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Getting in Shape for 2013: Eating Healthy Is Easy (or "a Snap," If You're Into Puns) at Snap Kitchen

Turkey "bolognese" with a spinach salad and antioxidant juice. Come at me, hippies!
Turkey "bolognese" with a spinach salad and antioxidant juice. Come at me, hippies!
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt

Not to get all TMI on you, guys, but I need to lose some serious weight. Here's the long and short of it: I am only a little over five feet tall, but I weigh close to 200 pounds. That's venturing into Weeble territory, aesthetically speaking, not to mention the strain that it's putting on my health. My doctor wants me to go on blood pressure medication. My knees hurt all the time. I am 32. I am too young for this crap.

So in an effort to lose at least a large portion of the weight I've packed on while doing this [totally incredible] job [that I love] for the past two and a half years, my biggest New Year's resolution for 2013 is the same as many Americans': trimming down and getting in shape. I've never had to seriously diet before, so this will be a challenge for me even in the simplest ways.

Watching my calories is something I'm going to have to become accustomed to, and something that's incredibly difficult to guess/estimate when you're eating out constantly. And I can't simply commit to reviewing "health food" places all year, for obvious reasons (i.e., you'd all stop reading). I can't, in other words, commit to any kind of traditional diet.

But I can watch what I eat when I'm not "on the clock." I can make much smarter dining decisions when eating out. And I can get off my Weeble posterior and exercise. I'll be doing all of these things, all year long, not as a diet but as a new (hopefully lifelong) way of thinking about food, indulging in it, enjoying it and being a smart consumer about it. It's a million different paradigm shifts a day and a million tiny steps lie ahead, but I figure if I'm as public about this as possible, then at least one of you will hold me to my promises if I start to venture off-track.

Besides, not every day can or should be a food orgy. And I've been dining like a Roman senator for far too long.

Bison hash with quinoa makes for a very filling breakfast or lunch.
Bison hash with quinoa makes for a very filling breakfast or lunch.

This is why places like Snap Kitchen work brilliantly for me when I want to ease off the everything for a while: the fat, the starches, the sodium, the sugars, the empty calories. Snap Kitchen's food is like fuel. It's basic; you don't overthink it. It tastes good and it's good for you and it's as simple as microwaving a tub full of turkey chili and eggs in the morning and going on about your day.

It's nice to take a break in this way, at least for me. To know that I'm still eating good, fresh food -- not processed meal-replacement bars or shakes filled with unfamiliar chemical stabilizers -- but to be able to leave the majority of the dining decisions to someone else for a change: There is no "bad" here. It's all good stuff; just take your pick from a surprisingly diverse selection and chill out in the knowledge that you're consuming something full of vitamins and proteins and fibers and minerals that your body will appreciate.

In other words, I like Snap Kitchen's meals and small bites for that time of the day when you would normally nuke a frozen dinner or give in to crap-snacking, like double-fisting Lay's sour cream and onion potato chips out of a bag that's been open in the office breakroom for a week. I also like the meals as a day-long or two-day-long jump start into making smarter, healthier decisions (which are more likely to stick if you've given yourself a nice head start).

The Jamaican jerk pork is way tastier than it looks.
The Jamaican jerk pork is way tastier than it looks.

I haven't found anything so far that I dislike at Snap -- even the entrées which initially gave me pause. Jamaican jerk pork with pineapple salsa sounded like it could be a disaster. Instead, the pulled pork was well-seasoned with nutmeg, garlic, cloves and other jerk spices and meshed well with the roasted sweet potatoes underneath. The bright, sweet-and-spicy salsa on top was the perfect kick at the end, to my great surprise.

I'm also a big fan of the basic, comfort food-oriented dishes at Snap, as one of my pitfalls when attempting to eat healthier is binging on macaroni and cheese or other comfort-style items after being all ascetic for days on end. Quell the comfort food cravings with turkey bolognese over brown rice noodles instead of a full-fledged dish of spaghetti and meatballs (add some red pepper flakes and the turkey dish is a terrific substitute).

Ditto the turkey meatloaf and the shockingly fantastic vegetable lasagna. For breakfast, you can even have pancakes made with steel-cut oats, for a Harvest Grain 'n' Nut-style texture that's eerily similar to IHOP.

The protein in the chili and egg whites tides you over easily until lunch.
The protein in the chili and egg whites tides you over easily until lunch.

And here's what I really like about Snap: It never skimps on flavor. It doesn't shy away from spices and knows how to use them correctly, and it's not afraid to throw fun touches into your dishes that make them that much more enjoyable, like crunchy bits of raw red onions for texture in that bison hash above or a sprinkling of shredded cheese on the chili and eggs that feels like cheating but isn't. This is all food that I would eat even if I wasn't on a diet.

I also like that the Snap Kitchen meals come in three sizes. A small or medium is usually quite enough for me, but the manpanion at home needs a larger portion. No one goes hungry here.

The only downside? Eating this way every day can be very expensive. Especially if you're into the juices which -- while delicious and chock-full of goodness -- are usually around $8 a pop. And juice isn't a meal. My suggestion: Use Snap Kitchen (and places like it) as a stopgap for when you'd normally break down and eat something awful, or commit to it for a couple of days to jump-start your smart-decisions battery and then learn yourself how to make similar food at home.

Here's a great place to start. (I'm making this vegetable curry tomorrow night.)



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Snap Kitchen

3600 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098

713-526-5700

www.snapkitchen.com


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