Wendy Sorquist has raised the bar with raw food Pashen.
Packed with plenty of whole sprouted grains, nuts and dried fruit, these bars have a slightly soft and chewy texture with enough crunch to be satisfying, and they’re not overly sweet.
To create the original two bars, Sorquist worked with her sister, Lisa Wilson, a certified health and wellness counselor (though she no longer is part of the business). The two moved from their childhood home in Black Duck, Minn., near Bemidji, taking different paths in their pursuit of careers in health and fitness. Sorquist, who worked for several years at Target, applies her knowledge of merchandising to expand Pashen’s product line and distribution.
Sorquist is not a raw foodist, she said, “but I care deeply about really healthful ingredients.”
To develop several new Pashen bars, she reached out to Susan Powers of Rawmazing, a raw-food lifestyle website and blog.
“The biggest challenge for us came in working with so many different ingredients. Each Pashen bar contains at least 15 different kinds of foods — nuts, sprouted grains, dried fruit — bound primarily by almond butter and naturally sweetened with coconut nectar to be 100 percent vegan,” said Sorquist.
“Pricing the bars is a balancing act,” she said. “These ingredients are all very high-quality and expensive, and the bars are carefully made by hand. That’s why they have such extraordinary taste.”
They’re produced at the City Food Studio in Minneapolis but, given the rising demand, the company may need more space. First, Sorquist plans to buy a grinder for almond butter, the most expensive ingredient. Thanks to her success, she can hire a few extra hands to produce 3,000 bars over the weekend when other City Food Studio tenants are selling at farmers markets.
The Original bar is a cinnamon-spiced, almond-based combination packed with pumpkin seeds, cranberries and goji berries. The Cacao bar features raw cacao butter and powder to make a dense, dark cacao topping. Pashen’s Berry and Blueberry bars are loaded with mulberries, goji berries, mesquite and lucuma powder, plus vanilla.
Sorquist sources her raw ingredients from Wilderness Family Naturals, near Duluth, and Bergin Fruit and Nut in St. Paul.
The 1.4-ounce bars retail for about $3 each and are available at Lunds & Byerlys, Kowalski’s, Lake Winds Co-ops, the Wedge, Seward Co-ops, Mississippi Markets, Linden Hills Co-op, as well as coffee shops, specialty stores and online. mypashen.com