Friday, May 19, 2017

Hello Fresh Review

My fiance and I decided recently that it would be a good idea to try meal boxes so I can share information with clients and readers of Healthy with Anne. We started with one of the most advertised boxes, Hello Fresh.

I started by signing up for the service, which was easy, and then was to choose meals, though I never quite figured out how to do that correctly as what I thought I chose didn't come in the box. No big deal for us, but for some there may be issues with that. We chose 3 meals for 2, which is normally $69, just to try it out.

The meals arrived early on the day I chose (Monday) and were packed well and still cold. The box is large for 3 meals and there was quite a bit of packaging.

Everything in the box is covered in heavy brown paper, I didn't pull it apart, but it seemed to be insulated. The recipe cards are very large, about 6x8.

Under the recipe card are boxes which hold every ingredient for each meal other than protein. Each is clearly labeled so you know which meal it's for.

The ingredients in each box.

Under the ingredient boxes there is a cardboard divider and large ice packs. This is where the proteins are packaged. They seemed small, but are well within nutritional guidelines for a healthy meal. My fiance absolutely loves steak. Though he doesn't eat it often when he does he goes all out and gets a large steak, so this was a little hard for him to see. Once he ate, though, he was satisfied with the smaller portion for a regular weeknight meal.

This is the Argentine-Spiced meal ingredients. This is everything that came in the box, all I needed to add was olive oil, salt and pepper.

This is the finished meal - my plate. I gave my fiancee more couscous than me and myself more spinach than him as he isn't so into greens and I'm not so into pasta. The general consensus was there was not a lot of flavor here. The "spice" to the steak was simply cumin and the scallion chimichurri. My fiancee added a lot of black pepper and red pepper flakes to his to add flavor and I simply ate it as-is.

We also had Char-Broiled BBQ Chicken with Summery Potato & Green Bean Salad and Southern Pork Chops with Collard Green-Potato Hash and Black Pepper Gravy. Both of these were better than the steak meal, but I also learned by then to add flavor by salting, peppering or changing the cooking method. The upside is that my fiance now enjoys collard greens!

The directions are easy to read, however, if you don't know how to cook at all, this is not the meal service for you. A "drizzle of olive oil" can mean anything from 1/2 a teaspoon to a tablespoon and if you don't know this, you'll have a finished product that is less than desirable.

The prep time is not based on a beginner or even novice cook, I am a trained chef and didn't get done in the specified time. There are often times a lot of steps, as well. If you love to cook (and I do!) then this box will work for you. If you're always short on prep time, then this isn't for you. Basically all that's been done is portioning and shopping, nothing is prepped.

Here is one problem I encountered with the "fresh" spinach that was sent:

 About one-quarter of the spinach had to be thrown away. As you can see, it was wilted, spotty and parts of it were slimy. I grow spinach and know what very young spinach looks like, however, much of what was in there was weeds and grass. I am able to find better spinach than this very locally.

The cost of the box, 3 meals for 2 people at $69. makes each meal $11.50 per person. I had a discount for my first box and paid $29. so each meal was $4.83 per person. This only applies to your first box, so it's the only savings you will get. Now, translate this to our family of 9 and dinner for a week would be a ridiculous amount of money. In other words, this is NOT for families as large as ours!

Overall I would not do this again unless my fiancee and I were the only people living in this household. The meals are nutritionally sound, but lacked flavor and needed too much prep time, were sent using far too much packaging and are not cost-friendly.

Drink More Water

I talk to many people who tell me they "just don't like water". Now, I'm a huge fan of water, in fact before I even thought twice about the impact it made on my health, I didn't drink much beyond water and coffee. My kids grew up without soda and very rarely drank juice. For the most part, my whole family drinks water without much of an issue.

So, let's start off with exactly how much you need a day. The old adage of eight 8 ounce glasses a day isn't completely correct. That would total 64 ounces and if you're an adult, that's perfectly fine if you weight 128 pounds. Yep, about half an ounce of water for each pound of weight. If you weigh 200 pounds that's 100 ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, that's 75 ounces and so on. Here's the trick though, those are minimum amounts based on weight and activity. If you're living in a hotter climate or exercising more, you need more. Anywhere from 1/2 an ounce to 1 ounce per pound of body weight is a good rule of thumb.

Now, how about WHY you need water?

  • You can't live without it! Humans can live 3 weeks without food, but far less without water - 3 to 5 days! 
  • Water boosts your metabolism. Metabolism is a series of chemical reactions and water keeps that process running smoothly so you get a fat burning boost from drinking water.
  • Water helps prevent kidney stones. Dehydration causes calcium and other stone forming chemicals to settle in your kidneys. Drinking water keeps things moving.
  • It prevents migraines and helps keep you alert. Again, dehydration causes tiredness and even migraines.
  • You eat less when you drink more! Sometimes our body isn't asking for food, but water! The next time you think you're hungry, drink a glass or two of water first.
  • Your joints hurt less. Water keeps cartilage supple and soft, easing joint pain.
  • Water makes your skin more supple and clearer. Bright, glowy skin comes from the inside! Drink lots of water to look your best.
  • Prevents constipation. Water keeps your digestive system running smoothly so there's less chance of constipation.

Can you drink too much water? The answer to this is yes, but it's not likely.  When your kidneys can't rid themselves of excess water, the electrolytes (mineral) in your blood is diluted, and low sodium levels lower - this is called hyponatremia.

What else can I drink or eat to make sure I'm hydrated? If you're already drinking coffee in the morning, that's fine, but don't overdo. Many fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water and are great for hydrating beyond just plain water! Cucumbers, lettuce, watermelon and celery are great examples. Sports drinks are OK, but overdoing these can lead to fluctuations in electrolytes that aren't good for the body. Coconut water is low in carbs and high in potassium - unsweetened is great for hydrating.

How do you know for sure that you're drinking enough?  Check your urine. If it's pale yellow or clear, you're good to go! (no pun intended) If it's dark and smells strong, you need to drink more!

One More Step

Often times the most difficult change for people to make when they're embarking on a journey of better health is the desire to move more. Once it's categorized as "exercise" people give pause. Why is that? Here is a list of the most common reasons, and ways to overcome them:

1. "I don't have time." - Sure you do! How much time do you spend on your computer, watching television, or looking at other screens? All of that time can be devoted to exercise even if you still insist on watching TV or being on the computer. Many exercises such as isometrics can be done while you're sitting! Check out Dave Hubbard's 90 Second Isometric Workout HERE.

2. "I'm too tired." - Guess what? Exercise actually increases your energy and stamina. You may be tired before you start, but once you get going your body releases endorphins and "feel good" hormones that last well beyond your workout. If you're a morning person, get started early, if you're more motivated at night, start after work or dinner.

3. "I can't get away from the kids." - Then, by all means, GO PLAY! Take everyone for a walk, fly a kite, play a game of basketball. Find a local area and go for a hike. Take everyone swimming. The kids will LOVE that you're spending time with them, and you'll be getting exercise without realizing it.

4. "Exercise is boring." - Yes, some exercise can be monotonous, but exercise is simply moving your body, so anything can work! Do you like to dance? Dancing doesn't have to be at a nightclub where you may feel self-conscious, you can dance in the privacy of your own home. When you park at the store, park further away than usual. If your office or appointment is on the second or third floor of a building, consider taking the stairs. Wear a pedometer and you'll be surprised how many extra steps you've taken!

Walk the dog, clean the house, do some gardening, take out the garbage - exercise doesn't have to seem like exercise when it's built into your day. Remember, every extra step you take each day is PROGRESS.