Former microbiologist makes cookies that dogs and their humans can share
June 22, 2018 By Bakers Journal
Huntsville, Ont., baker Lynda McLeod, the titular “Granny Lyn” of “Granny Lyn’s Kitchen” quit working in the pharmaceutical industry to bring joy to her clients and their pets. McLeod is most famous for her all natural, diabetic-friendly cookies that can be eaten by both dogs and humans. Her shareable, human-friendly dog biscuits are only among some of the treats offered at the Huntsville bakery.
Making people happy was one of the reasons the former biologist became a baker; connecting to her community and supporting her favourite charity was another.
McLeod spoke with Bakers Journal about Granny Lyn’s connection to the annual Hike for Hospice, which her bakery supports. On May 6, 2018 the annual hike was held at the River Mill park in Huntsville, and Granny Lyn’s Kitchen was on site to provide cookies for the two and four-legged donors. “We offered our baking services to all of the participants, and we made 250 sugar cookies that were in the shape of hiking boots in all different shades of purple,” explained McLeod. “For any of the dogs that came, we also gave them some of our cookies.”
The former microbiologist knows how important it is for family to stay close by during their loved one’s final days. “We know what it’s like to lose a loved one, and especially what it means to go through the hospice experience. I’m very much a big supporter of this type of service, because it brings dignity to those who are in the last stages of their life.”
Her affection for the hospice is understandable, and her willingness to help support her favourite charity is commendable; but how does a microbiologist go from writing drug submissions to starting up a bakery? McLeod feels the discipline of a pharmaceutical laboratory is not much different from a commercial kitchen.
“I would be in the formulations department, working with the guys, trying to figure out how to make pills, tablets and capsules. So, I have a lot of background in formulas, how things come together, why things work a certain way… all of those come together to reinforce baking, which is a form of science.”
McLeod notes that the need for absolute precision with measurements and observing the interaction of certain ingredients are transferrable skills. Baking recipes are unforgiving in their need for precision. She laughs, “that’s why I’m a baker, not a cook.”
After close to forty years in quality assurance and regulatory affairs for pharmaceuticals, McLeod thought it was time for a change. Her journey into baking began by asking herself what brought her joy. The answer was clear: Cookies and dogs. “We have a really, really deep love for our dogs, and the thing that started me off in making the cookies for the dogs, is that I was really concerned about the ingredients that were going into the dog cookies and treats.”
From making healthier, more natural snacks options for dogs to making better-for-you treats for humans wasn’t a big leap. From that point, the idea of a dog biscuit that humans could share was not such an outlandish notion, especially once McLeod explains the origin of her shareable cookies.
“On some of the packaging on the [commercial] dog biscuits that they have out there, they actually have a warning on the label, saying not safe for human consumption. And that really bothered me. So, we started making our own cookies. We have two labs, right now, and they really love the cookies.” McLeod’s love of her dogs is matched by her love of her family, and by extension, her neighbourhood. She saw a need for a healthier option for cookies, and filled that void in the market.
“We pride ourselves in the fact that our bakery uses the same ingredients for the canine side and human side,” added McLeod. “All of our ingredients are sourced from Canada; I prefer to do local first, Canada next and if we can’t find what we need, then we’ll try to find something, like cinnamon or spices.”
“We don’t use any preservatives, there’s no colorants, no artificial flavours. We try to use organic as much as possible, and we feel that I should be able to eat the same food that we’re giving to the dogs. We try all of the dog cookies to make sure they taste okay. And we tell people, ‘if you want to eat them too, go right ahead.’”
The inspiration behind the cookie flavours and their names come from her dogs. Each flavour is named after a pet they had or currently own, along with a story behind why the dog liked that cookie. McLeod observes dogs’ reactions to each treat, and formulates a recipe based on a favourite ingredient.
“I’ve always taken the lead from my dogs as to what they have a preference for and then try to develop a cookie based on that. One of the future projects that we are currently working on is to try to bring in a little bit more of a therapeutic side to the cookie.
“We had a lab that had bone cancer, and as you know with cancers, they are very carb-hungry. Anything that you can give them, they will convert that into cancer cells. So, we found it very difficult to try to find a cookie for her that would be okay and that she would enjoy, but wouldn’t aggravate and increase the cancer.
“I’m using my science background and the cooking together to do something good for people whose dogs who are unfortunately suffering with different ailments. Anything to do with creaky old hips, so, joints, and cancer, digestive problems, those are some of the areas that I’m going to go into next.”
Like all good grannies, “Granny Lyn” takes care of those she loves. McLeod thrives under the happiness she brings to those around her and feels pride in the way her cookies had contributed to the fundraising efforts for the Huntsville Hospice.
The hike, combined with other fundraising activities were instrumental in raising $74 000. McLeod is particularly proud of her town’s contribution to the hospice. “This is solely supported by the generosity of the people in the area…they have been able to support 188 patients through this facility over the last couple of years.”
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