With everyone busier than ever, eating right is an option that sometimes just requires too much time.

So, instead of going home after work and cooking, a drive-through becomes the easier option after a long day.

Need a quick drink? Coffee or a Coke will do the trick.

Sweet tooth kicking in? There are plenty of quick, sugary options.

But today, especially here in Wesley Chapel, those aren’t your only options.In fact, it seems like more and more new places are popping up in and around our area that are focusing on giving you healthier options to quench those drivetime urges.

Here’s a look at a few of them:


Matthew Soboski and Andria Taylor say they haven’t gotten any complaints about the taste and customers love the convenience of FitLife Foods. (Photos: John C. Cotey)

FITLIFE FOODS: While Fitlife is not new — it’s been located at 1821 Bruce B Downs for six years — it does meet all the criteria as a place that offers a quick, healthy meal or snack.

In fact, you can pick up a meal to pop in the microwave at home, or even have the meals delivered to your home to save you a stop.

Fitlife takes healthy eating to a new level. Each store — there are twelve in Florida that offer pick-up or delivery — also offers one-on-one health and wellness coaching as part of its Project U.

So, if you’re looking to lose weight, have more energy or just eat healthier, Fitlife’s certified wellness coaches can customize a plan for you…for free. They will check your body composition and determine how and what you should eat to achieve your goal, whatever that may be.

You could choose to have as many meals, which are all broken down by macros and portioned out, supplied by Fitlife as you like. While there are many meal delivery companies out there, you have to prepare them yourself and determine the portion and macros yourself. Matthew Soboski, the Community Store Leader (or manager) at the Wesley Chapel location, says Fitlife does all that work for you.

He says all 60 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) are prepared in their culinary center in Plant City, and are made with only the best ingredients. There are 39 sauces and 13 special house spice blends used in preparation.

Does it taste good? With dishes like Crème Brûlée French Toast, Asparagus & Goat Cheese Torta, Butternut Coconut Curry, Jamaican Pork Tenderloin and Cuban Beef Picadillo, it certainly sounds like it.

“The don’t taste healthy,” Soboski says. “But they are.”

FitLife may not be a cheap option, but it is a healthy and convenient one, a combination difficult to find when you are strapped for time.

For more information, call (813) 365-3255 or visit EatFitlifeFoods.com. — JCC

Healthy chicken wrap

BALANCED FOODS: The new prepackaged meal supplier on the block, Balanced Foods (as we reported previously) is a six-store chain which started in Woodlands, TX, and is now open in the former La Prima Pizza location next to Super Target in the North Woods Plaza at 1211 Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. (just north of County Line Rd.), only about half a mile south of Fitlife Foods.

Balanced Foods offers small, medium and large portions for lunch and dinner and the store’s in-house kitchen provides these fresh, healthy, house-made entrées like roasted vegetable and tenderloin, City Grilled chicken (right) with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans and even a really delicious chicken salad snack with gluten-free crackers and celery.

Speaking of snacks, Balanced Foods also offers a large variety, including packaged items like yummy ChipMonk banana chocolate chip sunflower Keto Bites and addictive ICON Meals peanut butter vanilla Protein Popcorn.

Balanced Foods has a current promotion to get you started — spend $25 and get 20% off when you show a staff member a social media check-in. 

For more information, call (813) 778-4874 or visit BalancedFoods.com. — GN

Urban Grid Nutrition owners Luis and Fiorella (Fio) Diou

URBAN GRID NUTRITION: Located at 26244 Wesley Chapel Blvd. in Lutz, Urban Grid Nutrition owners Luis and Fiorella (Fio) Diou say their goal is to provide healthier fast food that tastes good.

Only open since March, the quaint location has a coffee house feel —though it is currently curbside pickup only — with treats that are healthier than what you can get at other places.

“We are basically like a brunch place, but with healthier alternatives,” Fio says. “Everything on our menu has protein, and it’s all very low in sugar. It’s a healthy option for people to have a treat, but still stay on track with their fitness goals.”

Fiorella says most of the sweetness in their menu items comes from the fruits and sometimes, stevia is used as an alternative. They cut back on flour and will subsitute protein powder to achieve that healthier balance.

Urban Grid’s hottest items are their donuts, which are popular with the local crossfit crowd. They are sweet enough plain, with 18 grams of protein, but you can get them topped with Oreos, Cocoa Pebbles and other sweets.

Healthier waffles are popular at Urban Grid Nutrition on Wesley Chapel Blvd.

 “Instead of three Krispy Kreme donuts, which I love don’t get me wrong, if you get three of ours instead, it makes a huge difference,” says Luis.

Urban Grid offers healthy shakes, energizing teas, waffles (only 300 calories, and with 35 grams of protein), oats and açai bowls that all have less sugar, more protein and still taste like a guilty pleasure.

A Dulce de Leche and Cookies n’ Cream shake, for example, has 200 calories, 24 grams of protein and only 10 grams of sugar. And, you can pay for extra protien, fat reducer, fiber of probiotics if you choose.

A skinny coffee has 100 calories and 15 grams of protein, and there are sugar-free “Refresher” teas — with flavors like Gummy Bear, Urban Mojito and Starburst — made with green tea extract that have only 15 calories.

Luis and Fiorella live healthy lifestyles, and are committed to their fitness. And, their store caters to the athlete on a strict diet. But, Luis says, after eating right and exercising all week, “it’s nice to have a treat, and nice to have those healthier options.”

For more information, call (813) 388-9278 or visit “UrbanGrid Nutrition” on Facebook. — JCC

Refuel Energy & Nutrition’s Jemiola Smart.

REFUEL ENERGY & NUTRITION: Another non-chain  newcomer to the Wesley Chapel nutritional scene, Refuel is located at 30004 County Line Rd. in Meadow Pointe (in the small plaza next to CVS) and specializes in healthier, lower-sugar beverages which can be enhanced with fiber, protein, probiotics, “new mom” boosts and more.

Co-owners Jemilla Smart and Ellie Garza are proud that their quaint little store has attracted everyone from serious athletes to post-natal moms trying to lose the baby weight.

“Our shakes, smoothies, teas and refreshers are lower in calories, carbs and sugar and are higher in protein than what you’ll find at the other smoothie shops,” Jemila (photo below) says. “Here, you can enjoy sweet treats that taste like your favorite ice cream, cakes, candy, cookies and other sweet treats, without any of the guilt!”

Smoothies at Refuel Energy are meal replacements with just 250 calories, only 13 carbs and 8 grams of sugar, with 24 grams of protein and 21 essential vitamins and nutrients. 

Refuel Energy’s low-calorie teas come in more than 50 flavors — from Airheads to white peach sangria (with no alcohol)  — and they all contain caffeine to jump-start your metabolism. You can even add “enhancers” to your tea or refresher, everything from collagen to protein and they can even be made with sparkling water.

“We are focused on optimum nutrition and fitness for everyone,” Jemila says. “This isn’t a diet. It’s a way to live your best life!”

For more info, call (813) 388-9122 or search “RefuelTampa” on Facebook.    

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