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Allergen-friendly bakery, Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics, expands on “dessert with nutrition” principle 

click to enlarge The salad that inspired a line of onlookers; don’t order it if you hate when people keep staring at you. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The salad that inspired a line of onlookers; don’t order it if you hate when people keep staring at you.
Ever had a dish arrive that was so alluring, people at nearby tables ogled it as it passed by in a server’s hands? Maybe turned in their seats to steal glances, or even hollered over “What did you order?” in a tone reserved only for enamorment?

I’m having that moment at Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics, seated at a wide community table between the entryway and order counter, as guests who line up during a lunch rush keep looking at my plate. Two of them gather the courage to come ask what I’m eating, apologetically.

Hey, no worries. I’ve built my own veggie bowl (more of a salad, really) for a perfectly fair $9.50, from an array of offered greens, bases, toppings, sauces and sprinkles (no, not the colorful sugar dreck you put on ice cream, fool). Mine’s composed of: lemon-massaged kale (owner Elizabeth Durham’s words, not mine; I only massage my sore feet, the scruff of my dog’s neck, and my girlfriend’s body — never food, even though, yes this is a thing to tenderize tough kale leaves), sweet potato and carrot chunks, quinoa, some red lentils, avocado, house slaw, Asian dressing (with coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, garlic and ginger), and all sprinkle options, being scallions, tomatoes, cilantro and pumpkin seeds. A lot, right? Yeah, it’s the King Kong of salads — OK, seriously people, stop looking at me, I’m starting to wonder if there’s food in my beard — colorful and full of crunch and the simple flavors of real ingredients nuanced simply by olive oil and salt for individual seasoning.
Location Details Sweet Elizabeth’s Organics
1625 W. Uintah St.
West side
Colorado Springs, CO
357-5718
Bakeries
When Durham expanded in mid-September of last year from her less-than-year-old Old Colorado City bakery (attached to Monse’s Taste of El Salvador) to this former The Market and Paleo Progressive spot in the shopping center with Mountain Mama Natural Foods, she added more offerings like breakfast waffles, soups and additional flavors of her popular, allergy- and vegan-friendly pastries and sweets, plus decorated gluten-free cakes. When we first sampled her cakes a year ago, she noted her concept of “dessert with nutrition,” as she calls it, highlighting superfood ingredients and better-than sweeteners. In a world full of Frankenfoods and rampant health problems, hers appears as a noble mission — ’cuz, after all, dessert’s not a course most of us are willing to cancel, so workarounds are welcome.

Before we dive into more of Durham’s glazed and frosted goods, we build an 8-inch personal pizza made with oat, sorghum and coconut flour dough, with mushrooms and Brussels on oregano-forward tomato sauce, plus pumpkin seed garnish. The crust doesn’t rise much, nor offer the sexiest of chew textures (a common gluten-free concern), but it suffices (especially for those with allergies who can’t eat the stretchy glutenous stuff), with four slices worth of filler that feels a touch less than substantial — leaving room for dessert, at least.
click to enlarge A parsley-pesto sandwich lacks nothing for flavor, but could stand to be more sizable. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • A parsley-pesto sandwich lacks nothing for flavor, but could stand to be more sizable.
But the pizza’s no offender compared to a parsley-pesto sandwich for $8.50, containing a fan of sliced avocado, a few spinach leaves, a smear of the good green sauce, and a tomato wheel, atop a rosemary garlic roll that’s no bigger in circumference than a side ramekin of coleslaw. Immediate reaction to the presentation: “Wow, that’s really small.” (Note, nobody ogling my salad mound paid it any attention.) The bread texture and
flavor’s all good, we’d just want more of it all.

Finally on to dessert, the same bread dough as the pizza, which also incorporates coconut oil and coconut sugar, becomes a gluten-free yeast donut also fried in coconut oil. It’s denser and heavier than a typical donut, but again, that’s gluten-free norm. A strawberry shortcake does achieve an airier texture, with bits of the fruit incorporated and a delightful coconut whipped cream. Best, though, a cinnamon roll sports a soft, moist crumb and rich spiced flavor, topped in a vanilla frosting made with tapioca starch and palm shortening that’s proudly certified by Palm Done Right, who work against deforestation.

That ingredient alone speaks to Durham’s mindfulness in the whole endeavor — tagline “eat well, feel well.” She should be commended for bravely tripling her operating space inside of a year and quickly earning a fan base, which need not be limited to those with dietary restrictions. After all, not just me, but half the people in line that day would punish the salad I built, gleefully, any day.

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