Whether it’s working toward that New Year’s resolution or combatting that Quarantine 15, there are plenty of healthy eating takeout options.
Here, we spotlight some favorite restaurants for their scope of menu items to support a healthy lifestyle. That way you can have a variety of options beyond the usual suspects of a salad or veggie burger to stay well-nourished.
With the governor’s restaurant restrictions loosened to include indoor dining again starting this week, some of these restaurants may have added that option. So you can elect to eat out in addition to takeout and delivery operations. Check in with your favorite restaurants for the latest updates.
The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world. So turning to this Mediterranean kitchen in St. Paul for a nutritious meal was easy. Plenty of vegetarian options help start the New Year off right if one of your resolutions is to eat less meat and more veggies. And great news: The dishes here are very affordable. So if one of your resolutions is also to spend less money, this spot is a twofer.
We have plenty to recommend. A top pick is the Shish Maza Mix, a vegetarian mixed plate of starters and sides — hummus, babaganoush, falafel, feta cheese, tabbouli, tomatoes and olives served with pita bread that can easily be shared among two for a meal, even more people if sharing it as a starter. If you’re craving soup, don’t miss the bright and light Lentil Soup served with warm pita bread at Shish that may just be the best around. Other recommended dishes to help on that meatless meal path are the Falafel Pita, which includes house-made falafel and hummus, or the loaded Roasted Veggie Bowl with zucchini, squash, chickpeas, mushrooms and cauliflower on a bed of saffron rice.
1668 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-690-2212; shishongrand.com
Recognized as the first certified organic bakery in the United States, this 35-year-old institution seemed ahead of its time when it first opened. The healthy eating spot is still at the top of its game and with a lot to choose from — breakfast items, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees as well as a sizable selection of baked goods and desserts.
Grab a healthy breakfast or brunch with dishes such as the Zone Omelette with egg whites, tomatoes, organic greens with seeded sourdough toast. For dinner, there are plenty of options, too. We recommend the miso salmon, a thick hunk of fish cooked with a perfect sear when we recently ordered takeout. Garlic mashed potatoes and a heaping pile of greens rounded it out nicely. And P.S., if you’re in a raw greens mood, French Meadow has one of the best-in-class Nicoise salads around (comes with salmon at the St. Paul location, ahi tuna at the Minneapolis one).
Two locations: (St. Paul location currently closed during the pandemic until further notice) 1662 Grand Avenue, St. Paul; 651-789-8870 and 2610 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612-870-7855); frenchmeadowcafe.com
Don’t get me wrong, I love a fun, trendy sushi restaurant. But when people ask me for my favorite spot for traditional Japanese fare, it’s been the same since I first walked into this spot in the mid-90s and fell in love with it: Sakura in downtown St. Paul. You can count on Miyoko Omori’s Sakura restaurant to offer authentic Japanese cuisine executed just right. And since the Japanese diet is revered, it’s an excuse to do something good for yourself by eating out, right?
The other week, sushi rolls from the menu were calling. I can hardly ever head here without ordering the Spicy Tuna — my favorite Spicy Tuna roll in the Twin Cities. A crunchy Spider Roll, a deep-fried soft shell crab roll was also spot on.
In addition to traditional Japanese fare, Sakura gets hip with the times including with specialty rolls that allow the chefs to have fun and be creative. There’s a category that plays an ode to downtown St. Paul and Minnesota Wild hockey. And since I needed a touch of sweetness to balance out the spicy and crunchy rolls I had ordered, the Lawson Roll, a fish trio with unagi and sweet eel sauce, fit that bill.
350 St. Peter St.; 651-224-0185; sakurastpaul.com
When craving diner-type food with a wide variety of meat alternatives, fans flock to this plant-based restaurant in St. Paul. The spot features comfort foods where you can find solace in plenty of non-meat offerings beyond a salad or veggie burger. While the Dirty Secret meatless take on the Big Mac burger is delightful enough to make one a regular, it’s fun to try other things on the sizable plant-based menu. A recent favorite discovery was the Crunchwrap, reminiscent of the one at Taco Bell — only meat is substituted for a taco-seasoned Beyond meat blend. The giant crunchy grill-marked tostada wrap is further loaded with flavor thanks to things like peppers, marinated cabbage, vegan cheese and chipotle sour cream. It’s also nice that the menu at J. Selby’s includes chicken substitutes, such as a Crispy Chickin Sandwich and a Buffalo Chickin Wrap, which are more of a rare find at restaurants.
169 N. Victoria St., St. Paul; 651-222-3263; jselbys.com
If there’s any local outfit that is answering the call to accommodate various food allergies and dietary restrictions while being on trend, it’s Agra Culture. So it’s great that this fast-casual operation spotlighting healthy, sustainable, organic ingredients has a couple of locations in the metro. What’s more, the menu format is user-friendly by marking dishes vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo and/or dairy-free so that you don’t have to play the guessing game. The menu is wide-ranging with bowls, plated entrees, flatbreads and sandwiches. This past week, a craving for some clean and lean raw vegetables resulted in an order of the Raw Veggie Sandwich with creamy hummus and more than a handful of bright vegetables such as radishes, cucumbers and spinach. It was anything but a painstaking way to maximize on nutrition with uncooked veggies.
A favorite order here is the sushi-grade fish in items such as the Sushi Bowl. Or, add fish to any of your salad, bowls or entrees. It’s also worth selecting from the smoothie bar using 100 percent organic ingredients while putting in your order.
Several locations, including The Finn building, 721 Cleveland Ave., St. Paul; 651-788-7009; agra-culture.com