A new year may be upon us but the demand for healthier dining options is a trend we don’t expect to fizzle out any time soon. With countless studies finding links between obesity and diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression, more consumers are actively trying to live healthier lifestyles. The only catch — they don’t want to sacrifice that salty side of fries or that oh-so sweet dessert on the road to wellness.
Enter the health halo effect, a phenomenon where certain foods or brands are perceived as healthier with the help of strategic menu options and branding. As a result, many fast casual brands are changing things up by using more locally-sourced ingredients, incorporating gluten-free and vegan menu options, and focusing more on overall freshness. Even fast food chain Burger King has announced it will begin serving chicken raised without the use of antibiotics.
And while many of these new restaurant options wouldn’t necessarily be dubbed as healthy from a nutritionist’s standpoint, consumers certainly appreciate those brands who are striving to become more health-conscious and giving them more options in the process.
In South Florida, where residents enjoy beach weather 90 percent of the year, it’s no surprise that nutrition is something most consumers think about. Foodable Labs data shows 61,400 conversations on healthy food in Broward County over the past 90 days, with females ages 18-34 dominating the conversation at 72 percent. But that doesn’t mean that men don’t have health on the brain. In fact, data showed males ages 44-55 had the strongest increase in the conversation topic.
So what exactly are South Florida diners looking for when it comes to health-conscious eats? Organic and locally-sourced options, cold-pressed juices, healthier comfort foods, and of course, guilt-free (or at least less guilty) desserts.
Here are three spots in Broward that are creating quite a buzz with health-conscious consumers.
Green Bar & Kitchen
With a strong customer sentiment score of 9.6, Green Bar & Kitchen might be the go-to spot for vegans and anyone who wants to feel as healthy as one.
Green Bar & Kitchen embodies the concept of vibrant, plant-based, wholesome eating with wide range of health-focused, sustainable and vegan-friendly meals. On the menu are a variety of salads, soups, sandwiches and burgers, which according to the brand’s website, are, “meant to make you feel alive with energy, vibrancy, strength and radiance.”
Customer favorites include a Power Salad made with kale, spiraled carrots, sprouts, white sesame seeds and a cashew-truffle dressing; the Rustic Burger made with sweet potato, onion, kale, garlic, sage and pecans, served with chipotle mayo; the Roasted Bowl with brown rice, quinoa, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic aioli and a santa fe dressing; and the avocado bowl, served with sprouts, a cashew truffle dressingtopped off pink peppercorns.
For those not afraid of a little indulgence, the menu also has its share of guilty pleasures including crinkled fries seasoned with salt and pepper; and mac and cheese; along with a selection of wine, craft beer and delicious gluten-free sweets.
With just over 12,000 Facebook fans and 18,000-plus Instagram followers, its safe to say Green Bar & Kitchen has garnered a healthy group of super fans. The eatery even sells a collection of swag online, including bags, tees, mugs and stickers for veggie enthusiasts to show off their love. Well played, Green Bar, well played.
With a sentiment score of 9.1, Parlour Bakery snags the no. 2 spot on our list. This family team is meticulous about their desserts, spending many nights, mornings and afternoons testing recipes, painting and designing in order to come up with some truly unique and memorable plant-based desserts.
“Hard work equals blessings,” the company shared on its website. “We are truly excited to share these amazing baked goods with you.”
Amazing, indeed. With an impressive score of 4.8 out of 5 on Facebook reviews and 13,000-plus loyal Instagram fans, South Florida definitely has a sweet spot for this vegan bakery. The menu changes, but has showcased yummy treats like a vanilla cupcake with cinnamon frosting, cinnamon sugar and a chocolate dipped churro; as well as a variety of cakes, donuts, cinnamon rolls, coffee, juices and smoothies.
Those who have more of a savory tooth can enjoy Parlour’s cafe selection of sandwiches, salads and vegan empanadas. The cheddar scallion roll with meatless chorizo is a must have.
Parlour Bakery has locations in both Plantation and Boca Raton.
Clovermint Cafe' & Market
Vegan eats aren’t the only thing health-conscious diners in South Florida are looking for. With many people going gluten-free these days, it’s no wonder Clovermint Cafe' & Market snagged the no. 3 spot on our list with a solid sentiment score of 9.1.
The vision of owner and chef, Ann Nacknouck, Clovermint is all about eating right for your health, happiness, and functionality. “You will never find an ingredient in our food that we would be reluctant to put in our own bodies,” Nacknouck shared on the company website. “We strive to make comfort food with all the richness of flavor and nostalgia as the original without the use of animal products, GMO’s, gluten, refined sugar, and preservatives.”
Menu items include selections like a cashew based mac and cheese spiced and blended with whole bulbs of roasted garlic, tossed with brown rice pasta and topped with toasted bread crumbs; coconut and almond encrusted avocado fries served with garlic aioli dipping sauce; and a raw sunflower seed tuna salad melt served on baked bread and drizzled with cheddar sauce. There’s also a few sweet treats on the menu, all free of gluten and refined sugar.
“We’ve put thought and care into every item that emerges from our kitchen,” Clovermint shares on its website. “And [we] like to think of it as food with integrity.”