Eating healthy when dining out often means settling for a salad. A wimpy forkfull of leaves hardly satisfies when you’re in the mood for something to sink your teeth into. As if to add insult to injury, some salads are so bombarded with extra tidbits and drowned in heavy dressing in an effort to appease the taste buds, that you may as well order a double-decker bacon burger, large fries and a milkshake. We fatties are always on the hunt for REAL healthful dining alternatives, and we’d like to share a few of our recent discoveries with you.
RUBIOS: Chicken Chipotle Ranch Wrapsalada
It’s no secret that we love Rubios (and no, we’re not on the payroll.) If you’ve never heard of it, thats because Rubios is only located in the Southwestern United States, with locations in CA, NV, AZ, and CO. We normally go to the Encinitas, or Carlsbad locations.
From its cheery thatched overhangs, to the colorful wooden parrots that hang from the ceiling, giving the place a cheerful “Tiki Room” ambience, Rubios is decidedly different from your average taco shop. The chain offers a large selection of grilled (rather than fried) alternatives to your standard Mexican fare. While Rubios is certainly not in the health food business, and not everything on their menu is necessarily “healthmex” as they call it, it’s nice to know you can sate your cravings for Mexican food without taking in the extra grease and fat.
The Chicken Chipotle Ranch Wrapsalada is essentially a salad in a burrito. A warm, flour tortilla envelops grilled chicken, salsa fresca, guacamole, romaine and spring lettuce, cabbage with a cup of creamy chipolte ranch on the side. However, this wrap is so flavorful, you can really go without the dressing. It comes to you as two wraps, but we have to warn you, it’s very filling, and just one should tide you over.
Everyone has different dietary needs, and this selection is a bit high in sodium, so it may not be the best option if that’s something you are monitoring. Luckily http://www.rubios.com/nutrition/ provides nutritional info on the wrapsalada, including the dressing, so you can make the call for yourself..
Another eatery we’d like to shine our spotlight on is Naked Cafe. This is a Southern California establishment, with locations in Encinitas, Solana Beach, Carlsbad and San Diego. We went to the Encinitas Location.
In a word, the place is hip! Naked Cafe is reminiscent of a 90’s coffee-house, even the selection of music played on our visit added to the feeling of nostalgia. The Dave Matthews Band piped through the overhead speakers, cutting back through 20 years of history with the simple invocation “treading trodden trails for a long, long time”
The walls were painted a celery green, and lined at the bottom with bamboo paneling, something like you might see at a Chinese food restaurant. However, in this locale, it was decidedly chic. Paintings, no doubt by local artists, hung on the wall, adding bright punctuations of color.
We ordered a Green Transcendence wrap and a drink called the Golden Fairy Dust. We weren’t at all sure what kind of drink to expect, but there’s something exciting about ordering drinks with nondescript titles.
The Green Transcendence is a tofu selection fired up with sriacha, and accented with basil and onions. The wrap is given a solid and sandwich-like character with the inclusion of tomatoes, and fresh spinach all done up in a spinach tortilla. This wrap comes with a side of organic quinoa (an amino-acid rich grain) and organic baby greens.
The dish may be too spicy for some, you can blame the sriacha for that, but if you can stand the heat, this wrap is a delicious choice. The quinoa has a wonderful, earthy taste that’s really quite different from most side dishes, falling somewhere between lentils and rice. The salad was dressed with a lite vinaigrette and while really just a smattering of various greens, it had an incredibly developed taste. In a world of “green salads” made from chopped iceberg and carrot strings, you sometimes forget how truly excellent greens, prepared correctly, can taste.
Don’t let the tofu scare you away (unless you have a soy allergy). Many people think of tofu as tasteless and bland. That’s usually because they’ve had it prepared incorrectly. Have you ever had a cut of chicken that was prepared without and seasonings or broth? You’ll find it’s just as dull. The reason everything tastes like chicken, is because chicken takes on the flavors of the food it’s prepared with. Tofu has this same quality, plus it’s a low-fat way to take in some protein.
The Golden Fairy Dust was beautifully presented in an ivory colored mug on a matching saucer. It was topped with a froth of foam and a sprinkling of what appeared to be nutmeg. We didn’t ask our waitress what was in it for fear of destroying the mystery, but it tasted to be some variation on a hot chai tea with milk, and more over it was scrumptious.
The Naked Cafe has a website you can visit http://thenakedcafe.com/ and a Facebook page to boot! We expect to be visiting this establishment on a regular basis.
If you’re in the area, come try these two swank joints out for yourself. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
To Your Health!
-Sharon & Sarah Marcotte