After Shari Cole’s 2-year-old daughter, Brittany, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and experienced stomach issues, the single mother of two experimented with making gluten-free foods. At the urging of her father, who has celiac disease, Cole put her daughter on a gluten- and dairy-free diet. “Within weeks she [improved],” Cole says. “It was like Sleeping Beauty woke up and my child came back to me.”
Seeing her daughter’s transformation prompted Cole to found Simply Shari’s in 2013, an Arizona-based line of shortbread cookies that are not only gluten-free, but also free of eggs, peanuts, nuts, palm oil and soy. She started with Chunky Chocolate Chip and then went on to create Better Than Yours (plain shortbread), Pucker-Up Lemon, Double Trouble Chocolate and, most recently, Cranberry Orange Dream, made with pure orange oil, creating a burst of citrus flavor in every crunchy bite. The cookies are made with a base of non-GMO butter, cane sugar and rice flour. “People always tell me they can’t believe these are gluten-free. Butter is the secret,” Cole says. “It makes everything taste great.”
Simply Shari’s can be found locally at Sprouts Farmers Market and Fry’s Food Stores or online at vitacost.com ($4.99-$5.99). Cole donates a portion of the company’s profit to PACER’s Bullying Prevention Center and Autism Speaks.