Wise Bites offers a taste of the good life

Wise Bites founder Cathline James displays some of her baked goods at the new company’s River Road headquarters.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Wise Bites founder Cathline James displays some of her baked goods at the new company’s River Road headquarters.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Eyeing endless processed foods stacked on a grocery store’s shelves two years ago gave Cathline James some food for thought.

Where were the healthy snack options?

“I just really felt sick that (there was) so little healthy food,” she said. “There really was no reason for that.”

So James headed to the kitchen, armed with familiar recipes, intent on improving them. Eighteen months of research and development later, she founded Wise Bites with Tom Shiffman.

The Richmond-based company provides healthy baked goods free of common allergens, low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and iron. Wise Bites aims help people satisfy their cravings for a snack or dessert without negatively impacting their health.

“Our products are not sinless, but they’re just such an improvement over eating a zero-protein, zero-fibre—I won’t name that little round brown cookie—that has actually zero value to a child,” said James, who started baking independently at age five. “We can still hand our kids a treat; they don’t have to have three inches of icing on them.”

Wise Bites bakes and distributes its cookies, muffins and bars from its North Richmond headquarters on River Road. Since its launch this fall, business has been growing steadily as more retailers carry Wise Bites products, which also include bulk items such as Canadian organic quinoa flour.

Quinoa, a gluten-free, grain-like superfood packed with nutrition, is a staple in Wise Bites’ offerings, as is the organic date paste used to sweeten them. Products are free of sulfites, chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. They’re even certified kosher.

Food allergies are on the rise—something James believes is due to changes in our food supply that include the use of chemicals and genetically modified ingredients. And with peanut allergies in her own family, James is committed to using natural ingredients and avoiding the top-eight allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, eggs, soy, dairy, fish and shellfish.

So far, no Richmond retailers carry Wise Bites products, but they are available through the company’s website ( and at Vancouver markets such as Greens Organic and Natural Market on West Broadway and Stong’s Market on Dunbar Street.

“We’re just beginning but we’ve had a very positive response,” said James. “We’re thrilled.”

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