BUILDING A BETTER SWEET TOOTH Laura Trice.
Like Maine companies Little Lad’s Bakery, Maple’s Organic Ice Cream, and Portland Phoenix 2010 Best Cookie winner 13th Cookie, Portland native and healthful-cookie entrepreneur Laura Trice has based her career on building a better sweet tooth. Trice, an MD who splits her time between Los Angeles and Portland, has been in the business of healthy junk food since 2001, when she left medicine to launch her cookie company, Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food, in Venice, California. The company currently distributes its fruit-sweetened, vegan, and kosher cookies in natural-food stores nationwide (in Portland, you can find Laura’s cookies in the Whole Foods bakery and at Maine Medical Center’s coffee shop, where a share of the proceeds helps pay for Maine students to attend medical school).
The American Heart Association last month released its “Life’s Simple Seven” list of healthy heart practices, which includes what is perhaps old news at this point, that healthy people often avoid refined sugars and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Trice’s personal food philosophy follows suit, and she shares the secrets of her healthful noshing in The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook, (Running Press Books, $17.95) her new collection of dessert recipes based on nutritious snacks cultivated in her mother’s Portland kitchen. On Sunday, Trice will appear at Longfellow Books signing copies of the cookbook and sharing food samples based on her recipes.
“I grew up baking,” says Trice. “Medical school gave me some credibility to understand how the body works, but I learned about cooking from my mom, who learned it from her mom.”
The eldest of three sisters — her siblings Stephanie and Elizabeth Trice live in Portland, as does her mother, Sally — Trice was raised eating food made from scratch. Her homemaker mother had been raised on a chicken and dairy farm and baked with family recipes that used fruit sweeteners like bananas and apples rather than refined sugar and whole grains rather than refined flours.
Trice’s Portland upbringing created the foundation for her healthy-food philosophy, which focuses on moderate consumption and ingredients whose minimal processing has allowed them to retain peak nutrition. Those of you whose definition of diet means counting calories, fats, and carbs won’t find much help here — Trice hasn’t included that info in the cookbook because she believes the numbers game can be counterproductive.
“It’s not something I’m passionate about or I do,” says Trice. “I’m more interested in people baking and cooking together as a family and spending that time and focusing on those ingredients.”
Laura Trice signs copies of The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook Sunday, May 16, at 3 pm at Longfellow Books in Portland.