By Emma Fingleton
2016 was full of many events which could only induce comfort eating. These events included a crazy election season, a rash of celebrity deaths and too many terror attacks to count. After a holiday season marked by indulging, you may be like me and want to try to clean up your diet. Or at least pretend to for the first few weeks of school until you’re drowning in deadlines and only a penne vodka slice or two can power you through a study session.
So maybe you want to stick to your health-kick resolution, but the word “healthy” conjures images of boring salads and dry grilled chicken. Banish that idea from your head and consult this list of healthy options in Manhattan if you want to eat delicious, good-for-you food that will probably also make you look cool when you inevitably add a picture of your acai or grain bowl to your snap story.
1. By Chloe
High-quality fast-casual food with an innovative menu and and Instagram-generation targeted aesthetic: welcome to By Chloe, a mini-chain that is slowly taking over the city with its colorful and delicious twists on veganized fast food. Any eatery that includes avocado in almost half their options is an instant favorite. I have never liked veggie burgers before I tried Chloe’s exceptional guac burger, a sweet potato and black bean patty topped with tons of amazing toppings such as fresh guac, tortilla strips and a chipotle aioli.
Do not skip their breakfast offerings or their colorful vitamin-packed smoothies. If you need to reward yourself for eating vegetables, head to the brand’s vegan bakery, Sweets by Chloe, next door to the original Greenwich Village location. They offer an expanded selection of the cupcakes, ice cream, cookies and breakfast pastries offered at the restaurants’ counters. Look out for the upcoming Rockefeller Plaza location only blocks away from Grand Central.
Recommended: Air-fried sweet potato fries, guac burger, avocado toast, Green Day and Purple Rain smoothies, Spicy Thai salad, shiitake mac and cheese, quinoa hash browns, cinnamon rolls.
Locations: Greenwich Village, Flatiron, Soho
2. Two Hands
Australian-accented servers, a trendy yet welcoming vibe and a simple, delicious menu: Two Hands is an all-day cafe with great options for a light, healthy meal. Perfect not only for a chill coffee date or laid back brunch and Instagram photoshoot with friends, the cafe’s food is actually well-prepared with high-quality ingredients, which is important because the menu features simply prepared dishes. They also have healthy market plates with selection of salads, veggies and gluten free banana bread
Recommended: avocado toast (highly recommend), acai bowl, flat white.
Locations: cafe in Nolita, restaurant in Tribeca
3. Smoothies, juices and acai bowls
Acai bowls are great not only do you feel like a smug healthy person after eating one because you just consumed pureed super foods, they also come with a variety of toppings, from hemp and chia seeds to granola to fresh fruit and nut butter (which may be the best part).
I have included two of my favorite spots, chosen because of their dependable consistencies (some acai bowls from other juice bars I have been to have sold me icy or too-thin bowls), interesting flavor combinations and generous toppings. Both also offer cold-pressed juices, smoothies and to-go options like chia pudding from their grab-and-go storefront.
i. Agavi East Village
Recommended: Lil Greeny and PB&J acai bowls
Location: East Village
ii. Pure Green
Recommended: Mixed Berry and Almond Butter Hemp acai bowls
Locations: Midtown, Union Square
4. Spring Street Natural
With lots of options for omnivores, vegans, and everyone in between, Spring Street Natural operates out of an airy, natural light-filled space that recently reopened after a move from its longtime Soho location. The menu clearly indicates gluten-free and vegan-friendly options. The usual pastas, burgers and sandwiches are offered alongside healthy choices such as huge salads, stir fry and Asian and Mediterranean influenced starters.
Recommended: Mediterranean antipasto, spring rolls, caprese toast Location: Nolita
5. Ellary’s Greens
Brunch is based on the pillars of eggs, bacon and gluten-heavy carbs, making it near impossible to find a spot that caters to both vegans and celiacs. Definitely not a highlight of this round up in terms of offering memorable dishes, but worth mentioning if you need a brunch spot that caters to special diets or are craving a lighter meal. To be fair, the space itself is beautiful and airy on a picturesque Village street. They are very sensitive about cross-contamination and do take reservations.
Recommended: (Vegan and GF) Waffle with coconut whipped cream
Location: Greenwich Village