We started making grain free tortillas to solve a problem—we wanted to eat tortillas, but couldn't eat them without compromising our health. After Vero perfected her recipe, we began to share them with friends, colleagues, and gym members. Word spread around the paleo and healthy-eating circles in Laredo, and so did our food. Since then, it's been a whirlwind: we've gone from just selling the tortillas locally to distributing them nationwide. Along the way, the story of our tortillas and chips has, in many ways, become your story. Your loves and problems and ideas are engrained in the company and our day-to-day work, and the feedback that we've received has been immensely affirming and inspirational.
In order to honor these stories, we recently reached out to a few of the individuals who sent us the most moving messages and asked them to tell us about themselves and what led them to become a part of our story. The first of these is from Emily (left, in the picture above, with her sister Madison).
Briefly introduce yourself. What's your name, age, and occupation/area of expertise? What do you like to do for fun?
I’m Emily, and I’m a 25-year-old graduate student. I’m finishing up my master’s degree in North American history at Arizona State University this spring, and then I’ll start law school in the fall. I currently work as a writing tutor and a teaching assistant for undergraduate history courses. For fun, I love being outdoors and getting fresh air—hiking, swimming, biking, walking my dogs, anything active and outside of the classroom! I also enjoy dancing ballet, which has been a passion of mine since I was young.
Do you have any dietary restrictions or guidelines?
I always have struggled with severe allergies and migraines, and my younger sister always struggled with headaches and stomachaches. After years of trying different treatments and still not being able to manage our symptoms, we wondered if our diets were to blame, so we decided to go gluten-free. When we started to get some relief from our symptoms, we knew that we were onto something, so we kept looking for ways to improve our diets and eliminate foods that could cause inflammation. Through our research, we were introduced to the Paleo and AIP lifestyles, and last year we decided to take the leap and go completely grain-free, dairy-free, and nightshade-free. Since then, we both have seen dramatic improvements in our health—I went from having almost-daily migraines to having one only here and there. We now are both committed to living the grain-free lifestyle!
How have those restrictions impacted your life?
My dietary restrictions have significantly impacted my life—it took a lot of effort to adjust to my new lifestyle. First, I had to change the way I looked at grocery shopping and cooking at home. I did a lot of research to make sure I could decode the ingredients on food labels, and I had to overhaul my pantry and stock it with grain-free staples, like almond flour instead of wheat flour and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Next, I had to change the way I looked at eating outside of the home. I found grain-free and dairy-free portable snacks that I could bring with me when I was on the go, and I researched restaurant menus so I could find healthy food options when I was traveling or going out with friends. Even after a year of being grain-free, sticking to the dietary restrictions requires daily discipline, but I’ve had my sister with me every step of the way, so we’ve been each other’s support system!
At what level does food factor into your daily routine? Is it the most important thing? An afterthought?
Food is an important factor in my daily routine, mainly because eating grain-free takes a lot of effort and planning. One aspect about eating grain-free that can be frustrating is the lack of convenience. Grain-free foods tend to spoil quickly, and most meals take at least 30-40 minutes to prepare, especially when you have to make everything from scratch. That is one of the reasons why I love Siete tortillas—they are so convenient! Siete tortillas are easy to freeze so they won’t spoil, plus they’re easy to thaw. Set them out on the counter for a few minutes, stick them in the microwave for 20 seconds, and then you’re good to go. In grain-free cooking, this kind of convenience is almost impossible to come by.
When you hear grain-free, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Even as a grain-free advocate, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “grain-free food” is tasteless and mushy. Grain-free food items, like grain-free breads and especially grain-free tortillas or wraps, tend to have a gummy texture and a weird aftertaste, or they contain so many eggs that they end up just tasting like eggs. Thankfully, that does not describe Siete tortillas! I’m not sure how you all did it, but Siete tortillas actually taste like tortillas, which is an enormous accomplishment. After trying at least ten grain-free tortilla products and recipes that all failed, my sister and I thought we’d never eat good Mexican food again, and Siete proved us wrong.
What is your best food memory?
My best food memory was making nachos with my mom on New Year’s Eve. Every year when we were growing up, my mom would make a huge platter of nachos piled high with ground beef, beans, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. We’d play board games and snack on the nachos until midnight. I was thrilled when we were able to carry on the tradition this year—we took Siete tortillas and broiled them to make chips for the nacho dish!
If you could change one thing about the American food marketplace (grocery stores, restaurants, etc...), what would it be?
Oh goodness, where to begin? If I had to pick just one thing to change, I would like the American food marketplace to become more transparent, especially regarding food labels. My sister and I joke that we need a chemistry degree to read food labels because the ingredient lists are so complicated. I get frustrated when companies try to sneak addictive or unhealthy ingredients into their products by using deceptive wording. For example, a product might say “No MSG added,” but that really means that it contains yeast extract, which already has MSG in it (so technically no MSG was added because only yeast extract was added).
What's your favorite tortilla-based meal?
That’s easy! I love quesadillas, so we make our own with your tortillas and dairy-free cheese. My second favorite tortilla-based meal is enchiladas, but we have yet to find a tasty nightshade-free enchilada sauce, so we’re working on it!
How did you first hear about Siete?
I first heard about Siete when I was searching for grain-free food products online on Amazon and Wild Mountain Paleo Market (I’m always looking for new products!). I ordered a pack out of curiosity, and I have to admit that I was very skeptical at first. Most pre-made grain-free tortillas are coconut-based and are very chewy and too sweet. They usually rip and tear easily as well, so it’s impossible to make tacos. When I got the tortillas, I couldn’t believe how tasty they were or how similar the texture was to regular tortillas. They were flexible, they cooked up nicely, and they were very filling. My sister and I kept rereading the ingredients to make sure we hadn’t skipped over “wheat” or “corn” somewhere in the ingredient list!