Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re hungry for an alternative to your usual morning fare, Short Hills and Millburn are serving up some interesting offerings that are almost guaranteed to get your day off to a great start.
If you’ve caught the aroma of something wonderful wafting down Millburn Avenue, it may be emanating from this grainless bake shop, opened by Short Hills resident Michelle Retik. The aptly-named Squirrel & the Bee began offering its grain-free, no- or low-dairy products in September.
Retik, a professional pastry chef who suffers from ulcerative colitis, made some life-changing dietary adjustments in 2012. The baker and busy mom found that by eliminating all grains, refined sugars, and most dairy, she felt better almost instantly.
“I love food and there was no way I would be happy missing out on the things I love so I started out just cooking and baking this way for myself with no intentions of opening a business,” the entrepreneur said.
But after sharing her health discovery and her flavorful foods with friends and neighbors, Retik suddenly found herself with dozens of customers who were hungry for something they couldn’t find elsewhere.
“I was inspired by all of the people who approached me looking for foods that were otherwise unavailable,” shared Retik, who said her baking business quickly began to take over her home. “We were working from 7 a.m to 9 at night and on the weekends. It consumed our house.”
At the urging of customers who relied on her cooking and baking to eat and feel healthier, Retik went out and found her own space. Squirrel & the Bee currently offers muffins, loaves, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, cakes, pies, and granola made exclusively with nut flour and local honey, hence the cafe’s name. Savory soups and salads are also available.
“Some new hot lunch specials are in the works,” Retik said. “We’ve got a lot of surprises coming.”
And don’t forget to stop back in for dessert! House-made gelato blends with coconut or almond milk with local honey.
“The mint chip is made with steeped mint from the community garden,” Retik explains. “We like to keep it as close to farm-to-table as possible.”
Squirrel & the Bee, located at at 515 Millburn Ave. in Short Hills, is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit Squirrel & the Bee’s website.
Juice and smoothie enthusiasts can drink ’til they get their fill at Millburn’s Green Nectar Juicery, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in September.
Realizing that others must share her desire for fresh and healthy juices without the prep and clean up, owner Tara Prupis, a Livingston resident, set up shop at 358 Millburn Ave.
“All of juices are 100 percent organic, raw and cold-pressed,” Prupis explained. “They are served in glass bottles to preserve the taste and we reuse the bottles to preserve our earth. They are a great way to start the day by providing us with numerous vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients. Alkalizing the body with green juice during the morning sets us up to eat right and feel great throughout the day.”
In addition, GNJ also serves 100 percent organic superfood smoothies that are more filling than a juice. The shop also offers baked goods from two local bakers and has an array of organic, gluten free and vegan options.
“Along with all our packaged food, including great energy bars that make a great breakfast on the go and granola with our fresh home made nut mylks, we will soon be serving food made right here at the juicery: chia puddings, raw salads, hot soups. Everything is 100 percent organic and vegan,” Prupis noted.
The juicery also carries cleanses and its website offers cleansing suggestions.
Green Nectar Juicery, located at 358 Millburn Ave. is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit Green Nectar Juicery’s website.
Coffee Mill Roasters
Gennaro and Daniel Raimo are the father-son duo behind Millburn’s Coffee Mill Roasters.
In addition to the cafe’s light, dark and decaffeinated coffees, which change weekly and are roasted in-house for maximum freshness, Coffee Mill Roasters features pastries from Manhattan’s renowned Balthazar Bakery and biscotti from Cedar Ridge in Maplewood.
“We keep it simple,” Daniel explained.
The boutique coffee shop also sells blends from Brazil, Ethiopia, Sumatra, Columbia, Timor, Kenya, and Guatemala, which can be purchased by the pound. Iced and hot teas and cocoas are also available.
“Myself and my son are extremely passionate about coffee,” noted Gennaro on the shop’s website.
Coffee Mill Roasters, located at 41 Main Street in Millburn, is open Monday through Sunday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the Coffee Mill’s website.