It was quite an incredible sight, those boxes full of colour promising four days’ worth of ready-to-eat nutritiously balanced food. And all plant-based. The company Balance Box says their meals are prepared by chefs without meat, dairy, or other animal products, and delivered nationwide to your doorstep.
Plant-based Balance Box founder Jennifer Irvine is deeply passionate about wanting to help people embrace a plant-based diet, the right way. Poorly planned plant-based diets, that do not replace critical nutrients found in many animal-based foods can lead to serious micronutrient deficiencies.
A recent study conducted by Queen’s University Belfast stated that whilst many factors contribute to poor nutritional health, ‘poorly planned vegan diets are adding to malnutrition in healthy countries’. Partly due to this, the UK ranks seventh among the ten most iodine-deficient nations.
Many vegan foods are highly processed, which defeats the object if the object is a healthier diet.
Perhaps this is about to change. Not being a vegan or even a vegetarian, I found it hard to conceive of a diet of what I laughingly used to call ‘rabbit food”. And here before me were 12 meals promising satisfaction.
So here is what I found:
Monday: Total calories – 1,204 (plus snacks) Total protein -43g
Breakfast was roasted apple bircher. It was pleasant enough but a little runny. Lunch of butternut squash, pepper and cashew nut salad was simply delicious. Dinner of Rose Harissa crust mushroom again was taste-bud friendly – I would have liked more.
Tuesday: Total calories- 1708 (plus snacks) Total protein – 66g
Breakfast peanut butter, banana and gluten-free bread. Nice. Lunch Tempeh Thai salad flavoured with sesame seeds, red chill and ginger – it tasted as good as it sounds, and dinner was Indian chickpea curry with a myriad of flavours and ingredients.
Wednesday: Total calories – 1244 (plus snacks). Total protein – 58g
Breakfast mango & chia seed yoghurt with muesli. I don’t have a penchant for yoghurt, but the taste was good. Lunch was cumin roast cauliflower with harissa aubergine and hummus, and dinner, butterbean and pepper casserole.
Thursday: Total calories – 1392 (plus snacks). Total protein – 38g.
Breakfast was blueberry bircher, lunch, mushroom & thyme soup served with oatcakes, and dinner was a very flavoursome vegetable biryani made with coconut milk and brown rice.
Verdict: It was joyful not to have to prepare anything for the next 12 meals: no shopping, no chopping, no nothing. I knew how many calories, how much protein and all the nutrition. This is not rabbit food; this is a satisfying, healthy, tasty munch.
Four days on the plant-based lighter plan as a one-off costs £141.91 (£32.99 per day), as a subscription costs £472.64 every four weeks (£26.99 per day). Balance Box Lighter Plan meals are calorie-controlled at 1200-1300 calories per day, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks per day.
Four days on the plant-based market plan as a one-off costs £165.91 (£38.99 per day), as a subscription £567.64 every four weeks (£32.99 per day). Balance Box Market Plan meals are calorie-controlled at 1700-1800 calories per day.