WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGE: KATE MATHESON
e.a.t. Meal Planning Co. is an online service that provides users with organized recipes, cooking tips, and seasonally-relevant ingredient lists. Founder Kate Matheson has devised a fun, affordable, and accessible way to encourage sustainable eating and invite experimentation in the kitchen. Part of what makes e.a.t. such an inspiring endeavor is, in fact, Kate's generous approach to eating well. In recognizing that there are many ways that people relate to food, e.a.t. deviates from the didactic model of most meal planning companies to create a welcoming space for diverse individuals. There's no absolute route to healthy living, no singular way of eating well. And what's more, by encouraging people to not waste food, e.a.t. is a venerable member of our Ugly Fruit Initiative! Here's hoping that even more food services get on board with the movement.
We recently invited Kate to devise a special recipe to share with Loam readers. Inspired by summer's bounty, this delectable garden frittata is sure to get you excited about cooking. Read on for the recipe as well as an interview with Kate about reducing food waste, growing community, and moving toward a greener future.
I'd love to hear more about your food philosophy and personal journey toward creating e.a.t...
Sure! I have always been a high energy person, involved in a ton of things and perhaps a bit high strung. In high school one day, my body just kind of snapped. I was in a ton of pain and nauseous and just having weird symptoms. I was exhausted and had headaches, poor digestion and just generally felt terrible. That went on for a year while I did all kinds of tests, both traditional Western medicine and more holistic approaches. Finally, I started changing my diet as a naturopath was convinced I had a great deal of inflammation and my immune system was upset. She said diet was the answer. This was over 10 years ago so the variety of health food products we had was a little different. Gluten-free was barely a term. The breads were generally terrible, I ate rice dream cheese and rice milk - it was a little bit depressing as an 18 year old but it worked. I cut out gluten and dairy and limited night shades and sugar. The turn around was not only 180 - I felt better than I had before. I had energy, no pain, great sleeps, perfect digestion. Since then, I've researched a ton and have come to realize just because of the nature of our world and diet, most people have high levels of chronic inflammation and don't event know it. I think that is what contributes to many of our illnesses and diseases and the crazy thing is, we are completely in control of it. That is part of why I started e.a.t. I wanted people to be in control of their diets and their lives. Making both better through a more organized way of eating.
I still am a huge proponent of an anti-inflammatory diet, as you'll see in our Food Philosophy. If everyone followed it, I think we'd see a ton of difference in most people. In saying that, I think food is a small (and often great) joy and some of the best foods cannot always be fully replaced by rice cheese and coconut ice cream. Everyone is going to be different, but for me, I think completely cutting out a food will lead to never being able to eat it (like how vegetarians have trouble digesting meat). That is fine for some but again, as someone who loves and appreciates all food, that takes out some of the fun of life. I treat my body well and when I want to have some wine or cheese or a great piece of steak every once in a while, my body welcomes it with open arms.
How do you hope to grow E.A.T. moving forward?
In the beginning, I had tons of goals as to where I wanted it to be in a year, three years, five years. Those goals are still there but I'm also really enjoying the journey. Each day is a push to make it better than the next, keep getting it out there to new people and spreading the word that cooking for yourself does not have to be difficult. In fact, it can be fun and rewarding in so many ways. What we are really working on this year is perfecting the meal plans so that our members are receiving plans that not only are delicious but are actually continually making their lives easier. We are constantly looking for ways to make cooking faster, make prep easier, bring down grocery costs. It's actually very fun and I find it incredibly satisfying to steadily be improving the efficiency with which people live their lives.
What have been some highlights of your experience with the company? Perks of the job? Positive feedback from customers?
The whole adventure has been a highlight. I come from an entrepreneurial background and have always been coming up with different ideas and business opportunities. I remember thinking, this was the one. I think it is hugely beneficial to society right now from so many perspectives: healthy living, getting organized, creating more time, saving money and helping the environment. It just made sense to move forward with it. That initial step to really dig into the idea was exhilarating. And then again when I launched my first instagram post. I remember posting it, thinking "well, there's no going back now" and it was just the best feeling to work on something for so long (it was over a year of research and planning) and finally see it come to fruition. Since then it's been going so well and the positive feedback from customers is something that always makes my day. To receive regular emails that we are helping and dare I say, changing people's lives makes every bit of work well worth it.
Being a guinea pig for new recipes we're testing and photographing is not such a bad perk either. I eat very well these days!
In what ways does E.A.T. cultivate a more sustainable and community-based way of living?
I think in a few ways. Firstly, from a sustainability standpoint, we place a huge emphasis on reducing grocery waste. Right now Canadians throw away 25% of all their food. Not only is that a waste of their own personal money it is also a stressor on our environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water usage to produce the food in the first place. The growing popularity of composting helps but I figure, why not stop this at the source. If consumers know what to buy and what to cook, they're not throwing away unused groceries each week. It helps them save money while helping create a greener future.
Secondly, I see food and cooking as one of the best ways to bring people together. It has for years in different ways from hunting and fishing in groups to the act of cooking and sharing meals with family and friends. Food innately has a group-centric appeal. In recent years a lot of people have become more independent and isolated just through the nature of our society but I still think food brings people back together...when they have time. e.a.t is designed to give people that time, that purposeful experience they can share with others. We have quite a few members that are doing it as a family or a few friends are all members and I think it helps them not only stick to the plans, it also strengthens their personal relationships.
Garden Frittata with Zucchini, Tomato + Fresh Herbs
This is a fantastic recipe as is can be thrown together quickly and makes for easy leftovers. Typically designed as a breakfast dish, a frittata also works for a casual lunch or dinner with a side of greens.
This particular recipe is designed to be rustic using whatever is in your garden and is a great way to sneak in some extra servings of veggies at breakfast time.
Total time: 35 min
¼ cup milk of choice (almond, coconut etc)
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
1 clove garlic
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs (we used basil, sage + thyme)
Fresh goat cheese * optional
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375F. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Thinly slice the zucchini and large tomato and halve the cherry tomatoes. Roughly chop the basil.
In an oven safe pan (if you don’t have an oven safe pan, a regular pan can be used along with a greased casserole dish) heat olive oil and add in the garlic, zucchini and a little salt and pepper. Cook for a minute or so just until the zucchini starts to soften a bit before adding in the eggs. Top with the tomatoes, ½ the basil, goat cheese (if you’d like) and a bit more salt and pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes until fluffy and slightly browned on top.
With a few minutes remaining, top the frittata with some additional fresh herbs (we used thyme and sage here but a bit of tarragon or dill would also be great).
Finish the frittata with the remaining bit of chopped basil and some freshly cracked pepper before serving.