Veggie peeps extraordinaire: Lucky Palate brings it on with flavor aplenty

If you're like a lot of people, you've decided to bring organic, vegetarian and vegan meals to your table. But do you want to plan the meals and shop for the ingredients and prepare the meals?

Imagine having tasty, affordable vegetarian meals delivered to your door. Lucky Palate of Queen Anne does just that.

Lucky Palate combines organic ingredients such as red lentils, white beans, black beans, brown rice, onions and leeks and beets and tofu and tomatoes to create a medley of vegan and vegetarian meals. Then it delivers the meals to porches in Seattle and beyond.

In September 2004, Bonnie and Ray Parton left retirement and purchased Lucky Palate to work together on something, give back to the community and mentor young people.

The Partons call themselves "foodies." Bonnie defines that as "peeps (people) that love food." Ray defines that as "living to eat."

She cooks and leads the kitchen and speaks in short speak. He handles the bookkeeping and technology and speaks in percents. He said, "There is zero fiber in meat. Think about that."

Ray's favorite thing is hearing from their customers. That they feel better, have lost weight, lowered their cholesterol. "It's very satisfying," he said. "I feel that I provide a valuable service."

In 2005, a chef at a Seventh Day Adventist elder home in Monroe quit. The home contacted Vegetarians of Washington and was directed to Lucky Palate. From May to August, Lucky Palate prepared two meals a day for the 18 residents - meals with little or no salt and sugar. Across those months, the Partons saw residents' swollen ankles shrink and their mobility increase.

To create Lucky Palate's 80 percent organic and 90 percent vegan meals, the Partons shop carefully. They buy 100 percent organic legumes and rice, unrefined flour and sugar. A certified organic farmer in Soap Lake grows garlic and roma tomatoes for them. "Her produce is very well taken care of, beautiful and delicious," Bonnie said.

The Partons believe that Lucky Palate uses more fresh and unusual flavorings than their competitors. It flavors food with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon. It mixes in Eastern herbs - lime leaf and lemon grass - for a different nuance. Adds ginger for spunk.

Lucky Palate sweetens with Mesquite Honey, Alwadi's pomegranate molasses, Anjar's mulberry molasses; and thickens with butters: peanut in stews, almond in green beans. It even makes its own vegetable stock.

Bonnie savors the smell of the fresh herbs she crushes and glories in the color of saffron when she adds it to orzo and lingers to listen to the whir of the circulating heat roasting peppers inside the Blodgett Industrial Convection oven.

But Bonnie's favorite thing is working with the cook staff on Mondays. David Cortez and Rebecca Diamant cook alongside her.

They work as a team when they create tamales. They mix masa with water, salt, and oil to make and shape the dough. Inside the dough they place veggies, beans, chipotle and leeks.

Then they wrap the tamales in corn-husks and steam them. As they near the 4:30 final approach - the end of the cooking day - Rebecca and Bonnie get giddy. With their hands they spank, slap and shape the dough. David says, "I'll wrap. You slap."

Lucky Palate meals include a main dish and a side dish and are packaged in compostable containers with labels listing their ingredients. Each container holds two servings. Customers chose whether to have two to six meals per week and whether to include desserts.

To order meals from Lucky Palate, you can sign up for their "What's for Dinner" meal plan, or order à la carte. Here is an example of a week's worth of meals:

* Veggie Lasagne and Antipasto Salad

* Caribbean Wrap and Marinated Black-Eyed Peas

* Cassoulet (French Bean Casserole) and Stuffed Artichokes

* Brunswick Stew and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy

* Chocolate Cake and Raspberry Hazelnut Cookies

"Eighty-five percent of our customers order online through our Web site," Ray said. Customers can order online or by phone. Orders in by Thursday are delivered on Tuesday.

Lucky Palate employees place bags of meals in coolers with cold gel packs in them, drive to their customers homes and place the bags in coolers near their doors. They deliver to the greater Seattle area: north to Ed-monds, east to Redmond, west to West Seattle, south to Bellevue.

Alternatively, customers can come in for "Grab-and-Go Meals." Lucky Palate caters parties and special events and will tailor meals to accommodate allergies and preferences.

Customers have asked for Bonnie to prepare a cookbook of recipes, and she is working on that. With more than 600 recipes to choose from, she said, "I'm culling loved recipes that have luscious ingredients."

In the future, Ray plans to post feedback from their customers at

Lucky Palate works to improve the health of people and the planet. But healthy and environmentally friendly aside, what about taste? Rebecca said, "We make sure that it tastes good to all of us before we're done."

Department of Full Disclosure: Rebecca Diamant recently became Rebecca Guthrie by virtue of having married the author's son.

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