A frozen treat, both healthy and sweet | VailDaily.com

A frozen treat, both healthy and sweet

CVR/HL Nona's KA 3-15-12

When it comes to frozen yogurt, the Vail Valley is finally “out of the dark ages.” At least that’s what people told the owners of Nona’s Frozen Yogurt Shop when they opened in December. “Nona” is Nolvia Griffith, who runs the frozen yogurt bar with her husband, Dan. Originally from Honduras, Nolvia had never tasted frozen yogurt until she took a trip to Denver three years ago. One bite of the delectable treat and Nolvia was hooked.

“That’s how much I loved it,” Nolvia said. “I wanted my own shop so that I could eat it whenever I wanted to.”

The Griffiths have lived in the area for more than 29 years. When the last of their three children left home, they decided it was time to birth a new venture. The Griffiths said the economic downturn actually made it easier for them to open Nona’s.

“If not for the bad economy we wouldn’t be here,” Dan said. “The cost of remodeling is down. Four or five years ago when the price was really high on everything, it wouldn’t work.”

Located in Avon, Nona’s is the Valley’s only frozen yogurt shop. Nona’s is self-serve. People can fill their cup up to the brim with frozen yogurt and a variety of toppings. While one can always get plain, vanilla and chocolate, the other flavors rotate every three days. Many new flavors, like pistachio, cappuccino, and red velvet cake have been added due to customer request. If a customer wants a specific flavor or topping, the Griffiths will try to get it for them.

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“The feedback that we get – especially from high school kids – (is) they love that they can come and taste as many flavors as they want to,” Nolvia said. “You can be as good as you want to be, or as bad as you want to be.”

While many people think that all frozen yogurt is healthier than ice cream, that’s not always the case. When the Griffiths were scouting for their frozen yogurt, they wanted to find the kind that tastes best but is also the best for you. Some types of frozen yogurt use heavy creams, but Nona’s is only eight calories per serving and contains four live cultures, which aids in digestion. It’s also sweetened with fructose, which releases slower in the body. The Griffiths said they have diabetic and lactose-intolerant customers who regularly eat their frozen yogurt.

“More and more people are inclined to live a healthier life,” Nolvia said. “I don’t put anything into my body unless I know the fat of what I’m eating. It’s not that I’m a health nut. I believe it’s an investment in myself. People are more conscious about eating right.”

“It’s a healthy treat that actually tastes good,” Dan said.

Even though winter is technically the off-season for the frozen yogurt shop, business has been surprisingly steady. Nona’s also serves grilled paninis and soups for lunch every day. Avon resident Juan Rodriguez stops into Nona’s two or three times a week. Growing up in California, Rodriguez has always preferred frozen yogurt to ice cream.

“The yogurt is a good mix between nutritious and still satisfying your sweet tooth,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes you can see that (other) yogurts are very watery, but (Nona’s) is pretty consistent … I don’t feel any guilt when I eat it.”

For the Griffiths, their business is less about profits and more about pleasure – both for them and their patrons. Nolvia said the first week they opened, a family came in with their 80-year-old grandmother.

“(I saw) the grandma licking the bowl,” Nolvia said. “She said ‘I’ve never had better ice cream than this one’…That kind of stuff pleases my heart. People like what we have done.”

As locals go from watching the snow melt to hoping their frozen yogurt doesn’t do the same thing, Nona’s will continue catering to both the sweet-tooths and the health nuts.

Rosanna Turner is a freelance writer based in Vail. Email comments about this story to cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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