Ladue News Feature Stories

Herb Your Enthusiasm

According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, only 10 percent of Americans love cooking. Many see it as a chore and dread preparing meals for themselves and their families. Luckily, a Fenton-based company headed by nutritionist Hayley Sohn is on a mission to provide area residents with healthy options delivered straight to their doorsteps.

Sohn studied nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri and up until a few years ago was working as a nutrition educator, working with senior centers and children – teaching organizations like the Girls Scouts about healthy food habits.

“What I was always teaching people was that you need to be cooking at home if you’re going to be taking control of your health,” she says. “I realized people just don’t cook at home anymore. They’d tell me they only eat fast food and wanted to know the healthiest options there. I knew there had to be something else.”

As a trained nutritionist, Sohn was and is passionate about crafting healthy meals. She’d make and bring her lunch to the office every day, and her coworkers started to notice.

“They asked me if I’d cook a little extra, and they could buy it from me,” she says. “I realized this is the solution to what I was coming up against.”

When she was considering a career change in September 2017, she brought it up to her boyfriend, wanting to do something else.

“I think you’re already doing it,” Sohn recalls him saying.

Last January, Sohn officially started Basically It, a healthy subscription meal service company that delivers to the doorsteps of those in St. Louis County on Mondays. The ready-to-eat gluten-free meals range from $11 to $14 each (comparable to meal delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh), with a one-week trial of five meals costing $70. Options include three-, six- and 16-week plans, along with a one-week trial option. Sohn and her chef, Shaquila Remtula, create four seasonal menus a year, with five menu options a week. Sohn serves as the nutritional guide, and Remtula crafts the tasty recipes from there.

“[Remtula] has an awesome culinary history,” Sohn says. “She’s lived all around the world and brings some of those flavors to the food.”

Right now, some of Basically It’s selections include options like chicken with Italian white beans, turkey meatloaf with cauliflower mash, cranberry-almond spinach salad, beef souvlaki (a type of Greek meat skewer) with charred broccoli, and a steak-and-asparagus quinoa bowl. Sohn and Remtula are currently working on their spring menu and have even put out a contest on Facebook to see what options their clients, often busy professionals or empty nesters, would like to see on the menu. Some that were brought into consideration include salmon cakes and an avocado-mango salsa.

“We try to showcase what’s coming out that season,” Sohn says. “For the spring menu, we’ll see a transition from winter to lighter foods. We’ll be phasing out the squashes and bringing in a lot more greens and pinks and reds, which I’m excited about.”

Sohn says vegetables are her favorite foods to experiment with because they have a “bad reputation.”

“I love experimenting with ways to use them that transform them into something you don’t expect,” she says. “Outside of that, I love exploring different flavor profiles from around the world and seeing how herbs and spices can work together. Those are so powerful and dense in nutrients.”

Sohn and Remtula’s flavor profiles and meal choices clearly have been working. In the year-plus since Basically It’s inception, customers have left rave reviews.

“The feedback about the food has been phenomenal,” Sohn says. “We’re really focused on making our food fantastic and good for you, too.”

In the coming year, Sohn aims to grow and expand Basically It to reach more people. She highlights the philosophy within the Basically It food: the “no diet” diet.

“You don’t have to be following a fad diet to be eating healthfully,” she says. “You should be eating in a way that fits your life. You can eat and be healthy and not be restrictive.”

This story was originally published at laduenews.com. Read it on LN’s website here.

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