BOULDER - Dessert maker Zest Brands LLC soon may start making almond-flour crackers to be sold exclusively at Whole Foods stores, said co-founder Ken Hess.

Boulder-based Zest in October received a low-interest Local Food Producer loan of up to $100,000 from Whole Foods Market Inc. (Nasdaq: WFM) based in Austin, Texas. Hess declined to give the specific amount of the loan Whole Foods made to privately held Zest. A Whole Foods spokeswoman referred loan questions to Hess.

Zest plans to start making and selling four flavors of almond-flour crackers, including herbes de Provence, caraway, cinnamon sugar and lemon zest, Hess said. Zest's almond-flour cakes and cookies are sold at 60 stores in 15 states, including several Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage stores, and similar natural grocers such as Boulder-based Lucky's and Alfalfa's markets, Hess said.

"Everything is happening at once," Hess said. "It's like we're racing to the holidays now."

The company's best seller is a seven-inch lemon almond cake, Hess said, which sells for $29.99 on the company website, Zest cookies sell for $2.99 on the website.

Sylvia Wyant is the company's other co-founder.

Past Whole Foods loan recipients include Justin's in Boulder, a nut butter and candy-bar maker that recently merged with a private equity firm based in California in a $47 million transaction. The loans must be paid back. Whole Foods representatives loan up to $10 million per year to businesses around the nation through the program, according to the company website.

Zest desserts are gluten-free, according to the company website. Gluten-free food sales continue to grow as health-conscious customers look for alternatives to wheat-based products.