HEART-HEALTHY DINING
Valley Restaurants Offer Healthy Selections
Text by Kathryn Brooks

A heart-healthy diet should be low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat, but that doesn’t mean it has to be low in taste. Often referred to as a Mediterranean diet, heart-healthy foods include olive oil, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, berries, beans, tomatoes, and garlic. Here are five Valley restaurants whose offerings emphasize heart health. 

QUIESSENCE. Located in the pastoral setting of The Farm at South Mountain, Quiessence offers a unique dining experience. The old house from which the restaurant operates now boasts a spiffy look without taking away from its former cottage-like charm. An expansion increased the formal dining area, in a space framed by mulberry trees strung with tiny lights, offering views of the surrounding working produce farm. Chef Dustin Christofolo’s contemporary American cuisine includes an array of the season’s freshest ingredients, pulled straight from the farm’s organic garden. Hearth breads are baked on premises in an outdoor wood oven, and the menu features vegetarian dishes as well as meat and fish and homemade pastas in a refined-casual ambience. Guests are invited to stroll through the flower gardens before or after dinner, or for an even more romantic encounter, cozy up near the fireplace. There’s a small wine bar, too, where tastings are conducted, or enjoy a relaxed wine-and-cheese pairing on a patio.  https://www.truefoodkitchen.com

FLOWER CHILD. With Flower Child, restaurateur Sam Fox has mastered health food. But this is no hippie joint. Instead, it’s a rather big, shiny, contemporary space furbished with woods, industrial lighting, cozy booths, live trees, and a huge placard menu hanging over the ordering counter. Servers deliver the food to the tables, and it’s all good-for-you foodstuffs: salads; vegetable and grain plates; wraps made from whole-wheat, flaxseed, chia seed and unbleached flour; hot pots like tofu-mushroom pho; and family-style dinners. Ingredients are organic, sustainable and GMO-free, with lots of build-your-own options from the selection of meats, starches and vegetables. Bowls, for example, can be constructed from 16 ingredients, including red chile-glazed sweet potatoes, turmeric-spiced cauliflower, grilled asparagus and mushrooms, snap pea soba noodles, French green lentils, tofu, salmon or steak. As the finishing body-friendly touch, wines and beers are organic, and kombucha flows from the tap. https://www.iamaflowerchild.com

POMEGRANATE CAFE. Chef-owners and mother and daughter team, Cassie and Marlene Tolman, have a handle on creative health food that’s so appealing you’ll forget it’s good for you. Tucked away in Ahwatukee, their mission is “to make it easy for you to eat healthy, live sustainably, and connect with the local community through real food.” The bright, butter yellow café is tiny but the menu is huge, focusing on vegetarian, vegan and raw, in seasonal salads, sandwiches, wraps and bowls, plus gluten-free goodies like raw cheesecake with a filling of blended cashews, blueberries, coconut oil and agave syrup atop a crust of macadamia nuts, coconut and dates. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially when it’s the Lumberjack sandwich, layering ancient grain toast with eggs or tofu, tempeh bacon, tomato, avocado, and vegan or cheddar cheese. For lunch, try the raw collard wrap, a burrito of large green leaves (instead of tortillas) brimming with dairy-free almond cheese, carrots, tomato and avocado dressed with a “living” Caesar, alongside homemade gluten-free flaxseed crackers. There’s no alcohol, but cheerful counter servers offer fresh-squeezed organic juices from mostly local fruits and vegetables. https://www.pomegranatecafe.com

THE GREENE HOUSE. Inspired by the California lifestyle, The Greene House showcases signature fare crafted with seasonal ingredients. Reminiscent of a cottage by the sea, take a break from shopping to enjoy seasonal dishes that are fresh, yet refined, like Roasted Sea Bass served potato purée, wilted spinach, charred broccolini, cipollini onion, and preserved lemon vinaigrette, and Spinach Pappardelle with grilled shrimp, melted tomato, and pine nuts. Complement your meal with a signature cocktail, a glass of a wine, or a cold beer from its curated beer list. Whether you choose to sit inside the cozy bungalow or the outdoor patio, you’ll relax with every sip and bite. https://www.thegreenehouseaz.com

TRUE FOOD KITCHEN. Who knew that even cocktails, when done the right way, can be healthy? That’s the idea of restaurant entrepreneur Sam Fox and natural health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, at least, who teamed up for this streamlined, oh-so-green hot-spot for food that’s good for you and still tastes very, very good. With locations at Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Quarter, and Tempe, you can start with an indulgent adult drink like the Citrus Skinny Margarita stocked with Ixa Organic Silver tequila, lime, fresh mint, cucumber and soda. Cooking is serious stuff in this hip, always packed place where wheatgrass is a décor statement. There are things to lure vegetarians, such as a powerful platter of roasted cauliflower with Brussels sprouts, squash, mulberry, pomegranate and white beans in horseradish vinaigrette, yet meat lovers are treated well, too, with stars like the Lasagna Bolognese layered with fennel chicken sausage,  mushrooms, spinach, basil, ricotta and organic tomato. Don’t skimp on dessert — Flourless Chocolate Cake with caramel, almond, and vanilla  ice creams is quite tasty. https://www.truefoodkitchen.com