Let’s get serious about granola. As a veteran camper and kayaker, I’ve had my fill of soggy, sugary stuff. So trust me, Gustola Granola is the real deal.
A simple blend of toasted oats, dried fruit and nuts, it’s delicious and decidedly crunchy. It stays fresh and crisp even when tossed into my backpack or wet sack for hiking, paddling and camping. It’s a great breakfast and ready snack.
Gustola’s founder, Angela Gustafson, is passionate about health, and loves to cook. She’s a runner and mom who began making granola for her four busy kids.
“I’m a fanatic about quality and flavor,” she said. “Our ingredients cost a little more, but that makes a difference. Once they taste it, people buy it.”
One key to her success is a schedule of tireless sampling at farmers markets and in stores. “We have so many loyal customers across the state. Just the other day, I got a thank-you note from a woman who lives near Duluth.”
Gustafson began selling granola at the Linden Hills Farmers Market several years ago. Soon it arrived on shelves of Twin Cities food co-ops and grocery stores. Early on, Gustafson engaged AURI’s (Agricultural Utilization Research Institute) food lab in Crookston, Minn., where she worked with food scientists to bring the product into regulatory compliance and refine the packaging before moving the operation to City Food Studio, a commercial kitchen in south Minneapolis.
Just this past year, to meet increased demand, she connected with a commercial producer in Shakopee.
“Moving to a production facility was a big decision. But I realized that rather than running all over for ingredients, baking up a storm and making deliveries myself in my orange Jeep, I had to shift my focus to ensure that the overall integrity of the granola stayed high. Our process is putzy and we worked hard to maintain that hands-on, small-batch quality in each bag.
“The reason our granola is especially crunchy? We add egg whites to the mix. They help keep the oats crisp and bind the ingredients into clusters; they also boost the protein count,” she said.
Gustola Granola is wheat-free, non-GMO and made with organic whole grains. It comes in four varieties: hazelnut, walnut, blueberry and cranberry; cashew, pecan and almond; almond cherry and coconut; and pistachio, pumpkin seed, coconut and cherry. The 12-ounce bags are available at local grocers and food co-ops, as well as a few sporting goods stores, priced at about $8 each. gustolagranola.com.