A ‘Gem’ of a natural, locally-made treat for outdoor enthusiasts

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:30am

    BELFAST—Outdoor lovers take note: Energy Gem, a Maine-made nutty, power food, should be on your next outdoor excursion’s shopping list.

    Some of the locals may remember Liz Coldren, a pie maker, informally known as the Pie Lady of Camden from 2007 to 2014. She is now the owner/manufacturer of Energy Gem.

    “One day, one of my customers requested a gluten-free crust, so I started experimenting with making pie crusts out of nuts and sweetener, but they stuck to my Pyrex plate,” she said of her inspiration. “At about that time, I’d been reading a book that mentioned Native American pemmican, so the idea struck me to make a vegetarian version of pemmican.”

    But first, in order to solidify the mixture of sprouted nuts and seeds with fruit and pure regional honey, she needed something to pound the little treat into shape.

    “I realized I needed compression to turn them into compact little discs, so I commissioned Sam Tibbets, of Rockport Steel, to make me a one-of-a-kind pneumatic machine that runs off a compressor and is activated by a foot pedal,” she said.

    Her invention, a staple for hikers, trail runners, bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, has been a hit.  It’s like a locally made Larabar.  At 270 calories, Energy Gem boasts nine grams of protein, 11g carbs,  4g dietary fiber, 7g sugars, 21g healthy fat, 75mg sodium,and no cholesterol or trans fats. 

    Energy Gems are chock full of iron, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, magnesium, low in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  They are also gluten free.  

    “Runners and hikers tend to come back every week and buy them,” she said.

    The shelf life for these Energy Gems is roughly around three months in room temperature, which is perfect for the backcountry hiker or camper who needs a take-along food that can fit in the pocket without refrigeration.

    “They are sprouted and dehydrated at low temperatures for 18 hours with spices,” she said. “When the mixture is completely dry, I add dried cranberries and raisins and soak it in a honey slurry for a whole day. The result is a nice, crunchy, chewy texture.”

    Beyond outdoor crowd, the cheese and wine crowd will find it to be a great appetizer.

    “I like them thinly sliced with Appleton Creamery Goat Camembert,” said Coldren.

    Coldren also makes a grain-free “non-granola” with sprouted almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds bathed in a raw apple slurry with Himalayan salt and organic cinnamon called Energy Gemola. 

    Going on her seventh year, Coldren doesn’t have a website or Facebook page, but instead, sells locally through Belfast and Camden Farmer’s Markets as well as through The Good Tern Co-op in Rockland, The New Natural in Camden, the Lincolnville General Store, the Belfast Co-op, and the Portland Co-op.

    The Belfast Farmers' Market’s summer home is outside, in back of Waterfall Arts’ parking lotlocated at 256 High Street. 

    Every Friday, the market is open rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The ease and convenience of this particular Farmer’s Market makes it so that customers wishing to use a credit card/EBT card, can gather everything they want to purchase and buy it all at once at the customer information stand.  Simply pick up a tally sheet and clipboard when you arrive, from the customer information stand, to use with each vendor.  For more information visit: http://www.belfastfarmersmarket.org/belfastmarket/

    All photos by Kay Stephens

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com