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Healthy Eating for the New Year in Columbia: Restaurants, Services, Menu Items and Tips

Healthy Eating for the New Year in Columbia: Restaurants, Services, Menu Items and Tips

New year, new resolutions. If you made a resolution to eat better this year, we have some recommendations of which local places to try and what to try there. These yummy places and dishes will help you eat better, feel better and stick to your goal. 

PureFit Meals-

If you are constantly on the go and wish that healthy food would just appear on your doorstep, PureFit Meals can grant your wish.

PureFit Meals, a division of Bleu Events, provides ready-made, benefit-packed meals to make healthy eating a breeze. Owner of PureFit Meals, Scott Schutte, was driven to create a fitness plan including these meals that contained real ingredients and produced real results for people trying to better their bodies. Schutte broke away from the Standard American Diet, consulting experts all over the world in order to create the menu and an all-around better fitness approach.

PureFit Meals’ gluten and dairy free meals are delivered to your doorstep every Monday and Thursday morning between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. so they are ready to go when you wake up or they are delivered straight to your office between 8 a.m. and noon so you can enjoy a guilt-free lunch. Meals can also be picked up at GNC at 1205 Grindstone Pkwy #103, Columbia, MO 65201.

At $10.50 and around only 300 calories for regular meals and $12.50 and around 450 calories for extra protein meals, the 48 rotating menu options, provide colorful, protein packed, hassle free meals to the person on the go.

For those interested in using PureFit Meals to make positive changes, Travis Tucker, owner and manager of Bleu Events, says PureFit is a lifestyle, not a diet. “Half of the battle is what you put in your body,” Tucker says.

Along with placing these protein and nutrient packed dishes in your new healthy eating routine, Tucker says it’s all about making small changes first. Things like cutting out soda and drinking water are simple but so important to bettering your body and lifestyle.  

If you are new to PureFit Meals and are looking for a meal recommendation, try the Breakfast Bowl. Made with sautéed chorizo, onions, carrots and kale in the bottom of a roasted red pepper then oven roasted and topped with two eggs with a side of spinach, it is a great place to start.

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Check out their menu options, process and rave reviews here:

Nourish Café and Market 

Step into the brightly lit, neutral-toned space of Nourish Café and Market located at 1201 E. Broadway, Ste B and find yourself surrounded by unprocessed, locally sourced food. The entire menu is gluten-free, soy, corn and refined sugar-free, so you can feel good about what you are eating.

Owned by yogis, young moms and healthy eating advocates, Kimber Dean and Kalle LeMone, Nourish meets the needs of those wanting from-scratch, nutrient-dense food and those wanting to try something fresh.

If you are new to the world of unprocessed foods, it may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, the menu has recognizable items to ease you in and the friendly, knowledgeable staff is there to answer any and all questions you may have.

“Our staff loves helping people,” says LeMone. For guests with food restrictions or those who just want to know what they are putting in their bodies, each individual ingredient is listed in books in the store and on Nourish’s website.  

While many people often think of healthy food as boring or limited, Dean and LeMone have made the menu items simply healthier versions of the things people enjoy eating on a regular basis. Many recipes come from Dean’s cookbook, Happy Food Cookbook, while others are healthy modifications of popular, not-so-healthy food.

Menu items include familiar favorites such as juices, smoothies, salads, mac n’ cheese and more. The twist is, everything is made with healthy substitutes: hummus instead of mayo in chicken salad, zucchini in place of wheat noodles and house-made almond milk in place of dairy.

These ingredients make transferring from an average or unhealthy lifestyle into an unprocessed, nutritionally balanced diet easier. “You have to make healthy food so craveable and delicious, you don't want anything else,” says LeMone.

Starting out with the Nourish menu, good things to try are below. 

Marinara Bowl - Zucchini noodle and spaghetti squash blend, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, house made marinara, topped with cashew ricotta

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Broadway Bowl - Sautéed kale, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli crowns, lemon garlic hummus, quinoa balls

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Whole Breakfast - Cashew creamed greens, roasted sweet potatoes, 2 eggs, house made toast

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If you already love Nourish or are just being introduced to them and want to dive in with a fun activity, join them for their Build A Bowl Workshop, Sunday, January 22 at 3 p.m. This class will focus on weight loss tips and will be taught by owner Kimber. The cost is $50 for five vegetarian bowls and $72.50 for five bowls with meat. 

Nourish is also planning a Valentines themed event focused on the creation of their delicious from-scratch chocolate so stay tuned for updates on that event. 

Range Free-

Are you looking to make healthy diet changes this year, but need menu options that can work around your dietary restrictions? Enter Range Free, located at 110 Orr St # 101. The menu is centered on the ability to find a dish to suit anyone with any dietary need.

Owner Anna Meyer created the name Range Free based on the idea that even those with limited diets can enjoy a range of flavorful, delicious food. Meyer has dietary restrictions and wanted to create a restaurant that served comfort food­ for those with similar needs. She understands discovering you can’t eat certain foods can be difficult, and she wanted to create items that were familiar and helped bridge the gap between “normal” and allergen-free.

“We focus on more comfort-style foods that you are missing in a restricted dietary lifestyle,” says Meyer. “It makes it easier to make that switch because temptation is always going to be there.”

Range Free focuses on creating menu items with as few ingredients as possible in order to encompass as many diets as possible. It is committed to being extremely safe and making sure each guest never gets something he or she cannot have in a meal.

If you have food restrictions, Range Free is a good go-to due to its cautious habits and minimalist ingredients. However, Meyer has suggestions for those on restricted diets eating at other places.

“I think for eating out with allergens, make sure that who you are asking has the right answers,” says Meyer. “There is a level of miseducation in the food industry, so once you find those places that you trust, keep going back to them. And constantly re-asking is key.”

If you are looking to try something yummy, filling and allergen-free (except egg,) the Quiche of the Day is a recommended go-to. With fillings that change daily and seasonally depending on what local produce is available, the dish is guaranteed to be fresh and satisfying.

In this case, the seasonally festive Butternut Squash is a colorful creation on a color-coordinated plate. Range Free uses a plate system to denote the presented food’s ingredients. If the plate is yellow, the food contains egg. If it is white, dairy; green, soy; and brown, it is top eight allergen-free.

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Range Free just underwent some fancy renovations and is back and better and ready to welcome 2017 with more allergen-free eats.

Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen 

Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen is the perfect place to unwind after work with their constantly rotating selection of local and national craft beers and wines. However, it is also a great place to grab a healthy soup, salad or veggie burger.

Opened in 2016, Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen was going to either be a pizza or sandwich restaurant, according to head chef, Dustin Delgrosso. The venue had all of the accommodations to produce sandwiches over pizza so it opened with that cuisine to start but with a different take than the chain sandwich shops around CoMo.

“I know that draws a college crowd and is something everyone is familiar with,” says DelGrosso. “To have our own unique spin on something, we added the Mexican influence with the red and green chilies as many places as we could without overdoing it.”

The incorporation of chili can be seen in the signature salad, the Walnut Street Salad. The use of red chili candied walnuts adds a spicy and delicious crunch to the popular salad named for the restaurant. 

The popular favorite, the Walnut Street Salad includes: house green and kale mix, red chili candied walnuts, bleu cheese crumbles, apples, bacon, sweet malt vinaigrette

The Walnut Street Salad is a much-requested favorite and is a must-try for someone looking to eat healthy in the new year.

Another healthy option is the Winter Squash Salad. Pickled red beets and crispy roasted butternut squash are great alone if you are really committed to being healthy or if you are having a cheat day, the salad is great drizzled with a little bit of thick and rich pumpkin bacon vinaigrette.

Winter Squash Salad- Baby spinach, roasted butternut squash, pickled beets, goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, warm pumpkin bacon vinaigrette.

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For those looking to grab a healthy bite to eat from the menu but not in the mood for salad, replacing beef patties with grilled chicken or the black bean patties is a good option. They also offer a variety of tacos to fix the Mexican theme.

About a month after opening, Walnut Street Tap + Kitchen added tacos to the menu.  While some probably aren’t the healthiest thing to order on the menu, they are flavor packed and there is a vegetarian option which is a much-requested favorite.

Main Squeeze- 

Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe, located at 28 S 9th St., is Columbia’s original and only vegetarian restaurant. In fact, it is the only vegetarian restaurant within 100 miles of Columbia. Started in 1997 by Leigh Lockhart, Main Squeeze prides itself on serving truly organic, locally sourced ingredients in the form of colorful, good-for-you dishes.

 Lockhart makes it her mission to seek out organic farmers who don’t use chemicals to grow their produce. Most ingredients are purchased locally, except for those not available in Missouri, such as avocados and bananas. However, Main Squeeze also has its own quarter-acre garden where some of the recipe ingredients are grown.

 If Lockhart finds a local product she likes, she works backward to find a perfect recipe to fit the ingredient in order to support local producers and create new, unique menu items.

 “There is a lady in Springfield called The Date Lady,” says Lockhart. “She makes this really good date caramel syrup, so I tried it and thought, ‘we have to make something out of this.’ Just like we wanted to sell more blueberries from the blueberry grower we buy from, so we started selling blueberry lemon muffins.”

 As of the New Year, Main Squeeze has introduced a bunch of fresh new menu items. From sandwiches to freshly squeezed juices cold off the press, the items are meant for those who aim to be healthy but are not about trendy eating.

 “With the new menu, I got rid of the acai bowl and all of that,” Lockhart said. “I’m not into trends. I’m into what people can eat today, tomorrow and in ten years, and I know that’s rice and beans.”

 If you are new to a vegetarian diet, or even if you never thought you would give it a try, great items to start with the delicious 9th St. Veg or a So Fresh, So Green fresh juice. 

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All types of eaters can feel comfortable about what they’re eating at Main Squeeze because it comes from close to home.

Tips N' Tricks for Eating Healthy Elsewhere 

 Going out to eat at a place that doesn't serve strictly healthy food? We've got some tips and tricks for what to do to make even your fav not-so--healthy dishes just a touch on the lighter side. 

Who doesn’t love treating themselves to a side of fries and cheesy entrees when they go out? When there’s someone making the meal for you, everything on the menu can be tempting. If you love to go out to eat and go all-in, here are some tips to live by this year.

 1) The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH) recommends eating a serving of 2 cups of fruit each day. One cup is described as the size of a baseball, so swap out dessert for fresh fruit if available.

 2) Drink water before you leave for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner date—it helps you feel more full before you arrive.

 3) Study the menu and decide what sounds best—for example, sacrifice the fried appetizer and split a dessert instead.

 4) Drink water before the first appetizer even hits the table and during the meal. Again, water fills you up. It will also keep you from eating the entire basket of complimentary bread or chips.

 5) Remember the saying “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” All-you-can-eat buffets are notorious for encouraging customers to grab a second helping.

 6) If you reach the end of the week and want a drink with dinner, go for the lightest option. Avoid sugary, darker sodas. Instead, try mixed drinks with diet soda, tonic water or fresh-squeezed citrus juice to cut out added sugar. Drink water in between drinks.

 7) Ask for a salad with dressing on the side as a substitute for an appetizer. Salad dressing can be filled with unnecessary added saturated fats and sugars. Opt for vinaigrettes instead of heavy blue cheese or ranch-based dressings. The national Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends asking for a low-fat option or having the dressing served separately.

 8)  Don’t let food go to waste—make a meal out of an appetizer. According to, “the average restaurant meal is more than four times larger than it was in the 1950s.” Be sure to ask about portion size before you order.

 9) Have a salad as your main entrée. Many have the option of adding a protein. The USDA recommends having five and a half ounces of protein per day. To visualize, recall that 3-4 ounces of chicken or steak is approximately the size of a checkbook. Again, ask for dressing on the side.

10) The NIH suggests ordering meal options without butter or sauce. Ask for the meal to be cooked in olive oil instead. If the meal has a fried component, ask if it can be grilled instead.

11) If you just cannot avoid that huge entrée that sounds amazing, ask them to box up half of it.







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