Lighten Up!

Delicious, nutritious dining in the Valley

You know how these New Year’s “healthy eating” stories usually start with the “if you were naughty in December, time to energize in January” line? Well, this isn’t that story.

Actually, it is, but if we are all being honest, most of us spent the past 10 months at home often eating and drinking like it was December.

Am I right?

Yep, us too. (Hashtag 2020.)

This month, however, marks a new year. It’s 2021, and time to put a little pep back in all of our steps when it comes to food, be it when dining out, carrying out, or via delivery. So, here is a handy dandy list of local eateries with nutrient-rich foods, juices, and bowls.


Tocaya Organica

Since expanding to Arizona from California in 2018, the Madera Group has made quite the splash with the opening of several Tocaya Organica restaurants in the Valley, including locations at the Esplanade and in Scottsdale. The menu is designed to be “modern Mexican,” defined by them as the use of high-quality ingredients paired with bold flavors. Rooted in traditional Mexican recipes, the menu naturally accommodates a variety of dietary preferences, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, using quality produce as its foundation. Embodying a commitment to serving natural and sustainable ingredients, Tocaya Organica serves meat and fish that are fresh and 100%-free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Nearly everything on this menu packs not only a flavor, but a nutrient-dense punch. TocayaOrganica.com


Both Luci’s locations in the area—Luci’s at the Orchard and Luci’s Healthy Marketplace—boast extensive smoothie and juice menus, as well as acai and protein-packed bowl options. There are also signature smoothie and juice options, and build-your-own, nutrient-rich menus available featuring ingredients including apples, cantaloupe, carrots, kale, spinach, parsley, mint, ginger, and much more. The bowl menu, called Power Bowls, features four options, each with a laundry list of good-for-you goodies that range from field greens and avocado to pan-roasted salmon and sweet potatoes. Insider’s tip: don’t miss the breakfast bowl option, which is a personal favorite. It is an Acai Superfood Bowl with chilled acai, organic fruits, and hemp granola. LucisOrchard.com and LucisHealthyMarketplace.com

Pita Jungle

The locally-owned and -operated Pita Jungle franchise—where the motto is The Art of Eating Healthy—has grown from one to more than 20 locations across Arizona by blazing its own delicious and eclectic path, one healthy ingredient at a time. The menu is inspired by the Mediterranean, a cuisine lauded for its health benefits worldwide, and designed to maximize flavor while minimizing calories.  Expect a lot of whole foods such as fish, vegetables, fruits, olives, and olive oil on the menu, as well as lean meats, mushrooms, lavosh, greens, pitas, and salads. PitaJungle.com


True Food Kitchen

In 2008, True Food Kitchen was founded by renowned physician and doctor of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. His philosophy: food should make you feel better, not worse.  Since its opening more than 10 years ago, True Food—now with locations at the Biltmore and in Scottsdale—has done just that, focusing its menu on the anti-inflammatory diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. This notion is clear in each of its menus. A particular favorite is its brunch selections, which feature several smoothie and juice options, including a kale and coconut option that is bursting with the flavors of banana, pineapple, lemon, ginger, honey, as well as both a Vegan Chorizo Bowl and a Sunrise Bowl, which features organic sunny side-up eggs, ancient grains, sweet potato, grilled portobello, avocado, hemp seed, and cilantro heavenly pumpkin seed pesto. TrueFoodKitchen.com


Flower Child

Located in Arcadia, Uptown, and Scottsdale, these fast-casual hot spots with a focus on healthy food for those on the go have the same vibe as True Food—which makes sense as Arizona native Sam Fox was once involved in both—and takes great pride in making food, whether one is vegetarian, vegan, paleo, or just plain hungry. The kitchen excels at churning out good food that won’t break the bank, including filling salads, notably the Organic Kale with pink grapefruit, organic apples, red cabbage, black currants, smoked almonds, white cheddar, and apple cider vinaigrette; bowls, including Mother Earth, with ancient grains, sweet potatoes, Portobello mushrooms, avocado, cucumbers, broccoli pesto, charred onions, leafy greens, and a red pepper miso vinaigrette that’s sprinkled with hemp seed; and crave-worthy sides, including Yuzu Brussels Sprouts, with charred onion, savoy cabbage, and golden miso. IAmAFlowerChild.com


Juby True

This spinoff of True Food Kitchen, whose name is actually short for “Juice by True Food,” believes nutrition should always taste amazing. As such, each of its unique recipes balances flavor and nutrients made from the season’s ripest ingredients. In fact, each 16-oz. bottle of juice contains five to seven pounds of raw, 100% organic produce that is cold-pressed and never pasteurized. In addition to the juice selections, there is a full menu of smoothies, ranging from the Weekend Warrior with almond butter, flax, low-fat yogurt, bananas, honey, and apples, to the Immunie with oranges, bananas, lemon, sea buckthorn berry juice, astragalus, nettle oil, and ginger. TrueFoodKitchen.com/jubytrue


Berry Divine Acai Bowls

Devine doesn’t even begin to describe this new healthy eatery, which was initially founded in Sedona before expanding to the Valley in 2019. It is based on 12 ingredients, each known for its vitamins, nutrients, and healing properties: acai, guarana, blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate, bee pollen, chia seeds, goji berries, flaxseed, spinach, hemp seed, and kale. Each of the signature bowls on the menu is offered two ways. First, there is the blended bowl option where the acai is blended with frozen fruits and a non-dairy milk or juice. Then, there is the soft serve option, which is an organic frozen blend of acai, apple juice, beet juice, lemon juice, and cane sugar. Both options are topped with fruit, granola, honey, and other healthy ingredients. There are also eight smoothies made using frozen acai versus ice. BerryDivineAcai.com


Farm & Craft

Tucked into Old Town Scottsdale, Farm & Craft is focused on healthy and sustainable food in a community-style atmosphere. Think modern farm with a contemporary twist. A combination fast-casual and full-service restaurant, of particular note is its signature Wellness Menu, which changes seasonally, and is divided into four sections: one with ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties; one with ingredients that boost probiotic levels to aid in digestion; one with dishes that are packed with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, selenium, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin; and one with sustainable, gluten-free, organic, and hormone-free dishes that are meant to reduce stress levels. ILoveFarmAndCraft.com

Kaleidoscope Juice

A local success story, Kaleidoscope Juice began as a venture fueled by a $6,000 grant from the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative at Arizona State University, and was founded by a then-student at the school, Alexandra Maw. Her initial goal was to develop a brand offering clean, handcrafted items that tasted as good as they made one feel. The result: a product line that today features 90 different items, all natural and organic. Among the most popular items are the acai and pitaya bowls, each blended with bananas, blueberries, raspberries, almond butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, and coconut water; protein bowls, served with sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables; and smoothies, with ingredients including collagen, cacao, avocado, and goji berries. Kaleidoscope.love

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