Finding a good doctor is only part of achieving good health. You also need to be vigilant about what you eat, focusing on foods and drinks that fuel a healthy lifestyle, not inhibit it. But, let’s be honest, so-called “health food” doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to taste. You want nutritious foods that also please the palate. Here we offer dining locations around the state where the food is both good and good for you. Just remember: You are what you eat.
Three Girls Vegan Creamery, Guilford
So big was the buzz behind this maker of nut-derived vegan “cheese” that when it opened a shop in a small plaza in Guilford last summer, people waited for more than an hour to have at the vegan selection. Some of the cheese-but-not-cheese varieties include mozzarella “di Bufala” pearls and nacho cheese sauce, both made from cashews, as well as almond ricotta. Simply put, this is the place for people who love cheese, but can’t or won’t eat the real thing. Meat lovers, too, likely will find something to their liking, with products such as maple bacon made from coconuts, and smoked pastrami made from beets and mushrooms. Three Girls also offers an array of prepared options such as a meatball grinder, lasagna and biscuits and gravy. In addition to their Guilford space, Three Girls products can also be found at several Connecticut food stores and online. 203-896-0411
New Morning Market, Woodbury
New Morning Market has been fighting the good-food fight since way back in 1971, long before local and organic was hip. Its current location is a 32,000-square-foot space that serves as an inviting hub of local and sustainable food and culture. The market is also home to The Provender, an award-winning, fresh-food counter, and a full coffee bar that also offers fresh organic juices and smoothies, as well as kombucha tea. A “vitality center” on the second floor offers yoga classes, hosts special events and provides guests the option of scheduling appointments with a nutritionist, massage therapist and other wellness professionals. 203-263-4868
Housed in a converted machine shop on the water in Bridgeport, this is a classic Connecticut restaurant with a healthy vibe all its own. Billed as a “feminist vegetarian restaurant,” Bloodroot has no waitstaff; everyone orders at the counter and clears their own tables. The ultra-political spot is also a bookstore, but it’s the wide variety of salads and nut-and-seed meat substitutes that make this a must-try for the health conscious. Eating vegetarian food isn’t always healthier, but eating more vegetables generally is. 203-576-9168
Nature’s Temptation, Ridgefield
On a wooden sign, just inside the door at Nature’s Temptation, the words “local,” “sustainable” and “organic” are written in large, bold letters. These words act as the mantra for the natural grocery store, deli and juice bar. In the shop you’ll find items such as 100-percent grass-fed beef, local milk and a variety of herbs, spices, oils and vinegar all “unrefined and organic.” These ingredients also power the full-service deli and the juice and smoothie bar. There’s even a naturopathic doctor on staff to help answer nutrition questions customers might have. 203-438-5443
Nestled in the crook of East Main and Chestnut streets, G-Zen is a vegan beacon for health-focused and environmentally friendly folks with a taste for award-winning fine dining. But the philosophy of husband-and-wife chefs and owners Mark Shadle and Ami Beach Shadle is that their job isn’t over when the meal is finished. Sustainability is of the utmost importance. Their solar-powered family farm in Durham provides organic ingredients for the restaurant and their Gmonkey food truck, and the waste material becomes compost for the next crops. The menu changes daily, but the mission remains the same. 203-208-0443
Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe, Fairfield
Specializing in raw (“rawking”) foods, Catch a Healthy Habit offers fruit- and vegetable-forward dishes with an array of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Superfoods — nutrient-rich foods that are particularly good for us — power many of the smoothies and dishes. Regardless of whether health is your main concern when deciding where to eat, it’s hard not to have your stomach rumble when you see descriptions of foods such as chia and chocolate pudding, carrot ginger soup and the popular nut-and-seed veggie burger. 203-292-8190
Heirloom Food Company, Danielson
One way to tell if an eatery serves up healthy fare: food with vibrant color. And no, we’re not talking about the unnatural orange of cheese snacks. One look at the Instagram page of this spot in Connecticut’s rural East provides a kaleidoscope of colors. While many dishes at Heirloom are vegetarian or vegan, it’s this organic cafe and juice bar’s dedication to local sourcing that should appeal to all tastes. With a chalkboard menu and a website that list the ingredient-supplying local farms, Heirloom offers an array of mostly vegan and gluten-free items (aside from tuna and turkey options). Standouts include the Beta Burger, featuring a patty of lentils, beets, brown rice and almonds, and the Avocado Detox salad with mixed greens, chopped apples and sliced avocado topped with sesame seeds, walnuts, cranberries and lemon juice. 860-779–3373
Claire’s Corner Copia, New Haven
Another institution on this list, Claire’s has been serving up vegetarian and vegan food to Yale kids and other New Haven residents for 40 years. Claire’s offers vegetarian dishes with a sort of Tex-Mex twist, from burritos to quesadillas. Tofu abounds. It’s also located on one of the nicest street corners in New Haven, diagonally across from the Green at the corner of Chapel and College streets. Big windows offer great people-watching opportunities. 203-562-3888
ION Restaurant, Middletown
It’s Only Natural has been on Middletown’s Main Street for over a generation, serving up vegetarian and vegan cuisine long before it was cool or in vogue. Perhaps thanks to cohort after cohort of environmentally conscious and hip kids up the hill at Wesleyan, ION has grown and expanded over the years, and is now affiliated with a natural foods grocery store, also on Main Street. A lot of vegetarian and vegan places have fairly limited offerings — some combination of rice, beans and lentils to supplement the veggies and make the dish something other than a salad. But ION’s menu is full of adventurous concoctions. They’ve been doing it for some 30 years, so you can bet they have figured out how to keep people coming back. 860-346-9210
The Sweet Beet, Granby
While not every item on the menu here contains beets, everything at The Sweet Beet is vegan and gluten free. And those with food allergies will be happy to know that neither soy nor peanuts are used. It’s all part of a “clean eating” philosophy that has gained a loyal following at this cafe and bakery near the Massachusetts line. Primarily a takeout spot with a cooler of prepared foods, The Sweet Beet offers a few sandwich options (No Egg Salad with chickpeas, onions, dill and seasonings), made-to-order salads (The Sweet Beet Salad with greens, carrot, shredded beet, cucumber, tomato, pea shoots and house-made shallot vinaigrette), soups such as bean chili, several creative juices (Beetlejuice with beet, cucumber, apple and ginger), and baked goods such as mini cupcakes. 860-653-2338
This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine.
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