I’ve always thought food deliveries were for the lazy or the genuinely time-strapped-yet-cash-rich. But, having tried a three-day food delivery service, I can see the benefits of someone else working out all the nutrition for you.
Apart from the extra time that arises from not cooking dinner, the key benefit I found was that it was a brilliant introduction into a way of eating and type of cuisine that I don’t know much about.
Writing on The Guardian as to why the Japanese have good diets, Michael Booth said: "...I interviewed American gerontologist, Dr Craig Willcox, who has spent many years investigating Okinawan longevity and co-wrote a book, The Okinawa Program...
"Willcox summarised the benefits of the local diet: "The Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. They eat three servings of fish a week, on average ... plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine – that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure."
So far, so convinced. But, having witnessed colleagues trudge through delivery boxes of dull, dreary diet meals - it was important that the food was cooked well and tasted fresh.
Enter Pure Package, the gourmet delivery service that actually makes healthy eating an experience to look forward to. For a start, the diet package is only three days, making it easy to stick to. Second, the food is delivered before 6am each day, in cool bags loaded with cold water packs, meaning the food arrives fresh, and stays that way.
Here's how my food diary went:
As I peer into the box, it all looks great, but part of me wonders how fresh fish, sushi and vegetables will hold up towards the end of the day. Also, I’m nervous about sticking to one particular cuisine for a whole day – I didn’t realise how nomadic my tastes had become.
For breakfast, there are spinach and egg avocado rolls wrapped in nori (seaweed) and on the menu for the day, the health benefits of each dish is written underneath. The avocado, it tells me, is a good source of vitamin E – great for skin health.
In separate compartments there is some edamame and mango sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Yet - although this was my biggest worry - here’s no worry about going hungry. A vat of miso soup with edamame and asparagus sits in the box, as well as a salmon sushi box for lunch. I love that the salmon is served alongside brown rice – it’s much tastier and has a slightly nutty texture.
Mushroom and crystal rolls are perfect as a mid-afternoon snack, and it never fails to amaze me how much better Japanese and Chinese mushrooms taste when compared to bog standard English ones.
Mushrooms feature again in a big way in the evening meal, but the stars of the show are the sea spaghetti and prawns with spicy lemon dressing. First, the prawns are juicy and tasty (which I hadn’t expected) and second, the spaghetti opens my world to a new alternative. Wanting to find out how I can make it in the future, I find the Cornish Seaweed Company which does deliveries.
Sea spaghetti is high in iodine, calcium and magnesium - great for your bones and body ache. It also contains a polysaccharide called laminaran, which is meant to help the immune system.
Breakfast are egg rolls again, my eye slightly twitches. However, the accompanying watermelon is yum, as is the enoki mushrooms floating in the miso soup. Enoki shrooms are meant to have great anti-cancer properties, so they are well received.
I feel like I've lucked out today. Lunch is seared tuna and brown rice noodles - something that may sound dodgy but actually is yum. I find rice noodles much lighter and easier to digest than wheat, and coupled with a giant salad, it keeps me going ahead of a big run I have planned.
Dinner is miso cod with Japanese vegetables. I like the dressing but I'm pretty 'meh' about cod. What I really fall in love with is all these crunchy, glistening vegetables: courgettes, asparagus and peppers.
Okay, as much as I love Japanese lunches and dinners, the egg rolls have to go. This time, mushroom.
But yet again, the miso soup redeems it with fat, juicy shitaake mushrooms, and lunch is a smoked salmon and tomato ceviche that I could possibly make at home. The exception is a new sea vegetable I've never tried before called hijiki. It looks like black spaghetti and tastes phenomenal. It's rich in iron and is meant to give you shiny hair. If you want to buy some here, Clearspring do a dried version.
Dinner is prawn teriyaki - big, fat tiger prawns with brown rice. I inhale the entire lot.
I feel a lot less bloated and when I do some research I find that all those sea vegetables I've been eating do exactly that. They also have a lot more calcium than milk, so great for those cutting out dairy.
The Pure Package costs £195, which covers delivery and food. If we count the total number of snacks, it works out to four meals a day, at an average of £16 per meal. That's a lot - a lot more - than I would spend on a standard meal, but then the ingredients used are specialised and the cooking is flawless. While I wouldn't be able to justify this as a 'I'm too lazy to cook' diet plan, this is an excellent choice for people who want a wide and comprehensive range of minerals and vitamins, but just don't have the time or knowledge to put such a plan together.