Hello Fresh, Revisited

standard February 26, 2018 Leave a response

As a dietitian, I was first introduced to Hello Fresh in a professional capacity, having received a complimentary box to try out and review. I have since signed up and purchased meals almost every single week since. It’s just too easy and uncomplicated for life with a baby and a business. I get a LOT of questions about Hello Fresh, and my original review gets a lot of views, so I thought I’d do an update on what has changed about the service since I signed up and how I feel about the meals now, after having used them for over a year. This post is NOT sponsored by Hello Fresh. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

hello fresh thoughts from a dietitian meal packaging

Meal Packaging & Delivery

Hello Fresh switched from using boxes to paper bags to hold each week’s meals. I was NOT a fan of this change when it happened, as I LOVED having the boxes. They were easy to store in my fridge and use as a clean up vehicle during cook time. However, the bags have grown on me. They take up more space in my fridge but are fairly slim so they can be stored in a variety of configurations based on the fullness of my fridge that week. And they still work well as a clean up container as I cook. I do love that everything for each recipe comes portioned out and stored in the bag. Other meal services I have used deliver all ingredients loose in the big shipping box and while that does slightly reduce packaging waste, being able to pull three things out of a box and into the fridge when they arrive and then one thing out when it’s time to cook makes things super simple at meal time. The individual ingredient packaging has also been changing, to minimize the amount of packaging and waste. Most produce arrives loose in the paper bag, and as much packaging as possible is recyclable.

hello fresh veggie box seitan tacos

Taste, Variety, & Nutrition

We get a veggie box each week, which means we get the three veggie meals that are on the menu for that week. There is no ability to pick and choose from a larger list of options like the classic and family boxes have. This is not a big deal for me, as it saves me time from having to go in to my account and choose recipes each week. We also really enjoy most of the recipes, and the ones I think we won’t like, I am surprised to find are actually pretty good. There is a fair amount of repetition, and popular recipes are recycled, so we are not always getting a brand new recipe we’ve never tried. I also didn’t think I’d like this, but it is nice to be able to enjoy a favorite meal on a regular basis. Other services we’ve tried don’t repeat any recipes within a year time frame, so if you love a recipe, you have to make it yourself if you want to enjoy it again. With Hello Fresh, they track customer favorites via a weekly survey, and keep favorite dishes on a regular rotation, mixed in with new meals for variety.

I also find myself very infrequently having to supplement or change a meal. As mentioned in my initial review, Hello Fresh does a fantastic job of using whole plant food proteins, minimal diary and eggs, and loads of fresh produce in their veggie box. While a fair amount of recipes that call for a sauce use sour cream, I’ve found it simple enough to swap for a homemade tahini sauce or omit with similar results. On occasion I will add baked tofu to up the protein content or vegan cream cheese to thicken a sauce, but it is a very infrequent swap. The variety of grain choices, vegetable combinations, and proteins used means we have a balanced, nutritious, whole food dinner. And everyone enjoys them. Myself, my omnivore husband, my 11 month old daughter, and extended family when they visit all love these meals.

hello fresh veggie box

Order Changes & Modifications

We have traveled for extended periods over the past year, had family visit for holidays, and needed to repeatedly cancel, hold, and change our subscription, and the process could not be easier. We spent the summer in California, and I logged in and updated our address for the time we were gone so we could still enjoy meals without the headache of filling a pantry. We had family come for a week at Thanksgiving, and swapped from a 2 person to 4 person box for the week, adding extra veggies to ensure we could feed 5 adults and 1 baby and always had plenty to go around. Once company left, I switched back to our usual order seamlessly. I have used the mobile app to make all these changes, but their website is also very user friendly for making changes quickly and with ease.

hello fresh family meals

Challenges & Baby-Led Weaning

My biggest issues with Hello Fresh initially were the lack of a dedicated vegan box and the inability to switch between meal plans if I wanted a veggie meal for me and a meat dish for the husband. I have since found it to be extremely easy to take a veggie meal, omit any dairy that was used as a garnish, and add extra protein to the husband’s meal if needed. He’s also gotten used to more veggie-heavy dinners, which makes it much easier all around. And my daughter, who we’ve been feeding with the baby-lead weaning approach, has also enjoyed trying new tastes and flavors from the meals we have been making. I chop some veggies in larger pieces for her, and extra seasonings and any salt get added to our meals after hers has been portioned out, but otherwise she has been eating what we do and loving it! One meal to feed all three of us makes dinner time much easier than it used to!

hello fresh veggie box

A year after trying out Hello Fresh for the first time, I have to say that we will happily continue to use this service on a regular basis. As a new mom and business owner, it saves me so much time and effort planning meals for the week. Instead of thinking through 5+ dinners, I plan on Hello Fresh plus one additional dinner and a breakfast meal for the week. Grocery shopping is streamlined because we’re mostly sticking to our staple foods lists and buying what is in season.

Interested in trying out Hello Fresh for yourself?

Use THIS LINK to get $40 off your first box (Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link).

hello fresh thoughts after a year from a dietitian

The Veginner’s Cookbook

standard February 23, 2018 Leave a response

Disclaimer: I was gifted a copy of The Veginner’s Cookbook in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links may result in a small commission used to support neatandnutritious.com.  Thank you for supporting businesses that support Neat & Nutritious!


Spoiler alert: I absolutely LOVE this book! I was graciously given a copy to review back in January, and it’s already showing the lovely wear of living on the kitchen counter by the stove.

Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer are the pair behind Elephantastic Vegan, a food blog that hosts a wealth of easy and delicious plant-based recipes. Their book, The Veginner’s Cookbook: The Ultimate Starter Guide for New Vegans and the Veg-Curious is truly a one-stop resource for those looking to transition to a plant-based diet but are not sure where to start. Recipes are familiar and approachable. There are not a bunch of fancy cooking tools or ingredients needed. It’s just everyday, good, and good for you food.

Why do I love this book so much?

  • The recipes are simple, yet flavorful.  My grocery list wasn’t outrageously long or filled with ingredients I did not usually purchase or have on hand.  With some recipes, I wondered how they would come out with so few ingredients, but every single thing I made was delicious. Some of my favorites were the fluffy blueberry pancakes, creamy avocado pasta, and cheesy tex mex wraps (honestly anything that used their basic vegan cheese sauce was divine).
  • It is family friendly. My husband and my 11 month old ate everything I made. Yup, these recipes are even baby led weaning approved! The only change I made to recipes was omitting any salt that a recipe might have called for. And honestly, most recipes don’t use that much to begin with. My daughter’s favorites were  the strawberry chia jam, healthy breakfast muffins, and african peanut stew.
  • It’s not just for “Veginners.” I’ve followed a plant-based diet for over 8 years now, and these recipes were all appealing to me. Yes, I have made variations of some of them in the past and am familiar with the cooking methods and preparations. But I did not find these recipes to be overly simplistic or basic or boring. I happily made everything on the extensive list I compiled as soon as I opened up the book. They also dive into homemade bread making, which I have to say, generally terrifies me, even though I have made my own bread before (a phase that was delicious and time-consuming!)

The Veginner’s Cookbook includes:

  • 75+ veginner-friendly and well-tested recipes (80% are exclusive, never-seen-before recipes) from all categories, such as basics, breakfast foods, soups, main meals, breads, snacks and party foods, sauces and dressings and of course: desserts.
  • Bianca’s Kitchen Hacks helps you find out some tricks and shortcuts for the vegan cook. Cooking is not your strong suit? That’s okay, articles such as ‘How to spot the perfectly ripe avocado’ and ‘How not to explode soup all over your kitchen when mixing hot liquids in a blender’ are here to help!
  • A list of essential pantry, freezer and fridge staples for new vegans
  • Helpful articles for Veginners, such as ‘How to avoid disputing your dietary preferences.’

Since I love this book so much, I have decided to give one away to a lucky reader! You can also snag a copy for yourself or a friend over on Amazon.

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter:

  1. Join the Celebration Nutrition email community.
  2. Leave me a comment on this post and tell me what your biggest struggle with plant-based nutrition is currently?

I’ll randomly choose 1 winner on March 9th. The giveaway is open to residents of the US. The winners will be notified by email.

Best of luck and have a delicious weekend!

Recipe images Copyright 2018 by Bianca Haun and Sascha Naderer.

Weekly Menu: Plant-Based Staples

standard February 19, 2018 Leave a response

As much as I love making a variety of recipes each week, featuring fresh produce and expanding my cooking skills and flavor combinations, sometimes you also need some staple recipes. The ones you make when you’re about to leave for vacation and cleaning out the fridge. Or you’ve just come BACK from a trip and haven’t made it to the store yet. Or maybe you just don’t feel like shopping today or someone is sick and you just need to get creative with what you have.

Enter pantry staples.

Yes, it is possible to make nutritious, satisfying, and balanced meals from what you have in your pantry. Bonus if you have some fresh or frozen produce leftover to toss in, but not required! We’re on a clean out the fridge kick this week, so my meal plan reflects a large percentage of pantry staples. Here are some ideas for easy quick meals you can make from your pantry:

  • Oatmeal or overnight oats // rolled oats + chia seeds + peanut butter + cinnamon + frozen berries + water (or plant-based milk).
  • Beans and rice // brown rice + kidney beans + diced tomatoes + cumin + turmeric + paprika
  • Spanish chickpeas & quinoa // chickpeas + quinoa + diced tomatoes + vegetable stock + paprika + chili powder + oregano
  • Veggie stir fry // frozen broccoli + edamame + brown rice + soy sauce (mix with some peanut butter to make a peanut sauce variation!)
  • Berries & greens smoothie // water (or plant-based milk) + frozen banana + frozen berries + frozen spinach + nut butter + hemp seeds
  • Mexican beans & quinoa // quinoa + black beans + salsa + cumin + chili powder

The main thing to consider when staring into your pantry wondering how to make a meal is choosing a protein (beans, quinoa, edamame, peanut butter, hemp seeds) + a carbohydrate (rice, oats, quinoa, fruit). Add a fat for satiety (nuts, seeds, olive oil) and spices for flavor. Any chance you can toss in a vegetable, go for it. The great thing about frozen veggies is they heat up quickly and can be tossed into almost anything.

I happen to have a ton of quinoa, arborio rice (because, risotto addiction), frozen greens and asparagus, beans, pasta, and canned tomatoes to use up. So with only a handful of fresh produce to grab, we’ve got a week of fast, pantry based meals to enjoy this week.

Meal Plan 2/19/18

Making meals in a pinch does not have to be complicated or fancy. Grab a few staples out of your pantry and see what inspiration comes your way!

Interested in how I stock my pantry to make sure I can always make quick, nutritious meals at any moment? Grab my free plant-based pantry list here and always be prepared on those busy weeknights!