Southern California is not only a mecca of year-round warm weather and a set of abs. The local beach-lifestyle has also bred a number of oversaturated diets trends. It’s time we acknowledge that shedding our winter coat doesn’t equate to ridding ourselves from all things flavorful. Indulging in a healthy, savory bite brings life to the monotonous, weekly meal prep ritual, and Orange County is flooded with a myriad of healthy, reinvigorating eateries for all our summer beach body gains.
Located in one of the OCs newest food halls, TRADE, Butterleaf is vegetarian food for non-vegetarians. Their menu features an expansive list of plant-based items, but Butterleaf is not your average veggie joint. The concept serves up Avocado Bombs (tempura avocado), Veggie Chowder, the Signature Butterleaf Burger (made with sweet potato, kale, melted onions, kimchi sauce), among other delicious, healthy bites. Get ready to be WOWed at how tasty veggies can be.
In a place swimming with poke purveyors, MAR stands out above the rest. A modern MARiscos eatery with a Hawaiian twist, it is filled with an infinite abyss of delicious pre-made poke bowls. Nestled inside Santa Ana’s 4th Street Market, MAR has become the poke version of fro-yo with its Vegan, Rainbow and Coconut Mango poke bowls. For a healthier bowl, add on those veggies and substitute your white rice for brown. Some other amazing options include a raw fish salad and a zucchini noodle base bowl. Whichever option you choose, eating healthy has never been tastier so long as you go easy on the sauce. Fish is a great healthy protein choice, so go get your omega-3 fatty acids in at MAR in Santa Ana.
Originally a food truck, Falasophy now has a spot at 4th Street Market. The Santa Ana eatery features a menu centered around falafel, hummus, and traditional Lebanese street flavors. While a falafel bowl doused in tahini sauce falls more on the heartier side, these high-fiber deep fried fritters are rich in plant protein and healthy fats. Made with pickled red cabbage, Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, and falafel, it’s hard to say no to Falasophy’s Ultimate Hummus Bowl. For those who live and die for tahini sauce, indulge in Falasophy’s Organic-Quinoa Tabouli salad for an ample balance.
It’s safe to say the majority of SoCal natives are well-versed in all things sushi, but when looking out for your figure, it's probably best to skip all that rice. Luckily, Shuck Oyster Bar carries a healthier alternative — oysters. Shuck Oyster Bar is served up fresh oysters, which provide an immense vitamin boost and are packed with minerals such as iron and zinc. The bar resembles a brewery, except instead of a list of brews, it’s loaded with a diverse list of oysters that are delivered daily from over 60 farms. With oysters readily available from throughout the U.S., it’s merely impossible to resist the temptation of not trying more than one. Oysters are low in calories and high in protein, which makes it a great a post-workout meal. Raise your oysters for a toast and shuck ‘em all down at Shuck Oyster Bar!
Prepare your food one bite at a time in a broth fondue at Cal Shabu. The beauty of Cal Shabu is the ability for the consumer to create their own taste while managing their portions. Their wide selection of lean, uncooked, thinly sliced meats accompanied by freshly cut vegetables makes room for flexibility, allowing the consumer to be the chef. Cal Shabu offers a variety of condiments including garlic, green onions. and white radish and a number of protein choices, like boneless chicken, Atlantic salmon, bay scallops, New York beef and center cut pork tenderloin — all resting in the health-conscious shabu-shabu broth.
Alta Baja Market is a deli, a grocery store, and an educational space. This Santa Ana spot serves up a copious amount of breakfast goodness all designed to set a healthy tone for the rest of the day. A couple notable mentions include the pecan butter, banana, and local honey bagel, and the cream cheese, veggies, avocado, and citrus pepper bagel. Pair your bagel with a Mija Bowl — a bowl of greek yogurt assorted with fruit, Daughters granola, and local honey, and opt to dine in or take it to go. We recommend dining in, as the budding downtown Santa Ana culture only lends to Alta Baja’s charm.
Oftentimes ordering a salad for dinner seems reasonable when dieting, but nothing screams boring more than chowing down heaps of bland lettuce and leaves. Mesa offers local, experimental, and sustainable salad entrees perfectly suited for folks in search of a flavorful dose of greens. Start off with a plate of savory bite-sized ahi tuna tacos wrapped in watermelon radish shells. A great main dish is the Avocado Grapefruit Salad — a filling salad mixed with sliced avocados, segmented ruby grapefruit, blood orange, shaved fennel, and fennel topped off with citrus shallot vinaigrette. Not only are Mesa’s salads perfectly portioned, but all their produce is sourced from local farmer’s markets.
NATIVE FOODS CAFE
Native Foods Café is the ultimate vegan paradise whose alluring charm has managed to captivate the hearts of meat-lovers throughout Southern California. The hardest part about eating healthy is turning down junk food, but with a well-balanced, beyond flavorful organic menu, Native Foods has taken away the guilt that accompanies the joys of a mouth-watering burger, nachos, and tacos. Their Native Chicken Run Ranch is a scrumptious burger packed with native chicken, romaine, carrots, red onions, and ranch dressing that will leave your mind distorted when you realize the chicken is actually tofu. This gluten-free, non-GMO cafe has opened another path for alternative meat fulfillment without sacrificing quality, texture, or taste.
Living a well-nourished lifestyle can be easily fulfilled at Urban Plates. The all organic restaurant follows a cafeteria-style format with a fine dining semblance. To begin, order one of their high-quality proteins, like grass fed steak, free-range chicken, California pole or line-caught albacore tuna. Then, order your sides as you trail down the visually appealing assembly line. This eatery has cultivated a menu that focuses entirely on sustainably sourced ingredients and prides itself on serving real fresh food daily, in scratch-cooking fashion. This means that regardless if you choose a sandwich, soup, or plate, Urban Plates is guaranteed to deliver a limitless amount of healthy options.
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
Forget compromise. Forget calorie counting. Forget going easy on the sauce. True Food Kitchen is a picky eater’s utopia and the health-conscious foodie’s ultimate Shangri-La. By using sessional ingredients, True Food Kitchen offers a dynamic, rotating menu that is guaranteed to please even the ficklest of eaters. True Food Kitchen is extremely transparent with their ingredients and preparation so there are no surprises on why you're consuming. With food that’s so incredibly good, you’ll feel healthier just by staring at it.