How do you follow up a career as a cupcake shop owner and pastry chef at one of the most lauded restaurants in town? If you’re Krista Steinbach, you ditch the flour, sugar, and processed ingredients to start a new food-based company, WholeMe. And instead of turning out dozens of beautifully frosted cupcakes and rich morning buns, the fruits of your labor take the form of granola and bars that are free of grains, gluten, and dairy but full of nuts, dried fruits, and other energy-dense ingredients.
Partnering with Mary Kosir, a friend from a CrossFit gym and the wife of a diabetic who needs to carefully monitor his diet, Steinbach has created two baked bars ($3 each), DateMe and WakeMe, and one cereal ($7 for an 8-ounce bag), EatMe, for sale at several area CrossFit locations and specialty food stores. Described as “truly tasty,” the products won’t satisfy a heavy sweet tooth, but if you’re a nut or coconut fan, you’re in luck.
The bars are dense in texture and in calories — almost 300 for a 2.4-ounce bar — making them efficient fuel for a workout or breakfast substitute. The DateMe bar (above) is the moister, sweeter bar of the two, combining sticky dates with pecans, almonds, coconut oil, vanilla and eggs. For someone who isn’t a big fan of dates, I found them to be perfectly pleasing paired with the fragrant nuts, and the addition of vanilla prevents the coconut flavor from dominating the bar. While a little too high in calories for a snack (unless you’re prepping for a big workout), it’s a good item to have in your desk for those days when lunch just doesn’t happen.
But to enjoy the WakeMe bar (above), you better be a big coffee lover. Though it also contains dates and pecans, the bar tastes primarily of coffee grounds, thanks to the addition of espresso and cacao nibs. The bar is supposed to be the jump-start you need to get your day going, but unless you enjoy licking the coffee filter, grab a cup of joe and pair it with the much-better DateMe bar for a caffeine and energy fix.
Go easy on the EatMe cereal if you’re watching your waistline — a mere one-third of a cup boasts more than 200 calories, and that’s without the raisins or dried fruit you’re going to want to add to cut through the strong coconut flavor from the unsweetened shreds and oil in the bag. The granola offers generous chunks of almonds, sunflower seeds, and pepitas as well but still needs the juicy burst of raisins to taste like a well-rounded bite. The owners suggest pairing the cereal with coconut milk, but if you’re not dairy-averse, some thick Greek yogurt would be a much better partner.
While Steinbach and Kosir deserve kudos for tackling a notoriously difficult food category, the WholeMe line could use a few tweaks to move beyond its niche and appeal to an audience that’s not necessarily looking for paleo-friendly food options. And hey, if they could make this writer enjoy dates, the potential exists to convince others to embrace their food philosophy, too.