Year ago, during a brief stint of unemployment, I found myself engaged in some wacky kitchen experimentation. Rather than perfect Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon or Emeril Lagasse’s Chili or work on getting a chocolate soufflé to bake just right, I started making snacks. I made a few rounds of homemade Chex Mix, baked my own soft pretzel bites, tried my hand at cheese-its and made many, many versions of kale chips. Though the cheese-its were a flop, and the Chex Mix ended up costing five times as much to DIY, it was a fun use of my time. (The pretzel bites were AMAZING and, not to brag, my kale chips are pretty darn perfect). Since I’ve been working at Pleasant Pops my snack experimenting has diminished, both because my down time isn’t as vast as it once was and because at work I’m surrounded by already-made snacks that are healthy, affordable and gosh darn delicious.
Though our market shelves are usually bursting with options, today I’ll be highlighting two of our vendors who specialize in snacks. Firstly, Kate Bakes bars are vegan, gluten-free granola-esque bars that we simply can’t keep from selling out. Kate started making the bars when she was improving her own eating habits and struggled to find snacks that fit her dietary restrictions. Knowing that protein bars were a great grab-and-go option for the busy law school lifestyle she was living, yet concerned with the many preservatives often found in mass produced bars on the market, she started experimenting at home with her own recipe. After much hard work, Kate has developed four flavors of bars each containing roughly a dozen ingredients (organic whenever possible). At Pleasant Pops we carry her original flavor, Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal and a new flavor, Chocolate Coffee. The bars are 2 oz. each, cost $3.50 and are high in protein and fiber (and flavor)!
One of our newest snacks comes from Fruitcycle, a DC based company with one product made from two ingredients: Cinnamon Apple chips made, simply, with apples and cinnamon. Using apples from orchards that were deemed “unsellable,” Fruitcycle turns them into candy-like treats. Elizabeth Bennet founded the company after visiting an orchard and realizing how many pounds of fruit were going to waste every day. Though this “recycling” of fruit merely makes a dent in the global food crisis, Fruitcycle “hope[s] to raise awareness of these issues, encourage others to get involved, and be a part of the solution.” Additionally, Fruitcycle employs women who have been formerly incarcerated, homeless or otherwise disadvantaged, doing what they can to operate a healthy and hopeful company. The chips, which are free from gluten, nuts and dairy, have no added sugar or preservatives, and come in resealable pouches (.6 oz. for $2.50 or 2.4 oz for $5.75).