Real Food Works: Delicious Local Meals Delivered

Over the last decade (and some), ordering in at home for an evening meal has become commonplace for many families. I remember thinking what a neat idea it was that my parents could call one number yet order from any number of local restaurants, and have it delivered to the house. And as long as a minimum order (price) was met, you could order from multiple restaurants and everyone could get what they wanted. Genius!

But as an adult, once I went gluten free, it didn’t seem that great to me. I got to watch everyone else enjoy these amazing smelling meals while I ordered a salad. Looking back, even the salad wasn’t that safe since it was usually from the Italian restaurant my parents were ordering from: can we say lots of flour in the air? Nor was it that healthy of a salad. Watery iceberg lettuce, pale tomatoes, pale cucumbers, cheese ….

After going gluten free, I became a lot more conscious of what I was eating because I had to be. I’d wanted to eat healthier before, but could never make myself do it. Going gluten-free forced my hand (for which I’m grateful). I wished that there was something I could order that would be safe, delicious, and good for me. But there wasn’t. And given that I was (and am) in southwestern Virginia, there probably wasn’t going to be a ton of options. Healthy eating is not par for the course around here.

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But it IS for a growing number of places, and Real Food Works is helping customers in their area take advantage of that. And even better? They’re now offering gluten free options!

What is Real Food Works? From their website:

Real Food Works is a start-up located in Philadelphia. Founded by successful tech entrepreneurs with a passion for healthy great-tasting food, we provide a subscription service of fresh meals that are cooked by local restaurants and delivered fresh to our customers. Our food is mostly plant-based with very low oil, salt, and sweeteners — yet it tastes terrific! Our customers can lose weight, enhance their energy levels, and improve their overall health. Our partners can increase profitable revenue while leading in a major shift towards eating healthier food.”

Real food really does taste terrific, but if you’ve been consuming a diet of pre-packaged overly processed foods, you may have to retrain your taste buds first.Don’t worry, if you’re diligent and don’t cheat, it won’t take you long! Although T and I still use some sugar and salt, we try to go with organic sugars (no artificial sweeteners!) and sea salt (we especially love Celtic Sea Salt and pink Himalayan). Guess what? The more you get away from sugar and salt, the less you will need! And you’ll often find that dishes you couldn’t bear to eat without sugar and salt no longer need it to taste good!

And it’s amazing how full you can feel on a plant-based diet. T and I haven’t completely given up meat (in fact, it’s generally not recommended until you’re sure you’re getting all the vitamins from other sources), but we rarely eat it these days, and we don’t miss it. Something neither of us expected. And yes, you really can get enough protein from plants, and it will be better for you than animal-based protein. How do you think gorillas get so big and strong? Not from eating other animals! And if you eat a cow for protein, where do you think it comes from for the cow?

“Our whole food plant-based nutritional standards are based on leading-edge studies from researchers such as Dean Ornish at UCSF, T. Colin Campbell at Cornell University, and Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic. This diet has been recently popularized by best-selling books such as “Whole,” “VB6,” and “My Beef With Meat” as well as the 2011 documentary “Forks Over Knives.””

So what do you get from Real Food Works (besides food you can feel good about eating?):

  • Meals are created and prepared by our partner restaurants: local, talented and passionate about really good food.
  • We share ingredient ideas and cooking techniques, and work closely with our restaurants’ chefs to create exclusive dishes.
  • All meals go through rigorous nutritional and taste testing before they are added to our menu.

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  • We operate with stringent nutritional requirements, and information is available for every dish.
  • Meals include only natural, whole food ingredients. We use no processed foods, and certainly no additives, chemicals, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Our nutritional specifications are constantly reviewed to ensure that they reflect the best available research.

But how safe is the gluten free aspect of Real Food Works? If you’re like me, you’re really choosy about where you eat when you’re not at home!

Real Food Works GF meals are prepared utilizing only gluten-free ingredients. All RFW meals are prepared in licensed commercial kitchens by cooks with ServSafe food safety certification from the National Restaurant Association. RFW does offer this disclaimer:

“It is important to understand that “gluten-free ingredients” does not mean there will never be exposure to glutens. While the ingredients do not contain glutens, the restaurant providing the meal may not be gluten-free, and its personnel may not have completed gluten-free training. We cannot be held responsible for individual reactions to any meals or products, nor can we guarantee the absence of cross-contamination. It is the customer’s sole responsibility to read and understand the ingredients in each meal that you purchase on our site, and to know what is safe for your diet. While our site may provide certain resources on gluten-free or gluten-free ingredient food options or celiac disease, the information provided here is for reference and educational purposes only. In no way should it be considered as medical advice.” You can read more in their FAQ. They’ve written a blog post about gluten-free eating as well.

This is a standard and fair disclaimer. This is something every GF person should keep in mind any time they go out to eat to a place that is not 100% gluten free or is not certified. Always do your own research!

You saw an image above of three possible dishes. How about a description of another? Sometimes I find that just reading about a dish makes me want to eat it even more than seeing it. “Russo Wrap from the Virago Baking Company: Organic vegetables seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and tucked into a collard wrap with homemade hummus. Served with beet stew and lemony sorghum salad.” (Go here and scroll down to the Russo Wrap. You can then click on it to find out exactly what is in it, along with the nutritional information!)

And, now that you now where the Russo Wrap is from, you can research the restaurant and make a more informed decision: Virago Baking Company. As far as I can tell, every source restaurant is listed, so you can check everything out to your heart’s content!

This looks like a great opportunity for you and your family, whether everyone in your household is gluten free or not. If you’ve been wanting to eat healthier and you weren’t sure how to start, this could be an excellent jumping off point for you!

If you’re in Philadelphia and you give Real Food Works a try, I would love to hear what you think!

Graphics courtesy of Real Food Works.