Solana Beach’s Ali Bonar has created the world’s first spreadable granola with Kween Granola Butter. The granola butter is all organic, free of nuts, the top 14 allergens and refined sugars and can be found locally at Jimbo’s, Whole Foods and Seaside Market as well as online.
The butter has a smooth consistency and is slightly sweet with the wholesome taste of granola—it also comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors.
“It’s so good in a smoothie,” said Bonar. “Or on toast with banana slices or drizzled on yogurt or in your oatmeal.”
Bonar, 27, grew up in Escondido and was living in San Francisco after graduating from UC Berkeley. She moved back to San Diego to start her own business with her partner (and boyfriend) Eric Katz, and Ari Schraer, also a San Diego native.
At Berkeley, Bonar studied nutrition and had always been really interested in food and wellness.
“Unfortunately when I was in school I developed an eating disorder,” Bonar said. “I was obsessed about eating perfectly all the time. It took over my mindset and verged into a really unhealthy territory.”
With the support of a nutritional therapist, she dedicated herself to intuitive eating and helping others to love themselves and their journeys. She started an Instagram page to share what she had learned and her recovery experience, which included getting back to being creative and comfortable in the kitchen.
“I started playing with food again after being afraid of it for so long,” Bonar said.
As she reintroduced nuts into her diet, she started experimenting with her Vitamix blender, making different butters and spreads.
She tended to put cashew and almond butter on everything but nuts are really dense and they were hard on her digestive system.
She tried to find a healthy and delicious nut-free spread as an alternative but couldn’t find anything—“I really didn’t like seed butter because of the bitter taste. I kept playing around and thought ‘Why has no one created an oat-based spread?”
Into the Vitamix went granola and coconut oil—“The very beginning stages were complete trash,” Bonar admitted.
She and Katz scooped up their chef friend Schraer and he came up with a proprietary spice blend and perfected the product. They found a nut-free factory in Barrio Logan and batches are whipped up from scratch—just gluten-free oats and flax coconut oil, olive oil, flax, the magic spice blend and a touch of maple syrup.
The product launched two years ago but they have only been doing Kween Granola Butter full-time for about a year—when they started, Katz and Bonar were still working in the tech industry as they built up the company on the side.
“We realized there was an opportunity here, we don’t have kids and we’re not married yet. We decided to just jump in full time and see where it takes us,” Bonar said of the move to San Diego and to full-time entrepreneurs.
After launching, Granola Butter has landed on the shelves at grocery stores and specialty markets across the country as well as in food service—the granola butter is featured on the menu at Pressed Juicery.
During the COVID-19 virus pandemic, Bonar said the food side of her business has slowed but as people are stocking up on shelf staples, they have stayed busy. Granola Butter was set to be featured at a pop-up at Sidecar Doughnuts in Del Mar Highlands Town Center on March 22 as the doughnut shop paid tribute to women-owned/founded businesses for Women’s History Month.
As with any nut butter alternative, from cookie butter to seed butter—Bonar said you usually get great taste or nutritional benefits but not both. Her pledge is that Granola Butter delivers on both taste and nutritional quality, which resonates with those who are health conscious, especially parents.
“Kids love the taste of it. And it’s good healthy fats and fiber, not empty carbs that spike your blood sugar,” Bonar said. “It’s low sugar and healthy fats to balance your blood sugar.”
Bonar said their biggest challenge is the customer education piece and just getting people, known creatures of habit, to try something new—an oft-heard query is: “What the heck is granola butter?”
Grocery store demos have helped spread the word as well as growing their online presence.
“For us, social media has been really helpful,” said Bonar of their Instagram feed which features drool-worthy glamour shots of Granola Butter drizzled over purple sweet potatoes, paired with raspberries and drenching a stack of pancakes.
As they just recently launched the vanilla flavor, Bonar said she finds herself eating it all the time.
Her favorite way to eat it?
“You keep Granola Butter in the pantry but if you stick it in the fridge, the coconut oil solidifies and it gets a delicious cookie dough consistency…I put chocolate chips with it on a spoon, it’s so good,” Bonar said. “I”m hungry just thinking about it.”
Check it out online at kween.co