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Good eats


Jenny Coon Peterson January 12th, 2011

Whether trying to shed the extra holiday pounds or make a life change, eating healthy isn’t as hard as you think.

So, who’s on a diet? Yeah, that’s what we thought.

But keeping that New Year’s resolution to drop a few pounds (or even a few dozen pounds) isn’t all boiled carrots and broccoli. Local restaurants can make eating right an easy choice.

At Beatnix Café, 136 N.W. 13th, owner Dave Filkins strives to create sandwiches, salads and soups made with fresh ingredients, many of them organic.

“Our portions are fairly controlled, especially on the sides, and when you’re looking at stuff that’s fresh and made from scratch, it’s better,” Filkins said. “You’re not coming into an environment that’s pushing a lot of sugar or fried foods.”

Some of the options at Beatnix, which has been open for three years in February and recently expanded, include sandwiches like a California club or a veggie wrap bursting with avocado, black olives, tomatoes and more. The soup is homemade — “you won’t have near the sodium and preservatives,” Filkins said — and the sides, like a broccoli slaw, are filling without being stomach-stretching.

Beatnix also makes its own granola and offers for breakfast the Beatnix oatmeal, a warm and hearty combination of flax seed, wheat bran, almonds and dried, unsweetened coconut.

When it comes to drinks, Filkins recommended staying healthy with Beatnix’s teas and pure fruit smoothies.

“Most of those things are always going to be better than sodas,” he said. “When people start substituting coffees and teas and smoothies for sodas, that’s a huge deal.”

Fresh ingredients prepared in-house are the secret to healthy eating at Coolgreens, 14201 N. May, which has been open since May 2010. Leah Hazelton, catering director for both locations of Coolgreens, said the café even makes the sauces and dressings.

“Everything that goes into our food products is a healthy option,” Hazelton said. “We don’t use butter, we don’t use any type of trans fat or saturated fat, so everything is fresh and super healthy for you.”

The homemade dressing was a tasty surprise, because most dressings are the opposite of good for you.

“We blend them up,” Hazelton said. “Like, our basil vinaigrette is fresh basil leaves and garlic and soybean oil.”

Hazelton said the healthiest, calorie-wise, on Coolgreens’ menu is the Tree Hugger salad, a mix of tofu, edamame, mushrooms, onions, Mandarin oranges and spinach with a vinaigrette dressing. Pair that with the side of whole-grain couscous, and you’ve got one healthy meal.

Everything that goes into our food products is a healthy option.

—Leah Hazelton

And taking healthy food to you, Coolgreens has recently added catering for groups ranging from five to 500.

If you’re really making a commitment to eating healthy, but still want the stuff you put in your mouth to taste good, head to Coffy’s Café, 1739 N.W. 16th.

Opened for two years in April, Coffy’s is not only vegetarian but also gluten free.

“It started with the gluten free,” said owner Janice Francis-Smith. “Before we opened, a friend of mine got diagnosed with celiac disease, and I saw how hard it was for him to eat out. I thought it was a shame to have to live without cupcakes for the rest of his life, so I thought, ‘Let’s just do all gluten free.’” Coffy’s makes its own gluten-free bread, plus a variety of sandwiches, soups, pizza and salads — all vegetarian.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with meat, per se, but typically Americans get way too much meat in their diet,” Francis-Smith said. “We try to make it easy to just cut it out here or there in ways you won’t miss it.”

She said diners definitely won’t miss meat in the popular black bean quesadilla or vegetarian chili.

But Coffy’s also makes goodies, for a healthier treat. “We love our cake and cupcakes and cookies, but ours are done without preservatives. They’re natural, just like your grandma would have made,” she said.

There’s no use pretending that post-New Year’s everyone will eschew fried foods and sodas, but by adding these healthier — yet still tasty — options into the restaurant rotation, shaping up is not only possible, but probable.

 
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