South suburban spotlight
Linda Hardin is a woman of contrasts: a biochemist who plays the harp; a gourmet cook who helps her son with Boy Scouts. Now she has added business owner to her array of accomplishments, but to her all these various hats fit together neatly.
"I’ve always liked cooking. Maybe that’s why I liked chemistry, because it’s like cooking," says Hardin, owner and founder of Chrysalis Cookies, which produces gourmet cookies that are all organic and trans-fat free. The Bolingbrook mom started the company based on cookie recipes she concocted at home to accommodate her children’s severe food allergies.
"When we had all these diet changes, there weren’t a lot of products out there, so I was forced to make things from scratch," Hardin says. "I wasn’t afraid to play with the recipes, but I was picky about the results."
Hardin’s alternative cooking started more than a dozen years ago, when her son Christopher, now 15, and daughter Elisabeth, 13, were babies. Formerly a biochemist for Amoco, Hardin had quit her job when Christopher was born, but she was unprepared for a child who was continually sick and the medical establishment that just kept treating the symptoms without figuring out what was wrong.
"That’s how it began. My anger and passion about making them well without inundating them with medicines really drove everything," Hardin says.
Hardin’s home-grown recipes were sampled by others when Christopher started school. If treats were going to be served, Hardin would ask his teachers what they were and then prepare something comparable that Christopher could eat.
"Because of that, people were exposed to my stuff and they kept saying they loved it, especially the cookies. They said they tasted better and were healthier than what was out there," Hardin says. But as a busy mom of two who also was caring for two elderly aunts, Hardin ignored the talk of selling her cookies until a few years ago when a neighbor helped her figure out how to get started.
Hardin’s line of cookies are not allergy-free, because they are produced at a location that produces other food and can cross contaminate the cookies. However, they are whole grain, all natural and free of trans fat, preservatives and dairy.
Currently Hardin’s cookies are available at several Whole Foods stores in the Chicago area, as well as online. Online offerings are cookie dough that’s shipped on dry ice and are ready to be popped in the oven for healthy treats that taste homemade. For more information, visit www.chrysaliscookies.com.