Colorful plates of food aren’t only beautiful to look at, they’re healthier for you as well. The phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables give them their vibrant color and are richer in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Through eating real, whole foods you can give your body the nutrients it needs and rely less on supplements and vitamins. This is where “food as medicine” comes into play and why Allison Rifkin opened The Green Collective in the Highlands this spring.
The Green Collective started as a concept in Rifkin’s mind long before it opened its doors this March. Rifkin is a Colorado native who began her career in marketing and public relations and traveled around the U.S. putting on events like 5k races. “I’ve always been very interested in health and wellness but it was always as a passion and on the side of my career,” said Rifkin. It wasn’t until she was misdiagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disorder that she learned how healing food could be. “I cut out most processed foods along with gluten and dairy and started feeling so much better,” she said. After earning her master’s in marketing and public relations, she decided to pursue health and wellness as a career and studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2019. “I had traveled to places like San Francisco and New York and seen so many restaurants that focused on serving real, whole foods and that concept hadn’t really made it to Denver yet,” Rifkin explained, “My goal was to make fun recipes healthy but still taste amazing.”
The Green Collective came to light with the help of chef Lauren Egdahl— who has a master’s degree in nutrition and integrative health — and Rifkin’s sister, Jamie. Together, the three women created a menu that is approachable, delicious and organic. The fast-casual restaurant serves a variety of foods that every palate and diet can appreciate. From organic, cold-pressed juices and smoothies to toast flights and salads, there is something for everyone. The grain-free toast is soft yet hearty — perfect for topping with lox, avocado or roasted red pepper chicken — while the sourdough gives you a satisfying crunch. “We wanted to make everything approachable. It should taste delicious and fill you up, not taste like grass,” said Rifkin.
All of the salad dressings are made in-house with less than four ingredients and come in flavors like hemp ranch, carrot ginger, sesame peanut and shallot vinaigrette. The Green Collective also serves adaptogenic lattes that come with house-made almond-cashew mylk. The turmeric latte or mushroom hot chocolate will warm you up on a cold day while the Cold Snapper is designed to boost your immunity with adaptogens like blue majik, moringa, astragalus, echinacea, ginger and honey.
“There are so many items on our menu that are immune boosters and immune support. People are now more cognizant of their health because of the pandemic,” Rifkin said.
Rifkin also made sure that the restaurant has a big focus on sustainability. All of the glass bottles from the juices can be returned for a credit, the packaging is all compostable or recyclable, and she works with as many local suppliers as possible. That’s also where the word “green” in The Green Collective comes from. According to Rifkin, emerald has a lot of meanings, “Truth, honesty and vitality all tie together here.”
When you’re in the mood for a pick-me-up or want to eat something healthy but don’t feel like making a salad at home, let The Green Collective do the work for you. You’ll be supporting your immune system, your overall health and local businesses at the same time.
The Green Collective is located at 2158 W. 32nd Avenue, Denver. Open Tuesday – Saturday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.