I typically tend to steer clear of microwave meals, not only because I’m a home cook, but also considering they are typically a compact way of delivering sodium, preservatives, fat and calories. Here’s where former Whole Foods Chef John Mitchell comes in. In conjunction with Oprah’s Chef Art Smith and Chef Tal Ronnen, he’s taken the microwave world by storm, providing convenience, nutrition, and most of all, delivering on taste. The affordable meals are less than 500 calories and contain under 500 mg of sodium. The gourmet options are
a great solution for busy moms, working couples and even college students seeking out healthy alternatives for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We all need a night off from cooking once in a while, so on those evenings when you’re tempted to dial for delivery, LYFE kitchen can save you the trouble.
Giving a whole new meaning to brown bagging your food, these perfectly portioned individual packages steam the meals, avoiding that typical overcooked, dried out mess that so often happens with frozen entrees. The vibrant colors boast a freshness you wouldn’t typically find straight from the microwave. To top it off? The boxes are recyclable so you can feel good about taking care of yourself and the environment.
Hearty whole wheat penne with fire roasted tomato-sauce, tender turkey meatballs and romano cheese had me convinced from the first bite. A touch of smokiness from the chunky sauce paired with lean, yet seasoned meatballs made with filling oats married seamlessly with fiber-laden noodles for a truly well-rounded take on a recognizable classic.
For the AM, I thoroughly enjoyed the warm, comforting blend of quinoa and steel-cut oatmeal. Cinnamony apples, peaches and a non-artificial tasting tropical coconut syrup were just sweet enough to wake up to. Added texture from almonds that stayed magically crunchy were a nice balance to the ripe fruit.
The chicken chili verde was something you’d find in a restaurant for sure. Roasted white meat in a not-too-spicy green chili sauce with creamy polenta and savory black beans studded with peppers and melted cheese. It was everything you’d look for in a dish.
The tangy orange, mango chicken was no exception either. Complemented by green tea infused whole grains and a delightful steamed kale and broccoli medley, this nod to chinese take-out left me feeling satisfied instead of weighed down.
Below, Chef Mitchell tells That’s SO Jenn about the inspiration behind LYFE kitchen, and what we can look forward to next!
TSJ: Tell me about LYFE Kitchen’s goal for consumers.
Chef Mitchell: LYFE Kitchen was found on a simple idea: We should love our food—love how it tastes, love what it does for our health, and love how it supports a more sustainable planet. We’ve gathered a team of passionate experts including innovative chefs, leading doctors and healthy lifestyle advocates from across the country to embark on a quest to change our America eats, one bite at a time. We aim to provide America with great-tasting, good-for-you food with a variety of choices to please anyone from flexitarian to vegetarian, omnivore to vegan.
TSJ: Why frozen meals rather than fresh?
Chef Mitchell: LYFE Kitchen meals are flash frozen and flavored with only spices—no butter, cream or preservatives. It’s been difficult for others to achieve a high-quality & tasty food in the frozen category, but LYFE Kitchen is working to shift that paradigm. Frozen food can be good for your and exceed our customers’ expectations on flavor.
TSJ: Most people recognize packaged dished like these as being high in sodium, fat, calories etc. What were some of the challenges and how did you create these healthy options?
Chef Mitchell: LYFE Kitchen’s retail goal was to recreate our favorite flavors and recipes we love in a health conscious way. In order to create tasty meals that are less than 500 calories and under 500 mg of sodium, we use a diverse combination of herbs and spices instead of salt and other key substitutes. Instead of cream and butter we use almond milk, hemp milk or cashew milk. To add in more protein options, we add quinoa with legumes.
Creating a dish like Macaroni & Cheese will prove challenging because we don’t use butters or creams, but we’re still working on creating a successful recipe!
TSJ: You’ve created such a wide selection including breakfast choices like the delicious steel-cut oatmeal. Tell me about the desire to essentially provide three meals a day.
Chef Mitchell: We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel—my inspiration came from the foods that I, and many others, enjoy to eat. We just wanted to recreate flavors and recipes we all love, just in a new, health conscious way. Now we can serve items with less than 500 mg of sodium and under 500 calories that really taste delicious.
Where do you source your ingredients from?
Chef Mitchell: LYFE Kitchen meals are made with nutritious, quality ingredients and we give top consideration to suppliers who source with eco-friendly practices. We use chicken, beef and turkey that have been fed a natural, all-vegetarian diet without growth hormones and antibiotics. And whenever possible we use locally sourced ingredients.
What set’s LYFE Kitchen apart is what we don’t use in our meals. There is no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors or colorings, and no hydrogenated fats in any of our meals.
TSJ: What is actress Jennifer Garner’s involvement on the Brand Ambassador Team?
Chef Mitchell: Jennifer Garner serves as a charitable and strategic advisor to LYFE Kitchen and serves on our ambassador panel. She is someone who cares about eating well, and as a working mother of three, she has a busy lifestyle. She is helping to spread awareness of the LYFE’s commitment to practicing social and environmental responsibility to active moms like her.
TSJ: Tell me about your ‘LYFE cycle’ so to speak. How does your brand give back to the community?
Chef Mitchell: At LYFE Kitchen our mantra is: Eat Good. Feel Good. Do Good. We bring great-tasting, good-for-you food to as many people as possible, while adhering to the principles and policies that help make the world a better place. The packaging on our outer box is made of 100% recycled paperboard with 75% post-consumer waste. And the steam pouch is made of unbleached paper from 20% pre-consumer waste. We also use soy or waterless inks in our packaging.
Additionally, in our effort to “Do Good” we’ve launched LYFE Nourishes America as an initiative to provide meals to food banks across America throughout 2013. We’ve joined forces with WhyHunger, a leader in the movement to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment.
TSJ: What’s next for LYFE Kitchen frozen meals?
Chef Mitchell: Next up are delicious flatbreads and desserts—hello, Greek yogurt bars!
For more information on LYFE kitchen meals and where to buy them, visit their website lyfekitchen.com.
*NOTE: This is a sponsored post, but all the opinions are my own.
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