You know that eating right involves loading up on veggies, cutting simple white carbs and adding good fats to our diets. But for some of us, the very words “healthy eating” trigger feelings of FOMO: fear of missing out on all sorts of tasty foods.
And even when you find recipe eye candy on Pinterest, how do you know the calories in a portion, or if it will taste as good as it looks?
San Franciscan Christina Bognet lost 50 pounds after she cracked the code to finding recipes that were both appealing and healthy. “I realized the key to losing weight and eating healthfully was resetting my default and having the right foods in my refrigerator and having the right recipes to prepare those foods,” she says.
Christina Bognet, PlateJoy Founder
She wanted to help other people do the same, so she founded PlateJoy, a meal-planning service that uses a detailed questionnaire and sophisticated calculations to send clients recipes they’re sure to like. Imagine a recipe file full of dishes and snacks like kale pizzas with bacon, lamb lettuce cups with yogurt sauce (try the recipe below), tomato feta frittata and raspberry chia pudding, plus a grocery list for all the ingredients.
Whether you identify as paleo, vegan, gluten free, or just hungry, Bognet says personalization is a big part of how PlateJoy satisfies so many different eaters.
“With many other meal-planning services, you download PDFs,” says Bognet. “We’re using an algorithm to determine which meals you see.”
For a limited time, One Medical members and friends can experience a free 10-day trial of PlateJoy. After that, the service that provides recipes and shopping lists is $8 for a full month of breakfasts, lunches, main meals and snacks.
Chefs, popular food sites like PaleOMG and Food 52 and nutritionists, including Karyn Duggan and Samantha Treyve of One Medical, collaborated with PlateJoy on the menus and dishes. Duggan and Treyve created pre-diabetic menus that go easy on carbs and high-glycemic foods, while still offering lots of variety.
Duggan says they decided to work with PlateJoy because the plan can be customized to anyone’s palate and it’s an easy way to help people who don’t have easy access to a nutritionist get on the right track.
Karyn's Top 3 Tips for Healthy Eating
The detailed PlateJoy questionnaire asks who you’re cooking for, what appliances you have and whether you shop at a specialty grocer or a chain grocery story. Do you like leftovers or do you prefer smaller portions? You can write in your favorite ingredients, and check off your least favorites on a list of common offenders like cilantro, mushrooms and tofu.
We took the test and asked for low-carb meals with 30 grams of carbohydrates or less. Our monthly menu suggested dishes including fried egg with Romesco sauce and Swiss chard for breakfast, lamb loin chops with pomegranate glaze for lunch. Dinner choices ranged from moules mariniere to carne asada in lettuce cups to stir-fried Thai beef with basil and cauliflower rice. Low-carb desserts included caramelized coconut chips from Clothes Make the Girl and Food 52’s mint lemonade.
Most dishes took 15 minutes or less to prepare, and the virtual pantry tracks what you purchased the week before and how much you used, so you don’t wind up with two bottles of teriyaki sauce or brown lettuce.
Even with the plans designed for weight loss, there’s so much variety that you don’t feel deprived.
“I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time, and just recently found out I have some hormone imbalances and am allergic to gluten, wheat, cow dairy and egg,” says Jamie, a PlateJoy user in Boston. “I’m so impressed with the colors and diversity of the recipes, and the electronic pantry and resulting grocery lists are extremely helpful. PlateJoy is amazing — without this direction I’d be eating canned tuna and carrot sticks all the time!”
Spiced Lamb Lettuce Cups With Mint Yogurt Sauce
Makes 2 servings
4 green onions, washed
1/4 cup fresh mint, washed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed
6 large Bibb lettuce leaves, washed
12 oz. ground lamb
2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
7 oz. Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Prep your produce: Thinly slice green onions. Finely chop mint and cilantro. Peel off and wash large lettuce leaves. De-seed and juice lemon.
- In a heavy pan, brown lamb over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain fat.
- Stir in green onion, soy sauce, chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, half the mint and half the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small bowl, mix Greek yogurt, garlic, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice and remaining herbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Spoon lamb mixture into the lettuce leaves. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and enjoy!
Recipe Courtesy PlateJoy