Chicago, city of deep-dish pizza and Polish sausage, is not exactly known as a health food haven. Yet while it’s often outshined by the international renown of its heartier fare, the Windy City also does healthy food, and it’s exactly what you need to keep your new year’s resolution to eat better on track. As the days of January tick by and you grow weary of salad and rice cakes, you need a night out with friends to celebrate your dietary success so far without falling off the wagon. With that in mind, we’ve searched the city and come up with dishes that are at once healthy, delicious, and fun to eat. Grab a few pals and drop by one of Toronto’s 3 best restaurants for healthy food, where the experience is so enjoyable, it almost feels like you’re cheating.
When you and your buds walk in the door at Green Zebra, you’ll be surprised by the contrast between the building’s 100-year-old brick exterior and the clean, modern lines of the dining room. Slip into a table near the storefront window if you want to keep an eye on hip West Town passersby while you take a look at the menu. Green Zebra attracts vegetarians and omnivores alike, thanks to a tantalizing menu full of local, seasonal food. “Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring” is a cliche at this point, but the meals here bring it immediately to mind. Is it really a salad when your Tuscan kale is laden with a rich fromage blanc custard, tart Michigan cherries, and fragrant rosemary bread crumbs? And the sumptuous, earthy mushroom pâté makes you feel as stuffed as if you’d eaten a steak. You probably won’t even have room for a ginger poached Bosc pear, even though its lightly sweet coconut sorbet looks incredibly tempting. Well, maybe just a taste …
The Chicago Diner
Craving some down-to-earth diner food? Walk into the Halsted Street branch of The Chicago Diner and you’re greeted by funky artwork on the walls, an energetic staff, and plenty of the four things that make diners feel like diners: booths, chrome, pleather, and Formica. Here, or at the slightly more contemporary-looking Logan Square location, you can dig into a juicy, award-winning Reuben sandwich. What’s so healthy about that, you ask? The Reuben, like everything else on the menu, is 100 percent vegetarian. If your craving for poutine is driving you mad, give in (without really giving in) by ordering the vegan version. You and your fellow “resolutionaries” can indulge in a plate of Canadian-style waffle fries topped with creamy Teese vegan cheese, country gravy, and green onions – the perfect compromise between the real thing and healthy food. And if you need to keep your sweet tooth in check, the Chicago Diner’s bakery makes rich treats that are egg-, dairy-, and trans-fat-free.
Takeout isn’t just greasy pizza or fried Chinese food any more. You can now call Kitchfix instead – your best bet for staying on track when you’re staying in. This creative catering crew, led by nutritionist Jenny Westerkamp and chef Josh Katt, brings a heavenly, organic meal right to your door (ooh, or the gym). Order from their ever-changing menu of low-fat, vegetarian, or Paleo (really) dishes, depending on your preference. Warm up with a bowl of spicy cowboy chili or delectable, savory Paleo sloppy joes. Kitchfix will bring you snacks, too, like maple hickory beef jerky and melt-in-your mouth banana chocolate bites — all of which are made with all-natural, locally sourced ingredients, which means you can feel virtuous while you happily devour your treats. So really, there’s very little reason to leave home. Unless it’s to buy a new, slightly smaller pair of jeans.