Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pizza, the Ultimate Party Appetizer
Are you familiar with acai, the Brazilian wonder berry? It’s been shown to do everything from making your heart healthier to boosting your immune system to reversing aging. At Blenders & Bowls, they whip the acai berry up into a variety of tasty dishes, all of which are served cold. You can’t go wrong with The OG, a blend of acai, strawberries, and bananas with some hemp granola on top for the ideal crunch.
Everything on Koriente’s menu involves some type of vegetable, some type of rice, and/or a lean protein, all without too much added salt or seasoning. If you’re able to drag yourself here during lunch hours, you’ll be treated to free miso soup, free salad, and, if you time it just right, free pickled vegetables. Finally, there’s the cost. Pretty much everything is under $10, and you’re not going to leave hungry. Good for your wallet, good for your soul, and good for staving off another visit to the doctor.
Casa de Luz is the hidden gem of Austin. Set far back from the street in the southern part of the city, you navigate a forest of bamboo, wind chimes, and babbling fountains just to reach the front door. Even before your first bite, your mind is already at ease. The menu changes each day and includes only vegan, organic, non-processed foods. You serve yourself an entree, soup, salad, and tea, and enjoy it all in perhaps the quietest restaurant in Austin. Everything about this place is healing, and guaranteed to make you feel like you added a few years to your life.
Whole Foods may seem a bit, well, obvious to anyone thinking of grabbing a quick healthy bite, but here’s something you might not know about -- their stir-fry line. In this magical corner of the store, all the pay-by-the-pound rules of the food bar do not apply. Your best bet is to pile your bowl as high as allowed by physics before handing it over to be prepared. Rest assured the experts behind the bar can handle whatever is thrown at them, so pack the bowl and maximize your greens-per-dollar ratio.
East Cesar Chavez
Sometimes, even the thought of literal whole foods seems like too much of a commitment. In these moments, only a liquid meal will do, and JuiceLand is your best bet. A local Austin company, JuiceLand now has 20 or so stores across Texas and New York City. Your go-to here is going to be the Tigerlilly if you’re opting for juice or the Alkalizer Plus for smoothies. Both have the maximum number of green things you can throw into a blender and ensure you walk away feeling like you’ve done your body a favor.
There’s no confusion at True Food Kitchen, thanks to the place cards on each table detailing exactly how nutritious their ingredients are. Thankfully, the diverse menu lives up to the hype. Grab one of their fresh juices, a hearty bowl of ancient grains or teriyaki quinoa, and allow your bad-food guilt to melt away. If you and a few friends are trying to feel better together, start with their Farmers Market Crudites, a massive plate of chilled raw vegetables, tzatziki, and black olive dip.
Here’s a common dilemma -- it’s lunchtime and you’re indecisive, so you put off your meal until you become so hungry that you end up eating at the same taco truck for the fifth time of the week. If this sounds all too familiar and you need a change, Snap Kitchen is your new best friend. All the nutritious meals are pre-made, so you can pick them up on the fly or stock up for the week, thereby saving yourself from the daily struggle.
Sporting the motto, "my mom started this restaurant because she hates to cook," this Asian-inspired eatery is devoted to preparing healthy, MSG-free, allergy-friendly plates to families who prioritize conscious eating -- but who wish someone else would do all the work. The wood-paneled, red-painted restaurant is charmingly local, with standing lamps, checkered table cloths, and a well-tended wrap-around garden, while the homestyle kitchen feels equally domestic. The place serves bowls of warm sweet potato noodles topped with sautéed veggies and fresh avocado, or steamed rice with pan-seared tofu and broccoli, all doused in soy-based sauces that are miraculously low on grease and sodium (but not low on flavor). The place even offers a full menu of gluten-free items -- and the vast majority of the colorful, vegetable-centric entrees come for under 10$.
Both a community center and restaurant, Casa De Luz is serving set, affordable menus of hearty vegan, gluten-free, totally organic fare, with dishes that change daily. You can nosh on plant-based, nutrient-heavy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options in the communal dining room. It's self-service, so you'll build your own plate cafeteria-style. If you really want to pitch in, you can even pull on an apron and volunteer in the kitchen.
I know you’ve been to Whole Foods because you’re a living, breathing human, but have you been to the flagship? The massive, multi-level megaplex on Lamar is really something special, as far as grocery stores go. There are events here, like ice skating on the plaza in the winter, and live music performances some nights, and when was the last time you went to a grocery store for a concert or to practice your double axel? The groceries are everything you’d expect, with a little more variety because there’s a lot more space, and the food court is fuller than any shopping mall’s, with cameos from local food stand favorites, and picnic tables on the patio upstairs for you to dine with a view. There’s even a cold, walk-in beer room with craft beer lining the walls like a shrine to barley and hops, which is also great because Austin can get really hot, and what better way to cool off than amongst beer?
Sometimes, just the thought of chewing your food seems like a daunting commitment -- that's where liquid meals from Juice Land come in. With over 20 outposts throughout Austin and New York, the local Texas company blends some seriously complex, inventive smoothies, most of which are packed with just about all of the nutrients you need in a full chewable meal. With concoctions like the Soul Boulder (banana, blueberry, coconut, almond, cacao, brown rice protein, and cinnamon) you're pretty much guaranteed to leave the spot feeling both pleasantly full, and sufficiently energized. For meals that require less effort than your classic fast food burger, but without any of the guilt, Juice Land is your best bet.
Originally a food truck, this downtown brick-and-mortar outpost is a local favorite for health-nuts and foodies, alike. Stationed in spacious new digs, tucked inside the just-opened Wanderlust yoga studio, B&B is a hotspot for spandex-clad yogis, and wellness-minded city folk. The place specializes in bowls and smoothies based around antioxidant-rich acai berries -- which are pretty tough to find around these parts. The miracle berries come blended into smoothies like the The Legend (banana, blueberry, peanut butter, chocolate, almond milk), or bowls topped with fresh fruit and bonuses like Round Rock honey, crushed cashews, and hemp granola. While tasty, low-cal, and balanced, the fare here is certainly not birdseed.
A haven for yogis, cross-fit addicts, and wellness gurus alike, this healthy-eating mecca is all about food that feels as good as it tastes. True Food Kitchen's menu is focused on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free foods. Standout dishes include the quinoa burger topped with avocado, hummus, tomato, and feta, and the ancient grains bowl with miso-glazed sweet potato, turmeric, grilled portobello, and grass-fed steak. The entrees are as colorful as they are protein-packed, and the space is equally bright and lively. And because even the most wellness-minded folks need a drink every once in a while, the cocktail menu features concoctions like "farmers market sangria," topped with organic apples and pears.
If you're in the market for comfort food without the food coma, Snap is probably your best bet. The glaringly orange and green storefront gives way to bamboo floors and chrome counters, where you can order plates of maximally tasty, optimally healthy prepared meals for take-away, dine-in, or delivery. For those of us looking to eat well, but without the discipline for a juice cleanse, Snap offers plates like Nashville hot chicken with mac and cheese or pulled-pork biscuits and gravy, all of which are prepared with low oil content, minimal calories, and in totally reasonable portions. Snap is an always welcome reminder that health-conscious eating can still be a little indulgent, too.