One of my favorite books is The Blue Zones, which is a study of the people around the world who live the longest. Inside the pages there were two key findings revealed that have stuck with me for years. The first was that some drink a moderate amount of red wine with their meals (Hallelujah!) and the second was that many followed a plant-based diet.
Vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits!
Between all the traveling and owning an Italian restaurant, this sort of eating can be difficult for me. When immersing myself into a culture it’s really hard to pass up on things like a large plate of crunchy wiener schnitzel in Vienna or a hot lampredotto sandwich in Florence. Plus, being around homemade creamy pesto gnocchi and bone-in grilled pork chops all day at my restaurant ain’t helping the situation (or my waistline). So, when I had the opportunity to take the Purple Carrot 30-Day Veggie Dinner Challenge, I jumped at it. It was a chance to focus on eating healthier with a company who specializes in nourishing your body with wholesome foods.
What is Purple Carrot?
Purple Carrot is a company that delivers delicious plant-based meal kits. Each week you receive new recipes and pre-portioned ingredients at your doorstep. They take care of answering the age old question of “what’s for dinner” by picking the menu for you, plus keeping it interesting with unique ingredients and new flavors.
Eating a plant-based diet can increase your energy, ward off chronic diseases, help you live longer, keep your body trim and so much more. It also is good for the planet by reducing your environmental footprint.
Purple Carrot challenged me to eat a veggie based dinner for 30-days and made it super easy by delivering delicious and fresh meal kits each week. (Want to eat more veggies too? Join the 30-day Veggie Dinner challenge with Purple Carrot. Use code: 30DAYS to get $30 off your first order. The first 50 people to sign up will additionally be given a #hungerforlife t-shirt.)
Products & Recipes
Each week my Purple Carrot order was dropped right at my doorstep, waiting for me when I got home. Three meals were included in each shipment.
All the ingredients were neatly packed with ice packs and wrapped in an insulated foil. Even when it sat on my porch for a few hours, it was still cold! You would think that the quality of delivered products may not be fresh, but there was not one case where the vegetables were old. In fact, even when some sat in my refrigerator for six days they were still crisp! Avocados are tricky when it comes to ripeness, but I was so pleasantly surprised when I cut into one and it was perfect, not too hard and not too soft.
Each ingredient was perfectly portioned in plastic bags or containers and labeled, just in case you didn’t know what something like bok choy looked like. There was also so many unique products that I’ve never cooked with before, like jackfruit and date syrup.
THE RECIPES & COOKING
There were color recipe cards that came with every meal. Each had detailed instructions (including photos!), so I found them pretty easy to follow. You will need basic cooking utensils and equipment: blender, food processor, whisk, standard sauce/sauce pans, etc. The only thing in my kitchen I was missing for one recipe was a potato masher, but a fork worked just as well!
Each recipe is made to serve two, but there were some cases where I could have easily squeezed it into three!
Being that my restaurant is just four blocks from my house, I never cook at home. If I’m hungry I just pop into the restaurant for a meal or take something togo. So, I was really looking forward to cooking at my house, because there is something about the smell of sautéing garlic and onions that makes it feel more like a home. Plus, nine years of Italian food for every meal gets a little boring.
My first meal was a warm brussel sprout salad. And even though the recipe was a serving enough for two, I was hesitant to cook it for anyone else because I wasn’t sure how it would taste. It was the premiere tester recipe. But, it was so yummy that I was glad there was no one there to share it with. I wanted the whole thing myself.
After this preview recipe, I was a little more confident about cooking the meals for others.
I shared a few dishes with my husband, cooked a meal at my restaurant to share with the staff (who loved the sweet potato and chickpea salad!) and even invited a few girlfriends over where two recipes paired with a bottle of wine made for the perfect evening.
There was a lot of variety with the food. Recipes were inspired from countries all over the world, like a Vietnamese tofu banh mi sandwich and an Asian cashew korma. The only Italian one in the bunch was the Kale Pesto Cavatelli which I devoured after a workout.
All the dishes were good and incredibly accurate, not a loser in the bunch. But, there was one that stood out as my favorite — the spicy jackfruit and bell pepper fajitas.
I had never cooked with jackfruit before, and it was actually quite a tasty substitute for meat. After adding spices and roasting, it looked similar to shredded pork, but with a bit more tang. Even my husband didn’t realize that there wasn’t any meat in them!
I’m not gonna lie, after a month I wanted to turn my 30-day challenge into a 90-day one. Cooking at my house had turned it into more of a home. Plus I loved being able to cook without having to figure out what was going to be for dinner or having to go to the grocery store!
Not only did I feel healthier (and actually lost a couple extra pounds!), but eating well made me want to be more conscious about being healthier in other aspects of my life too. The gym saw me a little bit more and chocolate bars saw me a little less.
Now if Purple Carrot could just figure out a way to ship someone over to wash the dishes for me!
. . .
If you want give the challenge a try, don’t forget to use the code 30DAYS to get $30 off your first order.