Think "delicious" and "quick" are mutually exclusive when it comes to healthy eating? Think again! A new company hopes to change the way Americans view ready-to-eat foods by offering nutritious, frozen meals that truly taste amazing.
LYFE Kitchen, which stands for "Love Your Food Everyday," was started after its founder won his own weight-loss battle. Stephen Sidwell, founder and CEO of LYFE Kitchen Retail, tried to shed the pounds he put on as a busy businessman by following popular diets and programs to no avail. Desperate to lose the weight, he finally hired a personal chef to cook healthy meals under a daily calorie limit. He lost 30 pounds in 3 months. "The lightbulb went off for me," Sidwell says. "I lost the weight without feeling hungry or deprived because my chef knew how to make delicious, healthy foods using real, whole ingredients, without added fat and sugar."
After his journey back to health, Sidwell realized the importance of making it easy, fast, and affordable to eat right. "I believe the biggest barriers to healthful eating are that most Americans believe that it will be expensive, time-consuming, and not very delicious, so they give up before they even try," he says. Sidwell created LYFE Kitchen to address these barriers, and the result is a surprisingly tasty and convenient solution for meals at work or home. Read on for more details about the new line, which might give you a new reason to head to the freezer aisle.
The Products: Currently, LYFE offers nine breakfasts, dinners, and soups, including items like a Farmer's Market Frittata, Chicken Chile Verde, and Sweet Corn Chowder. Prices range from $4.99 to $6.99. In a taste test, the Steel-Cut Oatmeal was a favorite, with one editor commenting, "The quinoa made it extra satisfying, and the peaches, pineapple, and apples were fresh and crisp." The Greek Yogurt Bars were also popular. One editor called them "a perfect light frozen treat to satisfy a sweet tooth."
The Nutrition Facts: All LYFE meals are under 500 calories and contain less than 500mg sodium, a notable feat for frozen food. We asked Keri Gans, R.D., to weigh in on the nutrition profile. "While the calorie counts were a little low, adding a piece of fresh fruit or a side salad would round out the meals," Gans said. "The 7g of protein in the Whole Grain Pilaf isn't quite enough for a full meal, but adding more veggies to up the fiber would help with satiety. Twenty-seven grams of protein in the Chicken Chile Verde is great, though." She also noted that the sodium levels are a little high, but better than most other frozen foods. "Just be sure to keep the rest of your meals that day low in sodium and sugars," she advised.
The Packaging: Another innovative aspect of LYFE's food is its unique packaging technology. The company uses eco-friendly paper pouches instead of plastic trays, which also enable the meals to cook evenly through steaming. "This brings out a vibrancy of flavors and colors, and the food retains a pleasing texture," Sidwell explains. Finally, since the meals are flash frozen then placed in the bags, they’ll slide out perfectly onto your plate for a "restaurant-quality presentation," Sidwell says.
Where to Find Them: By the end of the year, over 100 LYFE products will be available in over 5,000 retail stores (they're sold at around 1,600 locations today). LYFE already has two stand-alone restaurants in Palo Alto and Culver City, California, but there are plans to open restaurants and retail locations at hospitals, schools, and airports across the country. "By making LYFE products accessible to almost everyone in America, we hope to achieve our goal changing the health of our country by bringing consumers affordable, convenient, and healthy food that tastes great," Sidwell says.