In 2007 Kimberly Crupi Dobbins (’93) was working for the investment research firm Morningstar, Inc. as director of recruiting. Morningstar’s employee benefits package included a six-week sabbatical every four years of service, and on her sabbatical she decided to travel.
She purchased an “Around The World” ticket and ventured out for 42 days, visiting five regions and taking time along the way to explore where she wanted to focus her interests upon return. As she made her way around the globe, all signs pointed toward a career in health and wellness.
Dobbins enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University’s Teacher College to become certified as a holistic health counselor. While a student her doctor put her on a diet free of wheat, gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugars. Not good news for a lover of desserts.
Feeling lost without a decadent alternative, she began experimenting in her kitchen to create a healthy, sweet-treat that would meet all of her dietary restrictions. Thus was born her company, Simplified Foods, and its signature item, the Simple Square.
What are Simple Squares?
Simple Squares are all natural, savory-sweet snack bars you can feel good about. Made from simple and whole food ingredients, they are free of wheat, gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugars. And because we use unfired-fareTM, the Square’s power packed nutrients are never compromised. Simple Squares are raw, kosher and made with organic ingredients.
Do you develop your own recipes and do a lot of experimentation and taste-testing?
I do! All recipes are formulated in my kitchen before running on the production line. Coconut, Rosemary and Sage round out our flavor profiles. Cinnamon-Clove Simple Squares were a 2012 sofi Silver Medalist for Outstanding Snack from the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Our latest flavor, Coffee-bean, is set to launch this fall.
What are the challenges associated with the “science of baking” when you’re not using standard ingredients such as dairy, flour and sugar?
While baking doesn’t come into play (we are a raw food item — the Squares have not been heated or cooked), the biggest challenge is how to keep our simple ingredients fresh without the use of preservatives? We are fortunate to be working with a great team of experts for the packaging of our products. Utilizing a nitrogen flush and high barrier film, we are able to maintain freshness of our ingredients while keeping it simple. No additives or preservatives and only all natural whole foods are used.
What ingredients do you use, and from where do you get them?
Nuts+honey+vanilla+sea salt+herbs=SIMPLE! Only five whole food ingredient food categories are used per Square and we attempt to source locally whenever possible.
For those who love brownies, do you have a recipe that won’t make us feel like we’re missing something?
You bet! Simple Squares are both decadent and filling. Our current flavor profiles cinnamon-clove, coconut, rosemary and sage.
What was your major at Wake Forest? Were there any particular people or classes who shaped your career path?
What I loved, and what helped shaped my life experiences, was that campus was small enough to get one on one feedback from professors but large enough to feel worldly. My time at Wake was pivotal for me, and I met friends who are still my closest to date. Several have gone on to found their own companies as well.
What do you miss most about Wake Forest?
The camaraderie and Southern hospitality. I love returning for homecoming and seeing all the wonderful enhancements on campus. Wake Forest will always hold a special place in my heart!