Visiting Santa Fe: A Resolution Worth Keeping

An old Spanish proverb says this: “A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Since the holiday time-crunch is past, it’s high time to tinker with the chassis so I’m sharpening my utensils to carve a healthy approach to 2015. And I’ve sketched a blueprint for reaping the benefits of a delicious and nutritious new year in Santa Fe.

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Take a taste at Revolution Bakery and be amazed how good gluten-free can be!

Santa Fe Has a Revolution in G(F)oodness

Gluten-free eating makes all sorts of people feel a whole lot better. Even those of us who don’t experience true intolerance see gluten-free results (witness my sister’s enviable weight loss). I’m a die-hard toast-lover but I never feel like I’m sacrificing or skimping at Revolution Bakery. Their tagline –100% gluten-free paradise – is apt considering the amazing selection. I appreciate the sample baskets for turning tastebuds into appetite. And that gluten-free brioche? Vive la revolution! 

Lunch time is also munch time at Rev Bakery. Pair any of four varieties of 8-inch pizzas (plus one daily special) with a crisp salad to achieve yummy gluten-free liberation. Veggie activists receive their due; of four sandwiches, two are vegetarian and one is vegan. The price point is incredibly reasonable given the unique culinary niche. And that niche is ably filled thanks to owner Dionne Christian and her skillful, early-rising bakers!

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico
An apple a day keeps the doctor away and BODY’s apple crisp is good medicine!

Do Right by Your BODY

Holiday indulgences are behind us, but that mirror is not my friend yet! Thankfully, BODY of Santa Fe is on my tune-up menu. Chef Juan Carlos works wonders with a Café menu committed to organic ingredients, locally-procured whenever possible.

Founder Lorin Parrish made clean eating the Café’s goal from the get-go. Everything on the menu (plus a dedicated kids menu) is clearly identified as vegetarian, vegan, raw or gluten-free and select meat and fish offerings are cleanly sourced. Seasonal availability takes precedence so what’s on the plate is always centered on the best body fuel for the season. I never tire of the ginger stir-fry but winter enchiladas – a spot-on combo of spaghetti squash and green chile – satisfy that chile craving. And a bit of sweet goodness from an incredible warm apple crisp is a welcome finish.

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Health on a plate or in a glass? Rasa Juice bar does both.

Capture the Full Flavor of Health at Rasa

Ayurveda is intriguing; Deepak Chopra’s reach proves this 500-year-old tradition is thriving. A tip from a savvy 14-year-old vegan sent me to Rasa Juice Bar to get the skinny on this science of life (Ayu means life, Veda means knowledge or science) focused on optimum health via diet. It took Santa Fe little time to catch on; Edible Santa Fe has already featured Rasa twice, most recently with a vegan dessert in the seasonal cookbook issue.

Raw, vegan, organic – the words tell all. Confused? The lovelies who oversee this enterprise – Wendy, Pamela, Mariela and Andrea – explain everything (silky smoothies and cold-pressed juices, raw and dehydrated savories and sweets) in appetizing detail. The food is testimony that healthy equals flavor (rasa) in the hands of those inspired by wholesome eating. Thai Green Chili noodles hit my spicy spot perfectly and that raw oatmeal cookie? I’m glad to be in the know now!

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Verde Juice sports fresh green on the staff and in the bottle!

Juice Me Up, Scotty

Locals warmly welcomed brand-new Verde Juice, brainchild of Kelly Egolf whose calling grew from her own needs after surgery led to a two-month liquid diet. Canned nutritional supplements may have the right vitamin-mineral mix, but the flavor leaves much to be desired. Egolf’s creativity yielded tasty recipes with complementary nutritional value. When family and friends sampled the results, the home juicer was pressed into service in a bright, inviting space that instantly says “fresh.”

Healthy, Dining, Gluten Free, Santa Fe, New Mexico
In Spanish, verde means green; at Verde Juice Bar, it means happy, healthy sipping.

Ingredients are raw, unpasteurized and additive-free and the cold-press method means not made-to-order. Instead, juice blends are bottled for three days only, ensuring freshness and quality. I admit the three-day juice cleanse (comprised of six different juices) requires willpower given Santa Fe’s fabulous dining options, but it’s on my birthday wish list. And the good news? Lizz Redman, formerly in the kitchen at BODY, will be adding prepared foods!

Try Feeding on Santa Fe’s Finest

Hippocrates said that “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” I say take the opportunity to grab a full dose of the best medicine going – delectable food – when you taste the pleasures of a Santa Fe getaway. There’s a bounty of beneficial blessings on a City Different plate so dig in and dig the healthy feeling of Santa Fe!

 

Getting Your Just Desserts in Santa Fe

Santa Fe’s culinary scene is renowned the world over mostly for its fiery chile. But a bevy of bakeries and chocolatiers are sweetening up Santa Fe’s dining scene. From unusual cupcakes to creative caramels, Santa Fe’s sweeter side perfectly complements our fiery cuisine—and sometimes combines with it. Chocolate chile, anyone?

Gluten-free is Full-Flavor at Revolution Bakery

Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.
Behold the sticky bun at Revolution Bakery where gluten-free is a revelation.

Life is uncertain – eat dessert first. I honor that saying by starting healthy at Revolution Bakery. My mother raised a family of sticky bun devotees, and I follow Mom’s recipe to the letter when I bake at home. Revolution Bakery’s version of this classic breakfast goodie is made with a mix of brown rice, tapioca and sorghum flours and speckled with chopped pecans and cinnamon. Everything at the Bakery is 100-percent gluten-free and 100-percent delicious. It’s no wonder there’s always a line at this revolutionary restaurant. Mind you, I’m a good girl – I do wait to open the box of gluten-free cookies until after lunch!

Be Sweet to Your Body at BODY Café

Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.
Bright eyes are a bonus when your daily dose of carrots comes from BODY Café’s raw vegan carrot cake.

I admit to a sweet addiction but I also want to make wholesome choices. Fortunately, these two goals are not mutually exclusive when I satisfy my yen for something yummy at the BODY Café. This vegan-friendly dessert destination is on my short list for afternoon delights. I’m happy to lunch on raw carrots but raw vegan carrot cake? Now that’s a discovery! Coated with macadamia nut frosting and healthy as can be, it proves why raw food lovers flock to desserts like this. BODY’s vegan cookies are always at the ready and as for the gluten-free chocolate ganache torte – I’m not sharing!

Find Your Chocolate Fix at Kakawa

Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa.
Treat a friend to a chocolate from Kakawa. Photo Courtesy of: Kakawa

Chocolate is on my list of the best things in life (thank goodness research finally concluded it’s good for you). When I’m in the mood to linger over a liquid dessert, Kakawa Chocolate House satisfies the urge. Voted one of the top places in the world to drink hot chocolate, Kakawa takes your tastebuds on a trip around the globe. From Thomas Jefferson’s own sweet 1790s recipe to rich Meso-American elixirs with deep dark flavor, the only problem is choosing just one. Fortunately, Kakawa’s knowledgeable staff will pour a sippin’ sample to help fulfill your fancy. And if a sip is not enough, I suggest salted chocolate-covered caramels to go.

Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!
Good luck choosing at C. G. Higgins!

Truffle Hunting is Easy at C.G. Higgins

When I want my chocolate to go – or when it’s time to send a signature treat to friends and family – I’m grateful C.G. Higgins (known locally as Chuck’s) has two spots in Santa Fe to pick up a box of succulent sweets. It’s hard to argue with handmade truffles in exotic flavors. Of course, chile makes an appearance! As a fudge fan who watched longingly as Mom dropped molten chocolate into cold water to test its readiness, I can report that Chuck’s does fudge proud. Santa Fe souvenirs should include chile caramel corn or piñon nut brittle, as both honor New Mexico’s agricultural heritage. And after wandering the downtown galleries, I look forward to a pick-me-up of Taos Cow’s piñon caramel ice cream – mmmmm!

Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake, Bake Me a Treat

More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.
More than one means Swiss bliss at the Swiss Bakery and Bistro.

With the Farmers’ Market and an active gallery scene, I spend plenty of time in the Santa Fe Railyard area so it’s nice to have a go-to for goodies. The Swiss Bakery and Bistro is open all three meals of the day, but I’m happy to graze when it’s time for dessert. At this altitude, a successful croissant or Napoleon is a notable achievement, and the Swiss Bakery has perfected them both. I never (I mean never) say no to an éclair, and I make no apologies for ordering two of the mini versions. Fresh fruit tarts come full-size or miniature, but I have switched my dessert allegiance to the petites because that means I can sample raspberry and strawberry and apricot too.

Don’t Desert the Dessert Course

Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.
Santa Fe has a sweet way of going straight to your heart.

Did I make you yearn for only-in-Santa-Fe treats? I hope so, since every word is delectably true. Put dessert on your list of what to do in Santa Fe and you can discover just how sweet it is to be here.

Room for Every Eater Around the Santa Fe Table

It’s a well-known fact that Santa Fe is a mecca for foodies. Its culinary cornucopia is bountiful, and its penchant for innovative cuisine is the stuff of legend. In addition to carne adovada and green chile cheeseburgers, Santa Fe keeps in step with lifestyle and food trends that lean toward the vegetarian-friendly diet. Chefs here in town are magicians in satisfying those with gluten-sensitivity issues.

If you are looking to expand your edible horizons, or simply want to maintain your commitment to a healthier way of eating, Santa Fe will dazzle you with delectable, wholesome options. Restaurants in town also offer many choices for you to eat with a companion who has dietary aversions or allergies. How about swapping that chorizo for chard, queso for kale, or a side of beef for pickled beets? Prepare to have your taste buds tantalized and treated.

Body Cafe Is a Whole-Nutrition Temple

I recharge my nutritional batteries by dining in the always Zen, always inspiring, Body Cafe. This place is a wellness empire. Located inside Body (which offers amazing yoga and exercise classes, soulful healing and spa sessions, and a super groovy eco boutique), the cafe succeeds in serving up some of the most inventive and healthful raw, vegan, and veggie dishes that your palette will ever experience. If you’ve hit your cheesy enchilada quotient for the week, I highly recommend the raw vegan enchiladas made with green cabbage, red bell pepper, corn, red onion, chile colorado sauce (i.e. red chile), and nut sour cream. Not only is this a beautiful dish, but the flavors are divine, and you will leave energized and light on your toes, not looking for the closest place to take a nap. Try the raw Thai soup for a cool, refreshing twist on a classic.

My other advice: take friends! The garden fresh salads, soups, wraps, fresh juices, and awesome desserts are worth sharing. It is hard not to want one of everything. For those who want extra protein, there is always an option to add organic chicken, wild salmon, cod, tofu, or tempeh to your dish.

 

Body Cafe’s healthy enchiladas are as divine to admire as they are to devour.

Going for the Green at Vinaigrette

If you crave salads, there is nowhere more enticing than Vinaigrette. Just walking in the door will let you know that you are about to do something wonderful for your body. This sweet, whimsical little green bistro is tucked away into an alley, but packs a flavor punch into each of the more than 20 copious and gorgeous salads. You can feel even better knowing that the produce is locally sourced, mainly from the owner’s farm just a few miles from town.

It is a challenge to choose just one of these masterpieces, but I adore the colorful and nutrient-packed Omega, made with leafy greens, sweet corn, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts all tossed in a fantastic blue cheese vinaigrette. My goat cheese obsession is more than satisfied with The Beet Goes On: fresh baby greens and arugula tossed with tangy goat cheese, chopped pistachios, balsamic roasted beets, and honey-balsamic vinaigrette. There are delish soups (try the miso based mushroom stew) and a nice selection of yummy sandwiches on the menu, too. You can also add a variety of meats and seafood to any salad, so the carnivore in your group will be elated. Whatever you do, don’t skip the luscious homemade desserts.

The “beet” goes on with this yummy and gorgeous salad at Vinaigrette.

Sweet and Savory Salvation

A bit off the beaten path, but very close to town, you will find Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, a testament to simplicity through the use of wholesome, nourishing ingredients. There is a feeling of balance, both in the unpretentious and meditative interior, and in the combinations of inventive flavors in the food. Breakfast is served until 11, and it wouldn’t feel right not to have the lemon ricotta spelt pancakes. The ricotta gives the perfect amount of moisture and sweetness, and the subtle citrus of the lemon is sublime. There are also wonderful egg dishes, oatmeal, and a breakfast burrito to choose from.

Indonesian curry, veggie burgers, and Vietnamese style sandwiches are all wonderful lunch choices I can personally recommend, as Sweetwater has all of the bases covered. The shrimp and grits with green chile are outstanding. Dinner is no less dazzling, and the prix fixe menu is a great way to sample the tasty offerings such as duck, house-made pastas, Pacific cod, beef tacos, and the surprisingly flavorful vegan kale, apple, and cashew tamales. All of these dishes are paired with an inspired soup and salad that will leave both serious carnivores and hardcore vegans satiated and happy. Be sure to check out the sustainable wine selection served on tap, as well as a handful of craft beers and mead.

For dinner guests who haven’t declared a vegetarian lifestyle, the shrimp and grits at Sweetwater are a near-necessity.

Southwest Meets East Perfectly

You may not associate Santa Fe with Indian cuisine, but Raaga brings it. This charming and serene restaurant has a fantastic array of inventive vegetarian and vegan dishes, and the chef is more than willing to accommodate special dietary requests. For an appetizer, be sure to try the vegetable samosas, filled with a yummy blend of curried peas and potatoes. I love that they offer half portions on most entrees, meaning that you can try two dishes that you may be curious about. My favorite combo is the Aloo Gobhi (a healthful and spicy cauliflower, potato, pea, onion, and red pepper mix with a tangy gingery sauce), and the sinfully creamy Paneer Palak made with puréed spinach and farmer’s cheese and mild, fragrant spices. In addition to other traditional dishes like tandoori and curries, Raaga offers lamb, chicken, and seafood options. as well. Have a glass of wine or an Indian beer and enjoy your Raaga experience.

A perfect combination of Aloo and Paneer equals heavenly Indian cuisine at Raaga.

Viva la Gluten-Free Revolution

I’ve lost track of how many of my favorite dining companions have fallen prey to gluten (wheat) intolerance. The research is mounting on the very real health issues that can be caused by consuming the stuff, and luckily Revolution Bakery is paying attention. This always-bustling establishment is committed to a 100% gluten free environment with absolutely no compromise on flavors and textures. For breakfast, they serve local eggs and scrumptious pancakes. During lunch you can choose from savory items, such as soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as heavenly pizzas (the pesto pizza topped with kalamata olives, feta, and roasted red peppers is to die for). The selection of breads and baked confections will beckon you, I can assure you. Lemon squares, chocolate brownies, fruit and oat bars, cookies, and cupcakes are all made fresh with organic ingredients when possible. Even the most impassioned white flour devotee will be hard pressed to find a difference in consistency and flavor here.

Pesto pizza at Revolution is a perfect choice when you’re eating gluten-free.

Eat Your Veggies at Every Meal in Santa Fe

The options for vegetarian dining are endless in Santa Fe, and going meatless hardly means boring. Whether you are a seasoned vegan or a carnivore looking to shake up your options, you will be giddy with the variety of delicious dishes from some of the city’s most ingenious chefs. There is something for everyone at your table here, and eating your vegetables has never been so rewarding.