As a runner who is allergic to milk products and wheat, Amy Landry of Portland is always on the lookout for all-natural energy bars that are dairy- and gluten-free.
“The problem is that most energy bars are either too sweet or taste like cardboard,” Landry said.
But her view of energy bars changed when she discovered the Maine-made Mom’s Organic Munchies bars.
“Every time I go to Whole Foods I buy eight or nine of them and put them in the freezer,” Landry said. “I try not to eat them right away.”
But she doesn’t always succeed.
The appeal of the bars is easy to understand. Crafted in small batches by Betty Crush of Freeport, the Mom’s bars are made with raw, whole-food ingredients and contain no refined sugar, dairy or gluten. They’re also vegan and made with organic ingredients.
For the past year, the bars have been available in local health food stores and online at the Mom’s website.
Crush began creating the bars as a way to address her own health issues, which included a systemic candida (yeast) infection and gluten sensitivities. Both combined to make it difficult for her to find foods that wouldn’t aggravate her condition.
Her son, Craig Morgan, who runs the TRU Health wellness center in San Diego and has since become a partner in the Mom’s business, suggested that she combine nuts and seeds to create an energy bar that she could eat.
“A lot of it wasn’t good, and it went in the trash,” Crush said of her early experiments.
But eventually her work paid off and she came up with a bar that had the taste she was after. Soon her friends began calling up with requests for her organic treat.
“People who didn’t need to eat it kept asking me for some,” Crush said.
This gave her the idea that there might be a wider market for her snack bar.
“I started with the Goji-Pistachio bar,” Crush said. “Then I said, ‘I need something for people who need a little crunch.”‘
Thus, the Krunch Bar was born.
From there, Crush continued to expand the line, which now includes nine bars, three cookies and a package of mini-brownies.
“I’m coming up with a lot of new ones that will be coming out this spring,” Crush said.
One of the items she’s planning is a dairy-free raw cheesecake.
“They all have pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, because those are so healthy for you,” Crush said. “I’m trying to use things that have lots of natural vitamins and minerals. I don’t add any powdered vitamins.”
In addition to sunflower and pumpkin seeds, the bars contain ingredients such as cashew butter, almond butter, unsweetened dark chocolate, raw coconut butter and agave nectar.
Because she uses high-quality ingredients, the price of the bars and cookies ranges from $2.50 to $3.50 at local stores.
“I use really, really expensive ingredients and I won’t compromise on that,” Crush said.
The bars can be found in the refrigerated section of local stores, and when she ships the bars, Crush includes ice packs to keep them cool. She said the bars won’t spoil if they’re not refrigerated, but exposure to higher temperatures will cause the nutrients to degrade.
With all the Greater Portland health food stores carrying her products, she’s been struggling to fill the orders that are flooding in.
“I can’t keep up,” Crush said. “Whole Foods has tripled their orders, and the other stores are upping their orders too.”
She’s been contacted by additional stores that would like to carry the Mom’s products, but she needs to ramp up her production before she can take on more accounts.
Right now, Crush is working out of her oceanfront cottage in Freeport, but she’s in the process of looking for a commercial production space to expand the business, with the goal of getting the Mom’s products in stores outside of Maine within a year. Once she locates an appropriate space, she plans to hire staff and contract with a distributor.
Whatever the future holds for the company, Crush, who is the mother of three, intends to continue to incorporate her maternal touch in all her products.
“The whole concept is to put love into everything I create,” Crush said.
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]