Thursday, May 2, 2013

Product Review: Kate Bakes - Washington, DC




Many of you know I LOVE to support my locals and even more, LOVE to support new and/or small businesses. Just look at my obsession with DC Food Trucks! I get this odd, yet amazing feeling of success and achievement when I support and promote small businesses that eventually become large and successful. I feel like I did my job...whatever that job may be. So you can probably understand why I am so excited about my next post.  
 
A couple of weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to receive some delicious vegan treats in return for my honest review. My family seemed like the perfect set of candidates for a review with a vegan (me) and two omnivores, my husband and my 6 year-old daughter. We love our food and I always rely on their somewhat picky opinions to determine if something vegan friendly can truly succeed by making it past the vegan community and into the hands and mouths of food loving omnivores. Of course, I have to look past their natural dislikes sometimes. After all, our taste buds and palates are all unique. But, I believe the goal of every vegan chef or baker is to make something taste so good, that even non-vegans love it. If you can do that, then you’ve already made it past the toughest barrier. 

KATE BAKE’S


The goodies I received came from DC local, Katelyn Sornik, owner of Kate Bake’s who makes and sells vegan, gluten-free* granola bars. The bars are handmade in small batches and delivered ASAP to ensure that you receive only the highest quality bar available. Made with organic ingredients and with no preservatives, they do perish quickly so freshness is a necessity.

*From the Kate Bake’s website: “I use only certified gluten-free ingredients and dedicated gluten-free equipment, but the kitchen space I share also prepares items containing gluten, however never at the same time the bars are being produced". 

Although taste seems to always be the number one factor to most, I actually care about the ingredients and nutrition more. I was impressed by the small list of ingredients which mainly included almond or sunflower seed butter, agave, rolled oats, coconut, rice cereal, soy protein powder, flaxmeal and spices. Mostly organic and non-GM. The only ingredient I questioned was the soy protein, specifically in terms of being genetically-modified. Kate was very honest and responded that a) to her knowledge, it was non-GMO and b) that while she is working towards becoming completely organic, the soy protein powder she currently used won by landslide in terms of taste against other varieties of protein powders, including organic. Understood! For her honesty, which I was truly appreciative for, I gained more respect and trust for her and her company. 


As for nutritional value, each bar contains around 220 calories of mostly whole grains and protein, with 4 grams of fiber and 7.5 grams of protein in each bar. Each bar also contains anywhere from 15-19 grams of sugar. However, it is either naturally occurring or in the form of agave, which has a low-glycemic index which means no concern for a sugar spike. With this kind of nutritional profile, I immediately deemed these babies highly acceptable to be pre-workout bars. I ate one an hour or so before my intense workout and they kept me full, energized and sustained the entire time. Even better? No tummy issues; something I normally always get when I eat before working out! 

REVIEW


Now on to the yummy flavors. Kate currently sells three different flavors: Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal, Sunflower Butter Raisin, and Chocolate Coffee. While each one is very unique in taste, they all are very similar in texture: moist, crumbly, chewy and slightly crunchy thanks to the rice cereal. I love the texture combination in each bite, especially the chewiness from the oatmeal. As for taste, well, read on.

Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal 


This is definitely banana bread in a bar! The banana and cinnamon both stick out very well and truly shine in every bite. It is very sweet and flavorful. I can definitely see it as a favorite among most, ESPECIALLY the omnis. For me, it’s a tad bit too sweet. However, I bet a slather of peanut butter on top would work perfect and would have me scarfing it down in seconds.  


Sunflower Butter Raisin 


Now, this one I had to get the taste down. I’ve honestly never truly tasted sunflower butter before, which is a shock considering I’m a nut butter addict. Even though this bar seems a bit heavier on the palate due to the robust taste of the sunflower butter in comparison to the almond, I learned that it worked very well for this type of PB&J-esque bar. It has the same strong roasted taste that peanut butter has making it more pronounced and a great contrast to the sweet, tart raisins. This bar was less sweet than the Banana Cinnamon which I preferred. I ended up really liking it the more I ate it and now it has me more interested in sunflower butter as well. If you’re a nut butter addict and love PB&J’s, then this bar is for you.

Chocolate Coffee 


While all three bars are scrumptious in their own special way, I have to admit, this one is by far my favorite. I love the combination of chocolate and coffee. I’ve always been a giant fan of coffee and it’s bitter, slightly salty, robust, toasty, smoky delicious taste. Unfortunately, I’ve had to give it up for the sake of health and not looking overly bloated and feeling like my hearts going to come out of my chest. So you can imagine how excited I was to taste this bar and discover the perfect combination of cocoa and coffee in each and every bite...without the buzz and horrible side effects of caffeine. This bar is also lightly sweet in comparison to the banana, allowing the true flavors of the main ingredients to really shine through. A bar perfect for any cocoa or coffee fan!

The Omni Opinions


I had my daughter and husband try the bars as well. They both didn’t care too much for the Sunflower Raisin, mostly due to the fact it contained raisins - a dried fruit they both dislike. Doesn’t say much about the bar, just about their picky likes and dislikes! The Banana Cinnamon was a hit for both (I figured that considering both are major banana bread fans!). As for the Chocolate Coffee, my husband isn’t a coffee fan so that one to him was “alright”. As for my daughter, she’s still debating back and forth on which one is her favorite between the Banana Cinnamon and Chocolate Coffee. I think last night said it all when I had opened a Chocolate Coffee up only to turn around and find her eating half of it before I could say no…at 8:00pm! Let’s just say it took her a bit longer than normal to fall asleep. However, she's been asking for both to take as a snack for school for three days straight. This I can't complain about! So the Banana Cinnamon and Chocolate Coffee were both winners among my little omni clan. The Sunflower Raisin, I guess is all mine!! 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS and WHERE TO BUY


I think Kate definitely has something going on here! Her unique choice of flavors can accommodate every palate and the bars are nowhere near tasting as if they are “vegan”.  Just homemade goodies made by hand with whole food ingredients. The best part is that they are also gluten-free, a must with the growing community of people with gluten-sensitivities including myself.  I look forward to continuing my support for Kate and her vegan business. I can’t wait to see her grow and prosper.

If your interested in learning more about Kate Bake's or wanting to make an order, check out her website @ http://katebakesbars.webs.com/. If you live far away and are a bit weary about the short shelf life which could mean buying only a few to prevent spoilage and paying for shipping, then no worries! I froze a few to experiment with and I discovered neither texture nor taste were compromised! So buy as many as you want, freeze and thaw before eating. Simple as that!

So I'm curious to know, which flavor would YOU choose!?