When people set out on a path toward healthy eating, it’s no wonder so many give up: there’s a ton of conflicting information out there, and nutrition is a highly complex field. A new approach to optimal health through a specific diet may not be easy to grasp at first, but it’s gaining traction even as it turns conventional wisdom on its head.
It calls for little consumption of carbohydrates and high amounts of healthy fats. Those “good” fats are in coconut oil, avocados, olives and olive oil, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds like almonds and chia seeds, and more. Here are just a few places around Vancouver that manage to serve healthy fats in tantalizing ways.
Tractor, various locations
“We are all about everyday healthy foods, and that includes healthy fats,” says Meghan Clarke, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Steve. “Our approach is simply to eat everything healthy in moderation. Everyday healthy foods represent a balance of veggies, lean meats and fish, whole intact grains, and heart-healthy nuts and fats.
“Our grilled avocado has been on our menu since the day we launched in Kitsilano in June 2013, and it continues to be one of our biggest-selling menu items,” she says. “We season them with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon. We also encourage customers to add a grilled protein to their salads…like grilled albacore tuna and grilled salmon—both a source of healthy fat.”
The Tractor Grains & Greens salad is another healthy-fat extravaganza: besides arugula, baby kale, shaved carrots, snap peas, apple, dried cranberries, farro, quinoa, lentils, and millet, it includes hemp seeds, hazelnuts, and feta cheese. Then there’s the Tractor Power Cookie, with oats, dates, hemp seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and toasted coconut.
TurF, 2041 West 4th Avenue
“The kitchen team designs menu items to be complete with proteins, healthy fats, and lots of plants and greens,” says Warren Springer, an instructor and event coordinator at the fitness studio/shop/café. “We want people to be fulfilled and keep them going for their active day.”
For a dish that would get an MMT stamp of approval, consider the Baked Oats and Groats. It consists of buckwheat groats, oats, apples, pears, pecans, house-made hemp milk, applesauce, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coconut oil, all topped with a chia jam.
“The Baked Oats and Groats are a new take on boring oatmeal,” Springer says, noting that it’s also vegan and gluten-free. “It’s a sweet-tasting comfort food, great for cold weather and perfect to have after a morning workout and to get you through the day.”
Field and Social, 415 Dunsmuir Street
“Field and Social creates carefully crafted salads using only the freshest ingredients; we cut our greens fresh every morning,” says managing partner Barbora Samieian. “Our team aims to create seasonally inspired salads that are balanced in flavour, nutrition, and texture.”
The team recently collaborated with a local registered dietitian, Lindsay Pleskot, on its Macro Bowl X. It features wheat berries, kale, and romaine topped with pickled red cabbage, feta, avocado, and watermelon radish, with a choice of roasted chicken or organic tempeh, all with a basil and white balsamic drizzle.
“Fat is essential to help us absorb certain vitamins—A, D, E, and K—so including them helps our bodies maximize on the fuel and nutritional benefits of some of the other ingredients in the bowl,” Samieian says. “We know that fat plays a role in keeping us not only full longer after eating but also more satisfied, which leads to more stable energy and the ability to listen to our bodies’ fuel and nutrient needs.
“Fat carries flavour…making these nutrient-packed meals even more appealing as a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner for busy people,” she adds.
SMAK, 1139 West Pender Street and 545 Granville Street
“To happily nourish as many people as possible: that’s what gets us up every morning,” says SMAK founder Brendan Ladner. “Eating better, having sustained energy for the rest of the day: this is what fuels us to make the world a better place, and healthy oils are the base of it all.
“We are so committed to healthy fats that we base most of our hot foods, like our popular Green Curry Chicken Bowl, on camelina oil, an omega 3-6-9 superstar,” he adds.
The Salmon SMAK Box, various versions of which have been on the menu since the restaurant launched more than four years ago, was designed with the intention of packing as much nutrition into a dish as possible. Among many other ingredients, it contains house-roasted salmon, avocado, spicy house-roasted pumpkin seeds, edamame, chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, roasted yams, red pepper, red and green cabbage, basil, and mint.
“As our SMAK boxes are one of our signature items, we’ve made it dense and nourishing, not forgetting that SMAK means taste,” Ladner says. “The Salmon SMAK Box tastes amazing.…Plus, one of the reasons we all enjoy eating out is that the dishes, like this one, can feature so many more ingredients than makes sense at home. The best time to eat a Salmon SMAK Box is at lunch, because once you are done eating a box like this, you can have the sustained energy to do anything.”