The frozen-food aisle is full of health-boasting meals, but most are stuffed with salt and preservatives. "Why in the world isn't high-quality food available in the grocery store?" wondered Steve Sidwell. So he made some. His nutrient-dense frozen entrées, each with no more than 500 calories or 500 milligrams of sodium (and ingredients that even a 5-year-old can pronounce), come in a patented 100% recyclable paper pouch that evenly heats the food. The company has also committed itself to sourcing all-natural hormone-free animals for all of its meals containing meat and bringing nutritious foods to the 50 million Americans that struggle to get food every day—bringing 50,000 meals to food banks around the U.S. in 2013. Early in 2014, Luvo brought on former Lululemon and Starbucks exec Christine Day as the company's CEO, which may see Luvo's expanding footprint grow even larger.
A year ago, Luvo was in 100 stores in California; now it's in roughly 6,000 nationwide, including Whole Foods and Target, and is providing in-flight food for Delta. "Their fresh and delicious products have been so well received by our customers that we're planning to expand our engagement," says Peter Wilander, Delta's managing director of onboard services. Food writer Jane Black taste-tests:
Foodie Cred: Flaxseed is the Olivia Wilde of the ingredient world—smart, sexy, and not yet overused. So Luvo made it the star of its crust, which is made and wood-fired in Modena, Italy.
Review: A whole-grain crust is often a surefire way to ruin a pizza. But this one is crispy, chewy, and delicious. The long-cooked onions, mushrooms, and ricotta thankfully stop short of being too sweet.
Foodie Cred: Luvo dresses up its Southwestern entrée with smoky chipotle-pepper puree and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds for crunch. Style points: A slice of tomato, hidden under the chicken, helps the dish cleanly slide out of the pouch and onto a plate.
Review: The polenta is creamy and the beans hearty. Only complaint: The chicken was a tad rubbery after a spin in the microwave. Put this one in the oven.
Foodie Cred: Luvo adds quinoa to its oatmeal—pleasing the Whole Foods crowd and lending a nutty flavor and a punch of protein. There are only 120 milligrams of sodium, less than half that of the comparable Quaker's Maple and Brown Sugar.
Review: The steel-cut oats have texture, and the dried cranberries and coconut pay off. But the peaches and pineapple taste weird when hot out of the microwave.
Foodie Cred: Luvo's vegan offering includes quinoa, wheat berries, and organic brown rice, which is grown by farmers who don't flood their fields (an environmental no-no).
Review: Tastes healthy, but not punishingly so. The grains add texture, as do the slivers of toasted almonds. Steamed kale, artichokes, and zucchini—all perfectly cooked—remind us why it's good to eat our vegetables.