What would it mean to have a gourmet chef, a prep cook, a nutritionist, and a farmer on speed dial? Rather, on conference call so they could all plan your weekly meals and bring them to you, almost prepared and tailored exactly how you want them?
What if they included interesting ingredients you'd never heard of, but showed you how to make them in inventive ways with minimal time commitment and maximum flavor punch?
Well, you're in luck. SweetRoots NYC is an organic prepared ingredient delivery service and an absolutely genius idea. I think I might just be in love.
Don't get me wrong: I love cooking. I do it all the time. Sometimes when I don't even need to, because I just dig it so much.
But sometimes, it's nice to have things simplified -- luxurified, even. ;) And without charging exorbitant amounts of money, or adding one more pain in the face task in the week, SweetRoots provides just the right mix of guidance and creative encouragement, bringing you and great food, conveniently, a little closer together.
Marisa Smith created the company in 2012 to make it easy for people with specific dietary needs to cook consistently delicious meals. Sweet Roots by plans customized menus, shops for the fresh, organic ingredients and delivers it all, pre-measured and prepped, right to your door. It's basically like having the most nutrition-conscious gourmet chef on speed dial for busy weeknight meals. (As a bonus, everything arrives once a week, so you don't have to spend extra minutes waiting for takeout to arrive.)
Michael and I recently had the privilege of trying out some of Sweet Roots meals -- and I have to say, I was thrilled what how the whole experience went, beginning to end.
After submitting a dietary profile to the company where we requested vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free dishes, I received a menu proposal for our delivery. Each week, Sweet Roots offers a different series of recipes - they choose from thousands, so customers don't get bored - and you approve the menu before it is sent out. I requested one of the proposed dishes (a rice noodle bowl) be swapped out for something noodle-free, which their team was happy to accommodate. They answered my questions very thoroughly and were extra-communicative about the process throughout.
We selected a delivery time (conveniently, mid-afternoon on Sunday) and were thrilled to discover the organizational ingenuity when the oh-so-stylish cooler bags arrived. The ingredients come pre portioned (including sauces and some liquid-y ingredients in little jars, which SweetRoots recycles each week). You also receive an ingredient checklist and your recipes, which concisely outline exactly what to do to make your meals come together. After unpacking the bags, the mise en place (the culinary term for 'getting everything in place you'll need to make this dish') is as simple as lining everything up and adding in the order laid out by the recipe.
Our favorite Sweet Roots dish was the pistachio encrusted sweet potato cakes with dijon lentils, caramelized onions and mizuna (I know, right? Doesn't that sound fabulous?). It took about 10 minutes to put together and was seriously decadent. Michael and I both thought the dish was a deliciously inventive way to use the ingredients (lentils, sweet potatoes, caramelized onions... and mizuna, which I'll admit I'd never heard of. For the record, it's a Japanese mustard green and super yummy.)
It's uber-fresh, too! Our Sunday delivery was still crisp and flavorful by Wednesday evening.
For the novice cook, the new-to-plant-based diner, or anyone who is way-too-busy-to-cook-and-can't-possibly-add-one-more-thing-to-the-day, I see a ton of value in a service like this. Here are some highlights:
1. Dishes focus on whole foods, specifically local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. The more of these we can work into a week, the better for our bodies, the planet, and the food-equality movement.
2. Meals are well balanced: you get a little of everything and leave the table feeling not only super-satisfied with flavor, but with variety, too.
3. Having something quick and nutritious to throw together takes the time factor out of meal preparation (which reduces one of the biggest excuses for not eating well). Meals take less than 30 minutes to assemble, which is hugely valuable if you're scheduled out of your mind, wrangling kids, or terrified of the kitchen and want to limit your exposure to it... at least for now.
4. The toughest parts of cooking at home (planning, buying, washing, chopping, measuring) are done for you. This creates the experience of cooking and eating at home with minimal stress.
5. Simply rolling up your sleeves and getting into the recipe increases kitchen confidence. You can throw together some beautiful meals - with some obscure and delicious ingredients! - easily and quickly. The recipes are easy to follow, and because the most tedious of steps are done, you can focus on the artistic part of compiling, cooking and perfecting. It's an immediate boost to one's sense of know-how in the kitchen and a great way to work up to more complicated dishes on your own.
As a complement to the healthy eating habits you're creating on your own, Sweet Roots provides an extra boost of simplicity and takes away one more excuse for not eating well each week. (And don't we all have enough excuses to wade through?)
The more we can reduce our stress around food - and increase our confidence in preparing our own health-supportive goodies - the more likely we are to joyfully do it on a regular basis.
For more information and to try out your own home delivery of awesome meals, check out sweetrootsnyc.com. Plus, check out this post on Marisa's foray into bringing gorgeous ingredients to the time-crunched masses of NYC.
Looking to make a lasting change to how you see food + the way it works into your week? Check out Rewire Your Food Brain: an online webinar series on consciousness, awareness, and preparedness for really awesome eating.