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Klahowya students' recipe catching on

From left to right, Klahowya students Bethany Sheridan, Emily Gorecki, Alyson Kreifels and Paige Junkin prepare a pan of their chocolate granola crunch bars. They have been working on perfecting the recipe since January and will take it with them to a national competition this summer. - Christopher Carter/staff photo
From left to right, Klahowya students Bethany Sheridan, Emily Gorecki, Alyson Kreifels and Paige Junkin prepare a pan of their chocolate granola crunch bars. They have been working on perfecting the recipe since January and will take it with them to a national competition this summer.
— image credit: Christopher Carter/staff photo

Bethany Sheridan and her three business partners are cooking, filling orders and marketing the newest health food to hit the shelves.

But they still need mom to drive them around.

The culinary quartet, all freshmen at Klahowya Secondary School, have perfected their recipe for chocolate granola crunch bars. It’s a simple snack they hope will bring home a national award but it is already popping up outside the classroom.

They leave July 2 for Chicago and will put their innovative concoction up against the best student recipes in the country at the Family Career and Community Leaders of America national competition.

The four have already garnered first place recognition at both the regional and state level — something they didn’t expect as first year competitors.

“It was a little more than we bargained for in the beginning,” said Alyson Kreifels, 15.

This is the first year in recent memory there has been a registered FCCLA club at Klahowya as well as the first time in a decade that a Central Kitsap school has sent students to nationals.

While stuffing four teenage girls in a kitchen may seem like a recipe for disaster, said Alyson Kreifels’ mom, Kristi Kreifels, they take it seriously.

The girls see futures as chefs or bakers.

“When you watch them cook, they are down to business,” said Kristi Kreifels.

The students say they have used family, friends and even custodians as impromptu focus groups to make something even the picky eaters would enjoy.

The target audience they say, is high school athletes.

The bars are high in fiber, protein and lack any processed sugars. Running close to 300 calories, the bars are designed as a near-meal replacement for those on the go.

Made by hand and with a recipe featuring more than 14 ingredients, the students say the most important part is creating with care.

“Cooking on a big scale with a big machine, there is not much love,” Sheridan said.

Now that the recipe is finalized, the students are working on a marketing plan including designing packaging.

The bars have already developed a reputation in the hallways.

During after-school baking sessions, the door to room 308 has to be shut and locked to keep hungry students from sneaking snacks. The bars have even been peddled between classes, the students say.

Sheridan said it’s not uncommon for boys to knock at the door after school, begging for samples.

While it may have originated in a classroom kitchen, the granola bars will soon be available commercially.

The owners of Kitsap’s Emerald City Smoothie stores have already ordered 400 bars. They will sell at all three locations — Silverdale, East Bremerton and Port Orchard — with the proceeds returned to the students to pay for the Chicago trip.

“If the kids are doing the work, we’re willing to stand behind them and support them,” said Marleen Madding who owns and helps run the Emerald City Smoothie locations along with her husband, John Madding.

She said they already sell hundreds of different types of nutrition and snack bars, but the students offered something that couldn’t be beat — a locally produced snack rich in flavor and nutrition.

She said the students’ professionalism and demeanor, along with their high quality product, was impressive and it made good business sense to help promote the bars.

Alyson Kreifels said she knows of at least two other business that have shown interest in carrying the snack.

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