Sunday, March 24, 2013

Delish & Nutrish (Is the "Ish!")

You might read my blog sometimes and think to yourself, "How nice for Meghan that she has the time and energy to go to farmers markets and experiment with ingredients to come up with healthy meals! But unlike some people, Self, you have a life, and also you don't care that much." Well, tell your Self not to worry - if you live in the Santa Barbara area, I've found a solution. You're welcome.

It's called Delish & Nutrish and, as they say in radio edits, it is the "ish." It's a meal delivery service owned and operated by Nina Tafarella, who uses local ingredients and strives to create healthy, fun meals, personalized to fit her clients' dietary needs. For instance, any meal can be vegan-ized, vegetarian-ized, low-sugar-ized, de-spicified (for me!), de-glutenized, etc. She even caters to raw foodists, who can participate in the Delish & Nutrish 7-day raw food cleanse every month.

Nina bought the company from Sunshine Wellness Meal Delivery three years ago - at that point, there were only 15 clients and she had to rent kitchen space to prepare the meals. Now she serves about 100 clients, using only word-of-mouth marketing, and owns a small industrial kitchen in downtown Santa Barbara. She says her clients are mostly busy people who want to eat healthy and/or lose weight but don't have the time or knowledge to prepare their own meals.

Nina works at the kitchen two full days and two half days a week. She has the help of two chefs, Justin Reed and Danny Kempton, and a high school intern through Partners in Education named Suzie. I stopped by last week on Sunday, one of their delivery days, and found Nina and Suzie making and packaging pear, gorgonzola, and edamame salad with balsamic dressing:
Nina gave me some delicious juice and orange slices to snack on while she told me about her dreams for Delish & Nutrish. She had originally wanted to open a cafe, but with two little children at home, it made more sense to stick to the food delivery service. She just got her first catering job and hopes to expand in that area, but she told me that her first priority is to help people. She cares more about doing a service to the community and maintaining a fun, positive work environment for her employees than about growing the business.

Nina drives to farms in the area to pick up cases of produce herself, rather than running around to farmers markets. John Givens Farm in Goleta is her go-to for most veggies, and she supplements meals with fruit from Lassen's, Lazy Acres Market, and Tri-County Produce. She gets all her from Kanaloa Seafood and the Santa Barbara Fish Market.

All this sounded awesome to me, so obviously I wanted to try out Delish & Nutrish for myself. I got to choose either the Healthy Weight Loss plan, which limits carbs and includes mostly proteins and non-starchy veggies, or the Balanced Lifestyle plan, which is just as much food as they can fit into each container. I thought about it for, oh, four seconds before choosing Balanced Lifestyle. Duh.

So I got five dinners delivered to my front door in two batches: three meals on Sunday and two meals the following Wednesday.

Here's what I got:
Organic mixed green dinner salad to start.

Thai peanut pasta with chicken and roasted leaks and sugar snap peas.

Salmon burger with a mint pea puree and carrots over quinoa

Grilled turkey breast with sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli

Pan-seared trout with coconut curry, lentils, and roasted bell peppers over brown rice.
There was one other meal - steak piccata with white wine caper sauce, pasta, and roasted snap peas - but David ate the whole thing before I got home. I was not pleased.

Because these meals were not only nutrish, they were... you guessed it (I hope)! Delish. The veggies and meats tasted fresh and flavorful. My favorite was the salmon burger - I've been trying to figure out how to make it myself, but I'm not sure I could pull it off.

David loved the chicken, and that's saying a lot, since he's kind of a chicken expert. Seriously, every time we go out to eat at a fancy restaurant, he'll turn down all kinds of house specialties for the simplest, most boring thing on the menu: chicken. He knows his chicken, needless to say, and he wouldn't stop praising the texture and taste of the Delish & Nutrish meal.

The cool thing about the Delish & Nutrish meal delivery system is that each week, you get a sheet of paper with a description of each meal and a little box next to it, where you can "grade your meal from A-F." Nina can then use that feedback to inform her sixteen rotating menus, which are posted on the website.

I'm in the middle of grading my undergraduate students' final exams from winter quarter, and let me tell you - I was pleased to be able to give somebody an A+, even if that somebody was a salmon burger. (Students, if you're reading this, I'm half just kidding - some of you did quite well.) (But some of you didn't.)

Since Nina uses only word-of-mouth marketing, here are some words from my very satisfied mouth: "Yum!" Also: "Delish!" (and "nutrish").

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