magazine’s cover.
Backtrack to December 2009 for my own Babycakes experience:I brought some cupcakes from Babycakes for a staff meeting.Everyone devoured them with such enthusiasm, that I started to get a mental image of cats rolling around in catnip. But when a couple of people asked me what was in the cupcakes, I responded with “Finish them first and then I’ll tell you.”
It wasn’t what was in the cupcakes but rather, what they didn’t have.They weren’t loaded with sugar, butter and other goo. They were just great-tasting little cakes made with healthy, natural ingredients and topped with frosting sweetened with agave nectar.
Babycakes often uses Agave Nectar to sweeten; it is a natural, low-glycemic sweetener made from the cactus; sometimes unrefined evaporated cane juice is used.Other ingredients might include cold-pressed virgin coconut oil (which has been shown to have many health benefits), rice flour, a garbanzo/fava bean mix, potato starch, arrow root, etc.McKenna boasts that items are baked, never fried.That includes the donuts!
Many Babycakes products are gluten free, but there are some that are made with Spelt, a distant cousin of wheat. Spelt has kind of a nutty taste it’s often preferred by health enthusiasts, because it has 15-20% more proteins, is higher in complex carbohydrates, is rich in magnesium, is lower in overall carbohydrates, has not been genetically altered, and contains enzymes that assist in glucose and insulin secretion.
NOTE: Separate pans, trays, utensils, sinks and sponges are used for the spelt ingredient, to avoid cross-contamination with gluten free items.
Who is Erin McKenna?
She grew up near San Diego, California, the 10th of 12 children.She was formerly in the fashion industry, but when she founded Babycakes she said, “I never looked back.” What happens when a non-vegan, non-gluten free person wanders into the bakery by accident?
“We usually casually offer them a sample. I don’t believe in convincing people to eat this way—I think the product alone woos them.”
Babycakes is located at 248 Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow), New York City, and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
About Food Allergies
According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), scientists estimate that 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies. Symptoms can be mild, with rashes, hives, itching, etc.—or severe, with trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc. For more information, please visit FAAN’s website:www.foodallergies.org.