Keeping It Real with Katie Coleman
When Katie Coleman was 11 years old she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Little did she know that this diagnosis would someday propel her to become an innovative artisan baker and business owner.
Diabetes requires vigilant blood sugar monitoring. As a child, Coleman followed her doctors’ advice to switch to whole grains and artificial sweeteners. It didn’t take long for her to realize that “artificial sweeteners tasted fake and contained nasty chemicals,” says Coleman, now 32.
As a lifelong baker, Coleman started experimenting with different recipes. She developed recipes using only whole grains and less sugar. These alterations helped make her recipes more diabetes-friendly but were still not ideal. Then she stumbled on a recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies that contained no grains at all. She tried it and the cookies were delicious, with almost no negative effect on her blood sugar levels. She knew she had found the foundation for her budding baking business: Keep It Real Food Company. Coleman teamed up with her mom Betsy and they “set out to create low-glycemic, grain-free snacks and treats containing only naturally healthy ingredients,” she says.
“I don’t have culinary training but I often think of that as a benefit as it allows me to experiment freely with my recipes,” says Coleman. She developed products and tested them out at farmers markets in Seattle (where she lived at the time).
Coleman says she uses “the knowledge she’s gained from observing how foods affect [her] blood sugar, hunger and energy levels to offer people with and without diabetes better food products.” Even if you don’t have diabetes, these cookies, granola and bars keep blood sugar levels low, which is good for everyone and can help prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing.
“While my products are diabetes-friendly, they are also gluten-free*, Paleo and good for everyone,” says Coleman. She believes that we could all benefit from limiting our grain intake, although most of us do not need to be as vigilant as someone with diabetes.
The Keep It Real Food Company sells six products: flourless peanut butter cookies, flourless cocoa nib cookies, no-grain granola, seed + nut bars, seedy crackers and a cereal that can be eaten hot or cold called Mighty Meal. All are available online and in select stores in the Bay Area such as Mollie Stone’s Markets, KitchenTown and more.
All products are handmade by Coleman and her mother at KitchenTown in San Mateo. They have been working out of the new facility since it opened just over a year ago. Coleman views the facility as more than a place to bake. She values the connections and partnership opportunities and refers to the KitchenTown owners as advisors for her business.
* Keep It Real Food Company uses only gluten-free ingredients but the products are not prepared in a gluten-free environment.