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Healthy, Delicious Meals Can Be Prepared For You At Home

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RALEIGH — Many people hate to spend time in the kitchen slaving over a stove. At the same time, most of us like eating a good, nutritious meal. Two Triangle businesses are offering solutions, and you do not have to leave home to enjoy them.

George Shannon is a personal chef with Triangle Home Fitness. For about $16 a meal, he will make himself at home in your kitchen.

"The basic idea is to just come in and just put together the meals as quickly as possible. I take care of bringing in what they need," he said.

Best of all, his meals are all low in fat and calories.

"I wasn't going to come in at night and do what George is doing, so I'm excited. I got someone to spoil me!" said Barbara Parker.

Parker signed up with the company, which offers low fat meals and personal training services, in January. Since that time, she has lost 30 pounds, and dropped her body fat from 40 to 19 percent.

"When I made the commitment to become healthy and take care of me, that was the hardest part. The rest of it has been easy," she said.

Shannon's colleague, Angela Ursprung, said that what Triangle Home Fitness offers people is a total wellness program. She says working out will only go so far without eating the right foods.

"Anyone who wants to transform (his or her) diet (must) incorporate sound nutrition into the program," said Ursprung.

Shannon prepares five entrees and side dishes, four to six servings each. The chef does all the cooking, packaging and storage. So all you have to do is eat, and Shannon's food is not hard to swallow.

Chef For You is another Triangle company that helps people who are too busy to cook for themselves.

"I had a 15-year career with IBM and was just tired of the corporate life. I decided I needed a change and thought (I would) try something with cooking," said Maureen Murphy-Bangert.

That idea is the main ingredient in Chef for You, a personal chef service that cooks meals for people who are too busy to do it themselves.

"They're tired of either going out to fast food or tired of eating unhealthy food," said Murphy-Bangert.

Grace Trombetta has being using Chef for You for over a year. She wants to maintain a healthy diet, but does not have time to cook for herself.

"As a working mom, saving time is very important to me," said Trombetta.

Now that she is training for a marathon, food is more important than ever.

"It's just not a nice thing to do. It's pretty much essential that I don't waste any of my eating on food that has a lot of fat. I need to be very efficient in the way I eat now," said Trombetta.

Each month, Murphy-Bangert sends out menus that her clients choose from.

"I actually haven't had but probably a couple of dishes twice, just because there's so much variety, and that's one of the things I like about this because I tend to get bored very quickly," said Trombetta.

Murphy-Bangert makes five entrees and side dishes every month for her clients. She freezes each serving so clients can quickly reheat and eat. Not everyone wants healthy meals every night, but with dishes like Turkey Bacon Swiss Meatloaf and Asian Salmon, Murphy-Bangert's meals are proof that healthy food can taste great.

Some of Murphy-Bangert's healthy tricks include using only fresh produce and meats -- they freeze and reheat much better. She bakes a lot of chicken, picks lean meats and uses spices to replace butter and oils. If you are wondering about the cost for a single person, it breaks down to about $15 per meal -- which includes all the food.

David Renner