Up until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I was able to enjoy one of the greatest gifts of our modern world - a breakfast sandwich. I’m serious. You can’t say that eating a BEC (Bacon, Egg, and Cheese) doesn’t bring you an immeasurable amount of happiness after sleeping in on a Saturday morning. It’s the simple things like this that I miss the most, but, because of Squirrel & The Bee, I no longer have to be excessively nostalgic about the days of eating breakfast sandwiches. Now, it’s a reality.
You’ve probably seen me raving about Squirrel & The Bee on my Instagram, but this place is so special to me that they rightfully deserved an entire blog post. If you haven’t seen me freaking out about their PB&J brownies and PERSONAL CAKES IN A JAR (yes, all caps was necessary, I told you I tend to freak out about it), now you will.
So that you can understand my obsession, maybe, I’ll give you a little background on Squirrel & The Bee. Here are the basics. Squirrel & The Bee is a grainless bakeshop located in Short Hills, NJ. Not only are all of their products gluten and grain-free, but they’re also free of refined sugars, GMO’s, soy, and preservatives - basically, all of the things that we shouldn’t even be feeding our bodies in the first place.
I know what you’re thinking. Or maybe you’re not thinking this at all and I’m just assuming it. Either way, you may be reading this and asking yourself, “why grain-free and not just gluten-free”? I’ll throw it to Squirrel & The Bee for the explanation on this one because I couldn’t have said it any better myself. In my interview, and on the walls of their bake shop, might I add, Squirrel & The Bee talks about how “Many people eat gluten free due to Celiac disease; some due to wheat intolerance. However, most gluten-free items still contain processed sugar, preservatives and other grains that are not good for the body. Grains and sugar can cause inflammation in the digestive tract which can lead to Celiac, Crohns/Colitis, IBS/IBD, Rheumatoid Arthritis, ADD/ADHD and many other autoimmune diseases. In addition, chronic headaches and many skin issues are attributed to inflammation caused by gluten and grains. Eliminating all grains – rice, potatoes, corn, soy, wheat – helps to reduce inflammation throughout your body.”
If you’re Paleo, on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet like I am, or just looking to adopt healthier eating habits, Squirrel & The Bee is a game-changer. I spoke about why on a recent post on their Instagram. I talked about how finding something that I can eat at restaurants is one of the hardest things about being on a restrictive diet like mine. Being on the SCD diet is, of course, a choice, and it’s been the best choice I’ve ever made because it’s changed my life and my health for the better, in ways I never thought possible. But, sometimes, there’s no sugar-coating it (ha, get it - I don’t eat refined sugar), and it’s just hard to feel so limited with your options when it comes to finding food outside of what you make in your own kitchen. At Squirrel & The Bee, I was able to walk through the doors and not feel the fear that I usually do when it comes time to decide what food to order. And that right there is why Squirrel & The Bee is so special. It’s a place that not only accommodates, but directly caters to people, like me, with dietary restrictions.
Michelle Retik, the owner of and professional pastry chef behind the magic that is Squirrel & The Bee, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. After having little success with traditional medical treatment, in 2012, Michelle turned to a diet regiment that eliminated all grains, refined sugars, and most dairy. Once she made this choice, Michelle began to experiment with baking, using nut flours and raw local honey to create treats that satisfied her sweet-tooth and helped heal her gut. Shortly after, Michelle began to experience relief from her symptoms, and, now, she is completely symptom-free. Sound familiar? Word quickly spread about Michelle’s baked goods, if you ever were going to question how quickly gossip spreads in New Jersey, there’s your proof, and those both on and off restrictive diets were wanting to try her specialty pastries. And that, my friends, is the story of Squirrel & The Bee began. I really wanted to make a HIMYM joke there instead, but I’ll refrain.
In case their mission and their story didn’t sell you on why Squirrel & The Bee is the bees-knees (’m sorry but I HAD TO), take a look at some pictures of their baked goods. Bagels, donuts, cakes, cakes in a jar, cupcakes, with frosting might I add - they’re all so good and actually good for you.
Clearly, I could go on and on about how much I love this place, its food, and everything that it stands for. But, there’s only one way to know for sure if I’m telling the truth. Okay, obviously I’m telling the truth! But, jokes aside, you’re just going to have to try Squirrel & The Bee for yourself. If you’re in the area, you can stop by their shop, and, if you live across the country, you can order online from their website. All I have left to say is just do it; you’ll thank me later.
Life’s too short to not eat cake. Luckily, Squirrel & The Bee is making that possible for people like me.