The Best Healthful Dining Options to Launch You Into Autumn
Despite the unwelcome hanging around of the heat, the holiday season is launching into full swing next month and bringing with it a host of rich foods and opportunities for over-indulgence. In an attempt to hedge my bets against those times when I fall for the charms of roast beef and fried chicken I will continue to enjoy the largely vegetable-based diet I have been eating for the past few weeks. It is hardly a sacrifice given the upsurge in healthful eateries New Orleans is seeing of late.
I do not say this about many restaurants but I love absolutely everything about True Food Kitchen (801 St. Charles Avenue, 558-3900, truefoodkitchen.com). The bright, inspiring space is located on the retail floor of The Julia in the Warehouse District. The health-conscious restaurant offers a menu of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options with a smattering of high-quality protein-oriented selections. True Kitchen is heavy on Mediterranean and Asian flavors represented in a plethora of choices for breakfast, starters, salads, pizzas (both traditional and gluten-free) colorful bowls, burgers, sandwiches, entrees and inventive desserts. True Food uses healthy, seasonal, “sustainable” and organic ingredients that are locally sourced as much as possible. My recommendation for the “not to be missed dish” is the Edamame Dumplings with dashi, white truffle and Asian herbs. I could enjoy this every day. The grilled fish tacos made with Gulf Redfish also impressed with tomatillo avocado salsa, pickled jicama, dried sweet corn and coconut lime crema.
Newly opened in the Carrollton area, NOLA Vegan Cafe (1923 Leonidas St.) aims to hire teens aging out of the foster care system. Heading up the kitchen is Sonya Brown Tillison, a social worker and chef known for her vegan pop-ups. The menu here offers all vegan versions of classic New Orleans cafe selections like gumbo, chickpea “tuna” salad, an oyster mushroom po-boy, and “crab” macaroni and cheese. The diminutive restaurant focuses on brunch, lunch, early dinner options, and weekly specials. For breakfast check out “chick-un” and waffles, and to tofu scramble.
Like NOLA Vegan Cafe, the focus at Sweet Soulfood (1025 N Broad St, 821-2669, sweetvegansoulfood.com) is on comfort foods familiar to locals. This Treme hotspot this was the first spot to cater to the emerging trend of vegan soul food, and carnivores will not miss a thing. The colorful cafeteria-style joint turns out fresh takes on New Orleans classics like red beans and rice on Mondays and crispy fried chickpea cakes instead of fried catfish on Fridays. The Mushroom Ragu with Creamy Grits is a personal favorite. The menu changes daily and the portions are hefty so sharing is the way to go.
I just love the vive at Good Karma Cafe (2940 Canal Street, 402.4698, goodkarmanola.com) a soothing plant-based retreat operated by brothers Goshi and Deshi Berg based on the non-violent principals of Ahimsa, followed by the Hare Krishna community. Most items, all of them bright and fresh, are under $10. For breakfast try the Upma , a traditional Southeast Indian porridge served with fresh coconut chutney. For lunch consider the avocado sandwich combining slices of perfectly ripe avocado, tomato, vegan mayonnaise, cucumber, fresh lettuce and almond spread on toasted Bellegarde Bakery bread.
Follow Your Heart, (the makers of Veganaise, a popular, nationally available vegan sandwich spread) and Mellow Mushroom (8227 Oak St., 345-8229, mellowmushroom.com) have partnered to offer a Veg Out Pizza every Meatless Monday in October at any Mellow Mushroom location for just $10.99 per medium pizza. The pizzas feature Follow Your Heart’s dairy-free cheese.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Use it to celebrate the people and the community you love.