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A Personal Chef Battled Cancer: Now She’s Teaching Others About Clean Eating

zestbox family

When life gives you lemons, make something even sweeter than lemonade. A change, for example.

That’s Danielle Harper’s motto. The Carmel, New York resident and mother of two, and a longtime personal chef, is the creator of Zestbox, a company that makes eating well easier, while giving back to those fighting cancer.

After fighting her own battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and six rounds of chemo in 2012, Harper was in remission and busy cooking for clients as well as doing events and cooking classes through her company, Your Culinary Experience. But when her four-month-old nephew was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, she knew, having fought her own battle with cancer, that she had to do something more.

danielle harper of zestbox

As someone who had been in other people’s homes cooking for so long, she noticed how busy everyone was and how those busy schedules led to snacking in the car and not such good dietary decisions. Eating clean and learning about the different ways food fuels your body was something she knew others could benefit from.

She launched Zestbox in November of 2019 with a few goals in mind. First: to make her subscription box service an easy, fun and convenient way to eat well. And second, to use her boxes so others could learn about superfoods and the health benefits these types of foods have on the body. All items included in her boxes are organic and/or non-GMO ingredients and contain no chemicals or additives. There are also a large variety of gluten- free and vegan products to accommodate most lifestyles.


To make sure Zestbox was affordable – trying new and healthy food can be not only intimidating, but expensive, according to Harper – she worked hard to create a product that addressed all those needs, spending time reaching out to niche brands and personally analyzing each ingredient list. Mostly she reflected her own “glass half full’ outlook on life into the product with its bright colors and various themes.

“Zestbox aims to help its customers live a zestful life outside of the box,” said Harper. Subscribers will find recipes they can create using the ingredients inside of the box, removing some of the intimidation factor for those not used to cooking. Zestbox also uses eco-friendly bags and offers information on help with sleep, stress, meditation and yoga, along with monthly classes and information on other small businesses and how to support them.

“It makes eating healthy fun,” said Harper. “You get to try brands you might not even know exist or maybe you do, but it gives you the opportunity to try foods for the first time in a portion at a discount value.”

Plus there are choices, including one-time only purchases, monthly subscriber boxes and gifts.

Alexs Lemonade Stand - family picture

Another big part of Zestbox’s mission is supporting Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which raises money for various types of childhood cancers, but specifically neuroblastoma, the type her nephew was diagnosed with. Two percent of Zestbox sales go towards the Pennsylvania-based charity.

“I wanted to put a positive spin on cancer,” said Harper, who’s been in remission for seven years. “And I want people to feel empowered to raise money and not to feel like they had no power over this.”


Laura Henty

NYC resident Laura Henty loves to write and be social. Follow her on Instagram at @lauraahentyy6.


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