Smile Politely

Fast and tasty options abound at Namken Nutrition

A daily lunchbox meal, BLAT wrap with fruit side from Namken Nutrition.
Kiezha Ferrell

People eat out for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it’s a celebration. Sometimes we haven’t gone grocery shopping. And sometimes we’re just completely overwhelmed with work or kids or life, and we need to take something off our to-do list. For that last bit, Namken Nutrition is a great option. They offer just about everything you need to cover any meal (or snack), from one person to a family of six — and they’ll happily work with you for numbers beyond that.

Sara Namken, the registered dietician owner, opened her first location in Decatur after years of meal-prepping for her own family, and she expanded with a second location in August 2023 at The Pines shopping center in Urbana. I’ve stopped in a couple of times since they opened for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, both of which I recommend — and I’m coffee bougie — but what I’m sharing with you today are some grab-and-go options that are designed to keep you out of the drive-through and fueled through the day.

Exterior shot of Namken Nutrition.
Kiezha Ferrell

Namken Nutrition has a permanent, all-day menu of smoothies and coffee drinks, plus a breakfast sandwich and avocado toast. There is also always a breakfast burrito option, and the flavors change weekly for that; frozen burritos are available, too, to buy and stash at home. Each day there is a different lunchbox meal ($10) that comes with an entrée and a fruit or veggie side. The food items are available from the time they open until 2:00 p.m. The smoothies and coffee are available throughout business hours.

I ordered two smoothies to start off. These smoothies were made when I ordered, and I could watch the whole process. The smoothies had a wonderful, uniform texture without being heavy or too thick to suck through a straw, and were made with homemade yogurt, frozen fruit, milk, and a couple of pumps of sugar-free sweetener.

Triple berry smoothie with protein added at Namken Nutrition.
Kiezha Ferrell

I had a triple berry with protein added ($9). The protein powder they used is also available for sale in the store. The triple berry had great berry flavor and was a gorgeous purple hue.

Tropical mango smoothie by Namken Nutrition
Kiezha Ferrell

I also ordered a tropical mango smoothie ($8). The tropical mango was also tast, but not as strongly flavored as I might have preferred. Neither of these drinks were super sweet, so if you’re used to the taste of smoothies from fast-food places or someone who consumes a fair amount of sugar, you will need to adjust your expectations or ask them to make it sweeter.

In addition to the permanent menu, there is a cooler in the shop that is filled with the rotating varieties of their grab-and-go options. There are typically about ten different varieties of yogurt bowls, which come in a lidded to-go cup with a sealed container of granola inside. Both the yogurt and the granola are house-made and will keep about fifteen days if properly refrigerated.

Chunky monkey yogurt bowl by Namken Nutrition.
Kiezha Ferrell

I tried the chunky monkey, which had a banana-flavored yogurt and granola with chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut. It was delicious! Again, this was not like a grocery store or fast food yogurt parfait, so one can expect more subtle flavors in the yogurt and less sweetness. I like bananas but am not a fan of artificial banana flavor, and this was great for me. It tasted like real banana but was not overpowering, and the granola was very flavorful and crunchy with some nice, big chunks in the granola keeping things interesting. This was a very generous serving for $8, and at 305 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 26 grams of carbohydrate, it was enough to keep me going for several hours.

A daily lunchbox meal, BLAT wrap with fruit side from Namken Nutrition
Kiezha Ferrell

The lunchbox of the day ($10) was my favorite of all the choices I made. It was a BLAT wrap (bacon, lettuce, avocado, turkey) with a fruit side that consisted of a peeled cutie orange and some fresh, diced pineapple. I chose a standard wrap, but they also had a low-carb wrap option or a romaine lettuce base for a salad option. The wrap was delicious, with just the right amount of each element and somehow distributed in the wrap in a way that I didn’t end up with just tortilla in the last couple of bites.

interior of BLAT wrap from Namken Nutrition
Kiezha Ferrell

These lunchbox meal was prepared fresh when I ordered and packed in a brown paper sack with a napkin and utensils. I can definitely see myself on a busy day running in for coffee and a yogurt bowl — and picking up lunch while I’m at it.

Garlic parmesan chicken and rice bowl, heat and eat in a black plastic container by Namken Nutrition.
Kiezha Ferrell

The final item I picked up to try was a grab-and-go entrée: the garlic parmesan chicken with jasmine rice ($12). This came in a reusable and recyclable plastic container with a lid, ready to simply heat it in the microwave. I actually only got a bite or two of this one because my 15-year-old was ravenous when he got home from school and really liked it. So, teenager approved! The sauce was really tasty, creamy and garlicky, and there were nice big chunks of white and dark meat chicken on a bed of rice. This entrée also had gluten-free and keto-friendly versions in the cooler. Other meals they had on had on hand included beef stroganoff (again with GF and LC varieties) and pulled pork with sweet potatoes and slaw.

Menu at Namken Nutrition
Kiezha Ferrell

In addition to the grab and go items, there is an option to pre-order meals from a published selection that changes weekly. The menus are available by Tuesday evening of each week, with pickup available the following Wednesday and Sunday. This week the Wednesday meal (11/1) is a barbecue chicken bowl with sweet potatoes and a vinegar-based slaw ($11) and the Sunday meals (11/5) are a chipotle chicken carnitas burrito bowl ($12), a philly cheesesteak casserole ($11 individual, $35 for an 8×8 pan) and pecan pie breakfast bars ($10 for two servings or $25 for an 8×8 pan.) There is also a pickup location in Mahomet. I’m thinking this would also be great when you need to bring food to a person or family who is sick or grieving.

The food I tried was nutritionally balanced, made with high quality ingredients, and at a price point comparable to or below most of the prepared food options available at grocery stores and via subscription services. They offer many of these meals in gluten-free, lower carb, or keto forms, too —something I do not believe anyone else in town can claim. They also have a full list of ingredients and nutritional macros on every single item, so those with food allergies or specific dietary plans can be assured they know what they’re eating.

Namken Nutrition is truly a unique addition to the Champaign-Urbana food scene, and I really hope our community takes advantage of what they have to offer. The local and fresh nature of the food makes it a better choice for the environment than the subscription meal delivery services — plus with no subscription — and offers a high degree of food safety for those with allergies or celiac, as well as keeping our money local and supporting a woman-owned business.

Namken Nutrition
2740 S Philo Rd
M+T 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
W 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Th 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
F 7 a.m. to 2p.m.
Su 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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