Juana Canton of Little Neck has been baking for family and friends for over 40 years, but just launched her own business to sell cookies in February 2013. Mama Juana’s Treats specializes in vegan, gluten-free, and low-glycemic cookies.

Image Source: Mama Juana’s Treats

Tempting flavors like banana peanut butter, red velvet, and oatmeal cranberry chocolate chip are satisfying and flavorful, but are made with healthful ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, agave syrup, flax seeds, carob, and organic beets for coloring. The cookies are currently being sold at Vitality & Health Natural Market in Astoria (GMAP), and they will soon hit the shelves at a Whole Foods in Jericho, in Nassau County.

Canton has personal reasons for wanting to create healthier alternatives to the traditional treats everyone loves. First, she has been redesigning her own diet since being diagnosed with diverticulitis, and later, diabetes. She became vegetarian eight years ago, then went fully vegan, and follows a low-glycemic diet to control her diabetes. She wanted to continue baking, so found ways to make her recipes free of animal products and low in sugar.

Since changing her diet was so effective in improving her own health, Canton developed a passion for nutrition. At the middle school in Astoria where she works as a lunch coordinator, she enjoys helping students make healthier choices, and has introduced both a vegetarian meal and a gluten-free meal to the menu.

One of her cookies is inspired by an 8th grader named Carla, who came to her upset one day because she found out she had to start following a strict gluten-free diet. Now Mama Juana’s Treats puts out a gluten-free oatmeal cookie named after Carla. Just as she developed her first gluten-free product, Canton keeps finding new ways to make her recipes healthier, while maintaining their indulgent flavor.


Image source: veganheathen on Flickr

It’s hot chocolate season, which means it’s marshmallow season – which can lead to moral dilemmas for the vegetarians and vegans out there. Most marshmallows are made with gelatin, an animal product. To the rescue comes Sweet & Sara, a vegan marshmallow company based right in Long Island City. You can actually see the factory from the 7 train, just west of the 33rd Street stop.


Sarah Peltier of Woodside Bakehouse named her granola bars “El Conejo” to connote rabbits and rabbit food (“conejo” means “rabbit” in Spanish). The bars are vegan and packed with healthy, mostly organic ingredients like coconut oil, sunflower seeds, and brown rice. Chewy and fresh, they taste way better and are more satisfying than your typical packaged snack food.


Here are some of our favorite vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly spots, from Turkish and Chinese to innovative American comfort food.

Mundo – Astoria – You know a place “gets” vegetarians when the signature dish—a rich red lentil appetizer called Red Sonja—is meat free. The rest of the Turkish/Argentinian menu is full of both veggie and meaty options, from soups to empanadas to dumplings. (GMAP)

Image source: Philippe Trinh for Boro Magazine