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7 Spots for Healthy Eating in Boston

Grain bowls, avocado toasts and better burger alternatives
January 13, 2015
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by Scott Kearnan

We're less than halfway through the month, so it's safe to assume that at least some of us have managed to make it this far with new year's resolutions intact. And if yours happens to involve a healthier diet — well, welcome to the club. To help you along, here's a look at some of our favorite spots to find healthy dining options — from fiber-filled salad bowls to refined vegan plates — that might help you slim down without skimping on flavor.

Beat Hotel. This eclectic Harvard Square sibling to the South End's The Beehive has a wide-ranging menu — and a diverse lineup of nightly live musicians too. But we've always been especially impressed with its veggie- and legume-loaded "Beat Bowls," which offer an impressive heap of vitamins and fiber. Our favorite: the "Earth Bowl," ($22) filled with five-grain pilaf, about half a dozen harissa-roasted vegetables like golden beets and zucchini, pumpkin seed and a tahini vinaigrette. There's the option to add proteins like shrimp and swordfish.

b.good. Sometimes "healthy" just means, "comparatively speaking." Would we suggest taking the fast-food route if you're looking to lose weight? No. But if you can't resist the urge, at least lean toward this local burger chain, which dedicates itself to farm-to-table beef, local in-season ingredients and other "real-food" approaches to the quick-service concept. There are standout seasonal veggie burgers (like the "West Side" of avocado, cilantro, fresh salsa and chipotle purée) and the overflowing "kale & quinoa" bowls are salads that might actually tempt you away from the meatier options. Instead of the calorie-loaded shakes typical of fast-food eateries, you'll even find a kale crush smoothie featuring local apple, pear, banana and apple cider.

Life Alive. This innovative, Asian-influenced restaurant for vegan and vegetarian fare topped the "Best Buys" category in our 2014 Boston Restaurants Survey. One of three locations (you can also find it in Salem and Lowell), Life Alive may have some loopy menu names, like the Sufi Poet (red lentil hummus with cranberries, cashews, cucumber and apple) and The Mystic Mountain (a green salad topped with "Lemon-Vitality Vinaigrette"), but the healthful, fresh and filling fare is nothing to snicker about.

Mother Juice. This Cambridge newcomer near Kendall Square is mainly a destination for cold-pressed juices: like the "Peary Godmother" with celery, pineapple and mint, and the "C+++," a vitamin-loaded explosion of carrot, pineapple, grapefruit, ginger and orange. (They're available for home delivery, if you're interested in taking a multi-day cleanse.) But the spot also has a small and inexpensive menu of edibles, including salad bowls filled with oats, acai, and coconut-water-soaked chia seeds, and snacks — like avocado toast with baby tomato (pictured) — that cost just a couple bucks apiece.

Red Lentil. This vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Watertown lures us to this small neighboring city with its tantalizing dinner menu: think the "Rustic Paella" with orzo, veggies like cauliflower and broccoli, and saffron in a scallion broth; or the "Nirvana Delight," of grilled tandoori-marinated tofu served with cold quinoa salad and spinach, topped with beet relish and cucumber yogurt. Even better, the restaurant was the first local winner of the Nature's Plate Award, given by international nonprofit The Nature Conservancy to a restaurant that practices green business like using sustainable seafood, free-range meats or locally (within 100 miles) grown produce.

Root. This Allston restaurant is home to one of our favorite veggie burgers in town, a black bean and quinoa burger topped with lettuce, tomato, crispy onions and garlic aïoli. But the whole veggie-leaning eatery skews toward healthy fare in its simple, streamlined space of reclaimed barn wood. The so-dubbed "juicery" even offers healthful tinctures of blended fruits, veggies and herbs served in mason jars.

True Bistro. Vegan restaurants are somewhat rare in the Boston area, and it's especially hard to find one that eschews a hipster-style haunt in favor of decor that is more refined and romantic. Somerville's True Bistro fills a void for vegan date nights, outfitting its Teele Square space with white tablecloths, subdued lighting and a menu of elegantly presented dishes like roasted pumpkin with braised tempeh and portobello-sauerkraut sauté, and massaman curry with fried tofu, black rice cake and toasted peanuts.

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