It’s 7 pm on a Tuesday. It’s been a long day. You crawl home after work, exhausted and starving. You’re trying to eat healthier lately, but after eight hours of paperwork, chopping vegetables seems like a chore. You’re reaching for the phone, about to call for some delivery. If only there was some sort of way you could get fresh, healthy, homemade meals delivered right to your fridge, you sob to yourself ruefully, before ordering a large Domino’s meat lover’s with garlic dipping sauce and Cinna Stix®.
Luckily, Chef Jess has your back. A registered dietician and a classically trained chef, Jessica Swift offers personalized, home cooked meals delivered weekly to your home. What began as a way to teach her clients — many of them suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health issues — how to cook and eat properly in their own homes has developed into a meal delivery program servicing the greater D.C. area.
The meals, cooked fresh in Swift’s commercial kitchen, are packed into containers and brought via courier service to each client’s doorstep. Meals can be ordered in single or family packages, and are dispatched two to three times each week. Sample menu items include pork tenderloin medallions with seasonal fruit salsa and asparagus, balsamic and rosemary portabella vegetable tofu stacks, and curried kale and chickpea stew.
“A lot of my customers — depending on what they want, they’re losing the weight that they want,” said Swift. “They’re not having blood sugar spikes. Their cholesterol has gone down. And then I also have people who just want to eat healthier and want to be introduced to a bigger variety of foods.”
Swift works with her clients to develop an entirely personalized menu based on dietary restrictions, health concerns, and taste preferences. Customers can indicate any allergies and taste aversions when ordering. Part of Swift’s goal, though, is introducing people to dishes and ingredients they would not have tried otherwise.
“I’ve had clients tell me, ‘I’ve never had bok choy before,'” Swift said. “Or, ‘I never would have picked up this red chard.’ So just introducing them to different foods has been really good, both for them and for me.”
Interested in cooking from a young age, Swift attended culinary school at Johnson and Wales in hopes of becoming a chef. When her father was diagnosed with diabetes, she decided to focus on studying nutrition. She took care of her father while attending Howard University for graduate school; today, thanks to her guidance, he is on no medication and runs marathons.
“You know, nutrition really heals,” said Swift. “It makes a difference. It really matters what you put in your body.”
Since then, Swift’s career has taken off. She has her own business, offering nutrition consultations for clients with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight problems. She works with trainers and doctors around the area, meeting with patients to help them adjust their eating habits. She’s also been featured on the Food Network competition show, “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
“That was amazing,” she said. “I think it was one of the turning points for really increasing my business. Guy — he’s so funny and so relaxed. His hair is awesome in person.”
But, fame aside, Swift hopes to stress through all aspects of her business that healthy food shouldn’t hold a negative connotation. Above all, she wants her clients to realize that food can taste good and be good for the body as well.
“You go on the website for one of these low-fat dishes or something, and when you get it, it has no flavor,” Swift said. “My food is bold. It’s very bright and a lot of the flavors really meld together. I want people to know that healthy food can taste good. I think it’s so negative when people think that it has to be bland or that you can’t use any seasonings to make the food taste good. It’s all about what you put into it.”