It’s a familiar routine: around the end of December you start thinking about all the healthy food you’re going to eat this year. You print out a clean eating plan and slap it on the fridge. Maybe you even buy a salad spinner for good measure.
But right around the first week of January, you break down and binge on all the food you said you’d sworn off.
Why does it always go this way? Why do your vegetables wilt in the fridge while you eat an entire pizza on the couch?
In the famous words of Tom Haverford on Parks and Rec, “Treat yo self.”
Changing our eating habits is hard, y’all. There are reasons we eat the way we do, like eating for convenience when you’re short on time, or eating for comfort when you need it. Quitting your favorite food cold turkey often leads to a huge loss of motivation—at least it does for me, anyway. There has to be a light at the end of the vegetable tunnel.
Nutrition studies suggest a 90/10 rule: 90 percent of meals should be healthy, and 10 percent can be an entire pizza eaten on the couch.
Fortunately, Savannah has plenty of restaurants in both categories, so here are some options for you to achieve that perfect 90/10 balance.
The staff at this smoothie bar are pros at a clean diet and have comprehensive juice cleanse plans to help you detox and reenergize. When you sign up for a cleanse, you get a juice for each meal for however long your cleanse lasts, which makes sticking to that resolution even easier. They also sell individually bottled juices and smoothies for a lot of different purposes, from protein to building immunity to energy. A personal favorite is the lemon-ginger shot for a burst of energy that’s comparable to a triple venti at Starbucks. The Pure Protein smoothie is also an excellent meal-replacer (and is a really pretty purple).
Kayak Kafe (Broughton and Midtown)
(Full disclosure: I’ve served at Kayak’s midtown location for over a year, so not only does that make me an expert at this restaurant but it makes me an authority on healthy eating everywhere. You can trust me.) All the salads are exceptional, but the Vegetarian salad really stands out: it comes topped with hummus and pita, a quinoa and couscous superfood salad, tons of veggies, and your choice of tofu or feta. If you’re trying to cut out meat, the tofu tacos are a safe bet, as are the black bean, spinach, and mushroom tacos. The black eyed pea burger is also a great vegetarian alternative. The best menu deviation I’ve discovered, though, is the tuna melt on a warm corn tortilla. Heaven.
Sometimes it’s challenging to find a salad that is good for you and doesn’t taste like your garden. Butterhead definitely has that down, especially with their Casablanca salad. The unique flavors of chickpeas, avocado, mint, feta and a carrot vinaigrette make this a really delightful salad that definitely doesn’t taste like garden. You can also add a chicken or veggie patty to any salad, or build your own.
The Sentient Bean
The Bean is best known for its organic, free-trade coffee and their earth-friendly way of running a restaurant, but their extensive menu shouldn’t be overlooked. The Vegan Super-bowl comes packed with beans, grains, tempeh, avocado, and nut pate and is the perfect complement for your afternoon coffee. For a heavier option, the Greek Tacos are basically a Greek salad with hummus and tzatziki on a corn tortilla.
Okay, so Zoë’s Kitchen is a chain, but it doesn’t feel like one. They have an excellent Greek salad (discussion question: is there a reason Greek salad is automatically seen as über-healthy? Is it just everyone’s favorite salad?) and a quinoa salad that are light and delicious. Their Grilled Chicken and Slaw sandwich, served in a warm pita, might be one of my favorite sandwiches ever.
The first thing I always want after eating nothing but lettuce for a week is a burger. A big, hulking, fall-off-the-bun burger. I’m salivating right now. The Hot Rod has that greasy bacon you crave after a while without. Green Truck is the perfect place for a cheat burger because they have veggie patties that taste just like meat and burgers that aren’t heavy on the fatty ingredients. It feels like you’re cheating, but you’re not.
Just go get a Godfather and enjoy it, okay?
When you’ve been diligently eating spinach and hummus for a long time, anything that isn’t those two things start to sound amazing. Even the strangest, fattiest combinations are up for grabs. That’s why Treylor Park is the place to get your cheat on. Chicken and pancake tacos? Fried banana peppers? Deep fried Oreos? Fried bologna? Bring it on. Bring it all on.
Back in the Day Bakery
You’ll be in sugar heaven after so long an abstention. The cupcakes, particularly the Old Fashioned, are pillowy and delightful, and Cheryl’s Brownies are the perfect chocolate fix. Go all-out and sweeten your coffee with their brown sugar syrup.
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