AP NEWS

Grab something good

May 2, 2019

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience reigns. But as many ordinary people become more health-conscious, we find ourselves moving away from fast food and to the brilliant concept of grab-and-go.

Fortunately for Southeast Texans, more local eateries are providing fresh, healthy food options that can be picked up on your drive home, popped in the oven or microwave and ready to enjoy in minutes.

Gather: Paleo Cafe and Market

Housed in an inconspicuous shopping center in Port Neches, Gather offers gourmet-quality meals created with seasonal ingredients from local producers and farmers. Weekly menu items are paleo-friendly, gluten-free and often comply with Whole30 and keto guidelines.

The cold-case is always stocked with items to take home. Grab-and-go items are reflective of the weekly menu with anything from brunch omelets to soups to entrees.

A recent offering of creamy chicken soup was an unexpected combination of smoky shredded chicken and chunks of bacon. It was creamy and rich, with complex peppery flavor. The Cuban pork-stuffed baked sweet potato was simultaneously hearty and healthy. The shredded pork was tender and juicy, beautifully complemented by a topping of crunchy vegetables, including sliced radishes, and drizzled with house-made jalapeño ranch dressing.

1811 Magnolia Ave., Port Neches; 409.527.9696

For the Love of Foods

With its original location in Nederland and the newest spot on Calder Avenue in Beaumont, For the Love of Foods takes the prep out of food prep. While it also offers smoothies snacks and desserts, the pre-prepped meals are the main draw.

Menus are posted weekly and typically offer fish, red meat, chicken and vegetarian options. A Poke Bowl loaded with fresh raw vegetables and melt-in-your-mouth fresh tuna was a delight and just filling enough for an entire meal. The nutrition and freshness were palpable. The Skinny Bang Bang Shrimp featured jumbo Gulf shrimp tossed in a flavorful Asian sauce. Served with fluffy rice and perfectly cooked veggies, it was simple, yet satisfying.

Nederland: 2505 Nederland Ave.; 409.722.3663

Beaumont: 3695 Calder Ave.; 409.363.5300

K2 Cafe & Carry-Out

Katharine & Company has continued their commitment to fresh, flavorful and healthy food for Southeast Texans at their new carry-out location on Calder. Packaged items such as the new cauliflower crust pizza, spaghetti and meatballs and spinach enchiladas await you in a stand-up cooler.

If you have a few more moments to ponder, build your own feast from the wide variety offered in the deli-style glass-front case. There are always perfectly prepared vegetables, such as grilled asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts and French-cut green beans with almonds. The protein options range from beautifully grilled salmon to meatloaf cupcakes to individual chicken pot pies. Create a meal just for yourself, or take home large containers to feed the family for a few days.

4150 Calder Ave., 409.347.0030

This Fit Fuel

Tapping into the meal prep trend, This Fit Fuel offers a clever system for those desiring pre-measured meals that are delicious and health-conscious. Their menu offers a wide range of entrees and sides. And there’s a variety of sizes, including “snack,” “littles,” “bigs” and “gigantors.”

Many of the dishes here are seasoned with a proprietary Cajun blend of herbs and spices, and yes, it tastes good.

An unexpected poultry option is the Delicious Duck Fries, which are tender, flavorful and surprisingly not gamey. Pair them with the roasted Brussels sprouts and garlic roasted carrots for an energizing meal that complies with most diet trends. A weekly special Booyah Beef Fajita stew -- shredded beef marinated and simmered slow and low -- was mouthwatering when combined with sides of sautéed mushrooms and onions with bell peppers.

For extra flavor points, skip the microwave and reheat your meal in a skillet with a splash of olive oil.

730 Liberty Ave., 409.273.0607

Jack’s Pak-It

For busy families in SETX, Jack’s Pak-It has been providing delicious to-go meals for decades. The store offers everything from traditional broccoli salad to lasagna to tantalizing desserts. Since it also includes an in-house meat market, you can take home a baked potato and steak for a five-star meal that requires only minimal fuss.

A meal of macaroni and cheese, bacon green beans and homestyle meatloaf was comforting and delicious on every level. The green beans still had a hint of crispness, and the meatloaf was just as good as grandma’s. A single person will have enough for a few days, or a family can enjoy a home-cooked meal without anyone slaving over the stove after a hard day’s work.

4505 Calder Ave., 409.892.6345