A Squared: Healthy Eating Made Easy: Sprig & Snap Kitchen

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Healthy Eating Made Easy: Sprig & Snap Kitchen

I'm obviously a big proponent of cooking at home. It's the best way (that I have found) to keep both my budget and my health in check when it comes to eating. Sometimes though, there are nights when I just don't have the time to make dinner or there are days when I open my fridge and don't have any of the components necessary to pack a healthy lunch. And that's when I need a little help. Today I am sharing two new to Chicago services that will help you get a flavorful and healthy meal on your table in a flash!

I first heard about the Sprig app months ago when my good friend Heather told me about the service, which started in her city of San Francisco. Well, they have just arrived in Chicago, I've given it a try, and now I know what the hype is all about!

Sprig is a simple, but ingenious service. For those nights that you don't have time (or the desire) to cook dinner but that you need something healthier and more cost effective than a delivery pizza, Sprig is your answer. Sprig offers dinner delivery service every weeknight in Chicago and every night they feature a new menu of 3-4 different chef-developed dishes using healthy and seasonal ingredients. I have had so much fun logging in each day to see what Sprig is serving up because the menu offerings are always diverse, interesting, and sound totally mouth watering. There's always at least one vegetarian-friendly meal available and all of the menu items incorporate locally sourced ingredients along with sparing use of oils, fats, and salts in favor of healthier alternatives. Sometimes they even feature meals created by a special celebrity guest-- like Chef Sam Kass, former White House executive chef! This is delivery food you can feel good about ordering any night of the week.

When you're ready to order, simply log into the app, select the dish(es) that you'd like to eat that night, and a driver is on their way to you with a hot and fresh dinner in an average time of about 15 minutes-- you can even track the delivery in real time on the app's map! Last week I had to attend a happy hour event after work while Alex ran to a condo association meeting, so neither of us had time to make dinner. So, after I made it home and walked the dog, I logged in and ordered our Sprig dinner, which arrived hot at my door in about 12 minutes! All of the necessary components are packaged separately as needed: hot in one dish, cold in another, sauces and salsas in separate vessels, so all you have to do is open, assemble, and enjoy!

Alex opted for the Hoisin-glazed pork spare ribs for his meal. Three good sized ribs arrived accompanied by a generous portion of toasty brown rice with carrots, cabbage, onion, peppers, and mushrooms. A side of super flavorful stir fry sauce came with, which Alex gladly drizzled over his plate. The ribs were meaty and cooked nicely and the rice had great savory sesame flavor with tons of julienned vegetables mixed in.

I was pleasantly surprised by the big portions of these meals and also how satisfied I was when we finished eating, but that's the perk of eating meals filled with whole healthy ingredients, right? So for my entree, I opted for the jerk chicken. The three jerk spice rubbed chicken thighs were tender and moist and the jerk rub had a huge amount of flavor and a hint of heat. It was served with a simple brown rice pilaf, an irresistible habanero slaw, and a cool and sweet pineapple salsa on top. This dish was incredibly delicious and I'd order it again the next time they feature it too!

Each Sprig entree also arrives with a delicious little caramel coconut-filled chocolate truffle too. It's the perfect sweet bite to end your dinner! So, are you ready to try Sprig? It's currently available in San Francisco and Palo Alto, CA and now here in Chicago! Download the free app on your phone and use code COLVIN5064 to get $10 off your first order! Entrees run $10-$14 each + a small delivery fee, so that's basically a free dinner on Sprig (and me)... enjoy!

Snap Kitchen
If you're out and about looking for a healthy meal now-- or for something healthy to heat up and eat later-- then Snap Kitchen is an excellent option for you! Based in Austin, Texas, the Snap Kitchen concept has taken off in its short 5 years with 4 new stores opening in Chicagoland over the course of this month. I stopped by their Loop location recently to check out this new concept and was surprised by what I found: Snap Kitchen is not so much a fast casual healthy restaurant (as I had assumed), but rather a super convenient market filled with fresh and healthy prepared meals that are packaged and ready to go.

Snap Kitchen sells a wide variety of dishes for all 3 meals of the day (plus snacks and treats!) and they're all made to be tasty, good for you, and several of them address different dietary restrictions as well: Just check the labels on their meals to determine whether it's vegetarian, dairy free, low/no carb, paleo, low sodium, or gluten free. So whether you're just looking to eat healthier on the go or you have serious dietary issues to consider, Snap Kitchen aims to provide you with a satisfying meal no matter how little time you have.  They also staff their stores with registered dietitians and a super knowledgeable and helpful staff to make sure that each patron is guided toward the meals that best suit their needs and tastes.

After chatting with the dietitians at Snap Kitchen and getting the low down on how this whole place works, I did a little shopping and let with a bag filled with meals to sample. I stopped in on my lunch break, so I made sure to grab something that I could eat at my desk when I returned to the office. This dairy-free sesame chicken chopped salad had really amazing flavor-- and was a big satisfying portion too! It was filled with black kale, cabbage, peppers, carrots, green onion, chopped cashews, and grilled chicken. I'm usually picky about getting chicken in pre-made or fast casual situations (because it can often have a weird rubbery texture), but this chicken was fresh and delicious! It was all tossed in a tangy citrus sesame vinaigrette. It was the perfect summer lunch.

And I couldn't forget about my sweet tooth! The dietitians highly recommended the gluten and dairy free brownies and who am I to turn down chocolate? This brownie is made with a combination of brown rice flour and almond flour and coconut oil is used to get that moist chewy texture you want in a brownie. I loved that this little brownie was rich and chewy, but not so sugary sweet so you just got the really intense semi-sweet chocolate flavor in every bite.

I also decided to take home a slice of Snap Kitchen's Vegetable "Lasagna." I loved the concept of this dish, which was made completely of layered thinly sliced vegetables, plus a little fresh Parmesan and part skim ricotta. This super low carb meal was loaded with veggies like eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and mushrooms in a housemade marinara sauce. It was hearty and satisfying, but the lightness of the veggie-filled and pasta-free dish made eating lasagna feel a little more appropriate for July!

The last entree that I sampled was a perfect hearty and healthy (actual) pasta dish. The chicken and butternut squash macaroni was filled with gluten free brown rice pasta, big chunks of sweet roasted butternut squash, walnuts, delicious roasted garlic, ground chicken, and a dollop of creamy goat cheese. These are some of my favorite flavors to enjoy together already, so I loved seeing (and sampling) how Snap Kitchen put this dish together. By the way, this pasta dish is available in two sizes so it's perfect for lunch or dinner and for big or small appetites.

My hands down favorite thing that I sampled at Snap Kitchen is so simple that I feel silly calling it out as my favorite, but it's so delicious that you must know about it and try it now. Seriously, I have just pinned about 20 different recipes for these raw coconut macaroons on Pinterest so that I cam try to recreate them, but am also considering walking over to Snap Kitchen on my lunch break again today to pick up a package (or 4) of them. These macaroons are super simple: tons of shredded coconut, almond flour, agave nectar, and coconut oil. Chewy and not overly sweet with tons of coconut flavor, these are the perfect afternoon snack or the ideal bite when you need a little something sweet, but not an entire (and unhealthy) dessert.

Snap Kitchen has a handful of locations all over Texas and has just opened in Chicagoland with locations in the Loop, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and suburban Naperville. So the next time you're in a hurry and you're hungry, skip the fast food and grab something fast at Snap Kitchen that you won't regret later!

Editor's Note: Complimentary meals were provided by Sprig and Snap Kitchen to facilitate this post. The opinions expressed herein are my own.


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