Hangovers are awfully passe (not to mention awful). Beer pong is for amateurs. Reefer? So last November. Why not, in a city so brimming with health nuts who prioritize their next workout above just about everything else, seek out our chemical bliss from the widely available chefs whose restaurants cater to those willing to explore the possibilities of a nutrient-induced euphoria?
I’m not making this up: good-for-you foods trigger all sorts of cellular reactions in the body, signaling physical feelings of well-being, happiness, and contentment. Several studies conclude that our food directly affects our mood (in addition to all of those wonderful physical benefits such as a healthier heart, slower aging process in the brain, and luminous skin). Just as clear are the downsides to stuffing ourselves with poisons: processed, nutrient-bankrupt food, fast food, and soda. Our bodies virtually shut down, compromising our abilities to function at the top of our game. Irritability, fatigue, and even long term depression have been linked to poor eating habits.
Let me introduce you (or perhaps re-introduce) two local restaurants happy to make you healthy: True Food Kitchen and Watercourse Foods.
True Food Kitchen goes above and beyond its humble description as a “Healthy Restaurant Concept” eatery. “It’s like a religious experience”, I overheard a client of mine declare when describing her recent visit. Centered around an anti-inflammatory diet developed by best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen delivers. The Cherry Creek North location is the sixth for True Food Kitchen, which opened in October 2012, that “celebrates high quality, locally and regionally sourced ingredients to create a simple, internationally focused menu that tastes amazing while nourishing mind, body and spirit“, according to the company’s press release. There really are no bad choices on the menu. I recently opted for the Winter Ingredient Salad: a brilliantly composed, if unfamiliar, collection of roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, squash, mulberries, pomegranate, and horseradish vinaigrette. My first thought was, “Why aren’t these ingredients always together in the same dish?”. They blended perfectly and gave insight for what was yet to come. Sadly, I was informed by our server that the salmon had quickly sold out that night, but that I might be equally happy with the Pan Seared Sea Bass, to which I gladly conceded.
Paired with more Brussels sprouts (really, you can’t have too many Brussels sprouts), mushrooms, and Umami (known as the “fifth taste”, or savory- usually found in paste form), my entree proved to be yet another thoughtfully prepared dish blending delicious with nutritious. I love the idea of eliminating stress while dining out: you can be guaranteed a supremely healthy, innovative, responsibly sourced meal without the need to screen the menu for hidden trans fats or GMOs. Food allergies? Not a problem here, with every accommodation covered. Just sit back and enjoy the soothing aspen tree-lined walls and clean, apple green booths.
Promise me that when you visit True Food Kitchen that you won’t overlook their incredible juice menu. Two that I have tried are the Medicine Man (sea buckthorn, pomegranate, cranberry, black tea, soda) and the cleverly named Kale-Aid (kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon, ginger). Truthfully, I was hesitant to try the latter, but I wound up adoring it and have been dreaming about the green goodness since. The restaurant also quenches a harder thirst, if you so imbibe, offering specialty cocktails as well as beer and wine.
Watercourse Foods has been a reliable mainstay in Denver since 1998. Those looking for locally sourced, organically grown sustenance flock to this eatery in Uptown for its adaptable, vegan-friendly, 100% vegetarian menu. Eating at Watercourse just feels like you’re doing good things — for yourself and for the environment. General manager Chadwick Breithaupt explained to me that their food completes a “full circle”: food scraps are taken from the restaurant to their private farm in Lakewood where they are composted and used for fertilizer. Take-out containers are completely biodegradable. Fryer oil is converted into bio diesel. Rode your bike? Get 10% off your bill. Good stuff. The EPA would be proud.
The stars of the menu include a macro plate — which I believe, if eaten every day for a month would turn you into a superhero — and the restaurant’s rotating cheese plate. Most notable, however, are their new juice offerings. Chadwick described for me how a slow juicer works: without oxygen and without heat, no nutrients are lost in the process. Never mind the physics; this stuff is amazing. My favorite is the “Metabolic Booster” – a blend of apples, ginger, lemon, carrot, celery, pineapple, and a kick of cayenne. If only Watercourse had a drive-thru. I think I’d drink one every day.
Honestly, walking out of one of these restaurants feels like you are floating a tad above the pavement. You feel energized; yet satisfied. Not overly-stuffed like you are minutes from a food coma. Comfortable. Healthier. Lighter. My kind of buzz.
All photography courtesy of Tory Rust Photography
Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She currently contributes to 303 Magazine as a Fitness and Health writer. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]