“Free-From” Business Spotlight: Christi Skow, Founder of Canyon Bakehouse (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free Bread, Bagels, Brownies, and More!)
True Story: one of my favorite things in the world is exploring supermarkets when I’m traveling abroad. During my trip to Rio De Janerio in Brazil last December I discovered a variety of amazing gluten-free treats. My favorite find wasn’t a native Brazilian product, it was a gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free loaf of bread all the way from Loveland, Colorado!
As I walked through the market and made a beeline to the gluten-free section my eye caught the package of Cinnamon Raisin Gluten-Free bread from Canyon Bakehouse. I turned over the package to inspect the ingredients (I’m always on the hunt to avoid any nut ingredients in addition to gluten), I was pleased, even shocked to see the proud declaration of Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, AND Soy-Free. Was this real? I could hardly wait until breakfast the next day to try it. The verdict? Amazing! It wasn’t dense like many gluten-free breads, and had the texture I truly have missed. I also love that the ingredients of all Canyon Bakehouse products are nutritious, made with 100% whole grain, all-natural, non-GMO ingredients you can find in your pantry, such as organic agave and extra virgin olive oil. Since I’ve returned from my trip, Canyon Bakehouse has become a staple in my household. The best part? My husband and I can BOTH eat their delicious breads, brownies, bagels, and focaccia.
I was lucky enough to talk with Christi Skow, the founder of Canyon Bakehouse about how she got started, the qualities she loves in bread, the importance of healthy ingredients, and more!
AFW: Tell me about what inspired you to start Canyon Bakehouse.Â
Christi: I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and as a lot of people quickly find out, bread was what I missed the most. It’s easy to overlook how much bread is a staple in our diets toast, sandwiches, PB&J for kids, so that became our mission. Not only did we work to bake gluten-free breads that tasted like “real” bread, but we also wanted to make breads that weren’t full of junk and free from other common allergens.
AFW: I love that the mission of Canyon Bakehouse is to “Love Bread Again.” What qualities do you LOVE in bread that you missed most after going gluten-free?
Christi:Â The texture! There’s something about being able to squish the bread that makes it so appealing. If it crumbles in your hands it missed the mark it has to be soft!
AFW: Many gluten-free products are dense, tasteless, and lack texture. Your master baker helped to create breads that are free from gluten and other allergens, but hold the taste, texture, and feeling of “real” bread. Was this easy to achieve, or was it a learning process?
Christi: Bread really is one of the hardest gluten-free foods to make, period. Developing a recipe that also used wholesome, all-natural ingredients and was free from other allergens (dairy, nuts, soy and casein) was a big challenge. We set the bar pretty high for ourselves knowing that if we could get this right, the door would open for lots of other opportunities. It definitely wasn’t easy to achieve. It basically took us from the time I was diagnosed (2007) to our first retail sale in 2009 to get it right baking loaves in our kitchen and working by trial and error. But when you look back, it was definitely worth it, and we really do believe it’s possible for people with food allergies and intolerances to love bread again.
AFW: Another element I love about your products is that they’re not just allergen free, but also made with 100% whole grains, no GMO’s, and ingredients you can find in your own kitchen, versus filled with ingredients that aren’t particularly healthy. Why was this important to you?
Christi: For us, replacing gluten-filled bread with gluten-free bread that was packed with a long list of unhealthy and unpronounceable ingredients wasn’t worth the trade-off. You’re not doing your body any favors by replacing one harmful ingredient with ten others. While our products were created based on my diagnosis with celiac disease, it was also important to make products we felt good about feeding our families, and for anyone looking to eat healthier. As a mom, I know it’s so much easier to buy one loaf of bread the whole family can eat, which is why we worked so hard to make them healthy and kid-approved.
AFW: Your newest products are focaccia,Â bagels, and brownie bites, which I can honestly say I’m OBSESSED with! What inspired you to branch into these offerings?
Christi: Honestly, there were a million different product ideas we had been floating around for a while, but just like our bread loaves and buns, bagels were one of those foods that we felt were most under-served and missed. The brownies were really just a fun step into the dessert baked goods direction and of course people love them!
AFW: What do you envision in the future for Canyon Bakehouse?
Christi: We’ve been able to help so many people with food allergies over the past 6 years and we only hope to keep expanding our reach. We’ll no doubt have more products down the road and more ways to make living gluten free easier, tastier and healthier
AFW: Describe Canyon Bakehouse products in three words.
Christi: Love Bread Again!
Thank you Christi for taking the time to speak with me! As a special treat, I’m giving two readers a goodie box full of all Canyon Bakehouse’s products. You’ll get the chance to try all their tasty offerings. Enter below!