Eating well has never been so easy. The meal service trend has taken over the nation in the past few years, spawning mealtime experiences that feature locally sourced ingredients, a faraway cultural experience, or a focus on health.
Health-centered meal services eliminate the decision-making, time and effort involved with planning and preparing a meal, while still offering plenty of creative yet accessible options — even for people on restrictive diets.
The child of gourmet hobby chefs, Romana Biscarini started experimenting with food in high school to improve her athletic performance. She turned the skill into a business in Orange County, California, where she worked as a personal chef, planning and preparing meals for UFC athletes. While those meals were focused on performance and keeping weight down, she knew everyday people could benefit from her perfectly portioned, tasty meals made from nutritious ingredients. But California is saturated with such services, she says.
Her now-husband, Marco Bascarini encouraged her to take her sevices elsewhere — specifically to Chattanooga, where he was living and working as a web developer. (The couple was introduced by their fathers, who knew each other in Italy.) A healthy meal delivery service would satiate the appetites of the city's increasingly healthy and outdoorsy population, he said — a population that is literally now eating up her ready-to-eat recipes.
Available online since July 2016, Vibrant Meals now offers grab-and-go meals from its new retail space and kitchen in North Chattanooga. The business has grown from three employees in January 2017, when Romana decided she could no longer run the business alone, to its current 15 to meet demand, which is growing by about 20 percent a month, she says.All meals are dairy-, gluten- and soy-free, and made using as many local and organic meats and produce as possible.
"Everything is made here from scratch," says Romana, who continues to work with athletes along with everyday people.
Whether looking to lose weight, keep blood pressure in check, build muscle or simply enjoy a healthy meal without the work, people can find a meal or meal plan to meet their needs. And while some other meal services require you to pay for multiple meals a day for up to five days a week, Vibrant Meals offers more flexibility, with five meals required per week for delivery, as well as the option to grab just one meal from the retail space whenever hunger strikes.Start with the couple's favorites: Marco's pick is the Noogaroni (gluten-free macaroni topped with chicken breast, cured bacon, red onion, celery, scallions and parsley, served with vegan chipotle mayo on a bed of kale), and Romana is partial to their mango chicken and mango salmon dishes. Both feature mango sticky rice, similar to the dessert often served at Thai restaurants. "I love the sweet and savory blended homemade sauce with coconut milk and honey," she says.
To place orders for delivery in Chattanooga and Cleveland, visit myvibrantmeals.com, or stop by the retail location at 601 Cherokee Blvd.