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Core & Rind
Core & Rind cheesy sauce. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Eat and Drink

10 Local Natural Food Products You Didn’t Know You Needed

Colorado’s health-food startups gathered last month in Boulder for the 17th Naturally Boulder Innovation Showcase and Pitch Slam. Here’s what we liked.

Last month, Naturally Boulder—a nonprofit that promotes and supports Colorado’s natural and organic product industry—hosted its 17th annual autumn pitch slam and innovation showcase. There, 35 entrepreneurs exhibited their most delicious goods, from heritage-grain pastas to mushroom-infused coffees. Here are 10 locally made products from the event worth adding to your shopping list.

Frescos Naturales

Juan Stewart, the purveyor behind Green Belly hot sauces, grew up in Guatemala and, in addition to making hot sauces using his grandmother’s recipe, regularly makes fruit-infused aguas frescas from his homeland. One day, his son suggested bottling the jamaicas, horchatas, and tamarindos that they loved, and Stewart jumped on the idea, launching Frescos in January 2021. While aguas frescas are normally served still, Stewart added carbonation for a refreshing twist on the slightly sweet drinks. With six flavors—all made with only three ingredients and sporting their original Spanish names—Stewart says he’s filling a hole in the market to serve Latino communities who grew up drinking homemade aguas frescos with their families. Last month, Frescos took home the grand prize at Naturally Boulder’s Shark Tank–style Pitch Slam, which included a prize pack worth $75,000 and the chance to present at Natural Products Expo East in 2022.

Juan Stewart of Fresco's agua frescas
Juan Stewart of Fresco’s agua frescas. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Flouwer Co. Crackers and Cocktail Cubes

During the pandemic, founders Kristen Kapoor and Theresa Halliburton pivoted away from wholesaling edible flowers to restaurants—something they’d been doing since September 2019—to share their flower-inspired goods directly with consumers. The duo crafts artisanal, flower-laced crackers that are crisp, floral, and just the right amount of salty—a complex snack that elevates any cheese board. New to their lineup are floral cocktail cubes to mix with wine, Champagne, or spirits. We like pairing the rose and vanilla cubes with gin, or muddling the orange blossom and marigold cubes in a glass of bourbon.

Jubli Sesame Butter

When her son’s school banned nut butters four years ago, Miri Breskin set out to find an alternative. After four years of experimenting, Jubli was born in September 2020 with two delicious, sesame-based butters in honey and cocoa flavors (the latter was developed as a substitute for Nutella). The butters are smooth, creamy, and subtly sweet—versatile indulgences that you’ll want to eat with a spoon or generously smother over your breakfast food of choice.

Miri Breskin of Jubli
Miri Breskin of Jubli. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Hoplark Hopped Tea and Water

Hoplark was born in 2018 at the end of a month-long Whole30 cleanse, when founder Dean Eberhardt missed the ritual of grabbing a beer with his friends and wanted a hoppy, alcohol-free alternative to the suds. So he started flavoring brewed teas like green tea and chamomile with mosaic and citra hops, creating a carbonated, hop-intensive drink that tastes like a light, sessionable pale ale or IPA. After success with the tea, Eberhardt expanded Hoplark to include a line of hopped-up seltzer waters, a refreshing and surprisingly satisfying beer substitute that any brew lover can appreciate.

Peak State Coffee

One-year-old Peak State Coffee offers a brew with benefits. Each bag of the fresh-roasted beans has been infused with a blend of functional mushrooms, providing 500 milligrams of mushrooms per each eight-ounce pour. Founder Danny Walsh started the company in April 2020 after experiencing the calming benefits of adding wild chaga mushrooms to his diet. He began foraging for other functional mushrooms like reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps, and decided to add them to his morning routine. Now Peak State drinkers can enjoy benefits like boosted immunity or cognition with their daily joe, or a calming (and tasty) decaf blend to beat the jitters.

Danny Walsh of Peak State Coffee
Danny Walsh of Peak State Coffee. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Pastificio Boulder Heirloom Wheat Pasta

Co-founder Claudia Bouvier grew up in a food-loving, Italian family and in 2018, set out with her husband Ted Steen to make a whole-grain, heritage wheat pasta using Italian pasta-making techniques and local grains. Part of the Colorado Grain Chain, Pastaficio mills its flour in-house and selects wheat blends that both taste great and are more digestible and nutrient-rich than conventional pastas. Enjoy Pastaficio’s fresh pasta offerings through the month of November via the fresh pasta club, or purchase dry pastas year-round, available in over 10 sauce-catching shapes.

Claudia Bouvier of Pastaficio
Claudia Bouvier of Pastaficio. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Core & Rind

Founded four years ago by friends Candi Haas and Rita Childers, Core & Rind makes plant-based cheesy sauces for dipping, topping, and smearing over all your favorite health foods—no guilt involved. The sauces were developed in the co-founders’ home kitchens in St. Louis, and are made with pumpkin, cashews, and apple cider vinegar, making for tangy, creamy, and comforting spreads that may be more tempting than their dairy-filled counterparts. Explore the three flavors—sharp and tangy, rich and smoky, and bold and spicy—and stock your shelves for the upcoming holiday festivity season.

Cabu Latte

If you’ve ever grabbed a refreshing cold brew from Cabu’s mobile, tricycle-mounted coffee cart in Commons Park, you’ve sipped the fruits of Nick Maxfield’s labor in bringing a tasty latte to Denver. Cabu’s cold-brew lattes are made with cacao, dates, vanilla, and pink salt—all-natural ingredients that you can feel good about caffeinating with. While Maxfield opened the coffee cart at a tough time for foot traffic (just before the pandemic) and has been serving to-go pouches 1.5 liters at a time, he has big plans to expand. Next up this winter: canning and bottling, which will allow Cabu to reach even more cold-brew fans in Denver and beyond.

Nick Maxfield of Cabu Latte
Nick Maxfield of Cabu Latte. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Simply Bee Organics

Colorado native Tyler Stellern is on a singular mission to save the bees—and he’s doing it through raw, organic, fruit-infused honey products that raise awareness for native bee populations. Each purchase supports Stellern’s work with local farms, schools, and leadership organizations to educate communities and start pollinator meadows that provide refuge and food for bees. Plus, each purchase comes with a pack of wildflower seeds you can plant at home. Try the raspberry-honey spread over toast, or dip fresh berries in the chocolate-infused honey for a healthful snack. Stellern also sells herb- and botanical-infused honeys to aid digestion, immune support, or sleep and relaxation.

Simply Bee Organics
Simply Bee Organics. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Bruna’s Brazilian Cheese Bread

Sao Paulo native Bruna Piaui Graf founded Bruna’s in 2019 after working at a Brazilian steakhouse and seeing how much diners loved the bread—some would come to the restaurant just for the appetizer, she says. After Graf completed an educational exchange program here seven years ago, she decided to stay in Denver, but she couldn’t find the cheese bread in stores. So she started a food truck to bring a taste of her home country to the Rockies and began packaging her gluten-free, tapioca-based breads in freezer-friendly packages. Now Denverites can pick up a pack of 20 ready-to-reheat bites online and enjoy this Brazilian specialty any time.

Dinoci Dairy-Free Ice Cream

In 2019, Dinoci co-founders Erik Rebich and Scott Emerson came out with a frozen treat for everyone, regardless of their relationship with dairy. Emerson had always centered his lifestyle around health and fitness and started tinkering with a dairy-free ice cream in 2013 that wouldn’t rely on gums and additives to create the creamy texture. After hundreds of trials in his home kitchen (the vanilla flavor required 172 batches to perfect), Emerson had a scoopable, all-natural, dairy-free indulgence he could stand behind. Today, Dinoci offers a lineup of 12 almond- and oat milk–based flavors, including mint chocolate, salted caramel, cookies and crema, and lemon.

Dinoci
Dinoci dairy-free ice creams. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

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