By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers
What happens with a pastry chef and a nutritionist join forces to elevate granola?
The world benefits with tasty flavor profiles like Sweet Potato Casserole.
Yes, you read that right.
Liza Maya and Sylvia Williams combine art and science to celebrate the flavors of the Black Diaspora in Soul Grain, their gluten-free granola. The Sweet Potato Casserole was their first recipe. “I love this flavor. It takes hours because we slice 40 pounds of sweet potatoes and dry them in the oven for at least two hours. Then we crunch them up,” shared Sylvia. Liza continued, “We do the same process for the collard greens in the recipe. The greens add nutritional value, lots of vitamins, to the final result.”
Both agree that the Sweet Potato Casserole is their prettiest granola. “It has Sunday dinner vibes,” smiled Sylvia. “That’s what we want to celebrate in our granolas: the gatherings, the coming together, and the richness of the food on the table.”
Liza and Sylvia have been friends for over a decade. They met here in Minnesota through their partners’ band. Music is always flowing in their kitchen as they cook. “There’s lots of music and love in our kitchen. We play a lot of old school hip hop to keep things flowing,” said Liza. “We have fun in the kitchen. It’s grueling, but fun. We laugh so much,” added Sylvia.
The friends and partners started Soul Grain as a cottage food business in May 2022. By July 2022 they had moved to a commercial kitchen and started selling their grain granola in Kowalski’s that fall. “The last year has been amazing!,” shared Sylvia. “I am surprised, excited and delighted by how far we have come in one year.”
Liza and Sylvia had a vision. “We wanted to bring a bit of fun and lots of flavors to the granola aisle!” Their favorite ways to use their own flavorful granola? With almond milk, in an acai bowl, in a smoothie bowl, baked into quick breads or as a topping for a salad.
As the business grows, so has their friendship. “We love how it gives us more reasons to hang out,” said Liza. “It’s good that we really like each other.” Sylvia added, “I couldn’t ask for a better business partner. When you hit a bump in the road, you see what people are really made of. We’ve both learned so much about running a business and each other. We’re a good team.”
Soul Grain currently produces five varieties of granola: Banana Pudding (vanilla bean paste, chia seeds, and locally-sourced maple syrup), Coco Mango (shredded coconut and lime zest), Neutral Nelly (no fruit or nuts, very versatile), Spiced Paradise (with pistachio, cardamom, and ginger), and the original Sweet Potato Casserole with collard greens and pecans.
All of the ingredients are intentionally selected for brain health. “Our blend of backgrounds helps us to create a beautiful marriage of healthy and delicious,” explained Liza. “We’ve chosen all of our ingredients with great deliberation.”
Soul Grain founders Liza and Sylvia agree, “Our mission is to create a space where flavor and health meet while empowering our communities on their wholeness journey! Healthy does not have to be tasteless!”
Purchase Soul Grain gluten-free granola on the shelf at Camden Foods (airport), Kowalski’s and The Good Grocer.
Visit https://soul-grain.com/ to purchase their gift box set or Banana Pudding granola in bulk.
This feature is part of the 2023 MTMM Holiday Gift Guide series. Visit meettheminnesotamakers.com to download the gift guide featuring over 100 of Minnesota’s talented makers. Find Soul Grain on page 41!
Follow @soulgrain_llc on Instagram for pop up at local markets or Spyhouse Coffee Houses samplings.
Follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover more of the people who make Minnesota an amazing place to be!