August 29, 2010

Let's talk about Smart Treat...and have a giveaway too!

Last week I shared my cranberry walnut grilled cheese sandwich with you and introduced a new gluten free company, Smart Treat. They are a small, artisan, dedicated gluten free bakery in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Most of their products are also vegan. I was super excited when I first learned about them, because the nutritional information for their products is awesome! Check it out, this is for their Oat Bread:

50 Calories for a slice? Not bad. AND it's not a little itty-bitty piece of bread. It's size a bread that is comparable to glutenous breads. The loaf could be easily confused with that of "real bread" See...

I had the opportunity to try several different items. From rolls to breads, to granola to cookies...everything was phenomenal!

The breads were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. No lie. You do have to toast them a little bit, but I don't mind. One lightly toasted, they are perfect. The rolls and buns were just like you'd get from a local bakery. I even turned the burger buns into hot dog buns! I hadn't had a hot dog in ages, so when my family was grilling them up, I couldn't resist.

Naturally I wanted to know more about Smart Treat, so I interviewed them. :)

GFB: I read on your site that Smart Treat has been around since 1994. Have you always been making gluten free foods this entire time? Why did you decide to make gluten free items?
When Bonnie, the owner/founder, was diagnosed with a wheat allergy, she started baking from her home kitchen (with an old 1960's mixer from her Mom). In 1994, she started selling at local farmers markets.

In the beginning, her products were mainly wheat free, and she did a bit of gluten free on the side. However, due to growing gluten free demand and increasing customer requests, the gluten free side of her business began to outpace the wheat free side. She moved from her kitchen to an actual bakery, and has kept her focus on high quality ingredients and excellent customer service the whole time.

By the time the bakery was moved to the the mountains of Western North Carolina in 2007, Smart Treat was 100% gluten free (with a dedicated facility).

GFB: Do you plan on getting your products on store shelves?
During those early 'farmers market' years, Bonnie developed a relationship with a regional heath food grocery to carry some of her items on their shelves. Based mainly on reputation and customer requests, the 'on the store shelf' side of the business has continued to grow. Currently, Smart Treat items are in a number of specialty and allergen-free groceries here and there across the country.

What are your most popular items?
It's funny that you ask, because Bonnie has seen product categories come and go over the years -- even flavor profiles go through trend cycles.

Right now, our "Brittle Bars" (made from a base of organic sunflower seeds and organic pumpkin seeds, with lots of different yummy add-ins for each flavor) are especially hot. Granola (eaten as a breakfast cereal or as a dry snack) and the Smart Bite Cookies have also been a consistently strong sellers.

GFB: I can see why, the brittle is delicious!

Fruit flavors are big (ie Apricot-Raspberry Krispie Bars, all of the fruit Tartlets, Cranberry-Walnut Granola), and of course (you are a woman, you know this...) chocolate-anything NEVER goes out of style.

GFB: are so right!

However, it's the bread (7 flavors to choose from) that we receive the most "WOW" customer comments on. For many families, excellent gluten free bread choices are a weekly staple, and our 24 oz loaves are the biggest/best in the industry. (Most other gluten free breads are 12 oz for about $6, and made in industrial factories.) Smart Treat's 24 oz loaf means that each slice is as tall and wide as a 'normal bread' slice, and at $5.49, the value can't be beat. Let's face it, allergen-free eating can be expensive -- and the excellent value of our bread is very important to many of our customers.

Do you have a good gluten free baking tip you can share with my readers?
YES! Bonnie has found that starting with best ingredients (we use organic whenever possible) is the key to excellent end results. Also, Smart Treat bakes based on customer orders (we are not a mass production facility) so everything is as fresh as possible when we ship it out. Brian, who is trained as a chef, is our Master Baker, and he pours lots of energy into making each item artisan quality.

We also have some customers reporting that they use the Smart Bite cookies (the little addictive ones) as the base for pie crusts. Simple -- smash up the cookies, add some butter as a binder, and press to the bottom of a pie plate.

GFB: That's genius...those cookies a perfect for flavorful pie crusts. Yum!

So now that you know a little bit more about Smart Treat, wanna try some? Three lucky winners will each receive one product of their choice on the house. Here's the rules:

Mandatory Entry - Visit Smart Treat and tell me which item you'd most like to try.

Extra Entry - Join the Gluten Free Betsy Facebook Page
Extra Entry - Sign up for my Email Notifications
Extra Entry - Become a follower of Gluten Free Betsy

Contest ends Friday, September 10th at midnight. Winners will be selected by


Kyle Gershman said...

Awww...random number generators rarely pick 1, but that is a myth of course...just feels that way.

Anyway...the pumpkin tartlets sound wonderful.

GF Gidget said...

OMG!!! These sound so good! I most want to try the English Muffins. I have yet to find a really good GF/DF one.

GF Gidget said...

I already follow GF Betsy

jenn said...

just one? maaan! such a tough choice. i'll go with the burger buns. i'm so used to eating burgers without - it'd be a nice treat!

GFree_Miel said...

Wow, I don't know if I can choose just one. Everything looks so good! Well, I guess if I have to choose just one product it would have to be the cinnamon raisin bread. Not just for me though. My youngest sister is Autistic and she only eats about six foods (all glutenous and oily). So we want to try to get her on a gluten free diet just to try it out. She loves cinnamon bread so if we could find a great gluten free alternative, that would be awesome.

Definitely going to have to try it out along with some of that granola!

GFree_Miel said...

Oh, and I already follow you on Twitter.

I now like GF Betsy on Facebook. =)

Wendy said...

I want a tartlet!

And I'm sharing, following, and subscribing :)

Hope you'll check me out too :)

Jenn Sutherland said...

Well, I would LOVE to try that cranberry walnut bread - I've been thinking about that grilled cheese sandwich for DAYS!

Are their products available at Whole Foods, or do I need to order directly from Smart Treat - I MUST try these breads!

Patricia said...

We would like to try the doughnuts, apple, apple cranberry and pumpkin tartletts, the flax seed and the cranberry-walnut bread. Everything looks so good. I will have to order some and try the products.

Mandy said...

I would love to try the Sandwich bread made be Smart Treat. Everything looks great on their site. Thanks for keeping us up to date on new or newly discovered companies!

Jane said...

Oooh!!! These sound delicious. My main challenge in trying gluten-free items is a lot of them contain nuts, something my husband is deadly allergic to. However, Smart Treat's Smart Bites Chocolate Oatmeal look really good. Oatmeal cookies are a favorite of my husband's and I'd love to give him the chance to try some.

Jane said...

We would like the Smart Bites, Chocolate Oatmeal cookies. A lot of gluten-free products contain nuts, which makes them taboo for us as my husband is deadly allergic to them.

Nicole said...

It was a really tough call -- S'mores cups or Peanut Butter cups? -- but I have to go with the peanut butter. It hasn't been the same since I bid farewell to Reese's all those years ago.

Linda said...

I would like to try the following items from Smart Treat.

Cranberry Walnut Bread
Oat Bread
Flax Millet Burger Buns

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I'd love to try the oat bread or just granola!

Diane Gallegos said...

They all look so good it's so hard! I have been wanting cinnamon raisin bread for a while now but everything looks so tempting! Krispy bars...Tartlets...oh my! Surprise me!

gingerodie said...

How can you choose just one? Oh my gosh! Krispie bars...tartlets...cinnamon raisin bread ...oh my! Surprise me!!

Virginia said...

I checked out Smart Treat, and the item I would most like to try is their sandwich bread. Thank you.

Diamond said...

Yeah, those double chocolate super chunk smart bites would be my tester item for their brand. But, the lemon ones would interest me too.

I know I should care about the breads and buns for the family, but I am all about treats right now.

Diamond said...

I had to check if I was a follower. While you are on my google feed, I have now officially clicked the follow button.

Anonymous said...

I receive your email feeds.


Anonymous said...

Wow - everything on the Smart Taste website looked so good! I would like to try the cinnamon raisin bread, oat bread, or cranberry walnut bread. The date brittle bar and the cranberry walnut granola looked tempting too!


Jenn/CinnamonQuill said...

Really fun to read the interview :)

I'd just love to try the regular old sandwich bread...oh, to be able to buy 'regular sized' sandwich bread...I love that this is such a huge loaf!

Amanda Barcus said...

Definitely the pumpkin tartlet. My favorite flavor as fall approaches! Subscribed and liked on fb too.

Christine Harling said...

I'd love to try it all, but the flax millet bread would be my first choice!

following on twitter
Like on FB!

CDM said...

I'd like to try the chocolate almond joy cup

CDM said...

I 'liked' you on fb

CDM said...

I am 'following' you :)