Prayer, and the desire to thrive after an ulcerative colitis diagnosis in 1997, turned Carla Spilak first toward organic eating and later, toward cookies. Healthy cookies. At least, as healthy as cookies can be. It’s an outcome you might expect from a West Side native and daughter of Nick “Ferocious” Ferri, who had a food stand at the Buffalo Italian Heritage Festival for many years, – specializing in Giambatta (sausage and potato stew) and pasta fagioli – and Nina Ferri, an accomplished cook and baker in her own right.
Spilak, 54, of Amherst, sold her first cookie nine years ago at the then-new Williamsville Farmers’ Market. She’s been there since, and also hawks her dairy-, nut-, soy- and corn-free wares at the new Elmwood-Bidwell Winter Market, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through April in Buckham Hall at SUNY Buffalo State. A helper, Sandy Mazella, offers Spilak’s cookies at the North Tonawanda Farmers’ Market, as well as the Winter Market at Horsefeathers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through May 7 at 346 Connecticut St. Three years ago, she set up her venture as a business, Carla's Crumby Creations, and this week launched a website, carlascrumbycreations.com.
Q. What happened after you were diagnoses in 1997 with colitis?
I became totally obsessed and consumed with the disease. As time went by, I was eating properly and taking supplements. I felt better but I never really felt great. Jordan Rubin – a Biblical health coach who has Chron’s disease and is author of “The Maker’s Diet” – helped show me how to eat right. He couldn’t stress enough how coconut oil is so good for your intestines and digestive tract. Even so, in 2009, I got so sick I almost died. I was reading healing scriptures in the Bible and would quote them out loud, day and night. There is a Bible scripture, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” I wasn’t denying this disease, I just knew I was going to be healed.
Q. Where do you bake?
In my apartment. It’s not really that big at all. The place had an electric oven and the landlord allowed me to get a convection oven, a gas stove.
Q. We know what’s not in these cookies, so what is in them?
I use all organic ingredients. I use organic spelt flour. For those who are sensitive to wheat, the spelt flour doesn’t bother them. I use organic coconut oil and everybody loves it. I use organic turbinado sugar. I use the best farm eggs; she can’t keep them in her store at Farmers & Artisans market on Main Street. Anyone who is battling intestinal diseases I do not allow to purchase my product. I also do not allow anyone to purchase my coconut macaroons, even though they are gluten-free, because I don’t have a gluten-free kitchen and it would greatly affect them if they did. I make sure I tell everybody that.
Q. What are your biggest sellers?
My biggest seller, my signature cookie, is my ginger molasses, and right after that is my coconut cream. No matter where I go, I always have to have them with me. My ginger molasses cookies have cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black molasses in them. I do have a very decadent vanilla coconut macaroon with carob fudge. They sell like crazy. The coconut macaroons are all organic coconut and Madagascar vanilla. I do creamsicles, which are all organic coconut and organic orange peel. I do snickerdoodles that are made with Vietnamese cinnamon and Madagascar vanilla. I do oatmeal dark chocolate with no soy lecithin in it at all. I do dark chocolate, currants and nutmeg.
Q. How much do the cookies cost?
One for $3, three for $6, six for $12 and a dozen is $24. They’re a beautiful size. The prices are high but the people know what’s in them. They love them. I’m blessed.
Q. What are the staples of your diet?
For breakfast, I start out with a banana and some almond butter and a cup of mint tea. After that, I usually have two to three eggs, soft boiled or fried in coconut oil.
For lunch most of the time, I have plain yogurt, raw almonds, dried mulberries, and lots of water.
For dinner, it’s either chicken or salmon baked with coconut oil, or something I make up with vegetables that are in season, always a fresh salad with a lot of italian parsley and red onions, avacados, lemon and oregano, and celtic salt with olive oil and a glass of Jersey Cow whole milk.
Evenings, I usually have a cup of chamomile tea, my chocolate bark – I make it with cacao powder. with dates, coconut and raw almonds.
And yes, all of it is natural and organic food I eat daily.
Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon