Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keeping It Real

By Dori Molozanov

Shopping for and preparing practical meals that are nutritional, creative, flavorful and diverse enough to keep your taste buds interested can be challenging - especially while eating gluten-free. “It’s hard, it’s a lot of work,” says Lucinda Duncalfe, founder of Philadelphia-based Real Food Works. “It took me a solid year to cook well.”

Real Food Works, a meal delivery service offering customizable meal plans for health-conscious diners, is working to make healthy gluten-free dining more accessible with the addition of its new gluten-free option. The company partners with local restaurants to create dishes especially for Real Food Works customers.

Like the other Real Food Works offerings, all meals in the gluten-free plan are prepared with natural, whole-food ingredients and never include dairy, processed or factory-farmed foods. (Every gluten-free meal is labeled 'gluten-free ingredients' both online and on its packaging.) Most meals are plant-based, with two or three optional meat or fish dishes per week. Meals are delivered fresh weekly and there is no commitment, so customers may cancel at any time. According to Duncalfe, restaurants prepare the meals during their “down time,” which allows local chefs to refine their healthy cooking skills and provides customers with the bonus of accessing popular restaurant kitchens. It’s a win-win for the customers and the businesses, she says.

Rittenhouse Salad from Pure Fare
In keeping with Real Food Works' mission of limiting the fat, salt, and sugar content of the food as much as possible, participating restaurants often opt to bake instead of fry, to use agave nectar and fruits instead of sugar or sweeteners, and to tap into a arsenal of seasonings and flavorful vegetables instead of relying heavily on salt. All meals are dairy free and use creative substitutes, such as cauliflower to replicate the texture of creamy soba noodles.

Real Food Works works closely with its restaurant partners to make sure they understand the importance of isolating meals and ingredients from any sources of gluten. All meals in the gluten-free plan are made with gluten-free ingredients, and some are prepared at the all-gluten-free Pure Fare or the NFCA-trained Virago Baking Company. Prospective customers with celiac disease and strong gluten sensitivity can contact Real Food Works to learn more about participating restaurants and meal preparation.
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  1. That salad looks delicious! Glad to see services like these exist - just wish they were in more rural areas like Vermont :)

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