The up and coming Burly Bison Bakery is whipping up treats just like Grandma used to make . . . if food allergies were a thing back in her day.
Move over refined sugar, flour and butter, there’s a new whole foods plant-based baker in town. As a young adult, dessert lover Nicole Kraayenbrink left an allergist’s office with dismaying news: she was allergic to just about everything from dairy to yeast. Instead of giving up her love of chocolate, Kraayenbrink accepted the challenge and began experimenting in her kitchen to find ways to make foods she could eat without compromising taste, health or ethics.
She met her now-husband Dylan Kraayenbrink, who brought his website and photography skills to the table, and Burly Bison Bakery was born.
“We go beyond vegan,” Nicole Kraayenbrink explained, acknowledging that vegan doesn’t always mean healthy. In fact, a lot of junk foods like potato chips and even Oreos can be considered “accidentally vegan.”
Instead, Nicole Kraayenbrink prides herself on using whole food, plant-based elements in all of the treats she creates, including some radical baking ingredients like avocado, beans, chia seeds, and sweet potato.
Food allergy sufferers and healthy eaters with a sweet tooth can finally rejoice! Everything on the menu is gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and vegan.
Tempting nutrient-dense offerings include muffins, pastries, brownies, pies, candies and specialty cakes. Customers can “build their own” cakes or cupcakes by choosing from the list of flavors, fillings and frosting combinations.
Some popular items are the cinnamon roll cake, made using sweet potatoes, dates, and cashew butter and the “Junior Mint” cake and “Reese’s” cakes featuring handmade vegan peppermint patties and peanut butter cups.
Other favorites include protein-packed chocolate chip cookie dough dips and pies using chickpeas.
Every ingredient in each menu item is listed on the website for complete culinary transparency, which offers anyone with a food allergy peace of mind. The bakery is also willing to create custom recipes for those with specific dietary needs.
It recently created a custom funfetti birthday cake for a 16-year-old with extreme allergies and it was the first birthday cake in her life she had been able to eat.
Currently, Nicole Kraayenbrink bakes out of her home in SE Grand Rapids under the Michigan Cottage Food Law and items are available for pick up only. The couple hopes for her to be baking full-time by 2020.
Why the name Burly Bison? Nicole Kraayenbrink realized that when people hear the word “vegan” they often think of rabbit food like lettuce and carrots and assume vegans are scrawny and weak. She spent some time living in Grand Teton National Park and fell in love with the bison who inhabit the park and break that stereotype.
“They are herbivores and are so strong! They can run 40 mph and jump six feet!” Celebrating the strength those majestic beasts possess from eating plants seems fitting for a bakery with such a healthful mission.
The lines on the bison in the logo might look familiar. “It’s the Grand Rapids skyline,” she said. “We love our city and are committed to supporting Grand Rapids by using local ingredients whenever possible.”
Ready to have your cake and eat healthy too? Check out the upcoming pop-up event, Plant-Based Roots Bloomin’ Launch Party, on April 20 at LINC Community Revitalization Inc. Tickets are free but space is limited.
Orders can be placed on the Burly Bison Bakery website.