Meet Megan Gerber, Just Add Cooking’s New Dietitian

meal kit box ingredientsIf you’re a Just Add Cooking subscriber, or you’ve even had a peek at our recipes, it’s pretty clear we have a serious emphasis on flavor and putting delicious meals on the table every night. But providing dinner to our customers is about more than ensuring it tastes good: we take very seriously the importance of a balanced meal with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients from New England farms and vendors.

To that end, we’re happy to introduce Registered Dietitian Megan Gerber, who is rigorously evaluating Just Add Cooking meals for nutritional balance and helping us with a very exciting advancement for those with dietary restrictions. In fact, Megan was instrumental in assisting us with gluten-free designations for our recipes. Today, we asked Megan a few questions to give you a better sense of the nutritional evaluation that each Just Add Cooking recipe is undergoing.

JAC: Tell us a little about your background.

Megan: I got my dietetic degree at the University of Connecticut and live and work in Boston. My full-time job is as a Clinical Dietitian at Carney Hospital in Dorchester. On a personal note, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease two years ago, so I have a background in understanding food safety and dietary restrictions as well as general nutrition and am particularly passionate about the gluten-free designation process that we underwent when evaluating Just Add Cooking’s recipes.

JAC: What drew you to the Just Add Cooking approach?

just add cooking dietitianMegan: Many people’s diets are deficient in fresh produce and whole foods. Just Add Cooking is a great solution to this issue. I love that they’re getting people back in the kitchen and cooking, making them aware of how to use ingredients and how to incorporate many fresh foods into their diets. 

JAC: What’s the process you undergo in checking Just Add Cooking recipes for nutritional balance?

Megan: I combine my perspective on a balanced meal with the Just Add Cooking culinary team’s approach. The main goal for Just Add Cooking is bringing people together in the kitchen, helping them to cook for themselves as opposed to takeout or convenience fields, which is a huge step in the right direction health-wise. Just Add Cooking focuses on healthy, family-friendly meals.

When I look at the recipes, I combine the recommended daily values for the macronutrients in the dish with the My Plate example, which suggests that your plate should be ½ produce, ¼ grains and ¼ protein. My focus is on ensuring there are plenty of vegetables, produce and lean proteins in the meals and keeping an eye on fat and saturated fat contents.

Keep an eye out on the Just Add Cooking recipes for Megan’s commentary in the future, and check out our NEW Gluten-Free Recipes by looking for the green GF that appears in your meal planner!

Announcing Gluten Free Meal Kit Delivery from Just Add Cooking

gluten free meal kit delivery selections

Customers order from Just Add Cooking for all different reasons: a healthier lifestyle with more home-cooked meals, to save money on takeout or to spend more time with their families at the dinner table. Today, we’re happy to add a new reason to order a fresh, locally sourced meal kit from Just Add Cooking: we now offer gluten-free recipes each week. Customers who are adhering to a gluten-free lifestyle can now make healthy and delicious dinners without the stress of grocery shopping for appropriate ingredients or searching for gluten-free recipes. It’s all delivered right to your door.

Between busy work schedules, managing children’s various sporting events and finding time to exercise, most don’t have a lot of extra time to spend meal planning and grocery shopping during the week. The gluten-free recipe offerings set Just Add Cooking apart from others in the meal kit delivery industry as it is not something that’s widely available to subscribers using other services and brings ease to those with dietary restrictions. Living a gluten-free lifestyle can be difficult at times because of the strict dietary guidelines.

Staying in line with Just Add Cooking’s company philosophy, all of the gluten-free recipes introduced will take just about 30 minutes from start to finish and use the highest quality of ingredients from local vendors. All recipes are monitored by a certified dietitian.

Identifying the gluten-free recipes is simple: just look for the green circle with the “GF” underneath the recipe name in your menu planner. Examples of gluten-free recipes include Indian Curry, Sliders and Gorgonzola Dressed Salad and Asparagus Risotto, Chicken Donburi, Fish Soup & Aioli and Sichuan Style Tofu and Spinach.

A Delicious Frozen Yogurt You Can Make at Home

frozen yogurt

Frozen yogurt: it’s smooth, cool and creamy, and the perfect way to usher in summer. Today marks National Frozen Yogurt Day, and we’re happy to have Chef Holly Pierce of The Soul Chef with us at Just Add Cooking to give us some tips on making easy, delicious, tangy frozen yogurt at home.

Making frozen yogurt uses the same process as making ice cream with a few tweaks in the technique. And, as with all things, there are several different “camps” in the “what makes the best frozen yogurt” world. I’ll go over those and give you some options to try out for yourself. For me, the most important thing is to start with the best ingredients. Buy local when and if you can, and make sure that whatever you are using in your frozen yogurt is fresh and flavorful. This, by the way, is one of the advantages to making your own frozen yogurt. You get to decide what does (or doesn’t) go into it. Read any label on a commercial frozen yogurt and at some point you’ll either come across an ingredient you can’t pronounce or have never heard of before.

Choosing a Yogurt Base

Let’s start with the yogurt. It is best to use plain, unflavored and unsweetened. I prefer to use full-fat yogurt. You can absolutely use whatever type of yogurt you prefer; the difference will be in the consistency of the finished product. A reduced or non-fat yogurt, because it lacks a larger percentage of fat, will tend to contain more ice crystals and be harder once frozen. A full-fat yogurt will produce a frozen product with a richer, creamier consistency and a smooth mouth feel.

Another option is Greek yogurt, which has more fat and protein and less water than regular yogurt, so it stands to reason that it would make a rich, creamy frozen yogurt. Some sources claim that it is too creamy and dense and is best used in combination with regular yogurt or even added liquid flavoring (think orange juice or flavored syrups). Again, it’s all up to you and what you like.

Preparing the Yogurt

Many recipes call for straining or allowing the yogurt to drain in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight to eliminate the excess liquid, thus making it thick and dense like Greek yogurt. I’ve used Greek yogurt, strained and unstrained regular yogurt and had success with all of them. Your decision here will boil down to personal preference in texture and ease of preparation.

Recipes

Ready to whip up some fro yo? I’ve got a couple of recipes to get you started. One is a basic, plain frozen yogurt to which you can add whatever mix-ins you like (chocolate chips, m&ms, peanut butter cups…you get the picture) and one is for a fruit frozen yogurt. This is a chance to play around and experiment with the choices we’ve discussed above. No matter your decision, the result will be delicious! The joy is in the experimenting… and the eating, of course!

Basic Frozen Yogurt (yield about 1 quart)

6 cups plain yogurt, strained to equal 3 cups (or use 3 cups Greek yogurt)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla (optional)
pinch of salt
Add-ins*

To strain the yogurt: place the yogurt in a fine, mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Set the strainer over a large bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix the strained yogurt with the sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Place in the container of an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Generally for soft serve consistency it takes about 25 minutes.

*If you are using add-ins (chocolate chips, etc), add them during the last 5-7 minutes of churning time.

Remove the frozen yogurt to a container and place in the freezer.

Honey & Fruit Frozen Yogurt (yield about 1 quart)

2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc)
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into the container of your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Happy Frozen Yogurt Day Everyone!