Helping Hands Bakery: Gluten Free Love for Special Needs Families

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 11:24 am

Hi folks!  I’d like to introduce you to Bridget Lane, the founder of the Helping Hands Bakery and Bake Works. Please take a minute to get to know her and her bakery’s wonderful mission:  Helping people with special needs work in a fully inclusive environment that helps to grow their self reliance & self-esteem while they earn honest pay.

Let’s start with a little background on Helping Hands Bakery… How long have you been in business?

We’ve been selling gluten free cookies and baked goods for over 4 years.

How did you come up with the idea?

After my oldest son was diagnosed with autism in 2006 (he was 3 years old) I decided to try and stop feeling sorry for myself and do something positive for my boys and the community. I kept hearing other parents talk about “what are we going to do when our kids are older? Will they be able to go to school dances? Will they have friends? Will they go to prom? Get married? All of this was a bit too much to take in.

I remember eating dinner with my husband and I said “I want to create a company where our child will have a job and I want to hire people with special needs”. At the time I thought any type of food company might be fun. I loved to cook and was a registered dietitian with food service experience. Soon after my oldest was diagnosed we started a gluten free casein free diet…and I started to create lots of homemade “messes” while trying to create an amazing gluten free cookie. It took about 6 months of experimenting with gluten free ingredients before I was happy with my creation.

In April 2007 my twin sons were also diagnosed with autism and I decided it was time to get rolling with my ideas. Originally, the plan was to sell gluten free cookies made by volunteers and donate the proceeds to agencies around Boulder and Denver that help people with special needs. But it wasn’t long until I began to see a real need in the community for more than that… for job mentorship/inclusion for people with special needs. So in 2008, we expanded to start offering vocational training for people with special needs.

In the end, everything came together to create this synergistic respite for me: getting out of the house 1-2 nights each week to bake cookies that would raise money for people with special needs was very therapeutic.

Are you exclusively Gluten Free? If so, why?

There is a big need for delicious gluten free baked goods (which lots of people need due to gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, special needs, or personal choice). It’s a bit of a challenge to create it too, which is why I’m so happy when people enjoy my cookies, tea cakes, and bars.

Did you ever find it difficult to be totally Gluten Free? i.e. I’m assuming this can sometimes be a difficult transition. Any words of advice for families new to this?

I think it can be daunting at first, but focusing on the “naturally gluten free foods” first will help you ease into the GF lifestyle. Allowed foods: fruits, vegetables, rice (all varieties), potatoes, meats (unprocessed).

  • Cut out the easier things first: gluten filled items: pasta, bread, cookies, etc.
  • My kids loved pretzels, so we substitute with popcorn
  • Instead of regular pasta, my kiddos love Thai Kitchen rice noodles.

Which Helping Hands products are your favorites?

GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars and Cookie Bites are my Favorite!! They are pretty close to tasting like Tollhouse!

I also love the Cranberry & Flax for morning snack with coffee. And Gramma Cheryl’s Snickerdoodle (named after my mom) are my other non-chocolate fav ….cinnamon –sugar YUM!

Note: As an editor here at Pediatric Safety AND a new customer of Helping Hands Bakery, may I also say YUMMM!!!  I’m addicted to those ICB chocolate chip cookies (not great for my diet but honestly worth it)! My second favorite would have to be the Boulder Bars …although it’s a close race between that and those Monster bites. The Cranberry flax were good, but tasted a little too healthy for me.  On the other hand, they were great for my “health conscious gluten-free-wannabe” guy (the reason I bought this to begin with).  Now full disclosure folks – I ordered a GF-sampler as a holiday present for my guy after reading about Helping Hands Bakery on http://leslielovesveggies.net. Bridget and the wonderful folks from HHB asked if they could send me some additional goodies to review…I said yes…so they did. 🙂  That said, all opinions are my own and no other compensation was provided. Editorial Addendum – I might have to change my favorite from the ICB chocolate chip cookies to the Snickerdoodles.  I just had one and I would never in a million years have thought it was gluten-free.

Where can people go to try your products?

Our Helping Hands Bakery Gluten free cookie bites, tea cakes, and bars are sold in Whole Foods Markets in CO, UT, KS, and NM. They can also be found at Green Acres markets in Wichita, KS, and Kansas City, MO. Happy Hearts Specialty Foods in North Platte, NE also carries many of our bars: GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, GF CF Pumpkin Tea Cakes, and GF Boulder Bar (almonds, cranberries, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds).

We also have an online bakery at www.helpinghandsbakery.com where we have a sale going on every day!

Finally, we’ve got something special for Pediatric Safety readers:

“Try Something New”

  • Order anything on our site before the January 31st and we’ll send you a free GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar AND a free GF Boulder Bar. Just enter the words “TRYSOMETHINGNEW” in the coupon code box when placing your order.
  • If you like what you try, please ask your grocer to consider carrying our products. Have them call us for a sample …and we’ll send you both something new to taste.

With your help we’ll be able to meet our goal of opening additional Helping Hands Bakery Training sites around the country.

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Editor’s Note: A gluten-free diet may not always be the right choice for everyone. Please consult with your child’s pediatrician before making any changes to their diet.

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids.Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team

Comments

5 Responses to “Helping Hands Bakery: Gluten Free Love for Special Needs Families”

  1. Wonderful Woman and Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious bakery goodies.

    Who would not love a bakery that does so much good for so many people!!! I love Helping Hands Bakery!!!!
    Leslie
    Leslie Loves Veggies

  2. Rosie ReevesRosie says:

    Hurray! What an awesome program. As a gf-wannabe I can’t wait to check out the site!!

    • Stefanie ZuckerStefanie Zucker says:

      Try the chocolate chip anything…(bars or cookies). Serious Yummm! Have not tried the snicker-doodles yet (they’re packed away along with my guys holiday presents)…but wow do they look good! 🙂

  3. Bessie says:

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