As the New Year hangover dissipates and the nation goes back to work, it will be hard to avoid the inevitable ‘must lose weight/get fit/eat healthier’ conversations.
Friends and colleagues may zealously and smugly adopt a new and improved lifestyle. But you could put money on them falling back into their old ways by February.
There are lots of reasons why people don’t stay the course. But high on the list is likely to be that eating healthily is harder than it sounds, especially in the depths of winter when all you crave is comfort food.
A lettuce leaf or two, chopped tomato and cucumber plus a few sticks of celery won’t keep out a biting gale.
And when you’ve been at work all day and battled home in the rush hour traffic, concocting a satisfying, appetising, nourishing and calorie conscious meal can seem like a drag.
How much easier to order in an additive riddled, trans-fat rich, salt laden and sugar heavy takeaway meal.
Takeaway – the curse of the food loving dieter?
Not necessarily. A Newcastle-based door-to-door food delivery service says it has a better option.
Deli Delivered, in Gosforth, is offering a special health-conscious take out menu that has, in part, been developed in collaboration with personal trainer Robbie Thompson of Storm Fitness, who in 2013 hit the national headlines after helping Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison drop three dress sizes.
Takeaway food and general wellbeing may seem an oxymoron, although the culinary genre has undergone something of a health renaissance in the last decade or so with many businesses at least attempting to offer more than a few sad-looking side salads or bland sandwiches.
But as an industry it still has a long way to go when it comes to good-for-you food.
Deli Delivered is bucking the trend, however, and hopes to prove that fast-food can be your friend.
The unique – to Newcastle, at least – take out service offers a range of tasty and filling health boxes and super salads that are all below 500 calories. There’s also nutritious soup, a range of light treats, protein shakes and scoops, sides and sweet baked potatoes with a variety of tasty and wholesome toppings like chicken, chorizo, peppers and aioli sauce.
A new range of calorie counted pasta-based dishes will be launching soon, too.
That’s not to say Deli Delivered doesn’t offer guilty pleasures like home-made cakes, dressing covered salads and hearty savouries.
But since the business was launched 14 months ago, it’s the health side that has captured customers’ imagination, to the point where Deli Delivered hopes soon to expand its operation beyond the Gosforth, Fenham, Heaton and Forest Hall areas of Newcastle and North Tyneside.
The venture is the brainchild of friends-turned-business partners Lewis Gill, 26, and Ashley (Ash) Newton, 32.
It’s an off-shoot of Ash’s already established business, Deli Espresso, a sit in and takeaway eatery on Salters Road, Gosforth, which opened three years ago.
The pair launched Deli Delivered specialising in home-made sweet treats after being bombarded with requests for an after hours’ on-the-go order service.
And it’s customer feedback, along with Ash’s and Lewis’s own desire to keep healthy and fit on the go, that has seen the undertaking move in its new and unexpected direction – although the sweet treats are still there for the asking.
“We firmly believe that a ‘balanced’ diet is important,” Lewis says.
“We all need sweetness sometimes but we are now predominantly a healthy delivery service.
“We understand that it is hard to eat healthily all the time, which is why Ash and I have decided to take Deli Delivered in its new direction. We have received some great feedback, which now has us as the number one rated takeaway on Just Eat.”
Robbie Thompson’s involvement has come about as he happens to be Edinburgh-born Lewis’s personal trainer. Lewis hasn’t always been a fitness fan but says with a laugh: “I love cakes, as I am sure everyone else does. I’m sort of in the wrong business as I bake cakes and taste them, so I need to keep fit.
“Robbie had been into Deli Espresso a few times and we had got talking. I started training with him and it emerged that previously he had done a similar thing himself, where working with someone else he had mapped out a healthy eating plan for his clients and then they would collect their food for a week.
“But for various reasons he had stopped doing it.
“Robbie gave Ash and I a lot of ideas and working together we came up with the nutritionally balanced salad boxes.
“Everything is weighed out so we can give people the right nutritional information and Robbie’s input has meant we can ensure everything is correctly balanced.
“All the super salads and health boxes are below 500 calories and contain between 20g and 40g of protein. We’ve also worked out the fat and carbohydrate values and customers can add extra ingredients if they want.
“We’ve tried to make it easy for people to keep track of what they are eating while also making the food as exciting and appealing as possible.”
Super salads include the Green Machine with avocado, broccoli, peas, quinoa, feta, parsley, mint, seeds, tomatoes, rocket and mixed leaves which contains around 485 calories and 23g of protein. There is an option to add 100g of chicken.
Then there’s the Salmon Supreme which contains responsibly sourced steamed fish, avocado, quinoa, broccoli, seeds, spinach and mixed leaves with a teriyaki dressing which comes in at 469 calories and 35g of protein.
Lewis points out that the calorie count is approximate. “We aren’t a big supermarket chain where everything is worked out in a laboratory to a standard formula.
“Everything we do is made fresh to order so if you cook, say, the salmon slightly less or longer then it will change the nutrients. But it gives people a good idea of what they are eating.”
Ash and Lewis seem to have found a niche market. For Lewis, it’s all a long way from his previous job as a field marketer in Edinburgh. Ash used to work as a chef at Scalini’s, in Jesmond, but his background is in the hospitality industry.
Lewis has always been interested in food, though. Before heading back to Newcastle – where he had been at university – to be with his girlfriend, he had started running his own weekend cake stall in Edinburgh.
He landed a job at Deli Espresso after getting to know Ash over takeout coffee orders. Deli Delivered was born, according to Lewis, because of the pair’s “shared passion for baking and supporting local businesses”.
Customers of their health boxes and salads extend from students to fitness fanatics and sportspeople, including some younger members of the Newcastle Falcons rugby union team.
But the mainstay of the business is busy professionals who “aren’t into pizza and Chinese take-outs and are looking for something different and more health conscious,” Lewis states.
He is aware that ordering in a salad for your tea may seem strange. After all, how long can it take to pull a meal like that together? “It’s about time, though,” Lewis explains.
“We are offering more than just a simple salad. If you think of some of the ingredients we use, like quinoa or the salmon, it all takes time to prepare.
“And if you are on a calorie controlled diet then you have to weigh everything out as well, which can be both time consuming and annoying. It’s all about time.
“People could make their own Chinese or Indian food, but mostly they don’t. Do everything yourself and you could be looking at 90 minutes or more. It’s why people order food in.
“We are just a phone call away and we’ll get the food to you within 30-40 minutes.
“We currently have customers who are ordering from us three or four times a week. We even have somebody who we are currently delivering to six days a week. He tells us in advance what he wants and we have it all ready for him.
“But it’s not all about being healthy. We believe in providing our customers with freshly made sweet and savoury goods that are healthy and, well, a little more indulgent.
“There is a little something for everyone.”
* Deli Delivered currently operates in the NE1, NE2, NE3, NE4, NE7 and NE12 postcodes and is open for orders between 6pm-10pm, Tuesday-Friday; 5-11pm on Saturday; and 3-9pm on Sunday. Call 0191 285 6332 or order online at www.delidelivered.com