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By: Dorothea Hunter Sönne Posted: January 2016
Fresh Fit Foods’ pulled jerk chicken atop mashed sweet potato studded with pineapple and red pepper. Photo by Dorothea Hunter Sönne
Want to eat right in 2016? It’s never been easier (or tastier) than letting local chefs do the work for you.
Blue Apron may have conquered the nation, but we’ve got one better in Southwest Florida. To help make resolutions stick well beyond the first few days of January—without compromising on taste—local chefs are cooking up meal plans and delivery services that bring healthy eating directly to your door. All operate in both counties, each meal comes in at no more than $15 and one-week trials are available throughout the year. All you need is a fridge, microwave (or stove) and voilà. Here’s how the top contenders stack up.
FRESH FIT FOODS
Chef-owner: Chad O’Connor
Plan set-up: 2 or 4 days per week with 1 or 2 deliveries per week
Meals available: Lunch and dinner; lunch only; dinner only
Specifics: Everything is gluten-free and dairy-free; there is a basic six-week rotating meal plan, plus plans for paleo, vegan and diabetic eating were released just before Christmas—as well as options to get “athlete”-sized portions or “family” dinners to include kids.
Organics? Not an emphasis; will occasionally be used
Vegetarian options? Yes, vegan
For further information: freshfitnaples.com, (239) 595-2503
By: Nannette Staropoli Posted: Dec. 7, 2015
Fresh Fit Foods, a licensed catering company with the mission to make healthy eating affordable, convenient and delicious, is expanding their menu with the addition of Vegan, Diabetic and Paleo meal plan selections for clients.
Based in North Naples, Fresh Fit Foods chefs prepare nutritious, gluten and dairy free lunches and dinners available for convenient pick up and home delivery throughout Naples and Ft. Myers. “Since starting our business three years ago, we have quadrupled our volume. We have no doubt there is market demand for fresh, delicious, convenient and home-delivered meal plans, and we want to continue to respond to our clients needs. We had numerous requests to add Vegan and Diabetic meal plans, so it seemed the best next step, “ states Chad O’Connor, Fresh Fit Foods Founder and Chef.
Fresh Fit Foods uses fresh ingredients in all meal preparation and all menu items are made from scratch. The current menu encompasses 48 different dishes spread across a six-week period. In addition to their standard meal plan, Fresh Fit Foods also offers dinner only plans, lunch only plans, ‘Athlete’ portions and family style meal plans.
Fresh Fit Foods offers a one-week trial for new clients where they can choose their preferred meal plan and pay 25 percent of the monthly rate. Meal plans start as low as rate of $199 per month for 18 meals. Limited substitutions are available. Lunch items include Loaded Organic Quinoa, Chipotle Chicken Club Wrap, Asian Turkey Burger w/ Pickled Cucumber Slaw, Spinach Salad. Dinner items include Spaghetti Squash Bolognese, Homemade Meatloaf, Pesto Chicken, Thai Chicken Stir-Fry, Lemon Herb Salmon and Green Chili Pork.
“Healthy eating is the cornerstone to healthy living. Our goal is to make that an easier process,” says O’Connor. “Our entire meal plan programs are also available on Fitness Pal, a popular app used to track calories and macro ingredients. We’ve also partnered with Joyful Juicing to bring cold-press juice for our meal plan clients.”
Fresh Fit Foods offers a Partnership Program with locally owned gyms, health clubs, workout facilities and wellness centers to serve as pick-up locations for clients twice a week. Fresh Fit Foods provides a refrigeration unit at each location and offers a commission program as compensation for allowing the facility to be used as a pick up location.
Fresh Fit Foods was the named Top Restaurant at Craving Fashion, an annual foodie event held at Waterside Shops to benefit Make A Wish Foundation as well as taking first place at Baconfest 2015.
Naples resident Chad O’Connor privately owns fresh Fit Foods. For more information contact Fresh Fit Foods at 239-595-2503 or visit freshfitnaples.com
Fresh Fit Foods is a USDA Certified, licensed and permitted catering company, offering gluten and dairy free meals prepared daily with non-processed, fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. With the mission to make healthy eating affordable, convenient and delicious, Fresh Fit Foods offers up to 8 meals per week with 48 different dish options, dinner only plans, lunch only plans, ‘Athlete portions’ and family style meal plans to be picked up or delivered twice a week. Freshfitnaples.com
MARKIT Group is a full service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on website development, brand management, digital marketing and public relations. Visit www.markit-group.com
By: Krista Fogelsong, Anchor Posted: Nov 02, 2015 6:03 PM EST
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - What's for dinner?
From busy mom to young professional, it's a question nobody wants to deal with at the end of a stressful day.
A new trend is sweeping the nation and is here in Southwest Florida -- fresh meals delivered right to your door.
Freddye Hoopfer is a working mom with two teens.
"I can just throw some chicken nuggets in the microwave for 40 seconds, throw some apple sauce on the side and then they have their meal," said Hoopfer.
Hoopfer admits it's fast, but not always the healthiest. However, Chad O'Connor is part of a new movement sweeping the country -- fresh, healthy food delivered to your home.
"It is fresh. It's prepared in house from scratch. Fresh vegetables in something you don't have to feel guilty about, and you still have all the convenience of fast food, if you will," said O'Connor.
O'Connor's Fresh Fit Foods is one of many businesses popping up all over Southwest Florida that delivers fresh food you can prepare in minutes right to your door.
One of his clients is Hannah Peterson. As a business owner, Peterson says at the end of the day deciding what to make for dinner is the last thing she wants to do.
"I have decision fatigue. Am I going to go shopping? Am I going to cook or meal plan? I just end up not doing it because it's too much time too think about," said Peterson.
From salmon to salad to portabella and chicken chorizo, Peterson says the meals are never boring.
But what about the cost?
We compared two local and two national food delivery services. They all average around $10 a meal per person.
With local companies, the big difference is calories and commitment. All meals from Fresh Fit Foods are less than 500 calories, but you must commit to four meals a week for a month.
DISH Delivery can go up to 675 calories per meal and requires a meal commitment used over time.
Both can be cooked in minutes in the microwave or oven.
Nationally, we checked Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. You actually cook the meal with delivered ingredients, but that can take 30 to 40 minutes.
Hoopfer's family is so busy, one she and her daughter were home for dinner for a Fresh Fit taste test.
Freddye loved it.
"I think it's delicious," said Freddye Hoopfer.
Her daughter, Amanda, not so much.
"Just too picky," said Amanda Hoopfer.
Freddye says $10 a person is just too much money to experiment with tastes, so it wouldn't work for her family.
While O'Connor says he does deliver to some families, a lot of his clients are young professionals and seniors who want something fast and easy without all the work.
Both local companies are fairly new. Already Fresh Fit Foods is making 6,000 meals a month and DISH is making...and it's not even season yet.
By: John Osborne Posted: 5:55 AM, May 16, 2015
Made to order, made delicious
The mastermind behind Fresh Fit Foods, a North Naples-based meal-delivery service that specializes in gluten- and dairy-free foods, has launched a spinoff catering business.
The inspiration behind Culinary Outfitters Catering can be traced to the desire to allow Fresh Fit's executive chef, Adam Kimball, to put his world-class training to more varied use, said Chad O'Connor, a Michigan native and founder of both businesses.
"Adam has trained at the best schools in the United States, and we wanted to take off the gluten and dairy-free shackles to allow him to do more specific things," said O'Connor, the proud father of a newborn.
"We wanted to do things with butter and cream and flour and side foods and not be limited by the things we do with the other company," he said.
While "the other company" focuses on what O'Connor terms "a crazy gluten-free following in Naples," he said Culinary Outfitters Catering specializes in high-end, in-home catering that can handle everything from hors d'oeuvres parties to full-service dinners with four and five courses.
"We launched three months ago and business is a little slow so far, but it's a process," he said. "We're a new company, so we need to get our name out there. But it hasn't been too bad for just starting out."
As part of getting the word out, O'Connor said Culinary Outfitters Catering and its eight employees could take care of just about anything clients would like when it comes to catered meals.
"If you go on our website, there's a menu there to give you an idea, but we can customize any menu to any client," he said. "We can do absolutely anything a client requests," O'Connor said.
"We can do breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything else in between. We're also available anytime you want us."
O'Connor said Culinary Outfitters Catering could accommodate two to 200 people, with rates starting at $7 per person for breakfast and $50 to $60 per person for a five- or six-course dinner.
"We've only done homes so far, but we're also available for events," he said of the company's capabilities.
For his part, Kimball, who met O'Connor white both were attending culinary school in Pennsylvania, underscored O'Connor's sentiments about the importance of getting Culinary Outfitters Catering's name out there.
"We haven't done any advertising yet, no email blasts or anything like that, but we've done some charity events so that people can begin to get familiar with us," he said. "We're an unknown catering company at this point, so I don't blame people for not going with us right out of the gate."
Once the word is out, pastry chef Susan Lynch said she aims to provide the icing on the new company's cake.
"My hope is that people will realize that the food we produce is outstanding," said the longtime industry veteran who first started working in Scottsdale, Arizona, before bringing her craft to Naples 17 years ago. "For my part, what I can offer is everything a true pastry chef can bring to the table."
The ultimate goal for Culinary Outfitters Catering, Kimball said, should be simple to understand.
"Well-fed guests are happy guests, so that's our goal," he said.
For more information, call 239-595-2503 or see www.culinaryoutfitterscatering.com.
By: Doris Lemcke Posted: February 16, 2015
FreshFit is more than the name of Chad O’Connor’s innovative catering and meal delivery business, FreshFit Foods. It’s his life.
An Adrian, Michigan native, Chad was raised on meat, potatoes, bread and dessert, developing a love for cooking as a teen. But after discovering Cross-Fit training, he realized he could combine his two passions, cooking and fitness, into a successful business.
He explains, “By working out, I met more and more people who were interested in learning about nutrition for an overall healthy lifestyle.” He also understood that creating a life-long commitment to eating well in today’s fast-paced environment is difficult.
“Sugar is the enemy,” he believes. “It’s an addiction that is destroying our nation’s health.” With degrees in both culinary arts and dietetics, he’s committed to the science behind a healthy diet.
Chad is an avid disciple of the “Paleolithic” diet, often referred to as the “Caveman Diet”. He stresses the importance of a low-glycemic diet rich in lean meats, fruits, vegetables and heart-healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and seeds. But he also understands it takes a lot of time, energy and money to find the right ingredients and prepare healthy meals on a regular basis, especially for busy people. That’s where FreshFit Foods comes in. “We take the guesswork out of it,” he says proudly.
Originally marketing the meal plans to gyms and fitness centers in November, 2013, he discovered a niche market of busy families, empty-nesters and singles without the time or knowledge to consistently create varied, healthy meals.
A year later, business has doubled, providing more than 5,000 meals per month to plan members that include nearly twenty families. For their customers’ convenience, meals can be picked up at several locations, with home delivery offered to Naples residents.
Executive Chef and co-owner Adam Kimball was a classmate of Chad’s at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. They share a passion and commitment to using fresh, locally grown foods from quality local suppliers.
“I’m always cooking,” says Chad, adding that the sevenmember staff has fun inventing new recipes for the variety of gluten and dairy-free meals they prepare on site daily.
With meal programs ranging from a six-week plan of 48 different dishes, to lunch-only, Fresh- Fit Foods can suit any lifestyle or budget.
Now, after seven years in the Phoenix/Scottsdale restaurant business and one year in Naples, Chad and his family are seeing his dream come true. Meal enrollments are increasing, along with catering special events with traditional and/or Paleo dishes, and lunch deliveries to local businesses like Chicos.
Their focus is on “steady growth.” For FreshFit Foods, quality always comes first. Visit for more info freshfitnaples.com.
BY NANCI THEORET
Florida Weekly Correspondent
For years health-conscious consumers were told to read nutrition labels for saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates and protein content. Many of us obligingly did just that, completely ignorant to the other information on a food label: the list of ingredients, some so long with additives that take a science degree to pronounce. Even canned kidney beans and mushrooms contain an extra ingredient or two and some cereals are packaged in fat-preserving food-grade butylated hydroxytoulene, or BHT, also an additive to embalming fluid and jet fuel.
In an effort to mass produce food and keep costs down, the food industry in the past few decades has decided it’s perfectly OK to bleach flour, alter the genetic structure of our food and pump beef and dairy cattle with growth hormones. As a result, we have foods like white bread and sweets that seemingly last forever.
Fresh Fit Foods has seen its business increase by 30 percent in the past year.COURTESY PHOTOSWe’re finally getting the message that we are what we eat, and more Americans are turning to all-natural and organic foods. Nutrition Business Journal reports double-digit increases in organic retail sales alone, climbing from $28.4 billion in 2012 to an estimated $35 billion this year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of American farmers markets, a source of locally grown produce for many, has grown from 1,755 in 1994 to 8,144 in 2013.
More Americans are turning to healthful eating because of concerns about their health, the environment and animal welfare. And they’re willing to pay more.
New superfoods, gluten-free offerings, heirloom vegetables and ancient grains were among the emerging food trends that came out of the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo. Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand for functional foods that deliver a powerful cocktail of antioxidants, protein and nutrients.
National and regional supermarkets are also getting on the health food bandwagon, adding or expanding selections of all-natural and organic produce and packaged foods. Conventional grocery stores and natural food supermarkets a la Whole Foods account for 93 percent of all organic food sales, says the Organic Trade Association.
But the little guys are doing well, too, by meeting the needs of local consumers looking for a healthier way to eat, who want to avoid gluten and bioengineered and processed foods.
Where's the story?
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Roger Hurcomb got into the health food business 26 years ago when he purchased the four-store Mother Earth Foods in the Fort Myers area. What intrigued him most about the industry were his fellow competitors.
“It was a new type of business for me,” he says. “Before I took over, I went around talking to people at the various health food stores and they were friendly and nice. It’s a good business. You’re out there helping people.”
Mother Earth now has two additional stores in the Island Park Shopping Center and in Estero, a mile north of Coconut Point on the Tamiami Trail. The stores offer mostly organic foods “because it’s the best way to eat,” says Mr. Hurcomb. Mother Earth also carries organic health and beauty aids, pet food, supplements, essential oils and four stores offer fresh produce. “We try to be as organic as possible.”
Mr. Hurcomb credits a growth in business to Dr. Mehmet Oz and his “The Dr. Oz Show,” viewed daily by an average 3.4 million.
“Dr. Oz really opened the eyes of the general public to an alternative way to keep yourself healthy by eating natural foods,” he says. “Prior to his show, my customers were mainly Baby Boomers, in the 35 to 60 age group, concerned about their health. Since Dr. Oz made healthy eating respectable, we have more young families and customers in their 20s.”
Dan Babain, the assistant manager at Port Charlotte’s Earth Origins Market, managed a group of New York health food stores before relocating to Florida. Customers, he says, include established vegans and vegetarians and those who’ve “been eating very unhealthy and it’s now catching up to them. All of our clients are interested in eating healthier,” he says.
Some, he says, are also responding to a good dose of reality and news reports of genetically modified organisms — like fish DNA injected into GMO tomatoes — animal cruelty issues and foods imported from countries where workers earn substandard wages.
Formerly Port Charlotte Natural Foods, Earth Origins is locally owned and part of United Natural Foods, the country’s largest distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods, products and supplements. The store offers a full deli (sans the water- and salt-inject cold cuts), fresh juices, juice cleansers, organic meats and dairy.
“We cater to people struggling with health issues like blood pressure problems and cholesterol and are looking for an alternative way to eat,” says Mr. Babain. “We have organic produce, raw foods, tons of grocery products and gluten free items.”
Most new customers tend to take baby steps, opting for milk from grass-fed cows and healthier eggs before venturing into more organic offerings. “For parents concerned about their children’s health, they don’t mind spending an extra dollar to avoid the hormones in regular milk,” he says.
Earth Origins, which is based in Palm Harbor, Fla., sources from local farms, “recycling business back into the local economy,” Mr. Babain said. “Our products come from companies where employees earn a fair wage and customers like that. We also carry local milk, depending on seasonal availability.
“Business has been growing,” he continues. “We’re planning new stores.”
Healthy meals at the ready
Chad O’Conner, a local chef and entrepreneur, sells more than healthy foods. His year-old Fresh Fit Foods, a Naples catering company, prepares complete gluten-free, nutrition-packed meals and delivers them to the workplace and home. Meals are also available at pickup locations from Naples to Fort Myers. Averaging about $10 a meal, Fresh Fit Foods offers 48 different dishes — lunch and dinner — every six weeks. Each meal is fresh, never frozen, dairy-free and available every Monday and Wednesday for four-days a week of healthful eating.
Business, says Executive Chef Adam Kimball, is up 30 percent from its inception a year ago. He credits the increase to word-of-mouth and the efforts of Nannette Staropoli, president and CEO of Markit Group in Naples. Fresh Fit Foods has about 350 clients and prepares 700 meals weekly and was the exclusive caterer for the recent Thunderdome Cross Fit challenge at Germain Arena.
“They sold out of healthy meals every day of the event,” says Ms. Staropoli who recently launched a campaign offering local businesses with 15 and more employees a free tasting. “We’ve had a lot of inquiry phone calls and are setting up dates for August. We recently signed with one automotive dealer in Naples and Chico’s headquarters is coming along great as a customer.”
Mr. Kimball and Mr. O’Connor attended culinary school together and kept in touch, hoping they’d one day find the perfect venue to work together. After returning to school for dietetics, Mr. O’Connor conceived the Fresh Fit Foods concept, developing a 100-percent gluten-free menu with low carbs and 350 to 500 calories. It originally started as a paleo diet for Cross Fitters but expanded to meet the needs of those looking for easy and healthy alternatives to the local restaurant or fast-food franchise.
“The dishes were hard to develop,” admits Mr. Kimball. “Chad had the brickwork but it was a learning curve for me. I was used to dishes with pasta, bread, cream and butter. The dairy was easy to get out; the gluten was tough.”
Although menus are tweaked every six months, favorites like the Thai turkey noodle bowl and green chili pork are kept in the rotation.
“We don’t do all organic because we don’t want to price ourselves out,” says Mr. Kimball. “We use lean proteins and stay away from anything that will spike blood sugar.”
The way Mr. Kimball sees it, Southwest Florida is an ideal market for healthy and well. “This community is very health conscious. I’ve never seen so many successful gyms operating so close to each other. I’m from New York and everybody would gear up for beach season. Here, it’s always beach season.” ¦
Yvonne Ayala McClellan, firstname.lastname@example.org 12:14 a.m. EDT August 7, 2014
Photos by Lindsay Tery/The News-Press
As more area residents pay attention to their food choices, Chad O'Connor saw an opportunity.
He whipped up a menu of Paleo meals designed for customers at gyms in the Naples area, but in September re-branded the company as Fresh Fit Foods. He developed a menu of gluten-free and dairy-free meals for the community.
"Whether you're older or younger, you're more conscious about what you're putting in your body," said Adam Kimball, executive chef at the company.
Nutrition-savvy and health-conscious catering companies and personal chef services are flourishing in Southwest Florida, and more of them are opting for home delivery.
"There is more disposable income, so you're going to see more of these types of services here," said James Fraser, a visiting professor with FGCU and director of ICARE, the Institute for Culinary Awareness Research and Education.
The competition in the market has inspired chefs to find more ways to market themselves and create business opportunities by latching onto current trends, such as organically grown and locally sourced foods, he said.
Catering to a niche market has been a boon for Fresh Fit Foods.
Since the company refocused its concept nearly a year ago, business has grown by roughly 30 percent, Kimball said. It offers a six-week menu of rotating meals and home delivery service.
They'll prepare dishes such as the Thai turkey noodle bowl, green chili pork or Cajun jambalaya. Instead of using noodles or rice, they'll fashion their own, running zucchini through a mandolin to serve as the "noodle" in their Thai dish, or take raw cauliflower, pulse it in a food processor then roast it to be the "rice" in their Cajun dish.
"We're always trying to come up with new ways to take dishes that are common to most people and make them to fit our menu style," Kimball said.
Over the last two weeks, the company prepared roughly 1,400 to 1,600 meals for a wide range of clients who are looking for healthier options, are living with diabetes and more. It has roughly 40 home delivery clients from Port Royal to Bonita Springs.
In April, Julie Butcher launched The Vegan Knife, a catering company in Estero which also offers meals to order. Two years ago, she was diagnosed with food allergies, and had to give up favorite dishes such as risotto.
When dining out, chefs would try and accommodate her, but would come up with lackluster options, such as steamed vegetables for dinner.
"The goal was to be able to make gluten-free and vegan entrees that, actually for me, were even tastier or you couldn't tell the difference between the real version and my gluten-free veganized version."
She channeled her craving for favorite creamy foods to devise familiar entrees, such as developing her own forbidden rice risotto sans cream and butter.
Although it varies week to week, Butcher has about six clients, ranging from a family of four to individuals, preparing five to six days worth of meals for each customer. If customers order $75 worth of meals, she'll deliver for free to customers within a 15-mile radius of Estero, Butcher said.
"I want to try and have the contact with my clients, at least in the beginning," she said. "I think that's really important and I really want feedback."
Offering healthier personal chef services and localized meal programs isn't new, but has been taking off across the country over the last 15 years, said Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association based in San Diego.
The organization has worked to educate the chef community, but even before that worked within their communities connecting with nutritionists, health professionals, dietitians and local school officials to improve healthy eating and nutritional education, she said.
Now roughly 2,700 personal and private chefs offer healthy eating-centered services.
"People are becoming aware of the fact that if they do not know how to take care of themselves that they can turn to a professional who can take scrupulous care of them," Wallace said.
Fresh Fit Foods, 595-2503, freshfitnaples.com, email@example.com; delivers from Port Royal to Bonita Springs; one-week pro-rated trial, then contracts month by month; free pick-up.
The Vegan Knife, 810-241-4481, theveganknife.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, no long-term contract; deliver within 15-mile radius of Estero; meals delivered to your home or business once a week for orders of $75 or more, or free pick-up.
By: Daily News staff
North Naples-based Fresh Fit Foods, a certified meal plan and catering company, is offering local businesses with at least 15 employees a complimentary tasting.
The company, which says it focuses on making healthy eating affordable, convenient and delicious, said these tastings can be during lunch or after work.
Fresh Fit Foods says its chefs prepare nutritious, gluten and dairy free lunches and dinners available for pick-up and home or work delivery throughout Naples and Fort Myers twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“We have found that more businesses are approaching us wanting fresh, healthy lunches delivered right to the office,” said Naples’ Chad O’Connor, founder and chef at Fresh Fit Foods. “We’re willing to come out and show any businesses looking to have a healthy summer what we have to offer.”
Fresh Fit Foods uses fresh ingredients in all meal preparation. The current menu has 48 different dishes spread across a six-week period.
To set up a free sampling, contact Fresh Fit Foods at 239.595.2503 or go to www.freshfitnaples.com.
NAPLES, Fla. – Fresh Fit Foods, a USDA certified and licensed meal plan and catering company with the mission to make healthy heating eating affordable, convenient and delicious, is offering local businesses, with at least 15 employees, a free healthy meal plan tasting.
Based in North Naples, Fresh Fit Foods chefs prepare nutritious, gluten and dairy free lunches and dinners available for convenient pick up and home or work delivery throughout Naples and Ft. Myers twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“We have found that more businesses are approaching us wanting fresh, healthy lunches delivered right to the office to better align with their desire to keep employees happy and healthy,” says Chad O’Connor, Founder & Chef at Fresh Fit Foods. “It not only saves employees time, but money. Going out to lunch everyday is costly, and there aren’t always healthy options available. We’re willing to come out and show any businesses looking to have a healthy summer what we have to offer.”
Fresh Fit Foods uses fresh ingredients in all meal preparation. Everything on the menu is made from scratch. The current menu encompasses 48 different dishes spread across a six-week period. In addition to their standard meal plan, Fresh Fit Foods also offers dinner only plans, lunch only plans, ‘Athlete’ portions and family style meal plans that can be conveniently delivered right to the office. The meal plan and delivery service is ideal for the busy worker and a convenient solution for all types of dietary needs such as diabetes, heart disease, and celiac disease.
The free business tasting will include a variety of dishes prepared by Fresh Fit Foods to give employees an idea of the meals offered. Fresh Fit Foods is also offering an introductory “try us for a week promotion” for a fee of 25% off the meal plan they choose with no long term commitments required. Limited substitutions are available. Lunch items include Asian Turkey Burger and Pickled Cucumber Slaw, Southwestern Chicken Salad, Spinach Salad and Loaded Quinoa. Dinner items include Spaghetti Squash, Homemade Meatloaf, Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, Seared Salmon and Green Chili Pork.
Naples resident Chad O’Connor privately owns fresh Fit Foods. To set up a free sampling, contact Fresh Fit Foods at 239.595.2503 or visit freshfitnaples.com.
Chad O'Connor of Fresh Fit Foods
Aubrie Gerberemail@example.com 12:06 a.m. EDT June 25, 2014
Photo: Special to The News-Press
Celebrity (living or dead) you'd love to have dinner with: Christopher Walken
If I weren't in this business, I'd be: a CrossFit coach
Things you can't get through the day without: Bacon and coffee
Favorite quick meal: Frittata; I make them for my wife and I regularly
Cooking gods: Jacques Pépin, Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller
Guilty food pleasure: Pizza, crispy thin crust with meat and more meat
Food aversion you can't get over: Blue cheese
Favorite dish on your menu (and why?): Thai Coconut Noodle Bowl – the flavors of coconut, soy and citrus elevate this dish to a whole other level.
What was your biggest cooking disaster? Trying to bake anything
Favorite Southwest Florida restaurant other than your own: A Table Apart (Sshout out to my man Jeff Acol)
What would be your last meal? Tripletail from A Table Apart
Oddest/most interesting thing in your home fridge right now: Fish oil
What are your plans for dinner tonight? Frittata for the wife and kids (bacon, broccoli, cauliflower, onion)
Dream vacation: New Zealand
Oddest thing you've eaten (and did you enjoy it?): Scrapple, loved it and eat it as frequently as I can
Where were you born? Adrian, Michigan
Culinary training: Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
Former gigs: Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale, Arizona, and before that I worked at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for five years, also in Scottsdale.
Lindsay Downey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Lindsay Downey/Coastal Life )
A local wellness expert is helping people eat clean — and quick.
Chad O'Connor, who has culinary and dietetics degrees, was working at a local Crossfit gym when he realized clients had difficulty finding nutritious meals when they didn't have time to cook.
"The preparation. The cleanup. Having to follow recipes. Having to go to the store. How much time does it take to go to Publix in season?" O'Connor said.
The founder and chef combined his interests in food and wellness through Fresh Fit Foods, a USDA-certified catering company that offers prepared meals. Fresh Fit Foods — which launched in September and shared kitchen space with St. Matthew's House — has opened a facility of its own on U.S. 41 in North Naples.
O'Connor and executive chef Adam Kimball — who attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute together — swapped the cream-and-butter recipes they mastered in culinary school for lighter, nutrient-dense dishes they whip up for clients in Lee and Collier.
Fresh Fit Foods offers 48 meals on a rotating schedule. The dishes loosely follow the Paleo diet — which emphasizes the lean proteins, nuts and non-starch vegetables of hunter-gatherers' diets — and are gluten-free and dairy-free. The company uses local produce from Happy Foods in Fort Myers and meats from U.S. Foods. The meals aren't organic, which helps the company keep costs reasonable, O'Connor said.
Some of the company's most popular meals include a Thai coconut noodle dish with ground turkey, a spicy coconut broth and noodles made from zucchini and squash, and a green chili pork served atop cauliflower that's been through a food processor to give it the consistency of rice.
"We make everything from scratch," O'Connor said. "That's something we take a lot of pride in."
Dishes are rotated on a six-week menu with meal plan options ranging from four to eight meals per week and starting at $199 per month. Clients can take advantage of a one-week paid trial to taste the foods before they commit to a monthlong plan.
The company recently began delivery service in Naples, and Lee County clients can pick up food at Crossfit Fort Myers or Crossfit 239. Fresh Fit is beginning to work more with businesses interested in corporate wellness, and can deliver to companies who have at least a handful of employees on its meal plan.
By: John Osborne Posted: 10:36 AM, Jun 4, 2014
With a vision of making healthy eating easy, a local entrepreneur has launched a business that promises good food delivered fresh to your front door.
In September, Chad O'Connor, 28, started Fresh Fit Foods, a North Naples catering company that prepares, packages and delivers gluten- and dairy-free meals to a rapidly growing base of health-conscious clients throughout Southwest Florida.
With about 125 clients now, he said his business is expanding exponentially, selling just south of 4,000 meals in May.
"We're doing pretty well," said O'Connor, a Michigan native who moved to the Naples area three years ago. "There are a lot of people here in Southwest Florida who follow the (gluten-free) diet, and I felt a need in this market because there's nothing else like this available out there. That's why I started this business."
Gluten, a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley that help foods maintain their shape, is found in processed foods, such as breads and pasta, explained O'Connor. Gluten can inflame the small intestine in people who have celiac disease, but many people avoid gluten because they say it simply makes them feel better.
"What happens with processed food is that the body digests it and converts it to sugar," O'Connor said. "If you eliminate some of those foods, you lower your blood sugar and the pancreas doesn't have to work as hard to produce insulin."
Because of that, O'Connor said, the benefits of a gluten-free diet are many and varied.
"Gluten is an inflammatory that causes a lot of gut irritation," he said. "People who cut it out of their diet tend to feel better, sleep better, concentrate better and lose weight."
O'Connor's business, which delivers meals every Monday and Wednesday, offers monthly plans that range from $199 to more than $800, depending on the number of meals ordered. The menu offers a variety of meals, from maple mustard pork and pesto chicken to tuna salad and meatloaf.
Their kitchen recently relocated to 14700 U.S. 41 N. in the Tamiami Square shopping center — you may have seen their green van parked out front.
"We serve individuals and entire families, and we have a lot of different options," he said. "You can have lunches only or dinners only or lunches and dinners, and we also offer what we call an ‘athlete plan,' where the portions are one and a half times larger than regular portions."
An athlete himself, O'Connor said that embracing the CrossFit exercise craze five years ago inspired him to start Fresh Fit Foods in an effort to tap into the market of health-conscious Southwest Floridians.
"CrossFit is high-intensity, functional training where you take a workout and do it as quickly as possible to spike your heart rate," he said. "Every day is something different, so you always keep your body guessing. Our meal plans work well with it, and the results speak for themselves."
So do Fresh Fit Foods' meals, said executive chef Adam Kimball, who met O'Connor while both were attending culinary school in Pennsylvania.
"It's definitely a lot different than anything I've done before," said Kimball, who was working at a steakhouse in New York when he reconnected with his old classmate to start Fresh Fit Foods. "When I was a younger chef, I was intimidated by words like ‘gluten-free' and ‘vegetarian' and ‘vegan,' but now I like the challenge of having people say, ‘This is good food, period,' not just, ‘This is good for gluten-free.'"
Like O'Connor, Kimball said Naples is the perfect market for Fresh Fit Foods.
"Naples has a crazy gluten-free following," he said. "I don't know that this business could work anywhere other than Naples. We have our own kitchen and catering van now, and we've delivered meals as far north as Sarasota, so it's really blowing up."
To continue that growth, O'Connor said the goal from here is to make more people aware of his business.
"We want to grow the company organically, and word-of-mouth is the best marketing there is," he said. "We want people to know they can have fresh, healthy meals delivered to their door twice a week. It's great for people interested in their health, diabetics and those who can't get out of their houses very often for whatever reason."
For more information, visit www.freshfitnaples.com.