A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

It’s New Years Resolution time again, and for a lot of people that means trying out new tools that can help make their lives healthier. Maybe you are trying a new exercise, or maybe you are trying to cook more at home. There are a ton of new grocery home delivery services that can make cooking at home easier! At home delivery services make meal for two planning easy, as all of the ingredients (like ALL of the ingredients besides salt/pepper/oil) are sent to you in a box all measured out and prepackaged. They also do a great job of teaching you how to make the recipes so even a person who is incredibly uncomfortable in the kitchen can prepare a restaurant quality dish. The instructions have photos, similar to our blog posts, of each step and what it is to look like. If you are a food safety crazy like I am you are probably wondering “but what about the meat and cheese? What if I’m not home the second they deliver to put it in the fridge?” They have these amazing ice packs (don’t throw them out!) that keep the food cold that we have reused for picnics and potlucks too.

The basics:

You can purchase a 2 person meal plan from Blue Apron for $59.99 which they estimate will give you a total of 3 dinners together per week. (You will see below that we were able to stretch this though.) They will accommodate vegetarians or aversions/allergies to red meat, fish, shellfish, pork, lamb, etc. – however they do not offer recipes to meet specific diets. Not even for weight loss! I would say this is one of the main places that Blue Apron is lacking. They do not offer recipes that would fit for weight loss, gluten free, dairy free, or a heart healthy diet. All of their recipes are very high in sodium (similar to dining out) and given that the majority of America already gets too much salt in their diet, I see this as an opportunity for Blue Apron to easily expand their offerings.

Blue Apron pretty much has their branding game on lock down –  they have all of their product bases covered. Do you love the recipes they send and need a place to store them? You can buy a recipe binder. Want more than 3 recipes per week? You can purchase one of their four cookbooks. Is your kitchen gear lacking? Head over to their market for branded knives, cutting boards, an actual blue apron or “the kitchen drawer.”

NOTE: Blue Apron’s service auto renews and until you manually cancel they will keep delivering and keep charging you. This blog post was originally planned to be about a 1 week trial of Blue Apron and because I did not cancel my subscription right after ordering my first box, I was charged $60 and my second box showed up the following week. 

I tried Blue Apron for 2 weeks and here is what I ate:

Salmon Pastrami on Rye with Red Cabbage and Green Apple Slaw A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

  • This was probably one of my favorite recipes as this is something I have never tried before – not even at a restaurant!
  • Quick and easy to put together, and I would make this again. I tried this following the directions, but did not add any salt when the recipe indicated and it was prefect.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This was the only recipe that I tried that had vegetables on the side – yay! The calories were pretty high at 675 per serving though. We made this into 4 meals by having half a sandwich with the slaw instead and eating the rest as leftovers.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Maduros with Stewed Collard Greens & Charred Lime Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • Two words: Fried Plantains. That’s what Maduros are!!
  • This was my second favorite dish! Mainly because I never make plantains. I also loved the creative way they used collard greens – living in the south I have only had them with bacon. Again, I did not add any salt when indicated and it was plenty salty.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: At 615 calories per meal this is on the higher end. Try dividing it up into 3 meals (2 dinners and 1 leftover) to cut it down to a reasonable 410. We would recommend trying with skinless chicken to captivate the flavors and cut back on the calories/saturated fat.

Baked Sicilian-Style Rigatoni with Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • Raisins and almonds in rigatoni? Kale yeah!
  • Very tasty. We avoided adding excess salt in the directions though because there is so much from the cheese and the tomatoes.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This recipe used white pasta, and it’s the first time I have cooked with white pasta in years. While it was good, maybe not worth the blood sugar spikes it causes. This recipe rings in at 700 calories – that’s half a 1400 calorie day. No thanks! As you can see in the photo, we made this into 4 dishes instead and added some roasted broccoli on the side bringing it to around 400 calories total.

Lentil Bolognese with Fettuccine and Crispy Rosemary Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  •  This one was not my favorite (and the first recipe of my unexpected second box). The flavors were very heavy, but it would make a great winter meal if you like lentils.
  • Fried rosemary is a cool garnish/flavoring!
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This dish is also at 700 calories per person, and we would recommend dividing it up into 4 dishes and adding a side salad. Similar to above, we recommend whole wheat pasta instead. To beef up the nutrition without beefing up the calories, I opted to add in some broccoli here as well.

Crispy Cod and Spiced Couscous with Acorn Squash and Rainbow ChardReview of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • This dish is going to give you diabetes y’all (just kidding…kind of). But it’s really really high in carbohydrates! With 1 cup of uncooked couscous (145g carbs) and 1 acorn squash (45g carbs) this recipe has 89.5 grams of carb per serving! (Remember: meals should be between 30-45g carb). I tried, but I just couldn’t do it…I saved the acorn squash and cooked the couscous and measured out 1/2 cup to have with this meal and unfortunately just threw the rest away. It was SO much.
  • I like the idea of using chickpea flower in this dish for flavor on the cod, however mine did not brown appropriately and the oil required was way more than I needed.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This one is tough. I would recommend choosing either 1/2 cup couscous per meal or 1/2 an acorn squash – not both. This recipe had 585 calories per serving originally, but we just cut out a bunch when we cut out the carbs. Leave off the extra salt too!

Chicken Khao Soi Soup with Yellow curry and Crispy Wonton Noodles (ate it all and didn’t take a photo #sorrynotsorry)

  • We love noodle bowls! If you like curry, you will like this dish.
  • One MAJOR step I would add to this recipe is that you should strain the noodles in a colander. Half of my noodles may have gone down the skink due to me being lazy and not grabbing one.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: The golden mountain sauce is basically salt and this was a very very salty dish. Try and only add half of what they give you. The chicken thighs add calories and saturated fat, but don’t necessarily add a lot of flavor here. You could save some calories here with white meat chicken instead. Overall, at 600 calories this one isn’t the worst but if you turned it into 3 meals (2 dinners and 1 lunch) with a side of non-starchy vegetables (think side salad or raw veggies and dip) this would come in at 400 instead.

Last but not least, in my second Blue Apron box I received and unexpected visitor. Yes. Yes. That is a snail in my kale. A snail in a Blue Apron BoxUnfortunately I had to cut back on the kale because there was snail all over it!
KALE NO. I contacted Blue Apron and send them this photo and I was credited $19.98 to my account, however you cannot buy a Blue Apron meal box for this price. Looks like I will have to get that blue apron after all…

A Registered Dietitian’s Take on Blue Apron and a note to the company:

Overall, I love the idea of getting more people in the kitchen and getting them more comfortable with food and cooking their own meals. I thought the meals were very tasty, had unique flavors I do not typically use and I definitely learned something each time I made one. I don’t think these recipes are something I would make every night – and a lot of times it felt like we were dining out at a restaurant. The recipes were easy to follow and I love love the photos in the instructions.

The majority of the meals run very high in calories 600-700 calories per meal. For a typical Healthy Bachelorette, this is more than what we are looking for to meet our goals (slash it’s half of our calories for the whole day). The meals are also very high in carbohydrates and sodium, while sometimes lacking in non-starchy vegetables. I think that Americans are looking for an easy, economical way to eat healthy, and Blue Apron should seriously considering bringing on a Registered Dietitian to their team to assist in making the meals healthier. Consider accomodating those with special diets  – think low  calorie less than 500kcals per meal, gluten free, pre-diabetes and diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, dairy free and more. With nearly 50% of the US population suffering from heart disease, Blue Apron is missing out on a large market of consumers looking for healthy options – an RD can help.

Have you tried Blue Apron or other meal delivery services? What is your take? We would love to hear about it in the comments below! 

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3 Cheese Apple & Arugula Pizza

First of all, you are right, that is not whole wheat pizza dough.   I did not have good luck at the grocery store today so just do me a favor and pretend it is – please!   Whole wheat pizza dough is significantly better for you as you (hopefully) should know by now.  My white pizza dough was lacking the healthy whole grain trifecta of bran, endosperm, and germ that give you that everlasting full feeling due to the extra protein and fiber.  Regardless of the dough, this pizza is bomb.  Three different cheeses, apples, onions, and arugula  — yea, pretty much amazing.  Look at my photos for extra tips!

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3 Cheese Apple & Arugula Pizza

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (let it come to room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • thinly sliced red onion, as much as you prefer
  • 1/2 cup cooked sliced chicken (optional, mine was leftover)
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups arugula

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil on your nonstick pizza pan and rub in with a paper towel.  (You can also use cooking spray)
  3. Put the flour on the pizza pan and then place the dough on top of it. Stretch the dough out using your the palm of your hand.  Be patient and work slowly so that the dough doesn’t tear. You may find that you need extra olive oil when working on the wheat dough.  If you end up using white dough, you will need more flour.
  4. Once the dough is covering the pizza pan, gently spread the ricotta cheese on it.
  5. Sprinkle the oregano on top of the ricotta and spread the thinly sliced apples all over.
  6. Next, sprinkle the mozzarella and gorgonzola on the pizza.
  7. Spread the thinly sliced red onion on the pizza.  Add as much or as little as you like. Make sure to slice them paper thin, the crispy, caramelized taste makes it very tasty.
  8. Season with pepper and dab olive oil around the outside edges of the crust using two fingers.  This helps give it that toasted crusty look.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, make sure to check it around 10 minutes as everyones oven is different.
  9. Top with fresh arugula and a drizzle of olive oil, enjoy!

Pizza dough and flour. You can't tell in this photo but my pizza pan is pretty generously oiled.  Whole wheat dough will need extra olive oil to work it out.

Pizza dough and flour. You can’t tell in this photo but my pizza pan is pretty generously oiled. Whole wheat dough will need extra olive oil to work it out.


pizza dough!

This took me a full ten minutes and i’m pretty psyched with myself


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Ricotta, oregano, and mozz added!


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Dabbing the outside edge with olive oil to give it that extra crispy crust nom nom. Dabbing with your finger helps you from putting too much on there.


All cooked and fresh out of the oven - 15 minutes on 450.

All cooked and fresh out of the oven – 15 minutes on 450.


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Topped with arugula and a light drizzle of olive oil. If you have flavored olive oil like garlic or chile – now is an excellent time to use that.

Better Than Take Out Series

Welcome to our newest blog category: Better Than Take Out (BBTO)!

You know those nights where you just don’t want to cook? Or when you know that you will be working until 9pm..but also know that ordering take out is really unhealthy? Rather than resorting to Cheerios for dinner, check back here for our better than take out meals series!

I will say that I am a big fan of frozen meals, especially for those nights where you that struggle to cook for one. Whether it is my 20 year old patient or 80 year old patient, we all struggle with finding energy to cook for ourselves sometimes. So here’s what to look for when you are at the grocery store:

Healthy Bachelorette Frozen Meal Guide

Our first BTTO Review: Kashi Chicken Florentine

Healthy Bachelorette Better Than Take Out

BTTO Scale: 1 = Wouldn’t buy it again, 5 = It’s a girls go-to

Nutrition Score = 4 – One entree comes in under 300 calories, and the carbs and sodium also are below the limits above. This meal has 5 grams of filling fiber. The saturated fat is just slightly over the limit, at 4.5g. I wouldn’t sweat this, just be sure to add more veggies rather than fat i.e. more cheese.

Fullness Score = 4 This meal is decently filling for under 300 calories. I would recommend pairing it with a side salad.

Taste Score = 5 I love the savory Italian flavors of this dish. It includes grilled chicken, mushrooms, red peppers, 7 grain pilaf topped with Parmesan cheese.

Saltiness Score = 3 It’s a little on the salty side, even though it has 550mg sodium. Be sure to have some water and avoid adding more salt or salted foods to your meal.

Overall Rating = 4  Kashi has always been one of my go to’s and this is one of my favorites. You will definitely be sad when it’s gone.

#HBTip: Add frozen veggies to your meal to increase the fullness factor & nutrition without adding many calories, fat or carbs!

Check back here for more BTTO reviews!