By: Logan Burtch-Buus, The Explorer Mar 22, 2017
Oro Valley resident Kim Vanderwerf and her sister Jan Claxton spend their Saturday mornings at the Heirloom Farmers Market at Steam Pump Ranch, handing out miniature pancakes and showing off the versatility of their breakfast mix. Also known collectively as Girls From Arizona, the sisters have spent a great deal of time amongst whole grain and spices, perfecting their product.
Though they deal in early morning meals, Vanderwerf said the inspiration behind the breakfast food was her own search for a suitable way to prepare one of her favorite weekend cravings, pancakes.
“I just could not find a mix that I enjoyed that was also healthy,” she said. “I was talking with my husband one morning and he said, ‘Why don’t you just make your own?’ So we discussed the things that I like, consulted with my sister, and that’s how we came up with it.”
The result of their hard work is a versatile, locally sourced multigrain breakfast mix including whole wheat, whole oats, light and dark flax seed, cinnamon and sugar which can be utilized to create pancakes, waffles and muffins. With their product in hand, Vanderwerf said they have “taken all of the guesswork out,” to make it easy for anyone to have a satisfying meal. For those with dietary restrictions like dairy or eggs, she said there are several substitutes available.
Many of the changes and learned adaptations the sisters have added to the mix have come directly from their customers, Vanderwerf said, which she added is a huge benefit of their presence at the weekly farmers market.
“We meet so many different people, and hear their different folk’s opinions,” Vanderwerf said. “What we
encourage with all of our products is that people drop us a line, tell us what you think how we can improve. We believe that the customer’s voice is very important. So, how much closer to the people can you get than right across the table?”
One of the more (not so) surprising suggestions the sisters have integrated into their work is the option for gluten free after the question for such was asked by many a customer.
“So, my sister and I hemmed and hawed,” Vanderwerf said, “until we found our mixture that would work.”
“And that tasted good,” her sister added. “Sometimes, the gluten free option can taste pretty darn bland. Ours is very, very flavorful.”
“It wasn’t so much that it was difficult, but it was a little time consuming,” Vanderwerf continued. “We would make a mix and it would just be pretty bad. We kept trying out new and different flours until one day we just said, ‘Bingo.'”
Looking forward, Vanderwerf said they are working on an entire breakfast bar and breaking into the grocery market through smaller, local stores.
Girls From Arizona breakfast mixes can be purchased at the Oro Valley Farmers Market (a branch of the Heirloom Farmers Markets) at Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until April, at which time the summer hours are 8 a.m. until noon.