Made a New Years resolution to eat healthier in 2020? Most of us start January with good intentions about food, fitness, and finances that fall by the wayside as we yield to temptation. In the words of New Orleans-born entertainer Bianca Del Rio, “not today Satan!”
The biggest change one needs to make is to one’s attitude. Once you make the decision to do something, stick to it. Yes, honey, we’re talking discipline—and not the kind you get during role play.
Focus on looking and feeling better.
Think about the benefits, not the process.
One key to finding healthy food is knowing where to look. Guess what? There’s an app for that. Locally, Eat Fit NOLA—a program from Ochsner Hospital and its Fitness Center—has been working with restaurants to create healthier food choices that also taste good. The program is now expanding across Louisiana, and you can download the free Eat Fit app to help guide your dining decision-making. https://www.ochsner.org/eat-fit
On a night when I was contemplating yet another indulgent dinner, a friend mentioned a place he wanted to try. I looked it up on the app and we were sold by the delicious-looking photos.
The Daily Beet has three locations; all of them feature fresh juices, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, and salads to which you can add proteins such as eggs, lox, or tofu. We opted for their restaurant in the CBD and started with a namesake dish: Beet Hummus. A royal purple schmear of silky hummus sat atop a slice of country toast from Bellegarde Bakery. It’s quite flavorful yet not overpowering. The cucumber tahini slaw towering over it is acidic and a refreshing counterpoint. Feta cheese offers a pungent note, and smoked paprika brings a nice twist to the whole melange. Definitely a winner.
The lox plate was good but curiously did not include lemon; the lox needed more acidity than was provided by capers. It sits on the same country loaf as the beet hummus, and is topped with a mild herb cream cheese. The plate itself is arranged artfully, with a salad of pickled onions (terrific!), cucumbers, tomatoes, and arugula (the latter providing a sharp, slightly bitter edge).
Rice bowls have caught on with runners and others who want to carb up. One choice (presumably new as it neither appeared on the printed menu nor the online version) is the Wellness Bowl. Warm wild rice is tossed with grapes, toasted pistachios, & currants, and served over arugula dressed with sesame balsamic vinaigrette. Topped with goat cheese, it’s sweet, grassy, bitter, soft, and crunchy. This is a complex and balanced dish that is satisfying and filling.
Another rice bowl, the Thai Peanut, also features wild rice (a complex carb) with mango, red bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, green onion, coconut flakes, and mild Thai peanut dressing. It sounded terrific, but left us wanting more. Grab a bottle of the excellent house-made pineapple or blueberry habanero chili sauce to add sweet heat to the dish.
We rounded out our sampling with a Mexicali Blues salad that frankly left us with the blues. It needed a sharper dressing, or perhaps more of the jalapeño lime vinaigrette. Despite a nice combination of romaine, spring mix lettuce, avocado, black bean, corn, tomato, red onion, cilantro, corn chops, and Cojita cheese, it fell flat.
We only tried one juice: watermelon ginger. It was overpowered by ginger. There are some health benefits to that, but the delicate taste of watermelon was completely lost.
For dessert, we grabbed a PB&J smoothie. Okay, we fought over it. Blueberry, pineapple, banana, and peanut butter are deftly combined into a luscious drink with a nice protein pick me up. Order this!
Would we go back? For lunch, as an alternative to burgers, chicken, or pizza, yes. If I wanted something more adventurous, I would head to Seed or the newly reopened Sneaky Pickle. That said, for a grab-and-go place in the CBD, The Daily Beet is a welcome addition (and the counter service was super friendly).
Epilogue: all these healthy dishes…yet so much cheese (albeit of good quality and in manageable quantities)? Our taste buds are fat soluble. In the absence of any fat (which your body needs), food really does taste like cardboard. You already knew the secret: everything in moderation!
The Daily Beet, 1000 Girod St (additional locations on Magazine St and in the St. Roch Market), 8am – 8pm, seven days a week, all major credit cards, (504) 605-4413, thedailybeetnola.com (online ordering in advance available)
Charles Pizzo is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. If you’re interested in having your dining establishment covered by Ambush Magazine, please contact him.