by guest blogger Gillian Francella, multimedia journalist and converted vegan/vegetarian
Swap your potato chips for kale chips, nix the soda, and grab some fresh-pressed juice... Forget hamburgers! It's all about fried quinoa and vegan options! The fast-food chains you grew up with are gradually being replaced by fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle, Tender Greens, and LYFE Kitchen--restaurants choosing to focus on fresh, locally sourced, and nutritious dishes in place of various deep-fried foods. And many fast food-giants are now scrambling to catch up.
In Philadelphia, we're not at a loss for fast food--if there isn't a chain restaurant on the corner, there are bodegas and food trucks that serve up cheap fried foods. But in the past few years, the city has undergone a major transformation. Philadelphians crave foods that are fresher, dishes that appeal to a variety of diets (be it paleo, vegan, or gluten-free), and things that aren't so, dare I say, cheese[steak]y. There's even a new healthy food truck program that certifies trucks offering healthier options.
So, when the Austin, Texas-based business Snap Kitchen announced it would be opening seven Philly-area stores, the city began to buzz with excitement about the latest addition to the healthier-foods scene.
"In 2010, Snap Kitchen was born--a convenience concept redefining the fast-food movement," says Beth Minkus, Snap Kitchen store marketing manager for Philadelphia. "Fast food for foodies."
Ready-to-eat meals, snacks, juices, and smoothies are developed by executive chef Matthew Reinhart and dietician Andrea Hinsdale. Although the two chief recipe coordinators are based in Austin, all Snap Kitchen locations (in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Philadelphia) are stocked with locally grown and seasonal ingredients for each location.
In Philadelphia, the 10,000-square-foot Snap Kitchen commissary is located in the city's Kensington neighborhood. Each morning, food is freshly prepared and shipped to each store in the metro area.
It's not always an easy job--especially in cold-weather regions like Philadelphia and Chicago. "We source locally as much as is possible," says Minkus. "We are constantly pushing ourselves to source more sustainable ingredients."
What's more, the store aims to provide "something for everyone," says Minkus. When you walk in, each product is neatly organized and color-coded so people with food allergies, or dietary preferences can easily navigate and find something delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
With microwaves ready on the spot and new locations popping up, Snap is just one of the new kids on the block showing the world that fast food can be healthy and delicious, too.
Gillian Francella is a writer, editor, and newly converted vegan/vegetarian living in Philadelphia. Through trial and error, she works through various cookbooks to discover delicious dishes that test the limits of her tiny kitchen. She strives to make cruelty-free foods and tweak classic recipes from her childhood to be healthy, vegan treats, all while ballin' out on a 20-something's budget. Chances are, if she can make it, so can you!
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com