Friday 8 October 2021

AD / PR / AFF. - Foodie Friday - Quick. Healthy And Easy Meals With Love Yourself*

I love cooking, I love being in the kitchen and I love the sense of accomplishment that you feel when you've just made a fabulous meal for scratch. If I had time and energy I would be working my way through every recipe book that I own, but let's be realistic life gets in the way sometimes and you don't always the time or the energy, to prepare a meal or to even go to the supermarket. I don't know about you but when I'm having one of the those days and even weeks, I just grab the first thing in the freezer, the fridge or the cupboard, to fulfil my need for food, and 9 times out 10 the things that I pick aren't that healthy or nutritious.

Now you've probably heard of one of the many food boxes that you can that contain all the ingredients that you need to make a few days worth of main meals, I personally subscribe to one and I think that they are really good for meal planning, and for solving the age old dilemma about what to have for dinner, but whilst you can select quicker recipes on average each one takes about half and hour to make, and for most of them you do actually need a few culinary skills, not only that but as I say they generally only contain the ingredients for a few main meals so you still to brave the supermarket for your other two meals and the other things that help you feel satisfied.

They are still good, and they definitely have their place, but did you know that you can have a full days worth of freshly prepared meals delivered straight to your door - no work and barely no preparation needed? Well you can, and it's all courtesy of a company called Love Yourself, who deliver freshly cooked, nutritionally balanced, healthy, gourmet standard meals direct to your kitchen.

They full comprehensive, and easy to understand and use website gives you the choice of around 15 different plans based on nutritional needs are dietary requirements, including Vegetarian, Performance, Keto, Dairy Free, Pescatarian, Halal Balanced, Gluten Free, and a basic Balanced diet option.

Once you've selected your meal type - on most diets you can then select a calorie option depending on whether or not you want to lose weight or just eat an average days calorie intake. Once you've selected that you can then decided when your want to receive your food, you can choose anything from one days worth, to five, to six days worth, to Monday to Friday, for four weeks, and eight weeks and Monday to Saturday for both both four and 8 weeks. You can buy a day or two to try the plan or you can cut out the stress and the meal planning, and order yourself a full 8 weeks of food.

Most boxes contain a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, and two snacks and whilst you don't have the option of selecting individual meals the menus are posted the week before, and if you contact Love Yourself both when your placing your initial order and after with dislikes or allergies etc. providing they have at least 48 hours notice they will try their best to substitute unwanted meals.

Now the lovely people at Love Yourself kindly sent me two days worth of meals to try. The meals I was sent were from the Vegetarian range, and I was send the 1500 calories a day option, which was priced at £25 a day. Created by a chef and a nutritionist, all of the meals in the plan contain fresh locally sourced ingredients, and none of the food is processed and none of it contains preservatives. They also contain all the nutrients you would need for one day and slow release carbohydrates for increased energy

If your lucky enough to live in certain areas of London or Bristol then you can get your meals delivered freshly every day, but don't worry if like me, you live elsewhere in mainland UK, then your meals will be delivered via DPD, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Now I received my box on a Tuesday, and as you can it was very well packaged. My meals came in sturdy outer box, which was lined with thick corrugated cardboard, and contained some ice packs. Once you've received them the meals should be be put in the fridge and should be eaten with 2 or 3 days. Some of the meals can be frozen but Love Yourself say they won't taste as good or as fresh as they should. 

All of the outer packaging is recyclable, and the meal containers which are made out of a fibre like, cardboard are fully recyclable and compostable.

This is the menu that I received and as you can see below, the food packaging features full ingredients, and nutritional information and if you use My Fitness Pal, you can scan the meals directly into the app. I actually use Nutri Check, a calorie counting app, and a lot of the meals are already on the but it's also really easy to add them yourself. I did switch the order of the meals around and I tended to eat the lunches in the evening, and obviously I got my meals on a Tuesday, but I going to just leave the Monday and Tuesday headings, and the other placements to avoid confusion x 



Baked Apple And Oat Cake With Blueberry Yogurt

First meal, first breakfast, and it was something familiar for me yogurt! I eat yogurt pretty much every morning, so this was a usual start to the day. The yogurt itself was a nice thick, blueberry flavoured greek yogurt, with real fresh blueberries mixed in to it. There was no real sweetness like you get with a lot of mass, supermarket yogurts, it tasted natural, and you could really taste the flavour of the blueberries.

Alongside the yogurt there was a piece of apple and oat cake. It was a very dense, very moist piece, of gluten free cake, it contained gluten free oats, apple, coconut, agave syrup, eggs and sunflower seeds. Agin it wasn't overly sweet, you could really taste the ingredients particularly the real apple, and the coconut, and the sunflower seeds gave it a nice crunch. 

I've got to say that I not normally that full after eating my breakfast but this was a really filling and tasty start the day, and it was fun dipping the cake in the yogurt.

Morning Snack

Sweet Potato Hummus

I've got to admit that I wasn't quite ready for the mid morning snack, and I was still a bit full from my breakfast but this really was a revelation. Using sweet potatoes instead of chickpeas, blended with red pepper, and the usual hummus ingredients of garlic, salt, oil and tahini. This smooth textured dip was amazing! It was slightly sweeter than normal hummus, but you could really taste the garlic, and sesame paste. Despite been packaged for around 24 hours the carrot sticks were real still fresh and crunchy. This would normally be a lunch for me instead of a snack but again it was really fresh and tasty, and I'm definitely going to be trying to recreate this in my kitchen.


Tofu Tikka Masala With Rice & Goji Berries 

Now, although this was officially a lunch, I prefer to eat my main meal at night so I switched this one. Although the majority of meals can be served as it, some like this need to be heated. So although you can put them in the oven for speed I popped this the microwave for 3 minutes. First thing it smelled really good and it contained tofu and I love tofu! It contains big chunks of tofu, that had held it shape and hadn't gone mushy, as well as onions, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, goji berries, and cashews, all in a mildly spiced, subtle coconut sauce, served alongside some white rice.

I probably overly microwaved so the rice was a touch dry, but the masala itself was perfect, with a slightly sweet, mildly spicy tomato forward sauce, it was a really nice mix of textures with softness of the tofu and the veg, and the slightly chewy, tartness of the goji berries, and the crunch of the cashews. Size it was about the same as an average ready meal, but it tasted so much fresher and again I felt full.

Afternoon Snack 

Chocolate Brownie

Ah chocolate! As as self confessed chocoholic - I was so pleased to see something chocolate related in my box. Now this is a brownie but not what would you probably expect in terms of sweetness and texture. This is a healthier brownie, and it's gluten free. Containing eggs, coconut milk, dark chocolate, almond flour, and dried dates, again it was very moist, very solid, very dense, very small and almost fudge like in appearance.

It had a really good dark chocolate flavour, and at the same time it had a slightly fruity flavour from the dates. Again it wasn't too sweet, but it was very rich, and it delivered that perfect chocolate hit. If you've ever eaten something like a Naked bar, or a chocolate protein bar, then this is pretty similar taste wise. I actually saved this for my evening snack because I like something sweet before bed.


Nectarine, Mozzarella & Broad Bean Salad

The one thing that I was slightly, worried about with this box was the salads and vegetables - just how fresh would it actually be! Well I needn't have worried, instead of the soggy salad expected, everything was fresh and crunchy. Containing grated mozzarella, fresh broad beans, nectarine, mixed salad leaves, and cherry tomatoes, the salad came with a little separate pot of dressing which contained raspberries, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, basil, and xylitol (a sweetener).

The nectarine was a touch underripe which actually worked really well with the salad, everything was nice and fresh, but by far the star was the dressing sweet yet tart because of the raspberries, with an almost pesto hit, it had a really good flavour but oddly enough it didn't overpower the freshness or flavours of the rest of the salad.



Scrambled Eggs With Homemade County Style Bread

Day 2, and it started with one of my favourite food, scrambled eggs with homestyle bread. The tray contained a small portion of scrambled eggs, which was just eggs, egg whites, olive oil, salt and black pepper, and three smaller end pieces of a country style, brown loaf.

I heated the scrambled egg up in the microwave, and I toasted the bread under the grill, as the pieces were a bit small and thick for my toaster. The eggs were really good, they were well seasoned, and not too dry, and too wet, just the way I like them. Now I shouldn't really be eating wheat but there was so little in both days worth of meals that it wasn't a problem. The bread itself was nice, and slightly sweet, with a dense and chewy texture.

Compared to what I normally eat first thing, this seemed like a lot but I really enjoyed it, and  it made me think that I should really switch up my breakfasts a bit more.

Morning Snack

Sweetcorn & Feta Muffin

Day 2, or egg day as I came to call it, contained with a mid morning snack, and it was what was described as a Sweetcorn and Feta Muffin. Containing sweetcorn, onion, eggs and egg whites, feta cheese, coconut oil, cumin and salt, you could eat it as it was, or like what I did warm it in the microwave for around 20 seconds.

It wasn't a muffin in either of the traditional senses of the word, instead it was more like a crustless quiche, a savoury pudding, or a heavier souffle. It had a lovely creamy texture with pieces of sweetcorn and it had a lovely savoury taste. It wasn't what I expected but I actually really enjoyed it.


Meatless Bolognese With Pasta And Cheddar

 There is nothing I love more than a good veggie bolognese, and the lunch (which again I switched with my evening meal) was a good. Accompanied by gluten free penne pasta, the meat free bolognese was full of veg includes tomatoes, onions, carrots, and chickpeas, as well as chunks of vegetable fibre, and soy based, meatless meat, and it was sprinkled with cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds.

With all the traditional Italian herbs, the sauce had a nice sweetness, and a touch of smokiness, and again the textures were a real bonus. It was more of a chunky meat based bolognese than a mince, and the meatless meat was good and added some nice texture, as did the sunflower seeds. As a gluten free pasta aficionado this was a decent pasta, it will never be the same as wheat pasta but it was decent texture wise, it wasn't soggy, it was al dente which was perfect. I really enjoyed it was tasty and filling.

Afternoon Snack

Apple And Banana Slice

Afternoon snack time, and it was another yogurt and cake combo. Again a small piece of very moist, very dense cake made from bananas, apple, coconut milk, eggs, coconut milk, buckwheat flour and agave syrup, alongside a portion of natural yogurt.

As I say it very moist, almost wet, but solid at the same time, you could really taste the nuttiness of the buckwheat flour, with a hint of fresh apple and a lot of real banana flavour. Again the cake worked really well with the tart yet creaminess of the yogurt. I've been thinking while I've been writing this post about how to describe the cake, and the only thing I can think of is if you've eaten any raw desserts, solid, damp, and full of natural flavours.


Cumin-Spiced Lentils & Brussel Sprouts

I know it trendy to hate them, and I do know that some people genuinely dislike them, but I'm a huge Brussel sprout fan, I love them steamed, stir fried, roasted, and I even put raw ones into salads so I was really to see them served in another way. This one was another heat and eat meal so I removed the egg and popped it into the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Containing a boiled egg, some nice al dente lentils, Brussel sprouts, onions, leeks, this meal had a lovely slightly tangy flavour coming from the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. It was a really unusual but really flavourful, tasty meal, and again it was really filling.

So they were my two days and they were my meals and snacks. All the food have to say was really fresh tasting and the lack of processed food was really evident.

Of the sweet thing, all of the sweeteners were natural, and there wasn't any more added than what was needed, and as a result you could really taste the ingredients, and the fresh fruits. The cakes could possibly be a bit on an acquired taste and texture (Mummy Lou wasn't keen on the textures of the bites that I gave her) but I really enjoyed them as a more healthier, filling alternative, to chocolate, biscuits or even fresh fruit, and it really made me realise just how much sugar I eat even in the savoury thing that I eat.

The main meals and savoury items were very flavourful, again they weren't overly salted, and the seasoning and flavours were perfect for me personally. Something I really I really enjoyed about all the savoury dishes in particular was all the different textures, the crunch from the seeds and berries, to the different textures of the vegetables and pulses.

As I say purely based on food, and ignoring drinks etc. my total calorie count was 1500 or there or there abouts. What really surprised me was just how filling all of the meals actually were, I would normally eat more than 1500 calories a day, and I would usually feel a lot less full, and a lot less satisfied then I did over the course of these two. The quality of the food was really good and every aspect of each meal was really well thought out and I honestly didn't feel as though I was on a 'diet'.

The one drawback of Love Yourself unfortunately is the price,  as I say one days worth of vegetarian 1500 calorie meals is £25 but the more meals you order the more you save, and you can get 5 days worth for £115 and 4 weeks Monday to Friday for £460. You can cancel with 48 hours notice at anytime so you aren't tied in to any contracts, and you only get what you pay for.

It is pricy but you probably could say goodbye to that weekly shop, and the temptations that it brings. If you really are time poor, or energy poor, or if you're unable to cook for yourself though this is a really great idea to get good healthy, fresh food with the effort. I personally found that those two days really helped to think about food in a slightly different way, I still love cooking things from scratch but it's made think about ways that I can improve my own diet and way of eating, and it's a really good kickstart to a new healthy eating regime for me.

The Love Yourself website is full of advice, and information not only on how their plans work, but also generally on how to live better, and eat more healthily and more consciously, and if you want to try it for yourself you can use my link or quote Louise H at checkout for 20% off your first order. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be back soon with another post x 

*This Post An Unpaid Advertisement For Love Yourself. Meals Were Provided For Review And Promotional Purposes. This Post All Contains 2 Affiliate Links And An Affiliate Discount Code

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