We all know that the struggle to satisfy that insatiable sweet tooth of yours and stay reasonably healthy is too real. Who doesn’t dream of eating entire tubs of cookie dough or full sheets of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in one sitting? Well, there is a solution for this dilemma: Slender Seven healthy & eggless cookie dough.
Not only is this cookie dough delicious, but it is also gluten free, eggless, and actually healthy. It’s made with only seven ingredients, and some of them might surprise you, like the chickpeas in the choco-chick flavor and the black beans in the choco-fudge.
This wonder product is the ingenious creation of Nikki Azzara, a health nut with a sweet tooth and a knack for creating recipes. Thanks to the Wild Ophelia Female Entrepreneur Series, I had the opportunity to catch up with Nikki amidst her crazy schedule.
While taking entrepreneurship and marketing courses at Wake Forest University (2014), Nikki decided to create a blog, Slender Seven, as a platform for recipes she had created for fun over the years. Slender Seven’s philosophy is to “cook simply, eat healthy and feel happy.” All the recipes on the blog have seven ingredients or fewer and range from full meals to sweet treats to quick snacks. She also has a killer Instagram account that provides endless inspiration for healthy, tasty eats. We caught up with Nikki about her blog, cookie dough and the future of her company below.
Spoon: How and when did you decide to take your Slender Seven passion to the next level?
Nikki Azzara: When I graduated in 2014, I began the job search, but realized I wanted to spend my time building my own brand rather than find a marketing/brand management role in another company. It wasn’t until the end of the summer after graduation that I realized the cookie dough could be the breakthrough idea. I spent the fall working on the business plan, logistics and crowdfunding to help turn the idea into an actual consumer packaged good.
Spoon: What have been some of your greatest challenges as an entrepreneur?
NA: The greatest challenge has been trying to do everything that needs to be done in a given week, or day, with just two hands. It would be nice to have someone to delegate tasks to, or even someone else telling me what to do at times! These everyday challenges, though, are the opportunities where I learn the most about myself, the business, and the potential of my product.
Spoon: Where do you see Slender Seven going?
NA: My goal is to saturate the DC market, which means getting the cookie dough into more stores and more mouths. From there, I would love to be distributed nationally so people all over the country can enjoy the product.
Spoon: How has it been working in DC, a city with such a blossoming food scene?
NA: I love it. I think DC has enabled Slender Seven to thrive, as it could’ve been easier to get lost in a larger city like NYC. It also makes it fun to work alongside other aspiring food startups, all working towards various end-goals but driven by the same passions. I have met such amazing people and foodies (like Swizzler, for example) with completely different products, business models, and operations that have been instrumental to my personal and business well-being and growth.
Spoon: Who are some of your role models?
NA: Justin Gold of Justin’s Nut Butters started making his products in his dorm room and now his peanut butter cups are in every Starbucks. The Honest Tea founders – I just read their book. And also successful female entrepreneurs that have converted their ideas into sustainable businesses and corporations, such as the Birchbox cofounders.
Spoon: What keeps you going and inspires you?
NA: The desire to be successful and make this product work. Also, the fact that I am loving what I am doing makes it easy to wake up and get work done. That and being in an amazing environment surrounded by family, friends, and followers that are supportive. I am inspired by other successful entrepreneurs and business ideas that have disrupted their respective industries.
Spoon: What are you favorite foods?
NA: Chicken, sweet potatoes, bananas and Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter.
Spoon: What do you predict will be the next big food trend of 2016?
NA: Fast casual EVERYTHING. And “pulses” (chickpeas), so I’ve heard [laughs].
Spoon: Craziest food you’ve eaten?
NA: Tripe, aka a cow’s stomach lining, while studying abroad in Florence, Italy.
Spoon: I know that you are a health nut, but we all have our weaknesses. What are yours?
NA: Can’t really keep Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter in my house, I could eat that like frosting! Overall, I guess chocolate would be my weakness, hence why I tried to come up with a healthier alternative.
Spoon: What’s your cocktail of choice?
NA: Spicy margarita if it’s on the menu, or I go for a boring vodka soda.
Spoon: If you could be any vegetable what would you be?
NA: Sweet potato.
Spoon: What’s in your fridge right now?
NA: Broccoli, raspberries, greek yogurt, Rao’s marinara sauce and almond milk… I need to go grocery shopping [laughs].
Spoon: Since making Slender Sever your full time occupation, have you ever considered switching to a more “conventional” job?
NA: Never. Don’t think I can do it.