February 10, 2011

Gluten-Free Cereal Bars and Other GF Treats from Fiona’s Natural Foods Abound at Boulder Stores

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Fiona’s Natural Foods is a Boulder-based business that produces a variety of healthy foods. Although the main food they offer is granola, which is not gluten-free, they offer a variety of gluten-free options as well, including gluten-free cereal, gluten-free bars, gluten-free trail mix, and gluten-free roasted nuts, all of which incorporate that perennial favorite of the gluten-free crowd: quinoa. Since Fiona’s products are spread far and wide in Boulder, we decided to go to one of our favorite coffee shops, Folsom Street Coffee, to try their selection. While Folsom Street Coffee offers four different quinoa bars produced by Fiona’s, only two are gluten-free – the almond chocolate chip bar and the lemon cranberry bar – so we bought both, along with a cup of coffee, and sampled them. Here are our reactions:

When we opened the packaging of the lemon cranberry bar, there could be no doubt that this was in fact a lemon cranberry bar. The smell of citrus filled our nostrils immediately. Surprisingly, though, the taste of lemon isn’t quite as strong as the smell suggests, and in any event we wouldn’t regard the bar as too lemony. (Still, if you’re not into the taste of citrus, this isn’t the snack for you.) Dried cranberries are also embedded in the bar, and when your bite incorporates one, it compliments the lemon nicely, toning down the citrus flavor a little. There is also a soft sweetness – one unrelated to the fruit – that flouts in the background, presumably caused by the organic agave nectar that is incorporated into the bar.

The texture of the bar is dense and chewy, perhaps comparable to the texture of whatever offspring would result from a PowerBar and a granola bar mating, and this makes the bar a solid snack. We could easily be satisfied with one of these bars for breakfast, and we would imagine that most people who aren’t accustomed to a large breakfast would feel the same way. The bar also has a slight crunch to it, and this is no doubt the result of the chopped almonds in it.

Although we enjoyed the lemon cranberry bar, we have to confess a preference for the almond chocolate chip bar, which was delicious. Surely this preference is a reflection of our personal tastes and not an indication of one bar’s inherent superiority over the other, but there you are. (We apologize if anyone misread that last sentence as an address to a someone named Shirley, a la Leslie Nelson – Requiescat In Pace!). The taste of the almond chocolate chip bar was somewhat fluid: it depends on how much chocolate is distributed to the region you’re biting. The bar is at its best (not surprisingly) when the chocolate plays a prominent role, but even when you hit patches that are barren of chocolate, it’s still very tasty. The bar also has the same agave-nectar-induced sweetness as the lemon cranberry bar. Again, it’s not especially sweet, but it’s present in the same way that the scent of perfume hangs on a delicate woman as she dances around a ball room.

To extend the breeding metaphor introduced earlier, we can conceive (pun intended) of the texture as a combination of the lemon cranberry bar and a granola bar. It’s still relatively dense and chewy, but not to the extent of the lemon cranberry bar, and it tends to flake off a bit more when you take a bite. The same crunchiness, however, is still present because chopped almonds are used in the chocolate bar too.

As a final note on the chocolate bar, we are of the opinion that it pairs better with coffee than the lemon cranberry bar. This is hardly surprising, as chocolate and coffee were preordained by God Himself to be joined together. We imagine that the lemon bar is quite good with certain types of tea, though, so if you’re into tea, you might want to pair it with lemon cranberry bar.

Based on our positive experience with Fiona’s quinoa bars, we’ll definitely keep our eyes peeled for their other gluten-free offerings, and you should too!

Fiona’s Natural Food’s website:

The Boulder locations at which Fiona’s Natural Foods are offered:
* Atlas Purveyors – 15th & Pearl
* Berry Best Smoothies – Folsom & Arapahoe
* Boulder Farmer’s Market – 13th & Canyon
* Buffalo Gas Station – 55th & Arapahoe
* Eldorado Corner Market – Eldorado Springs
* Flatiron Athletic Club – near Baseline and Mohawk
* Folsom Street Coffee – Folsom & Canyon
* Folsom Street Coffee – CU campus
* Ideal Market – Broadway & Alpine
* Lolitas – 8th & Pearl
* Lucky’s Market (formerly North Boulder Market) – 3960 North Broadway
* Ozo Coffee – Arapahoe & Conestoga
* Ripple Frozen Yogurt – 30th & Arapahoe
* Vitamin Cottage – 2905 Pearl Street
* Whole Foods Market – Broadway
* Whole Foods Market – Baseline
* Whole Foods Market – 30th & Pearl Street

Note: This is the thirteenth article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant (or coffee shop, in this case), try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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