Step Inside the Mom’s Meals NourishCare Kitchen: Our mission is to provide proper nutrition to those who need it, including people living with chronic conditions, like heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes, those living at home and unable to prepare meals for themselves, and others who simply need nutritious meals delivered to them at home.
No matter what the reason for home-delivered meals, how can we expect anyone to engage in healthy eating if the food, well…just tastes bad?
The answer is, we can’t.
That’s why Mom’s Meals NourishCare is proud to have registered dietitians—like Amanda Daines, RD, LD—and professional chefs—like Chef Jon Benedict, CEC—on staff. Together, they’re creating nutritious meals using the highest-quality ingredients. And, they taste good, too.
We recently spent some time with Amanda and Chef Jon to understand how the meals come together.
“As the basis for every meal, we begin with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and follow standards set by the Food and Drug Administration and state-based Boards of Medicine,” said Daines. “This helps ensure all of our menus meet the nutritional needs of the people we serve.”
“From there, we design menus specifically for people with certain health conditions. We consult with leading organizations, such as the American Diabetes Organization, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society,” she continued. “For instance, our ‘Renal-Friendly’ menu includes meals that meet target levels of sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, whereas our ‘Diabetes-Friendly’ menu offers options that are lower in carbs to help maintain good blood sugar control.”
Chef Jon relies on his creativity to develop the meal options. “In addition to meeting nutritional needs, we have to create meals that appeal to the eye. Even before the first bite, we want people to enjoy the food.”
While offering sufficient variety among meal options may sound challenging, it’s not the case for Chef Jon. The “General Wellness” menu alone offers at least 45 meal selections. “I create meals from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Sometimes, I concentrate on the art of pairing foods in order to bring creativity to the table,” he said. “I’ve paired broccoli cheese soup with spiced blueberry-apple crisp. They just work.”
Many clients of Mom’s Meals NourishCare love the fact they can choose the type of meals they grew up eating.
Ruth, a cancer survivor from Tennessee, opts for foods with a southern flair—like a dinner of BBQ chicken with roasted potato medley and seasoned peas.
“Mom’s Meals takes me back to what I grew up eating,” she said. “And with these meals, all I do is take them out of the refrigerator and heat them in the microwave.”
Portion size at Mom’s Meals NourishCare is based on Daily Reference Intakes (DRI) standards. DRIs are developed and published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and represent the most current scientific knowledge on nutrient needs of healthy populations.
“We’re careful about portioning our foods appropriately and incorporating high-quality ingredients into our meals,” said Daines. “We create meals using vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein.”
Taste trends are also important. Each year, Mom’s Meals NourishCare conducts a survey among clients to gauge how their tastes are changing. Our chefs are also in tune to what’s happening on a broader scale—like emerging food categories gaining popularity, or “classic” foods given a new twist.
“Based on the feedback we receive, we make both additions and deletions to our menus,” said Chef Jon. “We also change our menus seasonally, so clients may see something on our menu disappear for a while and then return.”
Some meals, though, are here to stay. Classic “comfort foods”— like meatloaf and Salisbury steak—continue to rank as favorites. Regional flavors are also highly popular, including spaghetti and meatballs or sweet and sour chicken. Pancakes and breakfast sandwiches consistently rank in the top 10 for breakfast selections.
“We keep our finger on the pulse to ensure we serve our target populations the food that pleases their palette,” said Chef Jon. “I can guarantee that if you see something on one of our menus, then it has already undergone extensive testing to meet nutritional standards and peoples’ tastes!”