Light Goodness: Snap Kitchen's New Fall Menu Has Changed My Views On 'Health Food'

I have a wedding coming up this weekend, and after what I can only describe as an all-day bad idea that ended in a late-night delivery of garlic cheesy bread this past Saturday, let's just say I could use a little nutrition in my life. So when I had the opportunity to taste the fall menu at healthy local take-out spot Snap Kitchen, I jumped at the chance.

It was my first time at Snap's flagship store, which is on Kirby, and after walking around and talking with manager Scott McGee, I can say it won't be my last ... especially after I tasted the dishes. There wasn't a single one that I wouldn't eat again.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, Snap Kitchen uses in-season, local ingredients to craft perfectly portioned, nutritionally balanced meals on-the-go, along with a variety of snacks, desserts, and cold-pressed juices. The dishes are arranged by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are available in small, medium, and large portions (the large sizes can be split into more than one meal).

There are also symbols to let you know if a dish caters to a special diet; Snap offers gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian/vegan, low-carb, dairy-free, and sodium-conscious options. The type of diet is also listed on each package, along with nutritional information, a full list of real ingredients (no azodicarbonamide here), heating instructions (if needed), and expiration date. Meals are made fresh daily and typically have a shelf life of about five days. Community bonus: if anything isn't sold after day three, the food is donated to food shelters.

After my walk through of the flagship store (which also has a made-to-order salad bar), I couldn't wait to taste the food. Cooking fresh, balanced meals at home is one thing, but I have always been weary of the "healthy" fast-food options. I often find health is synonymous with bland. I can happily say that this is not the case here.

I didn't pick up a dinner - they have a cauliflower crust, roasted garlic and mushroom pizza that I'm totally going back for - so my fiancé and I split two small portions of the new fall lunches instead. I don't think this is how you're supposed to Snap Kitchen (yes, I just made that a verb), but it was my first time. I'll get better, I swear.

We tried the Grilled Kale "Hoppin John" ($5.25), a kale, rice and beans dish with toasted pumpkin seeds and roasted sweet potatoes. It's vegan, gluten-free, sodium-conscious, and delicious. I was surprised by both the bold flavor and the heartiness of the small portion; even my fiancé, who had just returned from the gym, was happy, though I may have given him more than half of the dish. The grilled kale was smoky, with a mellow bitterness that played nicely off the sweetness of the potatoes. Though it wilted into the piquant, al dente rice, it kept its crisp bite, while the black beans and pumpkin seeds brought both smoothness and crunch. It was a spicy and more than filling meal (for lunch or dinner -- this baby had 8 grams of fiber). And for just over five bucks, it's well worth the price.

We also tried the Chicken Tikka Masala ($7.25), made with brown rice, roasted cauliflower, green peas, and spices. The kitchen uses fat-free Greek yogurt to mimic the creaminess of heavy cream, and it does so successfully. Again, flavor was at the forefront here; the curry was spiced with hints of jalapeño, ginger, garlic, and a touch of honey for sweetness. My only complaint was that it could have packed a little more heat for my taste, but some chili flakes from my spice rack fixed that right up. I was also very happy with the amount of chicken in the dish, though the chunks of cauliflower were just as good.

Both dishes were standouts, as was the Silken Chocolate "Mousse" ($2.75) that we shared for dessert. It's insanely decadent ... and made with tofu, though you would never know. The manager told me that even his kids love it. I do too, kids. I do too.

I actually can't wait to try more from the place (I say this as I sip on my Carrot Ginger Elixir, a cold-pressed juice made with carrots, apples, ginger, and lime.).

Consider me snapped.

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