Gourmet Live and BlogHer Road Trip: Favorite Healthy Restaurants

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Healthy Restaurants
As part of our monthly collaboration with Gourmet Live, we're going cross-country to find the top healthy restaurants to start the new year smartly.

healthy foods

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Bloggers' Favorite Healthy Restaurants
The Novice Chef
Jacksonville, Florida: First Watch
There are three reasons you must check out First Watch. One: Delicious coffee. Two: Free wi-fi. Three: The turkey dill "crepegg" (a thin crepe with whipped eggs). First Watch is one of the best healthy restaurants in Jax for a no-fuss, delicious brunch that won't make you feel guilty. But if you are feeling sinful, you must try the banana crunch granola pancake. It is truly the pancake of all pancakes!

-- Jessica, The Novice Chef

Chez Us
San Francisco, California: Samovar Tea Lounge
Samovar Tea Lounge is the place Chez Us likes to hang out when they need a little zen in their lives. The fine folks at Samovar may be known for tea first, but their meals are also out of this world. The menu has a bit of a Moorish undertone and takes you away to faraway lands. All dishes are fresh and either vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free. Favorites are the raw honeycomb, blue cheese, and fresh fruit platter, and the squash dumplings. Tea choices range from exotic to your everyday black tea. Definitely save room for a sweet treat at the end of the meal by enjoying a rose-infused Greek yogurt with medjool dates and fresh mint. Samovar has three Bay Area locations to make your eating-healthy New Year's resolution just a little easier.

-- Denise & Lenny, Chez Us

Traci Mitchell
Chicago, Illinois: Victory's Banner
Nestled on the north side of Chicago's Roscoe Village is a popular vegetarian restaurant called Victory's Banner. This unbelievable breakfast and lunch spot offers an abundance of mouth-watering meals like The curry omelet, a coconut peanut veggie wrap, and -- my favorite -- the bliss burger, an award-winning veggie burger that will win over any meat eater. The only thing better than the food is the character of the restaurant: Patrons are served by a waitstaff sporting traditional Indian saris. Peace, love and tranquility are put into every dish brought to the table.

-- Traci, Traci D. Mitchell.com

Teeny Tiny Kitchen
Saint Albans, Vermont: One Federal
When I think of health food I think of local food, and One Federal Restaurant and Lounge in Saint Albans, Vermont, keeps its food as local as possible. From working its own two-acre garden for restaurant produce to using nearby Boyden Farm beef for their burgers, the food at this culinary emporium is fresh and satisfying. One specialty is the zesty green bean "slammers." Whole green beans are sauteed in balsamic vinegar with ginger and spices. And that simple opener leads into the rest of the menu, which turns regional northern Vermont ingredients into classic, elegant fare.

-- Launie, Teeny Tiny Kitchen

Dash of East
Atlanta, Georgia: World Peace Café
One of the things that really struck me about World Peace Café: Not only was it a vegetarian restaurant, it served a greater purpose than just creating mouth-watering dishes. All of the proceeds from the restaurant go to support meditation classes and special events by the Rameshori Kadampa Buddhist Center. The people who run World Peace Cafe are dedicated to making the world a better place by serving organic, fair-trade coffee, using biodegradable take-out packaging and supporting local businesses by purchasing their produce from local farmers markets. Some of my favorite dishes: the Southern peace burger, the sun salad, and an amazing cauliflower quiche.

--Melissa, Dash of East

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Los Angeles, California: Real Food Daily
I'm not big a fan of restaurants that serve primarily vegan food. While I love fruits, vegetables and grains and being healthy, the thought of faux meats and cheese is never a favorite for me. Dragged kicking and screaming to Real Food Daily in Los Angeles years ago, I was quickly proven wrong. Their lentil-walnut pate, country vegetable miso soup, tahini miso spread on cornbread and "TV dinner" are so delicious it will make a true carnivore change her ways!

-- Catherine, Weelicious

Soup Addict
Cincinnati, Ohio: Green Dog Café
Green Dog is a sleek, modernist, eco-friendly eatery featuring locally sourced and organic ingredients. The chef/owner, Mary Swortwood, has created a seasonal menu that changes frequently (sometimes weekly) according to meat and produce availability and executes her dishes with creative flair. Thoughtful pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes round out an earthy, grain-and-vegetable focused menu (although there’s plenty for the omnivores in the crowd, too). Brown rice and quinoa bowls are filling yet simply adorned with in-season vegetables and curries or salsas. The GD fries are not to be missed, if only for the honey curry mayo served on the side. Top off the meal with a selection from the bar, and don’t forget to order Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream for dessert.

-- Karen, SoupAddict.com

Ridgefield, New Jersey: MK Valencia
The healthiest meal one can eat is prepped with fresh ingredients -- which is why I love Ridgefield's MK Valencia. Their menu includes raw food, as well as gluten free and vegetarian options. I recommend the spicy fish stew, the beet salad and the lobster salad. Lobster is often considered a luxury item on any menu, but perhaps it should be included in your diet more often because it has several essential nutrients. If you are looking for a place to eat great food, this is your place to go.

-- Katherine, Fresalina.com

Noelle Opera Singer
Lansing, Michigan: The Soup Spoon Café
There is only one place to go for deliciously healthy food in East Lansing, and it is very popular. Soup Spoon Café has an extensive menu with A LOT of variety, including breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. They are also open late at nights, with nightly specials of different local beers and dishes. There is a daily selection of soups, always with at least one or two vegan choices. I really like their gazpacho -- not too tomatoey, and with a perfect blend of spices. I love taking friends and introducing them to the restaurant, because it does not disappoint. Their breakfast options range from fresh farm-raised eggs to fluffy pancakes with Michigan maple syrup. Their Asian stir-fry is colorful and very delicious, served with brown rice. The portions are perfect in size and in price, especially for freshly made foods. Definitely a great place to bring your out-of-town relatives!

-- Noelle, An Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Caron San Diego
San Diego, California: Tender Greens
I love a restaurant that serves food so irresistible that the fact that it's healthy is almost secondary. So my go-to is Tender Greens. The San Diego restaurant is one of seven in California, but you'd never guess it was a chain because each one is so locally focused. In fact, executive chef Pete Balistreri, who runs our Tender Greens, in Pt. Loma's historic Liberty Station, uses produce grown just across the street by suburban farmer Paul Raab. Susanna Brandenberg, the mom of another of Tender Greens's chefs, makes all of the knockout pastries and beautiful preserves, like her balsamic and fig preserves. I never have to feel virtuous when I order the Tuna Niçoise salad with greens, tomatoes, potato, capers, egg, olive, green beans, and slices of seared tuna -- all lightly bathed in a piquant sherry vinaigrette. On a chilly day, it's their thick roasted tomato bread soup with basil oil that fills me up, accompanied, perhaps, by the red and green butter lettuce salad with anise-like tarragon dressing. My mouth waters just walking from the order station past the open kitchen and viewing all the beautifully roasted vegetables on my way to the cash register.

-- Caron, San Diego Foodstuff

See all the blogger-recommended places on the Gourmet Live and BlogHer Road Trip so far. And for 10 more exclusive party restaurants and recipes, download the free Gourmet Live app -- now for the iPhone! -- or visit the road trip on on Gourmet.com and on the Gourmet Live blog now.

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