TAMPA, Fla. — Recent USF graduate Adriana Florez and her mother are working to inspire others to eat healthier. Their inspiration, however, first came from a near-death experience.

  • Mother, daughter emigrated to U.S. from Colombia
  • Complications for diabetes, kidney failure almost killed mother
  • Pair created "Yummi Foods," specializing in Paleo, Keto-friendly snacks
  • More Good News stories

Years ago, Adriana Flores and her mother, Victoria, left Colombia in search of the "American Dream."

They each had two duffel bags to pack their essentials. 

“I remember [my mom] was trying to pack an empanada maker and I was like, ‘What are you trying to do?’” Florez laughed. “She just held on to her empanada maker and told me, ‘No, this is how we’re going to start over in the United States,’ so I couldn’t argue with that.”

Little did they know that empanada maker would give her mom Victoria a fresh start not just in the U.S., but at life.

Turning illness into inspiration

A bad diet led Victoria to diabetes complications and kidney failure, leading to a transplant that nearly killed her. 

Until then, Florez had tried cooking veggies and other healthy staples for her mom to no avail. Victoria simply couldn’t give up the bold, carb-filled Colombian delicacies she was used to. 

So Adriana improvised. She picked up the empanada maker and created a healthy alternative to her mom's favorite food. 

It sparked an idea. 

“I thought, 'huh, maybe I can do this for somebody else,'” she said.

That's how Yummi Foods was born – specializing in keto and paleo friendly baked goods.

The products are sold at several Tampa retailers such as "The Attic" and "Inside the Box" at Armature Works. 

Florez turned her business idea into a reality while she got a graduate degree in entrepreneurship at USF.

She was selected for the school’s Student Innovation Incubator program, which helped her kick start the venture. 

“You have to put in the work for sure, but they’re there for you,” she said. 

Looking to the future

These day, Victoria is feeling great. She helps her daughter bake thousands of cookies, muffins and empanadas weekly. 

She credits clean eating for her shift in health.

“I’ve been able to control my blood sugar levels,” she said. 

Florez says her products will soon be sold in Sarasota, and hopes to continue expanding her online store. 

You can buy the healthy treats here: https://yummiempanadas.com/index.php/about/