The life of a gluten-free cookie baker might conjure up visions of flour-splattered countertops and cabinets filled with chocolate. But for Shira Berk, the founder of Goodie Girl Cookies, that’s just when she’s on the clock. At home, it’s a different story.
In her own kitchen, Berk, a former plus-size model with a popular Tribeca cafe, puts veggies above all else (although she saves a little room for sweets, too).
It was at her Manhattan cafe, where she served soups and salads, that she became a cookie guru and got tons of attention for them. “One customer asked, ‘Can you make them gluten-free?,'” she says. And Goodie Girl Cookies was born.
Back at home, Berk shares a (very full) fridge with her husband and three kids. Find out what she does with the pounds of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, and how many cookies a day the baker actually eats.
Have you always been health conscious? When I graduated college, I was really overweight. I was stopped on the street and asked if I wanted to be a plus-size model. I did it, but I wasn’t comfortable. That’s when I made a decision to lose weight, start working out, and get healthy. And I started focusing on nutrition. It took me five years to lose 80 pounds, but it’s been 25 years and I’ve kept it off—even after having three kids!
That’s great! So how many cookies do you actually eat? Not a lot actually. I usually just have one after lunch.
Well, if you’re not eating cookies you must be eating vegetables because I spy a ton! How do you prepare them? I’m a crazy vegetable person. I’m not a vegetarian, but I once read that the only way to make yourself not eat all the time is to be really full. For me, the best way to get really full is to eat hoards of vegetables. So I like to eat clean, but I also like to eat a lot.
So what are you cooking? Every single night with dinner, we have an enormous salad on the table. It probably has 15 ingredients, like cabbage, cucumbers, iceberg, romaine, and carrots.
I also make vegetarian soups and keep them in the fridge all week. Sometime it’s a yellow split pea with carrots, cumin, and turmeric. Another week it might be a tonic Swiss chard with leeks and fresh peas, and I make the base out of parsley, leeks, celery, and spices.
I have a wok that I love. I’ll chop up a whole cauliflower, a whole head of broccoli, a pound of Brussels sprouts, string beans, zucchini. I just lay all the veggies as closely to the bottom as I can and sprinkle them with kosher salt. They caramelize and steam.
Are the vegetables organic? I don’t really care, to be honest. I do like my eggs and meat to be organic.
What about the eggs? How do you prepare those? I eat a part of our dinner salad for lunch every day, and I put four egg whites in it.
And what about all those condiments? How do you use the Sriracha? I put a little spicy chipotle hummus and Sriracha on salads. I’m also obsessed with pickles. I’m really into the new pickle-makers in Brooklyn, but Sriracha goes on everything. —Molly Gallagher
For more information, visit www.goodiegirlcookies.com
(Photos: Goodie Girl Cookies; Shira Berk)