THERE ARE two kinds of cookies. One is rich, sweet, chewy and so wonderful that you instinctively know, as you reach for another, that it is very, very bad for you. The other sort of cookie is dry and sort of spicy, and you often find yourself dunking it into coffee or milk before you quite know what you are doing. These seem as if they should be good for you, but when you look at the package, you invariably discover that they aren't.
But then Smart Heart Cookies came along. About 10 years ago, when Alexandra Panousis found that her husband, Jimmy, required a low-cholesterol diet, she decided to invent a cookie he could eat. When her granddaughter, Alexia Haidos, tasted the cookies, she knew that she was onto something good. Haidos put the cookies into packages, gave them a clever name and began taking them around to stores.
The cookies contain no eggs, no milk products, no cholesterol and no preservatives and are low in sodium. They also contain no oat bran, no nuts, no berries--nothing to remind you of the health foods of the '60s. In fact, with their slightly spicy flavor and their rather bland demeanor, Smart Hearts seem more like a cookie you'd find in an ordinary box on the supermarket shelf than something healthy enough to be sold in hospital gift shops.
The cookies weigh in at 40 calories apiece. They may not be the best cookies you've ever eaten, but if you're watching your cholesterol, you'll probably think they're just wonderful. And even if you're not, they do have a certain addictive charm that makes it very hard to eat just one.
Smart Heart Cookies, about $3.59 per 6.5-ounce package, are available at Bay Pharmacy and Gourmet Gala in Pacific Palisades; Jurgensen's and Miss Grace Lemon Cakes in Beverly Hills; Cedars-Sinai Hospital Gift Shop in Los Angeles, and Beachwood Market in Hollywood; Bristol Farms in South Pasadena. Also at Nordstrom and Gelson's.