The aesthetics of health

Does healthy dining have to feel like self-denial? Ready Fit Go has an answer

Ready Fit Go owner Hayden Meier. Photo by JP Cordero

If you ask 10 people at random whether they should adopt a healthier diet, it’s a good bet that at least half will say yes. The problem is what “healthy” means to different people – is it low carb, Mediterranean diet, Ayurvedic, macrobiotic, paleo, vegan, or something else? It depends partly on whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain it, maintain it, you’re embarking on a spiritual cleansing, or you have some other goal. Depending on your ambition and philosophy there are at least 70 different nutritional theories to choose from, many of which contradict each other.

I had been passing Ready Fit Go on Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa for some time when it occurred to me to wonder what they meant by fit. Could they possibly be catering to all these different concepts of health? A look at their website listed various meals but was short on theoretical background. I decided to investigate, and in short order found myself chatting with manager Marivic McKinley. I braced myself for an onslaught of jargon, but instead got an explanation that was heavy on common sense.

“We focus on meals that keep you on your calories. They’re healthy, meaning nothing is fried, and it’s a better choice than going through In & Out or any other type of fast food. We make up to 600 meals a day for all kinds of customers. We have young kids who are just trying to eat healthy and work out and just gain some muscle, and also people who are in their 80s and 90s, who have some dietary restrictions. We try just to get to the middle, where people enjoy it.”

Like her explanation, the food at Ready Fit Go is sensible rather than esoteric. You can start the day with a breakfast burrito or something involving meat and potatoes, though the sausage in that burrito will be made with turkey and the American breakfast pairs the fried egg with sweet potatoes and bison. Potatoes aren’t entirely absent, you can get them roasted alongside a cheeseburger at lunch, but that burger has no bun and is served with spinach on the side. There’s a little multiculturism, with spinach enchiladas, chicken fried rice, shrimp and grits, and other items, but as a general thing they’re offering comfort food here. The online menu lists the calories, protein, carbs, and fat in each item. So those who are dieting by the numbers will be well-informed.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available at Ready Fit Go, individually or by subscription. Photo by JP Cordero

I wasn’t interested in those numbers, preferring to ask a simpler question: how did the food taste? The bison breakfast, an over-easy egg atop a bison patty with sweet potatoes on the side, had some elements that are typical here — it was slightly underseasoned but wholesome, and was filling despite the portion being on the small side. The description referred to the rich flavor of bison, which isn’t really accurate – the flavor is lighter and sweeter than beef, and if you had this side by side with a beef patty of similar size the main thing you’d notice is how much greasier the beef is. (And yes, I’ve tried this comparison.) As a consequence of the low level of fat, bison burgers can dry out when cooking, but that wasn’t a problem with my meal. The sweet potatoes don’t have the crispness of breakfast potatoes, but they have more flavor so are an acceptable substitution.

The thing that was most surprising about the breakfast burrito was that it was half a burrito rather than a whole one, but that made sense. More than once I’ve finished a burrito just because the thing was on my plate rather than because I was still hungry. This half tortilla contained scrambled eggs, diced roasted potatoes, and turkey sausage. Some very mild salsa was served on the side. It was a decent but unexceptional breakfast, but if you like even moderately spicy food then have some hot sauce ready when you order this. I should mention that when you get most meals from Ready Fit Go it’s expected that you’ll microwave them for a minute to heat them up, and if you get this one take the sauce out before doing so. The sauce boils and the container deforms even when the burrito is only warm.

The blueberry Greek yoghurt parfait and the overnight oats with blueberry and vanilla yoghurt were fairly standard, though two other items on the breakfast menu are more noteworthy. The peanut butter based fit energy bar had a soft, slightly gummy texture, but it was studded with something that added crunchy textures. It made a nice pairing with the blueberries and strawberries, simple but satisfying. The coconut cranberry bites were another surprise, a mix of diet protein, peanut butter, oats, and flax seeds rolled in fresh coconut. While these are on the breakfast menu they make a nice dessert, and since there aren’t any other offerings to finish a meal they should be listed as such.

We tried two main course entrees, a sweet potato and chicken plate and a shepard’s [sic] pie, and starters of egg salad and cranberry almond salad. Ms. McKinley had confirmed that most items were made with low salt and seasoning, but the egg salad was bland even compared to the other things we had from Ready Fit Go. A dash of mustard or onion would have been a great improvement, and even a dash of salt and pepper helped. The cranberry almond salad with chicken almonds, greens, and feta cheese was much better thanks to the mild southwestern seasoning on the chicken and a tangy vinaigrette. Of all the items I had here, it’s the one with the best flavor balance and something I’d copy at home.

The sweet potato and chicken plate used the same seasoned chicken along with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli, and I thought it decent though not outstanding. My wife was more of a fan because the flavor of the vegetables was dominant. I preferred the so-called shepherd’s pie, which was actually mashed potatoes topped with mixed vegetables, ground turkey, and a bit of shredded cheese. Traditional shepherd’s pies are cooked with a stew beneath a cap of mashed potatoes so the steam doesn’t escape and the flavors meld. That didn’t happen here, and it was another acceptable but not memorable item.

We finished each of the meals feeling not full, but not hungry, which is probably exactly how Ready Fit Go planned it. Part of their concept of health is to give us the portions we should be eating rather than the ones we typically eat. It reminded me of the maxim of the Renaissance doctor Paracelsus, who wrote that in excess, everything is poisonous. Ordering to-go meals in modest portions stops you from easily giving yourself the “I’ll just have one more spoonful” excuse, and as we all know, one spoonful can easily turn into two or three.

Ready Fit Go sells their meals either individually or as a subscription by the week, and I can see how a week or more of dining like this could slim the waistline. It wouldn’t be the most exciting week in your life when it comes to flavor and variety, though you could make it more interesting by having a selection of items from your spice cabinet handy and trying them out. The company provides a service that will be valuable to many health-conscious locals, and if that includes you then you might make a visit to their website or stop in and chat with the staff.

Ready Fit Go is at 1025 PCH in Hermosa. Mon. — Fri.  7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Parking lot, bottled beverages sold but no alcohol. Order by phone or website or stop in. Web orders require half hour advance notice. (310) 318-3188. Rfghealthyfoods.com. ER

Comments:

comments so far. Comments posted to EasyReaderNews.com may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.

Written by: Richard Foss

Be an Easy Reader Free Press supporter!

Yes, we know Easy Reader and EasyReaderNews.com are free. But they are not free to produce. The advertiser model that traditionally supported newspapers is fading away. This is our way of transitioning to a future where newspapers are supported by their readers. Which is as it should be. We hope you’ll support us. — Kevin Cody, Publisher