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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Holmén

How a Tampa Bay Entrepreneur Saved Her Mother's Life One Bite at a Time

Imagine your mother telling you that you were going to move to a new country to start over and create a new life, but you could only take two bags. Then imagine having to also make room in your bag for your mother’s empanadas maker!

For this third generation Columbian entrepreneur, she was faced with such a dilemma 12 years ago. Even though she already had her Bachelors Degree in Engineering, she wasn’t sure how her family was going to start over. It was her mother’s dream to start her own business in America making empanadas, flaky hand-held crusts stuffed with meats, spices, cheeses, and potatoes, but many know how hard it is to start any business from the ground up, no less a restaurant.

Adriana Florez recounts how her family did open up a Colombian bakery in the Sarasota, Florida area, and the number one item sold was their empanadas. Although the family ended up having to close their doors, Adriana’s experience and entrepreneurial spirit spurred her on to go back to school. Her sincere desire to make a difference in the world was forefront in her mind, but she wasn’t sure what it would be.

She enrolled in classes at the University of South Florida to learn how to run a business in America. Ironically, she was invited to join the Student Innovation Incubator on campus. Through this group's guidance, Adriana knew there was something about cooking that she wanted to pursue since Americans are so welcoming and open to trying many types of ethnic foods. However, something drastically changed in her life to force her to take her business in another direction.

Unexpectedly, her mother fell gravely sick. At that moment Adriana knew she needed to get her family healthy, or all attempts to succeed in any business would fail. Coincidentally, Adriana had dealt with her own health crisis years prior, and knew that she had the same genetic disposition as her grandmother and mother. She watched her grandmother deal with diabetes and other chronic illnesses and knew that if she didn't change her family's legacy, she would be dealing with the same outcome for herself and her mother.

Because of her own declining health, Adriana learned how lowering carbs and sugars could rid inflammation and heal her body. She was able to free herself of her illness and also lose weight to her delight. Hoping her example would help her mother get better, Adriana states, "I encouraged my mother to change her eating habits, but being Latino, cutting carbs was too difficult for her, and her health continued to decline until she had to be admitted into the hospital."

Unfortunately, it was too late to save her mother's failing kidney. Her mother went through invasive surgery. With much deliberation, Adriana decided it was best to quit her job and care for her mother while her mother waited for a kidney transplant. People thought she was crazy, but she knew there was a reason for all of this.

Spending many longs days with her mother in the hospital, Adriana was mortified to see the quality and kinds of foods hospitals were feeding their sick patients. High in carbs and sugars, Adriana knew this food was poison. She realized that for her mother to get better, she would have to intervene with her mother's dietary needs.

This wasn't an easy task since her mother was an excellent cook and her mother expected her food to taste the same; rich, flavorful and comforting. Adriana spent many late nights revamping family recipes to reproduce the delicious taste of her mother's food, but in a healthier form. She became her own food chemist, researching ways to recreate the same flavorful crusts and breads using non-traditional methods. That's when it dawned on her: she could build a business offering high-quality foods that were delicious and healthy and could benefit many people. Her mother was her guinea pig. She figured if it passed her mom's discerning palate, it was worthy of making for her business.

Yummi Foods was created out of Adriana's love of food and helping people stay healthy.

Through Adriana's persistence and creativity, she was able to create Paleo and Keto muffins and cookies, as well as authentic and nutritious empanadas.

Adriana's mother now is such an inspiration to so many. Her mother has adopted this new lifestyle of exercising, eating gluten-free, Paleo and low carb foods. She found Spanish editions of low carb cookbooks understanding that it was her own genetics that needed help. By changing her lifestyle and eating habits, Adriana's mother is now healthy and leading a productive life with a healthy kidney.

So, what's in store for Yummi Foods? Adriana's passion is to "spread happiness and health by creating trustworthy food products that contribute to improving the quality of life of our consumers with our healthy keto and paleo products, rich in protein, and are low sugar, low carb, and gluten-free." She ultimately would like to see her products easily available to families who want to share delicious foods with their children that will promote a healthy lifestyle through boxed mixes found in stores around the country.

Currently you can find her delicious line of 'yummi' muffins and cookies in multiple stores in the Tampa, Ellenton and Palmetto areas such as, The Attic, Intelligent Gourmet, Inside The Box, Heights Public Market, the Bulk Food Superstore, and Abby's Health and Nutrition. She's hoping to spread her deliciousness to other stores in the area in the very near future.

As a Keto advocate and foodie at heart, I love Yummi Keto muffins and cookies. I have specifically driven to Tampa to pick some up for my pantry since it's not always easy to have a delicious and healthy treat readily available when you're busy. I wish the best to Adriana and her entrepreneurial dream of helping people get healthy through yummy foods.


For more information on Adriana Florez and her delicious muffins and cookies, visit Yummi Foods.


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