Girl Scout Cookies, Not Healthy or Safe for those with Food Allergies

A Healthier Version of Girl Scout Thin Mints (Free of Grains, Nuts, and Refined Sugars)

It’s that time of year again; the Annual Girl Scout Cookie Drive is on!  I posted a blog in March of 2010 about Girl Scout Cookies, and the lack of wholesome ingredients in their products.  You can read my original post here:

I have nothing against the Girl Scouts, as I was once a Scout proudly walking door to door selling these cookies.  I, like my fellow Scouts ate my share of these cookies, but would not do so today.  Sadly, Girl Scout cookies have changed since Julliet Gordon Lowe began the cookie drive in 1917, but not for the better.  While the Girl Scouts tout the removal of Trans Fats (per serving) these cookies are less than wholesome; chock full of refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soy, nuts, overly processed gluten/grains, and rancid oils.  To see how these cookies have changed I posted the original recipe for Trefoils as well as the ingredients used to produce Trefoils (a.k.a. Butter Cookies) today in the blog post above.

Girl Scout Cookies are also less than allergy friendly, as they contain Soy, Wheat, Milk and Nuts.  The issue of allergens in Girl Scout Cookies was raised to the forefront a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Elizabeth Goldberg of Onespot Allergy requested that her fans sign a petition for Girl Scout Cookies to be made without one of the top 8 allergens…Soy, “Consider signing this petition started by Subtract Soy Now asking the Girl Scouts to remove soy from their cookies.”

For those with the above mentioned allergies I would highly recommend avoiding these cookies.  I am not a Grinch, I still believe in Santa Claus and in the mission of Girl Scouts.  Instead of purchasing cookies we make a “donation” during these drives which goes directly to the troop.  For those who may be wondering, the Girl Scouts Organization is aware of concerns about allergens and the lack of wholesome ingredients.  The Frequently Asked Question section on the Girl Scouts Website responds to such inquires:

Because Girl Scout cookies are produced just once a year and for a limited time, our bakers never achieve the volume required to support the specific production of specialty cookies. The demand has not been great enough to make it economically feasible, however our bakers continue to experiment and have a commitment to ensuring there is always a “healthful” cookie in their line-up.

Each of our bakers strives to use the most healthful ingredients available in the production of one of America’s most treasured sweet treats. Consumers should check the labels of all of the products they eat, including Girl Scout cookies. You may just find a variety that fits within your dietary restrictions or goals.”

Girl Scout Cookies always seem to be a hot topic this time of the year.  This past week Sandrine Hahn of Nourishing our Children published a wonderful and insightful post:

Sandrine followed up by posting her concerns about the lack of wholesome ingredients on the Girl Scouts USA Facebook Page and did receive the following response:

“Butter has a poor shelf life in boxed cookies, and when you bake billions of cookies (literally), that baking process can’t be done all at once, so the shelf life is important. In addition, there’s really no such thing as a “healthy cookie,” right? And we don’t think many people would buy them if they did exist. Girl Scout Cookies are a treat, and as with any treat, they should be eaten in moderation.

The sale of Girl Scout Cookies raises more than $700 million per year for Girl Scout councils, who use those funds to support girls as they develop the leadership skills they need to make your community — and the entire world — better.  If you don’t choose to buy cookies, we encourage you to donate the money you would have spent directly to your Girl Scout council.” (NOTE:  The comment thread has since been removed)

The response made my blood curdle, “there’s really no such thing as a “healthy cookie,” right?” Obviously the person who wrote this comment is misinformed.  Yes, cookies are treats, but they can be made healthfully!  It was at that moment that I decided to create healthy and allergen friendly versions of Girl Scout Cookies, and share those recipes with you!

I started with Thin Mints as these were my favorite cookie when I was a Girl Scout.  The following recipe is grain free, nut free, free of refined sugars and can be made casein free.  These cookies were downright delicious!  I made two batches, the first with Organic Cocoa and Organic Dark Chocolate and the second with Carob Powder and Carob Chips.  While not as crispy as Girl Scouts Thin Mints they are certainly a healthy option.

Cookie Ingredients:
½ Cup Pastured Butter (unsalted)
1 Pastured Egg
¼ Cup Raw Honey (melted if solid)
3/4 – 1 Cup Coconut Flour (sifted)
¼ Cup Organic Cocoa
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons Organic Peppermint Extract or several drops of Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil. (I like peppermint and added both the extract and the oil)

Chocolate Coating Ingredients:
1 ½ Cups of Organic Dark Chocolate
¼ Cup Pastured Butter (unsalted)

Blend together the softened butter and the honey with a hand held mixer.
Add the egg and beat to make a soft batter
Mix in the flour in small increments. You want the dough to be soft and pliable
Mix in the Cocoa until combined and add the peppermint extract/essential oil.
Roll the dough into a log and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice dough from the chilled log approximately ¼ thick and place the rounds on the parchment lined cookie sheet
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 7 – 9 minutes
Let cool

Chocolate Coating:
Melt Chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat.
Dip the cooled cookies into the chocolate with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until set. You can also refrigerate the chocolate covered cookies to speed up the process.
Cookies can be frozen (yum) or kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Real Food Musings, Recipes, Sweets and Treats

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4 responses to Girl Scout Cookies, Not Healthy or Safe for those with Food Allergies

  1. Artrisha

    Laura, We should look into providing optional Allergy Friendly (maybe even a little healthy) Girl Scout Cookies! I’m sure the profit margin on that would be, well minimal, but the appreciation margin would be off the chart I think! Too bad I’m not a millionaire! :(

    • Laura

      Artrisha, Unfortunately the Girl Scouts of America seem to be rather callous when it comes to allergens in their cookies. I personally believe that while it may be more expensive to produce a healthier and allergen friendly cookie there would be many people who would purchase them.

  2. Julie

    Thank you for sharing these healthier versions of GS cookies. At $5 a box, I wish GS will offer more wholesome alternatives but that’s not the case. I have nothing against GS, in fact, I believe it’s a good program … but I feel the cookie program is getting out of hand. My 9 yr old just received her share of 100 boxes of GS cookies to be sold by the end of the month. In the past, we take orders first and deliver whatever number of boxes. This year, the girls are asked to decide a “goal” during the January meeting. My girl’s Brownie troop decided that 100/girl was a good goal so we all got 100 boxes on Feb 1. Needless to say we’ve been calling everyone and going door to door. I must admit, I feel very very guilty pushing these cookies on friends and relatives who are trying to loose weight or watching sugar intakes. Not to mention our family will end up eating far too many boxes of these yummy treats. Do we really need to add more sugar and fat to our kids’ diet? What are we teaching our kids? If it’s for a good cause then it’s OK to binge?

    • Laura

      I feel for you Julie, it’s an awful place to be….between the proverbial “Rock and Hard Place”. We still gladly support the Girl Scouts, but we happily make a donation and not accept the cookies.

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