NYC Food Guide For the Health Conscious Eater

As the title suggests, this post is about all about healthy food, and where to find it, when visiting New York City.  As some of you many know, I lived there a few years ago  while attending culinary school. Naturally, I have a soft spot for the city, and I was overjoyed when I was invited to house/cat sit for some friends. I was even happier that my friend, EPIC Fitness owner and fellow nutritionist, Stephanie Karlovitz, was able to join me! 

When we weren't snuggling cats and scooping kitty litter, we spent our days immersed in all things health, fitness and food.  We explored a few fitness facilities and yoga studios for inspiration, but also because we both really love a good workout.  Each day, we ventured to glean new ideas, exercise and fill our bellies with delicious, nourishing foods. 

Obligatory NYC selfie. 

Obligatory NYC selfie. 

NYC is a culinary epicentre. You can find anything and everything at any time of day. However, thankfully our search for food was targeted. We sought out healthy, wholesome, whole foods. Foods that fuel the mind and body, while catering to our varying dietary restrictions (more on that in a moment).  NYC has so much to offer, and the restaurants I've listed below are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to healthy eateries. Not to mention that I haven't even touched on any of the boroughs. Either way, maybe you'll find this list useful on your next trip to Manhattan.  

Oh, and before I go on to my list,  I want to preface this by saying that Steph is a self-proclaimed carnivore and loves finding high quality meats (you know, grass fed, free range and so on). That said, she likes veggies too, and can appreciate a great vegetarian restaurant. She's also gluten free and dairy free. Whereas my diet is heavily plant-based, I purposefully seek out vegetarian restaurants and I try to stick to dairy and sugar free whole foods.  With that in mind, you might assume we'd have trouble finding anywhere to eat, but on the contrary, we found plenty of places that met and/or exceeded our expectations. Read on to find out where we ate...

Hu Kitchen 
78 5th Ave (Between 13th & 14th) 

Hu Kitchen was a perfect middle ground for our dietary differences. The restaurant, located on cusp of Midtown and Greenwich Village, is entirely grain free, gluten free, organic, and vegetable focussed. Plus, they only source grass-fed, pastured meats and dairy, organic poultry and eggs, and wild seafood.  Steph called it "paleo heaven".

My bowl of deliciousness and health. 

My bowl of deliciousness and health. 

At the far side of the main floor you'll see an array of cold pressed juices and prepared meals along with hot and cold food stations.  Initially, it might appear to be a grab-and-go type cafeteria.  If you are rushed, you can do take-out, but there is also seating on the main floor at the bar and entryway and more relaxed, quieter seating on the second level.  

Steph had the elk meatloaf with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and I had a bowl of steamed quinoa with summer slaw, root vegetable mash, and marinated mushrooms, garnished with cilantro, parsley, house made hot sauce and a grain free bun.   We both loved our meals.  And I loved that my bill was under $15!

Juice Press 
Many locations throughout NYC 

Juice Press is one of my favourite healthy-on-the-go places. Stephanie had never been and it was a fast favourite for her. We loved that the juices are all organic, cold pressed, vegan and unpasteurized. They also have a great selection of smoothies. Juice Press really has the juice and smoothie game down to a science, offering almost every variety imaginable, sometimes amped up with popular health foods and supplements like acai berries, maca powder, cocao nibs, hemp seeds, probiotics, etc.

Vital Force and Mother Earth:  a dynamic duo for gut health and detoxification. 

Vital Force and Mother Earth:  a dynamic duo for gut health and detoxification. 

We tried several different smoothies and juices over the course of our visit. The photo on the side features two of my all time favourites: Vital Force and Mother Nature.  However, this trip I tried something new, The Guru, and it's the smoothie to end all smoothies. It contains coconut water, banana, blueberries, apple, acai berries, coconut meat, gogi berries, cocao powder, Field of Greens powder, NutraVege omega 3 oil, hemp protein, and I added probiotics. In the end, it was more of a meal than a smoothie.  Given that it was more expensive than dinner at Hu Kitchen, I take solace in the fact that it was just as filling and nourishing.

Although we are huge fans of the juices and smoothies, Steph and I also enjoyed the Juice Press' prepared foods.  In most of the shops we visited, the fridges were stocked with delicious, fresh, and healthy meals to go. Almost everything was gluten free and diary free, and a large majority was also raw and vegan.  Steph's favourite was the raw felafel (she ordered it twice) and I really loved the summer kelp noodle salad. 

Natural Gourmet Institute 
48 W 21st Street (between 5th & 6th), second floor 

I'll start off by acknowledging that I'm a graduate of the NGI's Chef Training program. Obviously, I'm a bit biased, but if you do a quick google search about the school's Friday Night Dinners, you'll find countless rave reviews. Every Friday night, NGI offers a 3-course vegan (often gluten free) meal, using organic, seasonal,  (mostly) local vegetables and fruits, prepared by students and chef instructors and sometimes special guest chefs.  The dinners take place in two of the school's kitchens and is an opportunity for the students to showcase what they've learned. I've been through the rigamarole of preparing several of these dinners when I was a student at NGI, and I can attest to the hard work, research and culinary ingenuity that goes into each and every course.  

Steph and I, along with a few other Canadian friends, attended one of the dinners. It was a meal designed by Chef Olivia Roszkowski and NGI students inspired by the Spring equinox. The first course was cauliflower and saffron soup with black quinoa studded polenta batons with spring baby greens dressed in hibiscus dressing, topped with shiitake crumbles. The main course was a pistachio encrusted edamame falafel, with warm rainbow chard and black rice salad, lemon poppy seed asparagus ribbons,  vermouth smoked carrots, and a roasted garlic cashew cream. The the dessert was a trio of  dairy-free ice creams (basil, balsamic and vanilla bean) with roasted rhubarb, balsamic glaze and a strawberry rhubarb reduction. Not only was this meal tasty, but it was also gorgeous. Sadly, we didn't snap any photos. We were way too busy enjoying our food. 

If all of that isn't enticing enough, I should mention that the dinner is BYOB and only $45 per person. How great is that?! 

Siggy's Good Food 
292 Elizabeth Street (Between Houston & Bleecker)

This restaurant has a stylish, but comfortable feel. Siggy's focuses on organic and local foods and can accommodate omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and those with dietary restrictions.  They don't use any artificial ingredients, genetically modified products, starch, butter, fillers, thickeners or highly processed food. 

Prior to our dinner at Siggy's, we had a very long day. We had been running up and down Midtown for a spinning class, followed a networking event, followed by a yoga class. At the end of the day, we were low on energy and in dire need of filling, delicious and comforting food. Siggy's fit the bill! 

Steph and I sat by the fire (yes, they have a working fire place) and happily perused a menu that had lots of options for both of us.  They offer a range of cold pressed juices, smoothies, salads, sandwiches and hot meals. Their menu was chockfull of healthy fare with a home-made feel.   Steph had the beef ragu pasta bowl (with gluten free noodles) and I had the eggplant veggie and tofu lasagna. So yum!

100 Maiden Lane (Financial District) & 60 West 23rd Street (Chelsea)

Steph's chickpea "tuna" melt & salad. 

Steph's chickpea "tuna" melt & salad. 

Terri is as small, low key,  quick service vegan restaurant. Terri uses organic ingredients and most of their dishes are gluten free (or can be modified as such).  At Terri, you can be in and out within 15 minutes with a sandwich, wrap, salad, juice and/or smoothie. You can also eat in, as both locations have some seating. 

We actually came across Terri in the Financial District on its annual #MeatOut day, where they were giving away $10 worth of food to promote and introduce people to plant-based foods. Of course, we had to capitalize on that, and we each ordered a couple things off the menu. Steph ordered the chickpea "tuna" melt and I ordered the marinated portobello wrap with cashew pesto. We both ordered the kale superfood salad with avocado, roasted sweet potatoes, cucumbers, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, and lemon tahini dressing.  Everything we ordered fit perfectly with our theme of eating healthy, whole foods. We were full, and happy! 

Thanks for the great meal, Terri.

Both Steph and I really enjoyed all of the places mentioned above, but due to time constraints we weren't able to visit even a fraction of my favourites.  When living in the city, I spent a lot of time (and money) trying different restaurants and I'm more than happy to share my lengthy list of preferred spots for fine dining, fast food, vegetarian, vegan and farm-to-table meals.  Please contact me, or leave a message in the comment section, if you're headed to the city and would like a more extensive list. 

Have a great long weekend.  Bon appétit!

Steph and I having fun with yogi Humberto at  Strala Yoga . Fun fact: we ran into Humberto at both Siggy's and Terri.  

Steph and I having fun with yogi Humberto at Strala Yoga. Fun fact: we ran into Humberto at both Siggy's and Terri.