Imagine a dessert made from only vegetables — no processed sugar, refined grains or dairy. For Treasured Earth Foods, making healthy and tasty desserts is their goal and what better way to do that than using agave nectar in place of sugar and packing each product full of a variety of vegetables from pumpkin to beets.
San Marcos mother-daughter duo Ruth Noel and Ruth Mier co-founded Treasured Earth Foods with their family’s health in mind. All of their products are gluten-free, vegan and tailored for a diabetic diet. Currently, they have Mini Chocolate Brownies and Orange-Coconut and Chocolate cookies called Kikas (kika originated from their son’s mispronunciation of “Lita,” the shortened version of grandmother in Spanish, “abuelita”) available at the Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market in Austin and their online store at treasuredearthfoods.com.
Noel spoke with me about Treasured Earth Foods, their recipes and the importance of a healthy diet.
Austin Appetite: What is Treasured Earth Foods?
Ruth Noel: Treasured Earth Foods’ mission is to make healthy desserts. It started with my Dad being diabetic and we needed foods that wouldn’t spike his blood sugar. My Mom is the master mind behind it, she makes all of the recipes and I cover the business side of it.
AA: How did Treasured Earth Foods start?
RN: I tend to be business inclined. Somehow so many people tasted the cookies and told us we needed to make it available and we wanted to make something that was healthy and [currently] not easily found.
AA: How do you create the recipes?
RN: [My Mother] confessed to me one night that she was up and couldn’t sleep and she was creating recipes by putting different things together. She is a voracious reader of cook books. She has a passion of healthy food, and making things come together. She is very good at it.
AA: What is the importance of eating healthy?
RN: Definitely just good health. The food that the average American seems to consume is so high in unhealthy carbs, grains, sugars, fats, there is a strong imbalance of carbohydrates to vegetables. I am actually astounded when I think that there are so many vegetable growers out there because so many people don’t eat them. When I go grocery shopping I am so amazed at the amount of foods that have high fructose corn syrup or refined grains. That was another aspect, we wanted to have these [healthy foods] readily available to most people.
AA: What is your favorite dessert you make?
RN: It’s one that’s not available left [laughing]. It’s going to be a raspberry kika. The hold has been the source of raspberries. I think I found a source that will work so we are tweaking the recipe for production. Another one is a mock pound cake [that isn't available yet either] and I can just make myself sick off of those. They are so good. They are my Mom’s creations so I need to tweak them to production.
AA: What is it like experimenting with the recipes?
RN: My family, they are the Guinea Pigs [laughing]. Usually their skepticism is “what is this?” as the new experiment is laid out. Quite a bit is turned down at first when they say it needs this or that. So generally it’s my Mom who does the first round of experiments and once the family approves of it, I take over to make it fit for production. A lot goes to the trash or the dog, it’s just trial and error.
AA: What are the plans for the future of Treasured Earth Foods?
RN: [The plans have] been changing. Aside from people that knew us, we got a very neutral response. I think we were introducing it to the wrong people. So we took it back to [the farmer's] market and then people showed up and said we need to carry this! The feedback from the customer has helped me direct where it needs to go. I want to be able to make them available at first locally and nationally and maybe eventually global. That is really far fetched thinking, though, way down the road.
AA: What else is there to know about Treasured Earth Foods?
RN: I think Americans are so one-sided in what they eat. It’s meat, potatoes and bread. So what we offer [are products for] someone who has an allergy or if someone is on a diet. We also have something great and it doesn’t have to be what people normally think of as a dessert. It can be that craving of something satisfying that is a little outside of the box. It’s sort of a paradigm shift.