January 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Frozen Yogurts and Toppings Delight at Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

It’s great when a personal interest (funny movies) can be incorporated into the hard business of writing about gluten-free food (in this instance, gluten-free frozen yogurt): In the film Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller is cast as Tugg Speedman, an actor who takes on the ambitious role of Simple Jack in a movie of the same name. (So, that means that a fictional character in a film – Tugg Speedman in Tropic Thunder – plays the role of another fictional character in a film within a film – Jack in Simple Jack.) When Jack’s mother dies, he offers this gem of line: “Goodbye mama, now you can have ice cream in heaven! I’ll see you again tonight when I go to bed in my head movies. But this head movie makes my eyes rain!” Jack’s key contention is that there will be ice cream in heaven, and while we can’t be sure of this claim, we can be sure that another delicious treat, frozen yogurt, is available at a heavenly place: Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt, a mom-and-pop store owned by Boulder locals that has tons of gluten-free options to choose from.

(If you don’t think this opening paragraph is hilarious, you obviously aren’t familiar with Ben Stiller’s moving rendition of Simple Jack.)

Open for only two weeks at the time of our visit, Ripple is a dream come true for frozen-yogurt enthusiasts who are also gluten intolerant. To start, everything is self-serve, so you have total access to any crazy frozen yogurt concoction you can dream up. A mix of Green Tea and Egg Nog yogurt topped with gummy bears, cucumbers (seriously), and bananas? You bet. We’re not recommending this blend – that might get us in legal trouble – but the fact that it’s possible is a testament to how many options you have available to directly pick from. Indeed, there are over a dozen frozen-yogurt flavors from which to choose (plus these rotate), and scores of toppings too, so you really can make a dizzying number of dishes. Moreover, the yogurt flavors and toppings are quite diverse: flavors range from New York cheesecake to coconut to raspberry lemonade, and toppings include nuts, candy, fresh-baked cookies and brownies, fruit, candy, and whip cream. And we’re told that they’re always open to suggestions for new toppings!

Before describing our particular selection and spelling out the GF offerings, a word about the process of creating your dish – that is, how you go about doing it – is in order. We feel compelled to pause at this crucial juncture because we weren’t entirely sure what to do when we entered the store this afternoon. So you don’t wander around looking like a lost child in the grocery store, here’s what to do upon entering the shop: If you come in through the south entrance, you’ll be confronted with a few stacks of 16-oz. and 24-oz. containers. Select the appropriate size for your purposes, and then you can begin to make your way down the main aisle.

On your left, you’ll find all the different yogurts available “on tap.” (You’ll also find small cups by every single tap for your sampling pleasure. How magnanimous of Ripple!) Again, you serve yourself, so you’re free to combine as many flavors as you’d like. On your right, there are around 15 glass cylinders filled with toppings, like nuts and M&M’s. A couple of feet further down, there is a separate bar for the several cereals available. And finally, on the left, after the yogurts, you’ll find yet another bar with fruit, whip cream, and fresh cookies and brownies. These last two toppings – the cookies and brownies – are one of Ripple’s marquee offerings. The store has an in-house bakery that makes fresh brownies and cookies everyday. More importantly for our purposes, one of the freshly-baked items is always gluten-free. So, no matter what day you participate in the Ripple’s frozen-yogurt extravaganza, you’ll always have a fresh gluten-free treat to put on your yogurt.

Once you’re done wandering around gleefully like a kid in a candy store (depending on your age, it may be necessary to reword this simile so it becomes a statement of fact: you’re not like a kid in a candy store, you are a kid in a candy store – basically), you go to the counter, weigh your now-filled container, and pay. Each ounce of your dish costs 44 cents – the precision is nice, but it also makes you painfully aware of the exact weight of the heaping dessert you’re about to eat. Fortunately, Ripple’s locally-made frozen yogurt is low in fat and calories, and it’s also high in calcium, protein, and probiotics, according to the store’s website. Your parents were lying when the told you it wasn’t healthy to eat dessert for breakfast! (Speaking of breakfast, Ripple has plain yogurt available, so you actually could eat breakfast there if you really wanted to, although you would have to wait till 11:00 a.m., when it opens.)

As for our selection, we went with the non-fat chocolate yogurt, upon which we stacked chunks of GF brownies and sprinkled reese’s pieces. For good measure, we added a small tower of whip cream, which has the virtue of being both delicious and light (literally light, as in not weighing hardly anything, which is important when paying by the ounce). We weighed in at about nine ounces, paid accordingly, and then found a seat to enjoy our yogurt, and enjoy we did. The yogurt was very good, as frozen yogurt is wont to be, and the reese’s and whip cream made the dish more decadently tasty. The highlight, at least for us, were the GF brownies that we added to the top. For one, they’re gluten-free, and we think it’s awesome that a yogurt shop is so dedicated to variety for all of its customers that they change their GF option regularly. Second, the brownies were obviously fresh, as they were moist and chewy and just in general great, especially when buried in frozen yogurt and whip cream.

So the place is good, but how extensive is their gluten-free selection? Fairly extensive, but it should first be noted that neither Ripple nor their local ice-cream provider are exclusively gluten-free. This is true of most places that have GF options available, but it’s always worth mentioning because even trace amounts of gluten can harm those with celiac disease. That said, the vast majority of yogurts are gluten-free (of the dozens of flavors we reviewed the ingredients of, only three contain gluten – see the complete list below), and many of the toppings are too. When it comes to toppings, you’ll have to rely on acquired knowledge and the help of employees to determine which toppings have gluten. Obviously, you’ll want to be particularly careful with the cereal choices, and there are perhaps a few other suspect toppings, but most are naturally gluten-free (fruits, nuts, some candy, etc.).

Even if you’re not really into frozen yogurt, a visit to Ripple’s is still pleasant because of the self-serve component. Going to Ripple, in other words, is kind of like skydiving or traveling the world on a shoestring budget: you may not be particularly interested in jumping out of a plane or putting yourself in vulnerable positions abroad, but you should try it anyway just for the experience, and the same reckless logic applies to Ripple, but the stakes aren’t so high. And if you are into frozen yogurt, than you’d be a fool not to check this place out.

Yogurt Flavors that are Gluten-Free:
Tart; Mango; Passion Fruit; Pineapple; Mandarin Orange; Peach; Coconut; Black Raspberry; Blueberry; Blackberry; Pomegranate; Strawberry; Red Raspberry; Green Tea; Kiwi; Watermelon; Pick Grapefruit; Taro; Acai; Country Vanilla; Chocolate; Mocha; New York Cheesecak; Peanut Butter; Pumpkin; Banana Creme; Egg Nog; Caramel Apple; Raspberry Lemonade; Sorbetto

Yogurt Flavors with Gluten:
Vanilla Malt; Cake Batter; Cookies and Cream

Ripple’s Website:

Ripple’s Location:
1682 30th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
(In the same parking lot as King Soopers)

Note: This is the eleventh article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant (or frozen yogurt 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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  1. Paul says:

    Now skydiving right into Ripple’s … there’s the ultimate!

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