Sunset Nutrition owner Liz Gonzalez prepares a protein shake on Thursday, April 14, 2022. (Photos by Matt Hollinshead / Observer)

Liz Gonzalez saw the benefits of healthy nutrition first-hand, dropping 20 pounds as her home-based protein drink and tea supplement business took off from the outset of COVID-19.

The demand continued from her Santa Fe home at the time, and it continued after she and her family moved to Rio Rancho in December 2020. That evolved into opening Sunset Nutrition in Enchanted Hills in late February, and Gonzalez got more than she bargained for.

The establishment in Plaza @ Enchanted Hills, at 3575 NM 528, Suite B-120, next to Domino’s, garnered interest beyond the northeast section of Rio Rancho. Residents of nearby Pueblo communities come in for their daily protein boost, and some of Gonzalez’s Santa Fe customers stayed in contact and ordered products.

“They want to be healthier. They want to eat well,” Gonzalez said, adding healthier food options were still lacking in and around Enchanted Hills. “I feel like we’re here helping so many communities, not only Rio Rancho, but surrounding communities that would rather stop here than having a fast-food meal. It keeps them full longer. It’s guilt-free.”

Sunset Nutrition’s Tony Gonzalez prepares a drink on Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Gonzalez said she wanted to provide food and drink options that would let people feel less sluggish throughout the day.

The shop features protein shakes ranging from 200 to 290 calories each, with enough nutrients to serve as a small meal during breakfast or lunch. All-natural energy teas, packed with B-12 vitamins, provide a morning caffeine fix and serve as an alternative to a Monster energy drink.

Sunset Nutrition also has miniature protein pancakes and protein doughnuts, as well as high-protein iced coffee beverages.

Tony Gonzalez, Liz’s husband and business partner, said they didn’t learn about the shop’s proximity to the Pueblos until after the business launched and had people coming in.

“We also felt that we’re going to be helping a lot more people than we initially thought,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling, knowing that we can see people from all over New Mexico… It’s a big community now.”

The current hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, but Sunset Nutrition looks to extend business hours by the summer due to ongoing demand.

Sunset Nutrition owner Liz Gonzalez engages with customers on Thursday, April 14, 2022.