Spicing up healthy meals: Two businesses blend convenience with flavorful dining

Jan. 9, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by The Spice & Tea Exchange.

For many, the countdown to the new year represents a launch into healthier habits after holiday indulgence.

A relationship between two local food businesses means you won’t need to give up convenience or taste to adopt that healthier lifestyle.

The Spice & Tea Exchange supplies custom blends, salts, peppers, spices and herbs for Healthy M.E., a prepared-meal business catering to time-strapped people. The homemade meals, all microwavable in minutes, cut out the allergens, lower the fat and serve up proportioned sizes to curb overeating.

The Spice & Tea Exchange owners Tami and Vernon Brown said the two businesses’ goals are well aligned.

“We’re both creating and sharing the experience of a more flavorful life,” Tami Brown said. “We’re working together on ingredients and an event to show people how to cook using our fresh spices for better, bolder, healthier taste.”

Yung Ring, Healthy M.E. owner, researches recipes and replaces the allergens and unhealthy ingredients — yet none of the revised recipes skimp on taste. Ring credits much of that to the ingredients she uses from the Browns’ store.

“I fell in love with their spices the first time I walked in,” Ring said. “I came in for the tea, which is my favorite thing in the world, but The Spice & Tea Exchange’s cooking ingredients are the freshest you’ll find. You can sense it as soon as you walk in and smell the store. You know these are not grocery store spices where the shelf life has caused the spices’ smell and flavor to go away.”

Ring replenishes her supplies from the store almost weekly. Her favorite product: Black Truffle Garlic Custom Blend, which, like almost all the blends on the shelves, is hand-blended in the Browns’ store.

“I tested the Black Truffle Garlic with a vegan friend who eats pretty simply with steamed vegetables. I put it on potatoes for him, and he loved it,” Ring said.

She used the same custom blend on her family’s Christmas prime rib.

Ring said the shopping experience in The Spice & Tea Exchange is a great start to a food journey.

“Whether it’s a professional cook or someone learning to cook, The Spice & Tea Exchange gives the shopper a chance to get his or her hands on the product, see it and smell it. That makes all the difference,” she said. “It takes the guesswork out of buying a jar in the grocery store that you can’t experience.”

Although Ring prepares healthy meals for convenient customer pickup at Science Nutrition stores and various gyms, she likes to see people learn to cook for themselves too. She encourages people to experiment with a forgiving meat, like chicken or pork.

“Then walk into The Spice & Tea Exchange, smell everything, and find some ingredient that draws you in. Put on a little olive oil and then the spices on that meat (the custom blends are the easiest because they’re made for meat), let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to absorb the flavors, and bake or grill it the next day.”

Brown has experienced some of Ring’s healthy dishes.

“Often people think you have to give up flavor for health. That’s not the case with Yung’s meals,” Brown said. “I’d put her prepared meals up against any restaurant.”

Customer experience also creates a synergy between the two businesses.

“Walking into The Spice & Tea Exchange is the beginning of the flavorful experience. Eating a carefully prepared meal at your table is the pleasant end to that journey,” Ring said.

Customers can get that cooking know-how in a class Ring will teach at The Spice & Tea Exchange, 328 S. Phillips Ave., at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21. Seating is limited to a dozen and costs $25. Participants will leave with recipes and ingredients to cook with at home. Email t.brown@spiceandtea.com to register or call 605-310-8182.

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Spicing up healthy meals: Two businesses blend convenience with flavorful dining

Who says healthy meals have to taste bland or take a long time to make? Thanks to this collaboration, it’s never been easier – or tastier – to eat well this new year.

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