Make a plan when it comes to healthy eating in the city

You heard it here first — healthy eating can be fun and easy if you prepare accordingly.
zucchini noodles dish
Photo by Nikki Hansen
Zucchini noodles with shrimp, spinach, tomato and Alfredo sauce from Fit Fresh Cuisine.

Sarah Mattison Berndt first entered the healthy eats game when she and her husband opened Fit Fresh Cuisine inside the health club they owned for many years. After selling the club in 2017, Mattison Berndt built a new, full-blown meal plan business outside of the gym.

“When we took the guesswork out for people and they were able to start seeing results, it just lit them up with motivation,” says Mattison Berndt. “It gave our customers a little bit more flexibility and an opportunity for them to home in and learn the skills to carry that diet out on their own.”

Fit Fresh Cuisine’s meals are built to work for folks with various lifestyles and intentional goals in mind. Heading into a registered dietician’s office can be nerve-wracking, but Mattison Berndt hopes to take the intimidation factor out of healthy eating.

“In the healthy eating world there’s this kind of emphasis on the phrase ‘clean eating,’ and I think that can really be detrimental,” says Mattison Berndt. “It sort of implies that if you’re not doing that [following a plan], you’re ‘dirty eating’ or something of that nature.”

mandarin salad

Mandarin Salad (Photo by Nikki Hansen)

If plowing through a Fit Fresh Cuisine breakfast pizza or bowl of chicken Alfredo is dirty, we don’t want to be clean anyway. Fit Fresh Cuisine ensures meals are free of added hormones, antibiotics, fillers and transfats and uses local and organic produce when possible. Fit Fresh also makes everything from scratch in its meal plan dishes.

Mattison Berndt believes in creating an individualized approach to nutrition based on science and research. When helping individuals reach goals, she says it’s important to differentiate between short- and long-term needs.

“Having something premade with simple directions, you just eat what’s in the box and you exercise and do these other things outside of that, and once you start feeling better you see, ‘Hey, I can do this … and I want to do it!’ ”

Outsource the Hard Part

Pastureandplenty salmon dish

Pasture & Plenty (Photo by Darby Lemkuil)

Hand-delivered in a reusable tote each week, Isthmus Eats meals offer a wide range of options in cuisine type and quantity. Pick between one and six meals a week for you or your family, and widen your culinary skill set in the process. With easy, follow-along instructions, you’ll try new things in the kitchen while savoring goodies from across town and beyond. 313 W. Beltline Highway

Based a short 30 minutes outside of town in Evansville, K’s Clean Eats & Treats is saving people time and energy without sacrificing their healthy diets. With two drop-off locations in Madison, you won’t have to make the trip out to its headquarters. For an additional price, K’s Clean Eats & Treats also delivers. Best of all, the meals coming out of owner Kate Wethal’s kitchen are just as decadent as other high-calorie snacks — a characteristic the health food industry has historically ignored. With Wethal’s help, you can dive into Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate cheesecake, loaded Buffalo ranch fries and deconstructed pot pie without guilt. 611 E. Main St., Evansville

Through its local meal kit program, Pasture and Plenty connects Madisonians with more than 50 southern Wisconsin farms and producers it partners with week-to-week. Each subscription comes with a weekly delivery (or pickup) of one cook kit, one ready-to-eat and one farm-to-freezer meal. You may find squash, kale and mushroom tacos with shakshuka and spicy tofu one week, short rib sandwiches, wild rice soup and chana masala with naan, another. Omnivore and vegetarian options are available, and you better believe the “extra goodness” dessert add-ons are yummy, too. With sunflower cookies, coconut macaroons and blueberry cornmeal scones, you won’t even miss your guilty pleasure sweets. 2433 University Ave.

Mama Knows Best

three snickerdoodle whoopie pies

Photo by Errin Hiltbrand Photography

Autoimmune disease hasn’t stopped the Pleva family from making and devouring delicious baked goods. After frustrating diagnoses and a revolving door of medications gave her no relief, Belle Pleva cut grains and sugar from her diet entirely.

The result? Saying sayonara to medications and her list of symptoms altogether.

After perfecting a range of her own paleo recipes and shopping for years at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, Pleva took the leap and opened her own shop off Willy Street in 2019. Everything at Paleo Mama Bakery is gluten free and paleo (a diet that focuses on whole foods). They also have a slew of keto (a low-carb, high fat diet) products.

Traditional cakes and breads these days often use additives and refined sugar, so finding alternative sweeteners (like raw honey, dates, coconut sugar and maple syrup) is key to baking yummy yet healthy snacks. Paleo Mama’s whoopie pies (below), brownies, cookies and more use almond, coconut and cassava flours rather than wheat products, and they also steer clear of soy, processed oils and refined sugars.

With more than 40 products to show off, Paleo Mama has plenty of no-guilt, ready-to-eat treats to enjoy after a meal plan dinner.

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