By Shom Chowdhury, Indie Fresh founder
Indie Fresh was built to offer customers chef-prepared & nutritionist-approved menu items, which are healthy and don’t sacrifice flavor, with direct delivery to the customer.
The ‘healthy’ market has a lot of offerings in different categories: vegan, raw, paleo, juice, etc. — but I didn’t see a one-stop shop for people who were willing to make the commitment, forget about the cheat day, follow a regular exercise regimen, and eat healthy — every day.
Chef Akhtar Nawab (Iron Chef, La Esquina) and I have been friends and workout buddies for years. I won’t say how long because it will give up my age! (I’m 41.) Initially, we set out to make the perfect soup that balanced protein, calories, and other nutritional elements with taste. Soup allowed us to capture the nutrients of juices, proteins, and veggies, while being easy to package and distribute in a retail format. So we got a kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC and started cooking. Him mostly, I’m not really allowed in there.
"The ‘healthy’ market has a lot of offerings in different categories: vegan, raw, paleo, juice, etc. — but I didn’t see a one-stop shop for people who were willing to make the commitment, forget about the cheat day, follow a regular exercise regimen, and eat healthy — every day."
For the nutritional piece, we worked with nutritionist Bridget Bennett to validate not only the ingredients we were using, but the preparation process. Her expertise with the dangers of processed foods (nutritionist in Oscar nominated documentary ‘Supersize Me’) is key to our product development. We don’t necessarily follow a trend, but we’re Paleo friendly and completely gluten-free. We are also dairy-free on almost all products, except our Blueberry Cayenne Smoothie which contains Whey Protein.
After soups, we expanded into mashes, burgers, juices, shakes, and dried goods. Everything was designed to be a meal with the exception of juices, which we felt were good accessories but not meals on their own.
We don’t necessarily believe in cleansing or achieving dietary objectives through abstaining from food or exercise. We saw that on cleanses or low calorie programs, people tended to lose weight only to gain more back, and were also complaining about loss of energy and being ‘hangry’.
We wanted to introduce something more sustainable. It isn’t a secret or magic: simply exercise and eat right! Our focus is to make the ‘eat right’ part easy: order a subscription, order right now, order a program, order a la carte. And we’ll deliver to you. We have retail locations in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea Market, which we love — but their purpose is more as a distribution point and customer engagement. Our true focus is to get product to YOU, when YOU want it.
"Our focus is to make the ‘eat right’ part easy: order a subscription, order right now, order a program, order a la carte."
After spending a little over a year perfecting our food categories (our Blueberry Cayenne Smoothie is on its 54th iteration...), we were in a position to launch our meal programs: #myindie. So in mid-April, we did, just in time for summer!
#myindie meal kits are the curated meal programs of Indie Fresh Athletes: the trainers, nutritionists, and fitness buffs we work with. My favorite for the summer is #myindie ASHLEY, which was designed by Ashley Wilking — an Under Armour teammate, and fitness trainer at Bandier Studio B and Bari. In her ‘spare time’, she is training for the New York City Triathlon. She also cross-trains in boxing, martial arts, yoga, and road cycling.
The diversity in her training regimen makes her an exceptional fitness trainer; from a meal development perspective it forced us to curate a plan that provided energy and the necessary nutrients to fuel these exercise pursuits, but also allow the customer to achieve a lean physique. We call this: “every day athlete tested” or E.D.A.T. Just kidding we don’t have an acronym for it, but it would be cool if we did! But back to serious-ville, without Ashley and Indie Fresh Athletes like Jes Woods (Nike, Mile High Run Club) and Shannon Mullen (Barry’s Bootcamp) we wouldn’t be able to prove the efficacy of our products and programs.
Keeping the majority of the plan liquid-based allows the customer to stay light during the day. Extra energy isn’t used for digestion, which allows it to be there for activity — and the clean ingredients we’re providing additionally fuel that pursuit. There are also “food economies of scale” in some of the products used here, like the Wake Up Ashley, which combines coffee with a protein shake of Aloha premium plant-based protein. And the Rice Protein Pudding, a healthy version of 'pudding’ to satisfy your sweet tooth, made of an Acai Fig Puree with Arborio rice, Quinoa, and Black Chia Seeds. The Blueberry Cayenne Smoothie combines whey protein with Aloha Plant Based protein so you get the best of both worlds, in addition to the energy and metabolic assistance from cayenne.
"Extra energy isn’t used for digestion, which allows it to be there for activity — and the clean ingredients we’re providing additionally fuel that pursuit."
We partnered with Aloha and integrated a lot of their products into our mix. Some are in the recipes, like the plant-based protein in all of our smoothies. In our nutritionist’s opinion, there isn’t a better, cleaner, high quality plant-based protein. We also love their natural chocolates and teas. In this plan, Ashley has incorporated the Aloha Beauty tea, which is a great wind down to the day. It also fills you up, so you aren’t tempted to eat M&M’s... not that there’s anything wrong with them, they’re just not in the program!
I like this plan because it’s very efficient. Like all of our plans, it’s good for gals and guys to experience on-the-go. Try it with your wife, your boyfriend, or 10 of your coworkers... And most importantly it’s so easy to START TODAY. I know I say this is a perfect plan for the summer, but in all honesty, our plans aren’t strictly seasonal and they are great to consume year-round.
We send our plans out in easy-to-carry cooler bags with reusable ice packs, so you can take them to the office, on your motorcycle to the Hamptons, the gym, anywhere you need to go. Order 1 to 5 days at a time. We use HPP technology to kill germs and extend shelf life, so you’re good there.
Want a real challenge? Do 7 days of our plan and Barry’s Bootcamp every day, and if you’re not feeling GREAT when you’re done, I’ll give you your money back... for our stuff AND Barry’s!
And just for Sweat Life readers, use code "SWEATLIFE20" for 20% off any order for the next 2 weeks. Enjoy!
Shom Chowdhury is the Founder & CEO of Indie Fresh, a NYC based healthy food company. He loves group fitness at Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle, Shadowbox, and private training with Mike Aidala. His hobbies include playing the guitar badly and motorcycles. Shom graduated from Rutgers, and was formerly with Juice Press and Navigant. Shom lives in Chelsea, NYC, and was born and raised in New Jersey.