Marianne Lacko and Annette Baker want to help you make healthy eating choices, and they want your every meal (and snack) to be delicious. The sisters, both Lake Highlands residents, recently opened Nature’s Plate on Northwest Highway near Gecko Hardware.
“We started an online and delivery version of Nature’s Plate a couple of years ago,” explains Marianne, who worked [and continues working] in the technology division of a major investment bank. When Marianne would arrive at the office with healthy, delicious lunches each day, her co-workers wanted some, too.
“Annette and I have always cooked healthy meals on Sunday to last for the week. One of my co-workers asked if she could pay us to cook for her because our meals looked so healthy and yummy. I had just had my daughter, so I didn’t think I could do it, but my sister loved the idea and started the next week. It all grew from there. We later added cookies brownies, muffins and more, and I started helping by cooking on the weekends. My sister left her full time job in November of 2014. We opened the Nature’s Plate kitchen and storefront in August of 2015 and have been thrilled with the response we have gotten thus far from the community. We love being in Lake Highlands.”
The women’s mission, says Marianne, “is to make plant-based, healthy meals accessible and convenient and, of course, tasty and satisfying. We founded Nature’s Plate based on the belief that whole, plant-based foods are a major part of the answer to our society’s biggest issues, including obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and general lack of health and vitality. We are driven to share this concept with others and make it easier to add real food to their diets while cutting out processed, factory-farmed items. We know from personal experience – having been vegan for more than 10 years – that a plant-based diet, based on whole, unprocessed food, can do wonders for energy level, weight maintenance and athletic ability. Annette and I are avid runners and have seen huge improvements in our endurance and strength since eating this way.”
Many people want to make a healthy change with the start of the new year, says Annette, but they just aren’t sure how to begin. One customer, a member of a nearby gym, started ordering from Nature’s Plate just after they opened.
“After he had eaten Nature’s Plate for a couple of weeks, he admitted he had never heard of a lot of our ingredients and had no idea what some of it was but that it all tastes good and he loves it. He’s been ordering several meals every week since then.”
“We were stuck in a poor eating rut,” wrote Ashton B. in a Yelp review, “as in, I’m not sure when I last ate an actual vegetable. I wanted to make a change for the better, but I had a hard time believing that a diet consisting mostly of plant-based foods could possibly taste good and be satisfying since I typically avoid salads and begrudgingly eat vegetables as occasional side dishes. I have been absolutely shocked by how delicious everything has been! A few of my favorites so far are the veggie mac, tofu scramble taco, black bean & quinoa taco, enchiladas, chickpea jalfrezi, tortilla soup, cranberry chickpea salad, quinoa and black bean salad, and oatmeal raisin cookies (and the lemon tahini salad dressing is awesome).”
Yes, but don’t you want to know the sisters’ guiltiest food pleasures?
“Dessert!” says Marianne. “I love, love the cakes at Spiral Diner in Oak Cliff and Ft. Worth. When we want to celebrate, that’s where we go. I actually really enjoy all of the food that I eat – when I don’t eat well, I don’t feel good. Those things are so closely related for me that I don’t eat much that doesn’t fit the whole, fresh, unprocessed model. That being said, I do love sweets, which is why I have spent the last 10 years figuring out how to make desserts that aren’t just vegan but are as healthy as they can be by using whole grain flours (or even just ground up nuts) and unrefined sugars or dates for sweeteners. We feature many of these at Nature’s Plate – we have cookies, brownies, bundt cakes and muffins and they are really good. I take them to work and people don’t know they are vegan, much less relatively healthy.”
If you go, look for several extended family members helping around the store. Marianne’s husband, John, shops for groceries and runs errands, Annette’s partner, Mark, does construction tasks, and several other related folks pitch in.
Nature’s Plate is located at 10233 E. Northwest Highway. You can view their menu here. They open at 10 a.m. (they’re closed on Tuesdays) and you can purchase one meal, meals for a week, or anything in between.