Eat Well with Bone-In Food: Convenient (& Delicious) Clean Eating in Chilltown

If you’ve followed me on Twitter or read this blog for a while, you know that late spring-early summer of this year wasn’t the greatest time of my life. My body fought back in April, landing me in the ER on Easter. We still don’t know why, but it was not enjoyable. It’s stomach-related – that much we know – and it ranged from extremely uncomfortable to extremely painful. It’s also stress and diet-related – that much I can surmise – which launched a wellness journey to own my personal health from now on. Thankfully, at the moment (while we still wait for answers two months later), I feel fine.

But without those struggles, I likely wouldn’t have dug so deep to find out what an incredible wellness community exists in Jersey City. My struggles gave me an extra push over the edge I had been dancing along for more than a year. I spoke to Busy Bee Organics prior to the push, knowing it was time to put some pieces of the nutrition puzzle together, but even that effort was waylaid by the stress I was under and the schedule I was attempting to maintain.

When my illness struck, I found myself temporarily paralyzed by what was happening. With no answers, the only obvious deduction I could make was that three years of massive, massive stress (under the all too familiar New York City guise of “hustling”) had built up on top of a less-than-ideal diet thanks to pregnancy weaknesses and habits I haven’t done a good job of shaking (namely indulging in too many sweets, processed foods and pregnant lady-sized portions around an otherwise completely organic diet).

Western medicine wasn’t helping when the going got tough, aside from treating symptoms and holding the pain at bay. So at the advice of my sister, a health coach in Australia, I immediately went on an elimination diet. At the very least, it would reset my distressed gut and give it a break while we waited for answers.

That meant eliminating everything that is “tasty” (in an unhealthy, addictive, trick-your-taste buds kind of way) like sugar, processed fats (well, processed anything at all), alcohol, coffee (I cried for modcup every day), dairy, meat and even fruit (total sugar elimination, in case of a parasite)… I essentially ate only vegetables with coconut oil for flavor, broths and water for three weeks.

It was scary, and every food-related decision I made was based on the fear of pain and discomfort. It's no way to exist. My brain told me, “I’m starving!” though I wasn’t. I lost 10 pounds in one week, which would have been exciting, if the circumstances had been anything remotely close to fun.

After a day of eating broths made of hot water and bouillon cubes, the little voice at the back of my mind began to scream. I knew that a bouillon cube would do nothing to help the situation. In fact, it was exactly what I should avoid. I needed real bone broths.

Enter Bone-In Food, stage left.

I tweeted to owners Ron Mirante and Virginia Dimaio-Mirante in my dazed-and-confused-panic, desperate for the right thing. I confessed I was drinking bouillon broths, and Ron said, “Don’t you dare!”

He was on our doorstep at 9 PM that very night with every kind of broth they had (beef, chicken, fish and mushroom) in hand. I was nearly crying in gratitude and relief. I drank one within the hour and the difference in taste was amazing. It was fresh, flavorful and … not salty. It becomes pretty clear tasting bouillon broth and a true bone broth within the same 24 hours that one is MSG, salt, flavoring and additives, and one is… all natural, good for you and going to help your body.

Just as I had with Busy Bee Organics, I'd observed the Mirante's at the Jersey City Farmers’ Markets last summer, and then read more of their backstory on ChicpeaJC. As such, being vaguely familiar with why they opened Bone-In, I knew that Ron would relate to my pain, and that that Bone-In was exactly where I needed to turn in that moment. They were.

Ron went through a similar-but-different health battle and clean eating saved him. Just two years ago, in July of 2013, Ron was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease called Stills Disease with Acute Pericarditis. Doctors could not figure out what was wrong, which almost cost him his life, and resulted in higher than acceptable dosages of corticosteroids and other heavy body-deteriorating drugs. So he turned to what he was putting in his mouth.

"Changing [our] methods of eating has not only assisted in preventing the side effects of prescribed drugs (osteoporosis, diabetes and cataracts, to name a few) but has also strengthened [Ron's] immune system to better control this disease. Both [of us] have experienced weight loss, higher levels of energy and physical fitness, mental clarity and improvements at the cellular level."

This experience and life change inspired Ron and Virginia to combine their years of experience in service and hospitality management, and spread awareness by sharing their wealth of knowledge with a side of home-cooked, organic, all-natural food. Which is why they call Bone-In a "knowledge-based food service." I just call it delicious.

Since the night Ron delivered late-night emergency broths, I’ve gotten to know them a bit better, but it still took a while (until I could eat normally again) before I could try everything else they have to offer. And they offer quite a bit!

We sampled their chimichurri sauce at the market, then bought one, brought it home and put it on e-ve-ry-thing from steak to eggs.

But it's most fun to order and enjoy their weekly 3-course meal offering. They announce their meals on Monday, and then you can order (via text -- just text "FEEDME" to 313131 to subscribe and receive the menus, as well as to place an order) throughout the rest of the week.

Once I was able to eat more freely, I waited for their weekly menu to be announced and immediately texted back asking for ASAP delivery. Ironically, Ron showed up just minutes after my FreshDirect delivery. No, I don’t want to cook my dinner tonight, thank you very much, I want to enjoy what you made instead!

The World’s Cutest Human was very excited to see Ron (who she knew had her “chichen dinner”), and brought a parade of her six Elmo dolls to show him (her signature mark of approval and acceptance) while I paid. A 3-course meal is $20 plus tax. You can also skip the sweets and just get the first two courses for $15 plus tax. They charge a flat $4 delivery fee, which covers the tip, Square service fees and the convenience of your dinner arriving hot on your doorstep! But you can also pick up your meals at the Wednesday Hamilton Park or Thursday Grove Street Farmers’ Markets at 6:30 PM, piping hot and ready to enjoy, or at their store at 339 Johnston Avenue in Jersey City (click here for directions).

After chatting with Ron for a few minutes to learn about the new store and changes since they picked back up with delivery for the summer, I marched into my kitchen with this bag to take a look at our goodies and plate our dinners.

We were still waiting for my Love to get home from work, but the WCH was starving, so I decided to give her a head start taste. Big mistake. Or perhaps the big mistake was that I had only ordered two meals, instead of three, thinking I’d share a bit with her and then give her something else (so as not to waste the money if she rejected it = life with a two year old). Lesson learned, as she quickly gobbled down 75% of my meal, begging for, “Mo’ chichen, mama!?” Guess it was best I left those FreshDirect groceries in the fridge and let Ron and Virginia take the wheel!

The menu we ordered that week was a Spinach and Fig Salad (organic spinach, organic red onion, organic pecan, organic dried figs, local raw honey, organic lemon, organic extra virgin olive oil and Celtic sea salt), BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps (pasture raised chicken, bone-in organic BBQ dry rub, organic lettuce, organic cabbage, organic carrot, organic red onion, organic lime, organic extra virgin olive oil and Celtic sea salt) with Apple Walnut Tart Bites (organic apples, grass fed ghee, walnuts, organic dates, organic cinnamon, organic nutmeg and Celtic sea salt) for dessert.

While the WCH gobbled down my chicken, I snuck one (okay, maybe two) of the tart bites and died with happiness. By the time my Love got home, she and I were deep in foodie bliss. He barely made it to the party in time, but luckily I had saved him a plate.

I can’t speak enough of how delicious their food is. The fact that it is all responsibly sourced and provides an affordable and convenient option for organic clean eating in Jersey City is a bonus, especially for those who prize flavor above all else. Nothing is lost in this transaction.

When you're staring a vegetables-and-water diet in the face, you realize how important it is to respect your body and feed it optimally. Thankfully for Jersey City residents, there's a service like Bone-In Food to make it easy to do just that with a hell of a lot more flavor and variety than veggies and water.

In addition to their weekly menu and their bone broths, Bone-In offers grass-fed ghee (a dairy-free butter option that is great for cooking) and homemade kimchi (fermented foods are excellent for the gut). Other options change weekly, so pay attention to their website or chat them up at one of the markets.

Ron and Virginia will also be launching a subscription-based ordering model soon, by which we can order more meals and products for less (think like a CSA, but with prepared food using that fresh farm produce). Once that launches, I'll update this post with all the details to keep you informed.

Curious to learn more? Or want to share this knowledge with a crowd? Bone-In caters small parties and pop-up dinners at homes and offices. It's a cool way to learn more about their story, celebrate and eat really good foods with your friends (or colleagues), and ask questions about proper nutrition, diet and eating methods.

A loyalty plan where people can be incentivized with healthy foods the more they suggest us to friends, family, and office associates is also in the works.

Phew.

Basically, Bone-In Food is growing like gangbusters and I don't know how Ron and Virginia are doing it all and still standing at the end of the week! I see them nearly every day working hard to bring this incredible service to Jersey City, and Jersey City seems very glad to have them here.

I asked them, one year in, about the experience of launching this kind of business in Jersey City?

"The experience has been very welcoming," Ron said. "As a matter of fact, it's so welcoming that we are only expanding as fast as we are because of it. Our marketing has all been through the mouths of those who enjoy and understand what we are trying to accomplish.

Everyone knows that eating locally sourced, organic, and grass-fed foods can be overly expensive and besides the lack of nutritional education, this is also the most influential reason why people do not eat like this more often. Our mission is to change that, by providing a simple menu, eliminating waste, limiting overhead, and building relationships with local farms, we have found a way to make this food affordable to many of he demographics that live in the Jersey City area."

They are well on their way to accomplishing that mission. It's at least accomplished in our household.

Check out Bone-In Foods on the interwebs, or better yet, swing by a market and taste their food in person. That's where they'll convince you (in a matter of seconds, I guarantee it):