Walk into any supermarket now and I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find the ready-to-heat meal section. If any part of your local has seen more variety in the past year, it’s this sector.
Yes, microwaveable meals have been around forever, but a recent swell in interest, and a wider push towards portion control, is hard to ignore.
Now this section of the supermarket is brimming with variety, with brands like My Muscle Chef, MACROS, and Soulara gaining more prominence both for office lunches and easy after-work dinners.
Soulara is particularly exciting since its entirely plant-based, with a wide range of meals including curried spinach & lentil soup; spiced ‘butter’ chickpeas; a masaman curry with peanut butter, coconut, eggplant, sweet potato, and chickpeas; and a golden coconut dahl.
Soulara also also offers a meal delivery service based on a number of flexible plans. The entry-level price is $80.50 per week for 7 meals, working out to $11.50 per meals. Given the rise in awareness of plant-based eating and its numerous benefits, it just may be the best thing right now for time-poor workers who want to at least eat more plant-based foods.
High-fibre plant foods have been shown time and time again to increase the diversity of your gut microbiota, which has an insurmountable effect on health and mood.
Did you know that over 90% of your bodies serotonin is actually manufactured by gut bacteria? Not many people do, but if you are at all familiar with what serotonin as a neurotransmitter does to our mood and daily function, it’d be smart to start paying closer attention to your microbiome.
Given the emergence of new studies looking into the gut-brain axis, which examine how the gut microbiome is closely tied to brain function and behaviour, looking towards plant-based eating as a way to counteract the harmful effects of a largely western diet (which, let’s face it, most people still have in Australia) is not just wise. It’s necessary.
A plant based diet has been linked with greater diversity, and a better balance, of gut bacteria. Knowing that should be sending most scrambling to introduce more plant-based foods to their daily eating habits. Although, as most people would be familiar with, motivation tends to dissipate once our life’s numerous distractions start flooding in.
A product that makes it easier to introduce plant-based foods to our diet is therefore going to potentially be the biggest game-changer in the supermarket. Enter Soulara.
I tried Soulara for a week and both took some of the meals into the office and kept others at home. The one’s in the office I would simply heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and enjoy at my desk. Granted, I’m not used to this kind of (ideal) portion, but it just reiterated the kind of control I’m in desperate need of.
At home, I tended to ignore the microwave all together and heat meals on stovetop. This allowed me to add other ingredients such as canned tuna, pickled eggplant, Thai curry paste, and olives to Soulara dishes. Cheating? Sure. But when you already have a delicious base, adding a few more (healthy) things doesn’t do harm.
In fact, adding to Soulara meals only showed me just how strong the base was. For example, I would take the soya, edamame and black fungi udon, and then add some eggplant, olives, and a little bit of Thai fish sauce. Stirred it all up in a pan and it was ready in just a few minutes – delicious.
Soulara have also started doing breakfast meals, although I didn’t try any of these. They are fascinating though, with choices including peanut butter & oats, and a sunbliss granola bowl with a superseed granola blend flecked with goji berries and spirulina almond mylk. Given the way their lunches and dinners taste, I have little doubt Soulara’s breakfast meals are just as memorable.
Soulara is obviously not going to be for everyone. As delicious as their meals are, you may want to wait until you’re better at handling portion control before you go and make a commitment. The best approach is to pick up a few Soulara meals next time you’re in your local supermarket, and if you like what you try, go ahead and engage them with a proper straight-to-your-door-fresh meal plan.
You can see the full Soulara menu here.