Most people don’t associate the word healthy with bakeshop, but Squirrel & The Bee is different. The pastries from this shop are grain/gluten-free, made without refined sugar, and use no or very little dairy. Instead Squirrel & The Bee uses plenty of nuts, nut flour, local honey, and butter from grass-fed cows. New Jersey native and pastry chef Michelle Retik started baking this way back in 2011 to treat her ulcerative colitis. As she began sharing her homemade pastries with friends and family, she realized friends — even those without dietary restrictions — seemed to like her treats. And thus Squirrel & The Bee was born.
To be clear, Squirrel & Bee is not a Jersey City-based bakeshop. They’re located in Short Hills, NJ, but I recently discovered them at the Grove Farmers’ Market. (They’ll be there every Monday and Thursday for the duration of the market). Alternatively, you can order pastries online from their website and have them delivered to your door, but I think the Farmers’ Market is a better alternative because that way you can sample some of their baked goods before you commit to a bigger (and more expensive) purchase like a pie or cupcake order.
You see, Squirrel & the Bee is not cheap. Expect to pay $24 for a 6″ cake, $38 for a pound cake, and $40 for an apple pie. (By comparison, you can get a vegan apple pie at Whole Foods for roughly $15). However, Squirrel & Bee is hoping its premium list of ingredients are worth the price of admission. As far as taste — chances are you won’t even notice these are healthy pastries. The n’oatmeal raisin cookie ($3.95), for example, tastes like the classic it’s supposed to be with a crunchy outer edge and thick and chewy middle.
The banana bread loaf ($12.95) — made with almond flour, coconut flour, eggs, bananas, olive oil, and honey — is extremely moist, soft, and overflowing with banana goodness. For the price, I wish it had walnuts baked in, but that’s a minor complaint. I also like that it’s not as oily as other banana loaves I’ve tried. Finally, I had the PB&J Brownie ($3.95), which tastes more like a chocolate brownie than it does peanut butter and jelly, but once you get to the PB&J swirl, you get a mouthful of peanut butter and raspberries.
Sadly, Jersey City lacks a bakeshop like Squirrel & The Bee. Sure, we have our fair share of organic bakeries, but the bakers at Squirrel & The Bee are playing in a different league serving pastries that are both tasty and healthy. That’s something that’s hard to find no matter where you live.
Squirrel & The Bee | www.squirrelandthebee.com
Grove Farmers’ Market every Monday & Thursday through December