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Friday, 30 December 2016 17:18

Magic In The Kitchen

Written by  Mary Irene Dolan

Making Your Meals Quick, Easy, Delicious and Nutritious

 

Chef preparing to-go boxesHave fantasies of waving a magic wand and seeing dinner appear on your table? Or maybe you’re more practical and just want help sticking to a healthy diet while balancing a packed schedule. Either way, you’re not alone.

In an attempt to infuse that magic into your busy life, food services offer time-saving solutions that are as convenient as they are nutritious. And these magic meals taste amazing!

Don’t believe us? Keep reading …

 

Delivery

For the days you’d rather stay home or don’t have time for yet one more errand, delivery services are your best bet. Luckily your options aren’t limited to pizza and Chinese.

Some healthier services take care of literally everything. Take the national service Hello Fresh, for example. They don’t just drop off pre-measured, seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients at your house every week, they include quick and easy recipes, too. Their weekly chef-curated menus are packed with wholesome, tasty meals, all customizable to your dietary preferences, schedule and household size.

If you can do without pre-made menus but still want your box of fresh goodies, look to Hungry Harvest. In their effort to eliminate food waste, this “Shark Tank” participant’s surplus produce service will drop off personalized boxes of fruits and veggies at your doorstep—plus they give you recipe ideas for how to incorporate them into dishes. Stay tuned for their expansion to Chester County!

Currently concentrated in the Philadelphia area—for now—is UberEATS. Yes, it’s an Uber for your dinner, plus breakfast and lunch. Get food delivered from your favorite nearby Philly restaurants, all with the tap of a screen in their app.

 

Pickup

If you can muster the energy for pickup, your fast but healthy food world expands deliciously.

Places like Snap Kitchen, in Malvern and Villanova, offer high quality, quick meals to-go that won’t break the bank. Their chef-created and prepared menu is “100% tasty” with “0% cooking,” unless you consider heating in the microwave and operating a fork cooking. Everything is nutrient-dense with controlled portions, perfect for sticking with your diet, even for dairy or gluten free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole30 or a combination.

For a full-course meal, HomeCooked in Paoli, celebrating their 10th year of business, earns their name. They do all the shopping, chopping and prepping, so you get a home-cooked, made-from-scratch meal you can grab and go pop in your oven. No fancy cooking skills required.

“Clients love our service because it saves them time and makes them feel good about what they’re eating,” says owner Claire Phillips Guarino. “They just skip all the usual work.” And when your family is juggling packed work, school and activity schedules, time saved feels like a godsend—especially when you can buy meals in advance.

One-stop gourmet shops like DiFabio’s Market & Tap in Media are perfect for eliminating extra stops if you need other groceries. Pick up beer, sinfully sweet baked goods and chef-selected to-go meals from their Italian market, all in one place.

Ludwig’s Village Market in Ludwig’s Corner is another high-end market worth checking out, with new additions on the way. Currently specializing in prepared foods for quick quality eats, they also provide fresh produce, meat and seafood for when you do want to cook, as well as convenient delivery services for customers in need.

Later in 2017, they hope to expand to include personal chefs to cater to more diverse needs. “Personal chefs are in demand these days,” says proprietor Matt Hilden. “Whether you’re on the Atkins diet, gluten free or just want more customization, we’re excited to offer even more options.” Stay tuned!

 

Participants in a cooking class standing around a stove and chef.Personal Touch

For instant dinner with an even more custom touch, personal chefs can’t be beat—if your budget allows. A personal chef will work with you one-on-one to devise a meal plan that’s just right for you and your family, and then do all the work.

Chef Emily Scott of The Wildflower Chef understands just how challenging eating right can be. “We give our clients the ability to stick to the type of diet they want, without having to think twice,” she says.

The Wildflower Chef team plans, shops, cooks and packages meals in their West Chester kitchen, then drops them off on your schedule for quick and easy fridge or freezer storage. All you do is follow simple reheating instructions.

“Hiring a personal chef means eating the types of high-quality, nutritious foods you know you should be eating, just without the time, effort and willpower,” says Emily.

Another local life saver, Chef Chris Welsh of Secret Ingredient has seen a diverse client base in her 15 years of business, from working couples and people with special dietary needs to those recovering from illness and busy new parents. She makes it easy for her clients to stay healthy in erratic times, helping them avoid less than ideal takeout quick fixes (and we’re not talking about the healthy options above).

Chef Slyvie Ashby of Cuisine de Sylvie takes it a step further with her “your home, your table, my cooking” motto. She not only prepares a meal, she goes to her clients’ homes and cooks it in their kitchen! Using the freshest in-season ingredients and a French touch, she offers private dinner parties, cooking classes and more. Look for her soups sold at Kennett Square Farmer’s Market and La Baguette Magique.

 

Learn

Speaking of classes, if you dream of cooking but still struggle with anything more complex than rice and pasta, consider trying the educational opportunities near you. You’ll be amazed how much easier whipping up a meal can be when you know the tricks of the trade.

Start with the basics. Art Roman’s Kitchen Workshop in Paoli offers great classes for amateurs and seasoned cooks alike, including Boot Camp, Knife Skills, Baking, Entertaining, Grilling and more.

Wayne Art Center has a great culinary program for both adults and kids. Check out their Tastes of the Town series where local restaurant chefs share insider tips.

In Phoenixville, Cooking Spotlight is cooking up not only classes but also private parties and team-building events for workplaces, schools and nonprofits—like Build-A-Meal Teamwork or Brunch Battles.

“Our tagline is ‘An Entertaining Cooking Experience,’” says owner Victoria Hanko. “Attendees learn a new skill or cuisine and have fun doing it.” Cooking Spotlight offers classes for all levels, with plenty of cuisine styles to choose from and chefs to answer your questions. “You don’t get that while experimenting at home!” she jokes.

For more advanced skills, Wyebrook Farm’s butchering and charcuterie classes aren’t for the faint of heart—read “Best of the Best” to see why they won Best Extreme Cooking Classes! Get an experience you won’t find anywhere else. And read last June’s Brandywine Table for Laura Brennan’s candid account of their pig butchering class.

Indecisive? Look into Chester County Night School or Main Line School Night for hundreds of adult evening classes to suit your fancy. And Delaware County Community College’s non-credit culinary courses are worth the try, especially when Chef Peter Gilmore is the teacher (more in this issue’s chef profile).

 

Now there’s really no excuse for settling for unhealthy takeout ever again!