By Wynter Holden
Delightful Airpark eats – with the emphasis on “light”
Eating right isn’t always easy. According to the Pew Research Center, the average person consumed around 2,481 calories per day in 2010. That’s nearly 25 percent more daily calories than we ate in 1970 – and way more than we need to fuel our bodies. We’re increasingly on the go, working longer hours and shuttling the kids off to activities, leaving little time for cooking. Dining out fills the gap, but unfortunately, it also busts our belts. Luckily, jetsetters living or working near Scottsdale Airpark have dozens of healthy alternatives to burgers and fries. Here are a few of our favorite local stops for food that’s fresh, healthful and environmentally friendly.
True Food Kitchen
15191 N. Scottsdale Road, #100
One of the earliest entries onto Scottsdale’s healthy food scene, True Food Kitchen grew from a seed planted by author and home chef Dr. Andrew Weil. Local restaurateur Sam Fox met Weil in the 1990s, at the beginning of the doctor’s push for what he calls the “anti-inflammatory diet,” a reworked food pyramid that puts fruits and vegetables at the bottom and uses meat sparingly. Several of Weil’s recipes have been featured at True Food, including a spaghetti squash casserole and the T.L.T. sandwich made with tempeh. It’s not all twigs and leaves here, either. Pan-roasted chicken and sustainable sea bass are among the meatier options; diners can also add grass-fed steak or other meats to Asian-inspired noodle bowls. The tangy sauce of the panang curry has just enough spice to satisfy, while teriyaki quinoa pairs best with chicken breast or tofu. One of the best dishes for first-timers is the housemade mushroom pizza, which satisfies with beefy shrooms, crisp asparagus and a smattering of pungent taleggio cheese. Finish up with chia pudding, a creamy tapioca-like concoction with banana and toasted coconut.
13610 N. Scottsdale Road
It’s no secret that Chipotle has a winning concept. It’s fast, it’s fresh and diners can see every ingredient that goes in their meal before they choose it. Unfortunately, a standard Chipotle burrito can provide an entire day’s worth of calories if you’re not careful about what you order. Foosia uses the same counter-line setup, allowing guests to build their own bowl with a base of greens, rice or Asian-style thin noodles topped with choice of protein, veggies and sauces. It’s like the choose-your-own-adventure book of fast food. Granted, with the wrong selections, your healthful meal can turn into a diet-busting thriller. The menu is numbered by category (base, protein, veggie etc.), so stay healthy step by step with this formula:
2: Grilled chicken
3: Steamed broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, onion and snap peas
4: No sauce (or try the Sriracha-like Fooster Sauce for flavor)
5: Any combination of Asian cucumber, mung bean sprouts, lime squeeze, scallions, sesame seeds and herbs you want
6: Water or unsweetened iced tea
Multiple Scottsdale locations
Still on the fence about the juice bar trend? Scottsdale Airpark residents are embracing the squeeze, if the triangle of Grabbagreens nearby is any indication. The franchised stores focus on pre-measured salads, protein bowls and juices ranging from around 200 calories to upwards of 700 calories for more filling pasta meals. Seafood lovers will appreciate the shrimp- and avocado-studded Gulf of Mexico salad, while the chimichurri-sauced steak of the Patagonia bowl uses the potent olive oil and herb blend in place of dressing for a flavor boost without added calories. Grabbagreen also does custom detox juices for those wanting a good old-fashioned cleanse, but with more flavor than the typical cayenne-lemon variety. If you’re going that route, opt for the delectable Wellness blend with apple, carrot, lemon and strawberry juices. For dessert, the Rio acai bowl with banana, blackberry and strawberry is as tasty as ice cream with only 300 calories and a fraction of the fat.
13802 N. Scottsdale Road
The only meat-free place on our healthy hot list, Fresh Mint does vegetarian cuisine right. This is, as Chef Mai Ly describes it, “vegetarian food with a Vietnamese twist” – not the other way around. Her food is as colorful as the eatery’s décor; look for bright, crisp plating and a vibrant color palette that makes for a cheery, modern feel. Though there are a handful of dishes prepared with faux soy-based meats, many of Chef Mai’s signature dishes put veggies, fungi and legumes center stage. Try a tofu hotpot or opt for a flavorful, plant-based cucumber roll with a side of spicy lemongrass soup. Our go-to order is curry apple tofu, which pairs the warm spices of golden curry with tart green apples, raisins and a mélange of crisp veggies. It’s a great marriage of opposites, chock-full of ingredients that clash yet somehow work in harmony together.
13802 N. Scottsdale Road, # 110
If you’ve spotted the giant cow painted on the side of a store in downtown Flagstaff, you’ve seen Natural Grocers. The nationwide supermarket, owned by Vitamin Cottage, opened its 100th store in Scottsdale in August 2017. Though it hasn’t been around in the Valley long enough to compare with major competitors Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, we’re already impressed with their meat standards. In addition to being hormone- and antibiotic-free, animals must have pasture or outdoor access, and meat producers are encouraged to use non-GMO feeds. Natural Grocers also carries Certified Organic meats, and all of the fresh produce you’ll find here is organically grown without chemical pesticides. They also carry plenty of trending items like sea salt caramel organic ice cream and pre-made jackfruit tacos, the latter capitalizing on the latest meat-substitute fad. At a glance, prices average around 10 to 20 percent off what you’ll pay at other specialty retailers, making Natural Grocers a natural fit for buyers concerned with additives, chemicals or pesticides in their foods.
It can be difficult to get off the treadmill of eating out when you’re used to convenience. While pre-portioned meal delivery services like Blue Apron, Plated and Home Chef are encouraging time-pressed families to cook at home, we still dine out an average of 4.5 times per week, according to Zagat. It’s a reality check for those of us looking to manage our waistlines alongside our budgets. The bottom line: Whether you’re dining out or hitting the supermarket for weekly meal ingredients, there’s always a healthy (or healthier) alternative. With the growing push for natural ingredients and balanced meals, there are more choices now than ever before.