Laurel Dunwoody has been feeding people for years. The personal chef operated her own catering business for more than 15 years. She has provided pastries, desserts and bread for The Grand Cafe and also worked at Capitol CORK and Provisions, in downtown Jefferson City, and served as the pastry and catering chef for Tiger Hotel & The Velvet Cupcake in Columbia.
Her most recent venture is Love2Nourish, 712 Jefferson St., where she makes healthy, nutritious meals for her clients, who order and pay online. There’s a new menu each week on the company’s Facebook page and clients make their orders on a Wednesday for pick up or delivery on Sunday. The tasty offerings range from entrées like balsamic glazed salmon and roasted Brussel sprouts, quinoa Tabouli to dark chocolate gluten free protein waffles and baked eggs in ham cups.
“I’m putting real food in your body and providing meals that aren’t highly processed and feature locally sourced ingredients,” said Dunwoody, who tested a variety of meals on friends and coworkers before devising the menu.
Each meal comes with a label that provides all the macronutrients – calories, protein and fats as well as the amount of grams of carbohydrates, fiber and sugars and reheating instructions, too. The prepared meals are priced between $6.50 and $10.
For clients seeking nutrition counseling, she refers them to her own trainer, Nicci Howard of HeartStrong Fitness, who can help clients with weight loss plans and healthier portion control.
“My dad was a cook in the navy and then a truck driver while we were growing up in Kansas City. During the week we ate chicken pot pies and lots of other frozen prepared meals but when dad was home for the weekend he cooked.” She’s continued the tradition with her own kids. “They’ve cooked with me since they could reach the counter. We made healthy food. No Captain Crunch for my kids!”
Her background is in technology – she received her bachelor of science degree in management, with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems, in May of 2001 from William Woods University and has worked in this capacity for many years with state government. All throughout her career though she has loved to cook. “I would bake things for coworkers and then I started catering light lunches.” She started The Kneadin’ Dough Bakery in Ashland, where she and her husband, Kirt, took turns getting up in the middle of the night to make cinnamon roles for the Break Time Convenience Stores in Ashland, Jefferson City and Columbia. “It was a crazy schedule but we had a blast during this time.” In January of 2011 she opened Nourish Personal Chef & Catering Services and operated that from her home in Tebbetts, Missouri until last October.
she started working out with Nicci Howard at HeartStrong Fitness. “Nicci coached me on exercise and nutrition for heart and body and I started keeping a food log and keeping track of my macronutrients. It’s hard to do this sometimes when you’re eating out and it’s challenging for busy people, too. Nicci creates meal plans that are a new way of eating for a lot of people.”
I wanted to eat fewer calories but also to choose high volume foods that made me feel fuller. I realized that a lot of athletes, busy parents and others needed a service to make these kind of meals for them, too. I decided to move out of the bakery business and open Love2Nourish. Before I started the company I tested some of my meals on athletes, and others from age 37 to 78 and they all felt full and satisfied after eating them.”
“My daughter, Sarah Burbee, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who currently resides in Philadelphia (she used to be the Diabetes Educator at Capital Region Medical Center). She set up an initial database for me of all macronutrients for common foods that I use. If the food isn’t currently in that database, I look it up on Choose My Plate or I will enter a recipe into myfitnesspal and let it calculate the macronutrients.”
and can be prepared gluten-free, low-sodium and low-carb, too. She’s now making healthy, protein-rich breakfast options, too, and will soon add snacks to the menu. “Most of the meat dishes and vegetables are my own creation but sometimes I’ll find a recipe on a website.” Each entree is precooked and comes with reheating instructions.
“When I was younger I watched the health of my parents deteriorate. Both of my parents smoked. My dad had his first heart attack at the age of 48, and also has diabetes. My mom died from cancer. They both lived to be in their late 60’s, early 70’s, but had chronic health problems. I want to be around for my children and my children’s children. I want to be around for my children and my children’s children. In addition to taking care of ourselves through fitness and exercise, I truly believe that the food that we put our bodies has an impact on our daily well-being. When I was young and would ask my parents to change an unhealthy habit, like ask them to stop smoking, I got in trouble for sassing them. When my children ask me to do something to improve my health, I do it because I respect them and want to be here for as long as I can be…and in good health.”