A Fresh Take
Ultimate Foods offers healthy, go-to meal options
Story by Christina Morgan | Photos by Casey Hilder
food | January 2016
After weeks of sugary deliciousness and buffet-style holiday meals at every turn, the New Year provides the chance for a clean plate. Nick Harmeier, owner of the recently opened Ultimate Foods in Olive Branch, dishes up a variety of ways to get back on track after the holiday season.
“You have to change your lifestyle,” Harmeier says. “You don’t have to change overnight, but you have to start taking little steps to having better practices.”
Drawing inspiration from a San Francisco café he visited years ago, Harmeier started Ultimate Foods in 2013 with his wife Stacy to offer the MidSouth a convenient option for nutritious, proportioned meals. “In California, everyone wanted to know everything about the animal they were eating, the plants they were eating,” he recalls. “We went tothis café everyday and theyalways had the ingredients onevery single thing you were eating and I thought that was cool.” The Harmeier couple, along with business partnerJason Polley, now runs locations inCordova, East Memphis and the newest Olive Branch store.
When approaching healthier eating, Harmeier stresses the importance of eating breakfast. The first meal can often set the tone for the day. “A lot of people mess up because they don’t eat breakfast, and lunchtime rolls around and instead of getting a cheeseburger, they get a cheeseburger, a large fry, a large Dr. Pepper and two chocolate chip cookies,” he explains. He also adds that the danger of skipping meals lies in the cravings and overeating that can occur later.
Though, indulging every now and again is acceptable. “It’s all about balance,” Harmeier continues. “It’s not bad to eat a cheeseburger, but when you’re eating them every single day or two a day, that’s where it will catch up to you.”
Keeping up a regular routine of nutritious eating is another way to shrink the waistline. “You have to stay consistent,” he acknowledges. “Just because you start off the day eating a sausage biscuit, doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy the rest of the day. Don’t get discouraged easily by a bad decision.”Lastly, Harmeier encourages those trying to lose weight to be realistic with their goals. “There’s no miracle fix.”
Ultimate Foods gives customers a healthier alternative to many comfort foods, such as spaghetti, barbecue chicken and brownies. Not only will the ingredient list vary from the traditional version, but the portion sizes will too. “The way our meals are designed it’s not just health food, it’s eating good food on the go,” Harmeier says.
Both Polley, previously a corporate chef for 15 years, and Shannon Leeke, who serves as marketing manager and certified health coach, create the menu for the stores. Leeke also offers free consultations for customers looking for weekly meal plans. Each location also delivers to the MidSouth area. “The only way we can make it easier for you is if we feed it to you,” Harmeier concludes.
Yields 36 Brownies
4 cups rinsed black beans
2 cups avocado pulp
2 3/4 cups applesauce
2 cups egg whites
2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. pure organic vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups milk Chocolate chips
4 tsp. baking powder
2 3/4 cup oat flour
2 cups chocolate protein powder
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups stevia
1. Rinse and drain black beans in strainer.
Blend black beans and avocado pulp in food processor until smooth.
2. Blend applesauce, egg whites, vanilla Greek yogurt, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth.
Add black bean and avocado mixture to the mixing bowl.
3. Melt 1 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1 cup milk chocolate chips in a pan or microwave. Add to the mixing bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, oat flour, 1 cup milk chocolate chips, 1 cup dark chocolate chips, chocolate protein powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and stevia; mix with a spoon until all dry ingredients are blended evenly.
5. Turn the mixer on medium speed and slowly add dry ingredients until mixture is smooth.
6. Spray 11x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
7. Pour brownie mix into pan and make sure the chocolate chips in batter are spread out evenly in pan.
Cook brownies for 18-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted is clean. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting them into squares.