Considering Daily Harvest? Here’s My Honest, Unpaid Opinion. [Review]

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I probably first heard of Daily Harvest over a year ago. Slowly but surely, I kept being targeted through multiple channels, you know how fun that can be. I had decided that it was not for me until I saw a food blogger, who is known for making her own recipes and doing lots of home cooking, try it and promote it with her own twist. She would make the harvest bowl meal at home, adding her own toppings and it made me reconsider. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a good base for your meal, already prepped?

I got a good starter deal, ended up being about $5 per cup, for 9 cups. Selections were good and Daily Harvest does a really good job of providing information about what you are about to get. Everything from ingredient explanation to a description of what it tastes like. It even tells you which cups are better for workout recovery, stress-relief, etc.

I’ll break down my experience by type of cup because they each have their own pros and cons. I am also including real images of what I got. 

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Harvest Bowls

The first bowl I tried I heated in a pan at home. It looked like a really small quantity so I added spinach, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds. It was actually delicious but not filling enough, unfortunately. I was thinking I could make a batch of quinoa to heat up and add to the bowls which I think is great, but kind of defeats the purpose of the whole ready-to-go cup.

The second bowl I tried at work. I had to bring my own microwavable bowl as it seems the cups are not microwave-safe, a little hassle but not terrible. Once again, the food was not enough. It can’t be just me! When I am at home it’s more bearable since I will have other stuff available but when you bring a meal to work, you plan around it being successful. So there I was, still hungry at my desk thinking what I could do. Ended up getting a small salad which resulted in me wasting more time and money.

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Oat Bowls

I am used to making my own overnight oats at home with a base of yogurt. These bowls are mostly oats and fruit, with whatever you decide to add (I did almond milk) and I’m not used to the consistency. Flavor and quantity were good for breakfast. Further down this post, I included an expectation vs. reality comparison of the dragon fruit oat bowl. It looks beautiful but it’s actually deceiving in terms of what the product looks like and the quantity served. It is about half of what is shown. I get it, overflowing cups are better to show your product but it leads to disappointment.  

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Soups

I did not try any of their chilled soups because honestly, that’s not my thing so it wouldn’t be fair to taste and review something I already know I am not into. I did give the hot soups a try and they were good. The taste was not that different from your average Campbell’s soup but it seems like you are getting less sodium in the cup which will ultimately be better for you.

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Chia Bowls

Confession: I had never had a real chia bowl until this point. I put chia seeds in my personal overnight oats but I had never had these many chia seeds in one place! It was actually not that bad. I was not a big fan of the feel of the banana soaked overnight but the flavor was definitely there. Same critique with the oat bowls though, deceiving quantity and too expensive for what you actually get.

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Smoothies

If you look at the Daily Harvest ads, you would think your morning routine just got so much healthier and easier. Well folks, it wasn’t like that for me. First, my blender has the little contraption in the middle so the frozen chunk of smoothie did not fit properly. I had to cut it with a knife but it was not that simple, ended up ruining the little Daily Harvest cup it comes in so I was not able to pour it back in like they tell you to do. I added the amount of liquid indicated (I used almond milk) but after blending, it still did not have a drinkable consistency, it was more like a gelato. I had to add more almond milk before it was better. Same thing happened with another smoothie in which I used coconut water. Flavor wise it was ok – not bad, not amazing. I personally think the basic smoothies I make for myself are just as good (and cheaper). I did love their Cold brew + Almond smoothie, nice coffee boost for the morning.

Overall, you get good cups, but are they worth the price? Without a discount, on a regular plan, the lowest you can get a cup for is $6.99 and that entails ordering 24 cups at a time. $6.99 wouldn’t be terrible for lunch or dinner if it were filling enough, but $6.99 for a soup, smoothie or oat bowl? Not so much, but I guess it depends on where you live and what your usual food habits look like. For example, if you are going to a fancy smoothie bar for a $10 smoothie every day, then yes, this might be a good substitute, but if you have the time to source your own ingredients and make your own, that will be your best route.

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I do, however, see some value to always having some cups available in my freezer (better than having a frozen pizza), but given their subscription model, you can’t just buy a couple to have around just in case. You have to order a certain minimum per box, which makes sense from an effectiveness standpoint, you don’t want to waste all the packaging materials in one little cup. They are good with allowing you to cancel ahead of time so you can always skip if you want to keep your own schedule. I would recommend setting a reminder so you don’t get stuck paying for something you did not plan to.

If you want to try it, feel free to use my code: https://daily-harvest.com/r/RE-H2TYD89

With that discount code, you will get 3 free cups on your first order – that will be about $23 off right away as opposed to their regular welcome offer which is $30 off split across your first 3 boxes. I think getting the deal all at once on your first box is better if you are really hesitant or skeptical. That way you also reap the most benefits if you never order another box.

I think I knew Daily Harvest was not for me after the 3rd cup but I decided to finish the whole box before officially sharing my verdict. It’s just not enough food to justify the cost. I don’t regret trying it since I will no longer stress over the ads thinking “hmm should I try it?”. It also helped diversify my own meal prep by exposing me to some ingredients I would not normally think would go well together (hazelnuts in a brussel sprouts tahini bowl?). When reviewing their marketing materials, however, that’s when I lit up more. Their images are not accurate at all and that is a HUGE turn off for me. That’s disrespectful as a consumer. I am surprised they are able to run all of the images and videos they run because they are highly deceiving.

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Still, in the essence of keeping this review true to my experience, I have to say they do have good customer service. I had an issue with a delivery date – I was not going to be home and I guess my skipping did not go through (or in all honesty maybe I thought I skipped it, but forgot). Point is, I was able to get a generous credit for my next box which was very much appreciated.

So there you have it, Daily Harvest is not for me and I am ok with that.

Have you tried Daily Harvest?

If so, what did you think?

If not, were you considering it?

Let me know!

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[Lunch] Why I love Maple and no, it’s not the syrup

Maple photo // Beaches & Brie

Image source: Maple

Seamless, beware. Maple is here to stay.

Maple is a food delivery service that brings in fresh, high quality meals right where you need them with the promise of excellent service and satisfaction. If you seek variety with a sense of security when it comes to your delivered meals, keep on reading.

Maple is not a subscription service, unlike what my first impression suggested. There are no commitments when you sign up for Maple, every day is a new opportunity for you to order, or not, up to you. Its unique and sleek presentation might make you forget that it’s really just a restaurant ready to make you happy with delicious meals.

How is it different? What first attracted me to inquire about Maple was their chef-inspired meals and the promise of fresh ingredients being used in healthy, yet savory plates. Little did I know that I was also about to encounter pretty much excellent customer service.

I really like the fact that they use recyclable material for the food containers and in addition, they give you bags you can actually use again for other purposes. Special shout out to their branding team, it’s easy to find your delivery guy in a busy lobby (first world problem, I know).

If I had to say something “negative” about Maple is that their menu constantly changes, so if you find a favorite plate you might not see it every single day. But hey, I think that’s part of the excitement and its charm. There’s a play with anticipation and looking forward to that element of surprise.

Now, let’s talk about what matters… the food. Don’t worry, I will not bore you with every single plate me and my coworkers have ordered from Maple thus far (a lot). Instead, I will share my first few meals which really sold me in and turned me into a fan.

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Meal #1 – Ginger Braised Chicken

Like I mentioned before, their customer service is great and that is definitely the firs thing I noticed. Not only did they have a perfectly seamless experience, but they were right on time. On top of that, the food was delicious, fresh and just the right amount. Absolutely tops my typical, boring salad game I have going on for lunch most days.

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Meal #2 Citrus Ginger Tofu on Cashew Rice

I did not know tofu could taste so good and feel so tender. Also, the spice was an excellent kick to keep my day going. I have not seen this plate a lot, but it is probably my current favorite.

Maple Kitchen // Beaches and Brie

Another thing to note is that they do not currently accept substitutions. I imagine it is to keep the efficiency going and I respect that. They literally list every single ingredient used in every single plate so you know what you are getting. I have chosen not to order certain plates because of one ingredient I may not be a fan of (mustard, ugh) but there is always at least one option each day that I feel happy about.

Overall, I love how they separate the food to keep it fresh and true to its flavor, yet they pair perfectly. Quantities are also just right, I’ve never been ridiculously full or left feeling hungry. Honestly, prices are not bad at all. Considering that the itemized price includes tax and tip, $11-$13 for the type of lunch you get is great, keeping in mind it’s New York City.

Have you tried Maple yet? If so, what has been your experience? Would love to hear about your favorite Maple plates too!

 

** Thank you Maple for providing me with my first free meal! All opinions are my own. **

Last Night for NYC Restaurant Week!

 

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NYC Restaurant Week, you know it’s happening, you’ve seen your friends snap about it, but have you actually made a reservation yet? Well, tonight is the last night, don’t miss out. To me, NYC Restaurant Week is an opportunity to go to those fancy restaurants you wouldn’t be able to afford without a special pre-fix menu, am I right? As you probably know, $38 gets you an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. Not too shabby. If you are like me, you probably end up at a place where wine is $18 a glass and are forced to throw caution to the wind.

While we are in the subject of not caring about anything and eating what makes you happy, below are some pictures of my NYC Restaurant Week experience. I went to Montebello Restaurant and Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. Italian and French, that’s my jam.

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Dinner at Montebello Restaurant was filling and satisfying. Our waiter was super nice and made some excellent recommendations. I got an eggplant parm… as an appetizer! You know you are about to feast when your appetizer is delicious and generous. They also had a nice selection to choose from, as opposed to other places where you can only pick from about two choices. My friend and I, avid eaters as we are, ordered two different entrees and shared. The Crespelle was delicious, think about a crêpe and a lasagna having a baby. Gross in theory, amazing in real life. It doesn’t stop there, we also ordered the Pollo Montebello, a delicious Parmesan crusted chicken, followed by cheesecake AND chocolate cake. Oops.

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Last night, I went to heaven, I mean Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. I got my own little Artisanal blend fondue as part of the restaurant week menu. Oh dear lord, hands down one of the best fondues I have ever had. I need to come back and try their truffle fondue, I can’t even imagine the goodness. I really enjoyed my fall cavatelli entrée with roasted squash, orange poppy seed cream and ricotta (yum, ricotta). Prices are a little high, so think about this as a place for celebratory dinners and special occasions.

It’s not too late to enjoy restaurant week, you still have lunch and dinner today, what are you waiting for?

[Dinner] Grano Trattoria

I love Italian food, as any sane person should. Cheese is everything, no questions asked. When it was time to pick where to go for my first birthday dinner (yes, there is more than one, duh) I wanted to go somewhere Italian.

I’ve been dying to try Rosemary’s in the West Village, many friends have recommended it, but there were no reservations available when I checked. Thanks to the Open Table app I discovered another option for dinner, Grano Trattoria.

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Obviously, I started with the daily selection of cheese. These were particularly more special since I had been on some sort of cheese deprivation period, which basically means that I was eating normal amounts of cheese and no the ridiculous amounts that my heart desires.

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This is what got me. This risotto was DELICIOUS. It was the perfect balance of thick and creamy. I think by some, this risotto can be considered more on the cheesy/creamy side, but in my eyes that equals perfection.

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My boyfriend got the veal parmegiana, which looks messy but was actually pretty good. I’m not a big fan of veal, but he said it was good. He’s usually an easy chicken parm kind of guy, so I think that says a lot.

So that’s how my birthday celebrations began! If it was up to me, I would celebrate all month (which I kinda do in some way) but I tried to be normal and kept the celebrations down to a week. I always love to go out to dinner and try new places, but there’s always a nice extra touch when you’re going out for a special occasion. You don’t need to get me any presents, just feed me, seriously.

Otto Strada, New Restaurant in Hoboken

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A few months ago, Otto Strada opened up its doors in Hoboken. If you are looking for delicious Italian food and good ambiance, this is your place. My personal struggle when visiting an Italian place is that I am never sure if I am going to want pizza or pasta, but Otto Strada had solid choices for both desires.

Another plus? It’s BYOB, bingo!

I also expanded my Italian vocabulary by learning that Otto Strada means Eight Street, which, voila, is where this new spot is located. Ah, the genius.

Although my food comma kept me away from ordering dessert, I was drooling over a gigantic dessert calzone. That’s right, calzone for dessert. I was creeping, but I could not look away from the Nutella drizzling from the inside of this wonderful thing. I recommend you leave room for dessert, highly encouraged.

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One of the specials for the day: a delicious pesto with roasted tomatoes

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My boyfriend is trying to learn to take food pictures, he is getting there very slowly, so cut him some slack! – Pollo alla Milanese con Prosciutto: breaded chicken pounded thin, pan seared, topped with prosciutto, homemade mozzarella and tomato bruschetta over a bed of arugula tossed with a lemon vinaigrette