Maurie Smith learned to cook and bake as a youngster, inspired by her aunts’ encouragement and cookbooks. Something “clicked” in her mind when she made granola for the first time, however, and she hasn’t stopped since.
As she grew older, she gifted her granola to friends every once in a while, but didn’t think of selling it until she discovered that some of her acquaintances had family members who couldn’t eat certain foods due to allergies and other dietary restrictions.
“Even things like granola, which to me, it’s not that hard to make granola without nuts, soy and gluten,” said Smith, a Washougal resident. “Seeing how hard it was (for my friends), it seemed completely unnecessary. I thought, ‘I have not been able to find an allergen-free granola that actually tastes good.’ So I decided to start a business. I had a 1-year-old at the time, and it was kind of a big undertaking. But it’s been fun.”
Smith launched Hippie Granola Co., in August 2019, providing handmade, small-batch granola free of gluten, soy, nuts, refined sugar and animal products.
“I make my granola allergen-friendly, refined sugar-free and vegan so that the maximum number of people who can eat food can eat it,” she said. “Being inclusive is a personal value of mine, and making things accessible for as many people as possible, that’s kind of what (my slogan) ‘granola for the people’ is about. It’s my goal to make my granola available and accessible to as many people as possible — not for a business, making-money reason, but because I really care about everyone being able to have really good food that they can also feel good about eating.”
Smith makes and sells several year-round varieties, including an original flavor, packed with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and sweetened with pure maple syrup; salted cacao, “full of that lovely chocolate flavor without the extra sugar,” according to the Hippie Granola Co. website; rosemary pumpkin spice, made with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and a hint of rosemary; and grain free, an offshoot of the original that swaps large-flake coconut for the oats and adds hemp seeds for extra protein.
In addition, Smith also creates seasonal varieties, such as lavender vanilla.
“Coming up with new flavors is one of my favorite things about making granola, ” she said. “Every season I have enjoyed coming up with new recipes. I have my ‘standbys’ now, so there’s not quite so much recipe development, but it’s still always in the back of my mind. If I have a really interesting meal or dessert at a restaurant, I’ll be thinking, ‘How can I turn this into a seasonal flavor?’ Or if I come across a seasonal ingredient that I’m really enjoying, or if I see a recipe on a website that looks really good, I’m always thinking about how I can turn it into a granola flavor.”
Smith rents time at a commercial kitchen in Vancouver to make her granola, usually by herself but sometimes accompanied by her husband Remington.
“In the offseason, I might go in for two big baking days a month,” she said. “During market season I’m usually there at least once a week. I got a taste of what a normal market (season) looks like at the end of last year, but really, I haven’t been to a pre-COVID market or post-COVID market, so I think this year I will get a better feel for what the actual baking commitment is.”
Smith plans to sell her granola at the Camas Farmers Market “not quite every week, but most weeks,” the Vancouver Farmers Market one weekend per month, and Washougal resident Jordan Stillinger’s “barn sale” events this summer.
“In the future I’d eventually like to have a pop-up or something where I can actually serve granola to people rather than just selling the pre-packaged (bags),” she said. “Truly Scrumptious in downtown Camas has been carrying my original and grain-free granolas for about a year or so. I would love to be in more businesses, but I’m not actively pursuing that for time and prioritization (reasons).”
Smith would eventually like to open a coffee shop that offers granola-based brunch options, but hopes to keep her business local and “smallish.”
“Lately I have been thinking about how I can use this business to give back to the community.
I love being a part of it,” she said. “I’m in this business because I enjoy what I do and I also enjoy making food for real people, and being able to meet them at the markets is a really big deal. I really enjoy it.”
Hippie Granola Co.’s products are available for purchase at hippiegrano laco.square.site.