Monday, 4 September 2017

Mindful Chef

On August Bank Holiday Saturday, Dean, Mum and I spent the day at The Big Feastival, a food and music festival on Alex James' (he of Blur fame) farm in Oxfordshire. Mum and I went last year and enjoyed it so much that we got early bird tickets for this year and we're hoping to go for two days in 2018. It's a family-friendly event where you can attend cookery classes, watch top chefs in action, listen to great bands and DJs, buy from local producers and sample all sorts of delicious goodies.
Amongst the producers showing off their wares were Mindful Chef, a health-focused food box company set up by school friends Giles, Myles and Rob and funded by Sir Andy Murray and Victoria Pendleton CBE. They've been around since 2015 and have shipped over 500,000 healthy recipes from small farms in Devon where they grew up. Their USP is reducing your intake of refined carbs, so their boxes and recipes will never contain pasta, bread or white rice - instead all their recipes are based on innovative uses of fresh vegetables.
I was initially drawn to their stall because they were giving out free samples of two vegetarian recipes, a chilli and a smoky lentil and mushroom dish. Both were outstanding and I must confess to having more than one sample during the course of the day. We grabbed a few recipe cards and resolved to head back a bit later to sign up.

One of the smaller tents in the foodie area was hosting some Table Sessions, where some of the top chefs and producers put on some tasters, talks and demos, and I was delighted to see that Mindful Chef was doing one. We managed to get a spot near the demo counter for Myles' engaging talk about their origins whilst Giles whipped up one of their recipes. They claim that every recipe in their food boxes has 10 ingredients or fewer and should take no more than 30 minutes to prepare - the time element of that was certainly proven at the Table Session!
Myles, me and Giles
During the Table Session, Dean had snuck off to sign us up for a box containing two vegetarian meals for two, taking advantage of their 25% off two boxes plus free cookbook deal, which Myles and Giles and they very kindly signed after the demo. The book has sections about gut health, eating for training, stress and sleep as well as a stack of enticing recipes and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in to it!

Myles and Giles came across as really nice chaps, very engaging, passionate about what they do and with a genuine interest in helping people to have a healthier diet. I found out that Giles used to be a Personal Trainer and we talked about the virtues of different PT and Nutrition courses. We also met Louisa, their chef who develops all the recipes and walked away with yet more recipe cards.
There are lots of different meal box solutions around these days, from vegetable boxes, to spice packs and boxes containing all the ingredients you need to cook a meal for 2, 3 or 4 people. I've tried several in the past and they all have their merits. So what appealed about this one, apart from the delicious samples and the offer? Being able to talk to the producers definitely played a part. Finding out that there is a PT/Nutritionist approach to the recipes is also a draw. Half of their recipes are vegan and there appears to be a much bigger selection than many other companies, where I would come across the same meals too often for my liking. They are not the cheapest around, and certainly not as cheap as buying the ingredients yourself, but there's no temptation to impulse shop and there certainly won't be any food waste. It'll be perfect for when I'm working or training late and Dean is on dinner duty!

Keep your eyes pealed for a post in the next couple of weeks where we'll let you know how we get on with the boxes and a Mindful Chef competition.

Have you tried meal boxes? Which ones and what did you think of them? Do you think they are an indulgence or have they saved you money?

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