We’d like to celebrate the new meals on our menu by introducing you to our in-house Registered Dietitian, Andrea Kirkland. Andrea is the mastermind behind the Made Easy Meals that Healthrageous offers.
Southern Roots and Culinary Training
Born and raised in the south, Andrea was interested in cooking from an early age. “Both my grandmothers were excellent cooks, and my mother made home-cooked meals every night. I learned and fell in love with it by watching them.”
While Andrea was an athlete, she still struggled with her weight. “I was never a good dieter because I loved food,” she shared. Over time her focus became centered around eating healthily rather than dieting. “Healthy and delicious – they can absolutely coexist …Not only can they, but they should, and they do.” Andrea’s mission is to prove this by introducing skeptics to meals that are both nourishing and tasty.
Andrea completed her master’s degree in food science. She spent over 20 years working as a cookbook editor and recipe developer, where she worked with chefs and test kitchen professionals. “We would all sit around the table and critique their recipes,” she said. Andrea is also a culinary instructor in Birmingham, Alabama for The Wellness Kitchen, a program based on meal preparation for people with chronic conditions who want to achieve overall wellness. This past fall, she joined our team at Healthrageous.
Refining Healthrageous’s Flavor
When Andrea started with the team, she sampled Healthrageous’s Made Easy Meals before doing some refining. “My role in food operations is overseeing the entire customer experience,” Andrea explained. She ensures that the meals are tasty, include unique flavors and ingredients, and support a diversified menu. Most importantly, she confirms each meal follows the guidelines appropriate for cardiometabolic food plans that address cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. This way, we know our meals are meeting the nutritional needs of our community of Healthy Eaters.
Meal selection depends not only on people’s conditions, but also where they are in their diets. Some of the meals are transitional to help people ease into a new diet slowly. Others are extremely low in sugar, sodium and fat for those who have already implemented radical changes. “When selecting meals, it’s always a personalized choice. There’s something for everybody,” she said. “We don’t want people to have meal fatigue; we want them to be excited about what their next week of meals will look like.”
Caring and Cooking for Loved Ones
Andrea personally understands just how challenging it can be caring for someone with a prescribed diet. She cared for her father, who suffered from chronic kidney disease. She saw the impact his condition had on her mother. Andrea shared, “It was a really hard time. It affects the caregiver just as much as it does the patient. I think living through that firsthand and seeing the challenges they both went through…that has really motivated me throughout the years.”
Andrea’s father had a strict diet, so finding food he could enjoy was a struggle. She remembers him saying, “If food is going to taste like this, I don’t even want it.” Her father passed away 10 years after being diagnosed with kidney failure. She sees her work as honoring his memory by offering healthy meals without sacrificing flavor. Andrea has dedicated her career to serving those who are battling similar eating challenges. She proclaimed, “My aim is to help bring back joy to their mealtime!”
Meals That Spark Joy
Since the time when her father was sick, Andrea has seen a shift in our understanding of food. “Food is more than just medicine. It ties into that emotional part of who we are as well. It can be healing, but it can also spark joy.”
Andrea described Made Easy Meals as a canvas for people to build upon in a way that fits their personal taste. She wants to allow people the creative freedom to add whatever they’d like to our recipes. “The basic oatmeal is a perfect example,” she said. “It’s got traditional flavors, but depending on the season, someone might add cinnamon and chopped apple during the fall, or fresh peaches in the summer. If they want to add some healthy fats, they could toast some walnuts or pecans and top the oatmeal with a little bit of crunch. People can embellish it and tailor it to suit their own needs.”
Andrea also strives to make Made Easy Meals culturally inclusive by catering to people of different backgrounds. The latest lineup of meals is a melting pot of various cuisines: Italian, Asian, Spanish, French, African and Middle Eastern. Our dishes resemble popular fare in various parts of the world. “Anybody who is transitioning to a new way of eating will have much more success with foods that resonate with them – things they would make in their own home.”
Serving a Need
Andrea described the impact she hopes Healthrageous’s Made Easy Meals will have on the community of Healthy Eaters we serve. “I think it gives them hope that their [eating] patterns can bring them joy, help them feel satisfied, and bring them the optimal health they’re achieving. If we can do that through great food, educational information, and encouragement, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Andrea said there’s this great movement regarding how we understand the role of food in our lives. “There’s a turning of the tide, and Healthrageous is serving this need.”
Try some of Andrea’s newest creations from our Made Easy Meals menu today. Ordering is fast and easy!