Sisters Annette Baker and Marianne Lacko opened Nature’s Plate in 2011 as a small, part-time venture. Now, it’s a plant-based kitchen that offers grab-and-go food and weekly meal plans with one storefront in Lake Highlands and another opening at Preston and Forest in a couple of months.
Vegans for nearly 20 years, Baker and Lacko come from a corporate background. At the request of friends, family and coworkers, they began making vegan meals. From there, they learned more about commercial cooking, began developing recipes and opened the store in 2015.
Based on the belief that whole, plant-based foods are a large part of the answer to society’s biggest health issues — obesity, heart disease, diabetes — Nature’s Plate aims to make it easier to add real food to people’s diets while cutting out processed, factory-farmed items.
Everything at Nature’s Plate is vegan.
“We use the term plant-based because it’s very health-oriented,” Baker says. “We have a lot of customers who are vegan, certainly, but we have more customers who aren’t vegan and just want healthy food.
“The building blocks of our food are vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts," she says. "About 75 percent of our food is gluten-free. We have soy-free and nut-free options as well. Most of our ingredients are organic — not all of them, because we want to keep costs reasonable — but we do organic for the Dirty Dozen all the time and everything else as much as we can.”
Nature’s Plate sells breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, baked goods and smoothies. All the food is made fresh on-site, and it also offers prepackaged meals to go (think Snap Kitchen or Simply Fit Meals) or weekly meal plans.
Meal plans start at $37 a week. For that, you get to choose five regular-sized meals (300-400 calories). Options include spaghetti and “meatballs,” sweet potato enchiladas, buffalo chickpea salad wrap, broccoli “cheese” baked potato and shepherd’s pie. You can easily pause or skip a week.
This week, Nature’s Plate is launching a no-added-oil meal option as well.
“People who are recovering from heart disease or cancer, or who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are really interested in this option. There’s a growing demand for no-oil-added foods, and we’re the only ones doing it,” Baker says.
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Try the no-added-oil chickpea noodle soup ($6.50), with a thick, hearty broth, whole-grain pasta and veggies. The barbecue plate ($8.50) comes with smoky-sweet barbecue baked tofu, steamed broccoli and garlicky mashed potatoes.
With its grab-and-go and meal-plan-based business model, Nature’s Plate’s mission is to make plant-based, whole food accessible, convenient and satisfying.
“We’re not trying to get everybody to go vegan," Baker says. "We’re just trying to get people to eat more plants."
Nature's Plate, 10233 Northwest Highway