RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- This Made in Nevada report is for you if you're working on a New Year's resolution to drop some weight, but you don't want to go without full flavored sweets.
Christina Ciaccio is the creator and owner of Mindful Cupcakes and says her sweet concoctions are good for you. She says she maintains her lean physique while eating at least three cupcakes a day and sometimes more.
She invited us into the kitchen she uses, where she and two of her bakers were hard at work. The movement was fast and precise and the communication quick and efficient.
"Do we have any more tablespoons?" Christina asked across the room amid noises of metal bowls and kitchen tools clanking together.
Then seamlessly the three started the first steps for a fresh batch of mindful cupcakes.
It took Christina five years to perfect the recipe she uses. She says her vanilla frosting took extreme patience to develop.
"I remember experimenting with this and, oh my gosh, it was hard. Yeah. It was tough," Christina said. "What was the hardest part about it?" KOLO 8 News Now's Noah Bond asked. "Just setting the flour and consistency right," she responded.
You see these are no ordinary gourmet cupcakes. They are free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and refined sugars. What they do have is full flavor and they're dense but in a good way.
"The texture of the cupcake was awesome," said Mindful Cupcake customer Erin Baerwaldt.
The seeds of Mindful Cupcakes were planted in 2006 when Christina realized she suffered from gluten sensitivity. She immediately set out to make a superior cupcake.
This report is revealing some of her secrets she is willing to divulge.
One base ingredient is non-hydrogenated organic palm oil. Some studies claim palm oil is used for weight loss and increasing metabolism. She says the oil she uses is sustainably sourced from small family farms, which helps protect the habitat of many wild animals like the orangutan and Sumatran elephant.
Two other key ingredients are clover honey and coconut sugar used in place of refined white sugar.
"We donate 5 percent of our profits to a charity called honeylove.org and it helps basically save the bees," Christina said.
Great care has been taken to choose each ingredient, not only for the customer, but also for the earth and all its inhabitants. The baking powder is specialized to ensure each bite is gluten-free.
"We use grain-free baking powder. It's made with potato starch. It's not corn starch and it's certified paleo," said Christina.
Extensive research was taken to choose the disposable cups used to hold the batter during the baking process.
"They are unbleached. They're totally chlorine-free and they're compostable-certified, which i didn't know was a thing," Christina said.
The brand name is "if you are" and it's environmentally friendly.
"These just make a really good cupcake. They don't interfere. A lot of cupcake liners have wax and colors and all that and it gets in the way with what we're trying to do, which is to make an all natural product," Christina said.
Now back to the icing, one of the most important elements of a cupcake. "So my grandma, her butter cream recipe was Crisco, milk and powered sugar. So I kind of took those elements."
The ingredients for Christina's carrot cupcake frosting include organic palm shortening, arrowroot flour, honey, and vanilla.
This entire process to make just one cupcake includes many more steps than the those revealed today, but they are proprietary and make her cupcakes unlike anything you've provably ever tasted.
"Cupcakes are challenging because you can't go home. You can't take a break and leave work unfinished. You know you're here until everything is baked and frosted and put away," said Christina. "For the first year it was me doing everything and I would be at the kitchen until five or six in the morning and it was crazy."
Now she has a team of bakers helping her meet the demand for 17 local and regional stores including Whole Foods in Reno.
Word of mouth and media are growing business for Mindful Cupcakes.
"I had seen an ad on social media that they had opened up and any chance I get to try something that's gluten-free that I didn't have to bake. I will try it," said Erin.
Mindful Cupcakes moved into a brick and mortar store at 6300 Mae Anne Avenue, Suite 4 in late 2018. Christina says business is good.
"I'm very pleasantly surprised there's more than one flavor and there's choices, which doesn't usually happen," said Erin.
Buyers choose from cupcake flavors including cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate chip, carrot cake, which is her best seller, lemon, and chocolate. Each cupcake is $3.99.
Christina says her next step is to mass produce her product for all Whole Foods stores across the United States and other natural grocery stores.