Yesterday morning a little black bag showed up on my doorstep. This was no ordinary bag. It was a cooler with a handy shoulder strap and a bright yellow flower tucked in the outside pocket. Inside the cooler were breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks. The company behind this little black bag of convenience is Paleta, a gourmet meal delivery service that caters to all of Los Angeles.

Paleta’s tag line, Nutritious – Delicious – Delivered, pretty much sums up what they do. At $50 per day the price tag is steep, but between the quality of ingredients and the at-your-door service it’s hard to complain.

Paleta offers a variety of programs from a mind and body cleanse to daily and weekly meal programs. I chose to follow Paleta Lifestyle for five days. Providing only 1,600 calories a day, I was nervous that I might be hungry. But when the first little black bag appeared, I was astonished by the amount and quality of the food.

Day 1 consisted of scrambled eggs, roasted mushrooms with thyme, turkey sausage links and a side of organic melon. I was a bit unnerved by the directions to reheat the scrambled eggs in the microwave, (I cringed as I followed the directions.), but to my surprise the re-heated eggs were quite tasty.

When 11 o’clock rolled around I was ready for my first snack, a blueberry plum crumble with quinoa flakes. A little like dessert for breakfast, I was happy to indulge.

Lunch came shortly after – maple and ginger glazed salmon with black sticky rice and sautéed spinach with sesame. This dish alone made Paleta worth every penny. The salmon was perfectly cooked and flaked apart effortlessly under the weight of my fork. This was no ordinary take out – it was thoughtful and purposeful; it felt too good for a lunchtime meal. So satisfied by my lunch I opted to skip my second snack, dolmas with balsamic vinegar and baby heirloom tomatoes, but my boyfriend happily enjoyed it.

Dinnertime came and I opened my last meal of the day – Tuscan turkey meatballs, brown rice pasta, fresh marinara and broccolini. The salmon may have stolen my heart, but the turkey meatballs landed a close second both in flavor and presentation. Despite having the words “brown rice” in front of it, the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and loaded with flavor of its own. The turkey meatballs were a bit dense, but carefully seasoned with herbs and spices that allowed me to overlook any textural mishaps. The marinara, a classic red sauce, was familiar and comforting and the broccolini, similar to rapini or long-stemmed sprouting broccoli, was steamed to perfection.

The remaining four days proved to be equally appealing. Not one dish was repeated, and new items such as lemon risotto with asparagus and shrimp, and tenderloin steak with red onion marmalade, green beans and cumin scented sweet potato coins appeared. I was shocked when a loaded baked potato piled high with veggies and cheddar cheese landed in my lunchbox. How could something so delicious be healthy?

Perhaps even more important than the delicious food, Paleta’s service fits my lifestyle. I wake up at 7 a.m. and am often not home before 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. It’s rare that I find time to shop at the farmers market or cook, but Paleta did both for me; plus, they counted calories so I didn’t have to. And if that weren’t enough, Paleta is uniquely green in a way most restaurants and kitchens are not. They are the first food-service company in Los Angeles to build a 100 percent green kitchen, and all of their packaging is either biodegradable or recyclable. So next time you get a plate of greasy take-out in a Styrofoam container, just remember there is another way.

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