Category: Healthy Dining

What We Eat: A Peek at Our Weekly Menu

I’ve had people ask time and time again what a typical week of eating looks like for me and Bill. Every week is different, but I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what last week and the upcoming week consisted of for our meals.

I tend to make a combination of my own recipes from this blog and often look to the Nourishing Meals Cookbook, The Undiet CookbookForks Over Knives: The Cookbook or one of Rebecca Katz’s many healing cookbooks, with a recent focus on The Longevity Kitchen Cookbook

We pretty much follow Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Sometimes I’m a little off on the “not too much” part, if I’m being completely honest, but we prioritize eating real food made from ingredients we recognize and can pronounce. The vast majority of what we eat, especially for me, consists of plant-based foods like veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, and we load up on herbs and spices for flavor. I do eat some animal proteins a couple of times a week, usually wild caught fish or pasture-raised chicken or eggs.

My husband Bill’s German heritage demands a higher animal protein ratio than what I eat. He just feels better eating a bit more of it than me! That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of listening to your body and paying attention to what gives you energy and what takes it away. I encourage you to experiment with different foods to see which ones make you feel best. For more on my philosophy around food and eating, check out this recent post.

Okay, now let’s get back to the food. Want to know what a week of breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like for us? Check out the list below!


Because I’m on a healing foods protocol through my nutritionist, as I’m restoring my body from Epstein-Barr Virus, I’m not eating certain things that Bill eats on a regular basis, like eggs. He loves making breakfast and puts in a lot of work each morning. A typical breakfast for him consists of roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed onions and tomatoes or peppers, and an egg, usually served on or with a Swapple, which is one of my favorite freezer staples as well. We also like Bilinski’s casing-free, real food chicken sausage, especially the kale balsamic version!

I usually have a smoothie because it’s the easiest way to pack a lot of goodness into one glass (or smoothie bowl!). I’ve been opting for blueberries as my main fruit because of how antioxidant-packed they are. I alternate which fats I use, including coconut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and avocado. I usually throw in a handful of baby spinach or baby kale and round out everything with a scoop of protein powder or an extra sprinkle of hemp seeds.

I’ll have to share the smoothie I’ve been making lately, so you have the recipe, but this Blueberry Blast Smoothie is pretty similar!

I absolutely LOVE the Oat Berry Yogurt Muffin recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and have been serving that with Trader Joe’s mixed nut butter. I also tried the Detoxinista’s Vegan Almond Flour Banana Bread. It’s RICH and pretty hearty, since it’s made with almonds as the base, but I really liked the flavors!

Lunch & Dinner

To be honest, lunch and dinner don’t look that different for us. I almost always have a big salad for lunch as my base and often serve up leftovers from dinner for lunch because it makes things easier and saves us time. I’m a big advocate of making grain or salad bowls, which basically consists of throwing together some cooked and raw veggies (focus on leafy greens!), some source of protein (usually beans), something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a grain like quinoa or brown rice if I’m making a grain bowl. I top it all off with a dressing and toss everything together.

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I need something nourishing when I haven’t planned ahead and packed. When I’m on the go, some of my favorite places to hit up are Stall11 at RHouse, sweetgreen, Harmony Bakery, the Naked Lunch Cafe, and Whole Foods Market hot bar and salad bar. I link to all of those places and others in my healthy foodie dining guide to Baltimore.

Here’s what we’ve been cooking up lately!

That’s a look at some of what we’ve been cooking up in our kitchen lately. We stick with some of our favorite familiar staples and try a few new ones here and there.

How about you? What’s on your menu? Try anything new lately? Feel free to share in the comments below! I love trying new recipes 🙂

Our First Baltimore Cookbook Club: The Power of True Community

What does a life lived in radical community look like?

Is community really worth the effort?

I knew I was in for exactly what I needed to hear at the start of Sunday’s service as our friend and pastor, Ryan, asked us to reflect on the answers to those questions and a few other truths about what it means to be in community.

As a culture, we’re moving away from true community.

The internet has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and connect with each other and altered our expectations about what to expect from community. Long-term commitments of any kind (jobs, houses, relationships) are no longer the norm.

We avoid community for a number of reasons. People require energy and effort, which can make true community feel like a burden. Because we know things ABOUT each other but don’t really KNOW each other, we fill in the gaps with assumptions and are more easily offended than ever before.

The hard truth is that it’s exposing to have people REALLY know us.


So, we’re left asking ourselves: Is community really worth the effort?

The short answer is,”YES“.

As I’ve shared when I first wrote about community almost two years ago, sacrificially giving my time to be with and invest in others is not something that comes naturally to me.

We are all wired to be communal and crave connection, but when you’ve been burned by community in the past, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there again. When we do, we risk being examined, judged, and rejected.

But the greater risk is that we deprive other people of our presence and the gifts and talents we have to offer. 

There’s power in investing deeply in people and in having people invest in us. Sometimes we can feel like we are burdening other people. But guess what?

When I get stuck in my own thoughts (which happens a lot) and overwhelm myself thinking about all that I could or “should” be doing, I tend to retreat and “check out” socially. I find every reason possible to avoid things like social events that pull me away from a self-centered pursuit or an opportunity to do something I want to do.

That’s why last Sunday night was particularly special.

It marked the start of a community-building opportunity that combines a few of my favorite things: cooking and eating nourishing, delicious food with like-minded people who value living a healthy, purposeful, vibrant life in the context of a supportive community:

Our first cookbook club.

My friend and fellow foodie and health coach, Katie Hussong, and I came upon the idea after seeing a post that went viral on Facebook about Why Cookbook Clubs Should Be the New Way We Entertain.

Katie and Me

Both of us are Culinary Nutrition Experts through the Academy of Culinary Nutrition’s program, so we have a mutual love for creating and savoring nourishing, healing food.

After a series of text messages agreeing we should “do this thing,” we organized our first ever cookbook club, bringing together friends from DC to Philly for a Sunday evening in Baltimore to share dishes from our mentor and culinary nutrition coach, Meghan Telpner.

Meghan recently published her first full cookbook, The Undiet Cookbook, and we used that as the source for our recipes. Everything was nourishing, delicious, made with love and dairy-free and gluten-free.

IMG_2892CC Collage
We brought together fellow health coaches, culinary nutrition experts, and nurses, as well as friends from college, church and our neighborhoods.

Each of us prepared a delicious dish to share and gathered around the community table to savor the meal and get to know each other.

Green Mojito Smoothies and Jamu Juice Shots to kick off the night.

Zucchini Hummus, Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables, Sweet Potato Grills with Cashew Ketchup, Wild Rice & Chickpea Salad, Thai Mango Salad, and Maple Balsamic Kale with Butternut Squash for dinner.

A decadent array of desserts, including Ginger Cookies, Wild Berry and Apple Crumble, Chocolate Raspberry Delights, and my contribution, the Rawmazing Key Lime Pie, to finish the evening.

key lime

Everything was DELICIOUS! (If you want the recipe for the pie, click here!)

We even had the opportunity to Skype with Meghan, the chef and cookbook author herself!

We had each person introduce themselves and the dish they had made, which was one of the coolest moments of the evening.

Hi Meghan

Me & Katie Skyping with Meghan!

Our bodies and souls were nourished by the food and our time together.

We could let down our guard and just be ourselves.

We ate. We talked. We laughed.

And through it all, we connected.

We were in true community.

This is how we were meant to live!


So, what is holding you back from community?

Who misses out if you don’t show up, if you’re not present and willing to share your gifts and talents?

What makes you feel truly known?

If you’re interested in connecting with community like this, fill out your contact information here, and I’ll put you on our list 🙂


If want to connect with others and serve Baltimore this upcoming weekend, join me at the Baltimore Crop Circle with Tessemae’s at 900 Druid Hill Avenue in Baltimore from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 21st. We will be giving away over 30,000 pounds of FREE fresh produce to the community!

San Diego: A Healthy Foodie’s Paradise & Top 10 Places to Eat

Eating healthy and traveling can be a challenge, but in San Diego, it’s almost effortless.

With juice and smoothie bars popping up on every corner and a commitment to serving sustainable, local, fresh and nourishing cuisine, San Diego is a healthy foodie’s dream.

(Especially for someone like me who is always looking for tasty dairy-free and gluten-free options!)

My husband Bill and I recently made our first trip to California and had an amazing time exploring the relaxing and beautiful coast and eating lots of delicious and energizing food.

hello san diego san diego pics

I have to give a shout out to my friend, Janna, who was kind enough to take the time to send me a few of the recommendations below. Bill and I did some exploring on our own, too, and came across some awesome food that we wish we could’ve brought home with us.

Check out my top picks below for places to try the next time you’re in sunny San Diego! I’ll give you more details about the vibe, what we ate, and what you have to try if you go there. Here’s the short list (in no particular order):

  • SOL CAL Cafe
  • Vitality Tap
  • Cafe21
  • Peace Pies
  • George’s at the Cove
  • Juice Crafters
  • Hillcrest Farmer’s Market
  • Plumeria
  • Burger Lounge
  • Jimbos….Naturally!


910 J Street, San Diego; 619-255-2927,

solcal cafe

The Vibe: With a tagline of “Healthy. Happy. Yummy,” I knew this place was for me 🙂 They serve cleanse-focused juices, smoothies, elixirs and modern vegetarian eats in a cheerful, contemporary setting. One morning we ran there for breakfast and walked home. The free cucumber water was refreshing and thirst-quenching after our run.

What We Ate

  • Lively Liver Elixir (detoxifying combo of dandelion, burdock root, red clover and cinnamon)
  • Happy Greens Juice
  • Om Sweet Om Smoothie
  • Lean Green Smoothie
  • Kelp Pesto Noodles with Mushrooms & Sundried Tomatoes
  • Waffle with Berries & Cream. Deliciously dairy-free and gluten-free, Bill had these for morning one day. Don’t they look amazing?! He cleaned his plate.

We could have eaten every meal there for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two weeks and eaten something different every time. I would love to go back and try the Cacao Oatmeal, Loaded Baked Sweet Potato, and the Sol Kale Salad.

You Have to Try…Waffle with Berries & Cream

Vitality Tap

650 1st Avenue, San Diego; 619-237-7625;

vitality tap

The Vibe: If you don’t know what to look for, you could easily miss this place. It’s inside of a nutrition store. They had a list of dozens of superfood boosters, including chaga mushrooms, chlorella, goji berries, and lucuma powder, that you could add to any smoothie. They encouraged us to post a review on Yelp to get a free detox shot. Free? Sign me up 🙂

What We Ate

  • Green Ingredient Smoothie (I was warned this was a pretty “intense” smoothie, due to the lack of sweetness, but I was ready for it). With a blend of greens, mango, lime, lemon, hemp seed, cucumber and spirulina, I knew it was an anti-inflammatory, detoxifying concoction that my body would love. Remember, medicine doesn’t always taste good, but people take it anyway 😉 This is true when food is medicine, too!
  • Flexin’ Smoothie (This was Bill’s favorite)
  • Avocado Bliss Smoothie
  • Undressed Greens Juice
  • All Day Energy Shot
  • Detox Shot


802 5th Avenue, San Diego; 619-795-0721,


The Vibe: Farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of the Gaslamp district that sources its food from local farmers and distributors and is committed to crafting creative, seasonal, and delicious dishes and drinks. There’s a Mediterranean vibe that I loved about this place, but their menu is eclectic and offers something for everyone. The chef was accommodating and creative when it came to my dairy and gluten-sensitivities, and any dish our servers recommended was a winner. We liked it so much that we went for dinner and brunch.

What We Ate


  • Lentil, Cauliflower & Chicken Soup
  • Avocado, Mushroom & Eggplant Fries with Mediterranean-inspired Red Pepper Dip & Avocado Mousse (They made it dairy-free and gluten-free for me!)
  • Sangria-Marinated Short Ribs (Bill had these and they melted off the bone)
  • Black-Eyed Peas, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers with Spaghetti Squash 


  • Garden & Vegetable Omelet Skillet with a Strawberry & Mixed Greens Side Salad
  • Mango Sweetie Hot Tea (you have to try their homemade teas!)

You Have to Try…the Avocado, Mushroom & Eggplant Fries. Our minds were blown (hence Bill’s face in the pic above)!

Also, if you sign up for their newsletter, they’ll send you special deals, including a free meal on your birthday!

Peace Pies

4230 Voltaire Street, San Diego; 619-223-2880;

peace pies

The Vibe: I was super excited to check out this place when I saw their menu online. It’s a Bohemian café with a locally sourced menu of raw, vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free dishes. I’m pretty sure we went to Peace Pies three times for some combination of lunch/dinner/dessert. We loved it!

What We Ate

  • Magical Mango Curry Wrap with Kale Chips
  • Mediterranean Sampler
  • Voltaire Street Tacos
  • Majestic Mediterranean Wrap
  • Banana Chocolate Coffee Pie
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich
  • Stuffed Date with Maca Cashew Butter

You Have to Try…Mango Curry Wrap & Kale Chips (yum x100)…and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich!

George’s at the Cove

1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla; 858-454-4244, 


The Vibe: Talk about a view. Wow. Not only was our rooftop table overlooking the Pacific picture perfect, but so was our meal. After multiple people recommended we check out Georges, we knew we had to make it part of our trip.

What We Ate

  • Scallop Ceviche
  • Seared Yellowtail with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Red Pepper Puree
  • Fresh Fish Tacos (Bill ate tacos every day :))

You Have to Try…Scallop Ceviche. My co-worker, Gina, turned us on to this appetizer. She told us we absolutely had to have it, and we’re so glad we took her advice! Light, crisp and refreshing, it was a perfect start to our West Coast lunch on a breezy afternoon.

Juice Crafters

Multiple Locations; 935 Silverado Street, La Jolla;


The Vibe: We stumbled upon this place when we were wandering around La Jolla and looking for something hydrating and energy-boosting before dinner. Juice Crafters is a family-owned cold-pressed juice and powerhouse smoothie bar whose approach is to “live well and be well.” That’s my kind of place!

What We Drank

  • Green Juice Plus

You Have to TryAnything on the menu! We only stopped by for something to hydrate us before dinner, but all of their smoothies looked good, especially the Chunky Monkey Smoothie they were advertising outside that day. 

Hillcrest Farmer’s Market

3960 Normal Street, San Diego,


The Vibe: Held Sundays from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., this was our favorite of the three farmer’s markets we checked out while in San Diego. There are over 175 vendors there, so give yourself some time to explore. Take a look out all the awesome eats below!

What We Ate:

  1. Taste of Africa – This was one of our favorite meals of the whole trip…and the cheapest. For $11, each of us ordered a bowl served with jasmine rice and vegetables topped with rich and creamy (and dairy-free!) curried lentils and chopped and sautéed collard greens. Bill ordered the jerk chicken instead of the lentils, and both of us took our first bite, looked at each other and made “the face” we make whenever we’ve just tasted a little bite of heaven.
  2. Green Fix – They sell juices and smoothies that highlight vegetables as the star, unlike many smoothie places that load up on the sweet stuff. They have options that accommodate a wide range of taste preferences with varying levels of sweetness, so if you’re gungho, try a jug of the “Raw” version.
  3. Asana FoodsThey have lots of unique paleo options from granola to almond butters and are known for their killer acai bowl. We bought a jar of their cardamom goji berry almond “buddah”. They ship, too, so we can order online here.
  4. Happy Pantry – Best sauerkraut around. Fermented foods like sauerkraut (something I used to hate until about a year ago!) are excellent for our digestive health, skin, and overall immunity. We loved the variety of combinations and ended up with a jar of the Power Krautage. Bill loved the kimchi as well. Definitely check out this place. The people who work there are super friendly, too.
  5. B*tchin’ Bars & Dips – I’m not one to swear on this site, but that’s the name of the company! Their paleo-friendly bars, and gluten and dairy-free dips are OUT OF THIS WORLD. They’re made with almonds instead of beans, so people who have trouble with beans might want to try out this as an alternative. My favorites were the Pesto and Bombay curry flavors, but they are all amazing! You can’t help but laugh as the guys taking your order tell you to “have a b*tchin’ day.” Here’s to not taking life too seriously 🙂


4661 Park Boulevard, San Diego; 619-269-9989;


The Vibe: Described by Janna as her “favorite Thai restaurant in all of California,” we knew we had to check it out. On our last night in San Diego, we ventured to Hillcrest to check out this vegetarian restaurant. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the food there though, so don’t let that stop you.

What We Ate

  • Spearmint Tea, Spicy Ginger Tea
  • Zen Soup
  • Ginger, Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry
  • 5-Spice Duck Stir-Fry

You Have to Try…Zen Soup (one of the most delicious, flavor-packed dishes I’ve ever tried!) 

Burger Lounge

Multiple Locations; Coronado Island,

burger lounge

The Vibe: Before we left for San Diego, we asked people about “must-see” places, and almost everyone suggested Coronado Island. We spent the morning at the beach and wandering around the island and worked up an appetite. When we saw the line in front of Burger Lounge and the signs for 100% grass-fed beef, we were sold. If only other fast casual chains would get on board with having higher integrity, quality ingredients that taste delicious like Burger Lounge. I’m hopeful it will happen the more we ask for it!

What We Ate

  • Turkey Burger on a Fresh Vegetable Salad with Basil Dressing
  • The Lounge Burger (100% Grass-fed Beef Burger)

You Have to Try…Turkey Burger with Basil Dressing (YUM!) The best turkey burger I’ve ever had. Period.


4S Commons Town Center, 10511 Commons Drive, San Diego,


The Vibe & The Eats: Okay, so it’s not technically a restaurant, but I’m a sucker for cool grocery stores. I went to this place about every other day during the trip for drinks, snacks, immune booster packs (the time change wasn’t loving me), and even toiletries I had forgotten to bring.

It’s always nice to have a trusted grocery store to go to when you’re staying in a new place.

And last but not least, here are a few honorable mentions worth checking out!

Honorable Mentions

Seasons 52 (Focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients)

Puesto (Bill’s favorite taco place. Amazing guac and yummy tacos)

BarleyMash (Not exactly known for their healthy food, but their baby kale salad with lemon vinaigrette and chicken on top was deeeelish!)

So, that’s my list! We went to a few other places, too, but those were my top 10. Have you been to San Diego? What are your favorite healthy places to eat? Feel free to leave a comment below! 🙂

Baltimore’s EmporiYUM: My Top Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Eats

If you love food, Baltimore is a great place to live.

I was born and raised here, and only in the past few years have I come to appreciate all that this city has to offer.

This weekend’s EmporiYUM event downtown was a great showcase of dozens of local vendors and companies who put love and passion into their food.


I volunteered at the event with a company that my husband and I have used for the past year and a half or so – Hometown Harvest.

They’re a doorstep delivery service of local fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, poultry and other foods from local vendors, including fresh pressed juices, granola, hummus, nut butters, and salsa.

It was fun telling the dozens of people who came through the booth about how much I love their service and how convenient it is for us to wake up on Friday morning with a bag full of produce and cage-free eggs for the coming week.

Hometown Harvest

After hanging out at the Hometown Harvest booth for a couple of hours, I ventured out to visit the rest of the vendors to see what dairy-free, gluten-free goods I could find. (If you’re new to this blog, I eat dairy-free and gluten-free because of what I’ve learned helps my body feel best!)

I also look for foods that are completely in sync with how I prepare my own food and don’t use ingredients like refined oils or sugars.

Here are my favorites from yesterday!

Some are familiar faces that I’ve mentioned before on this blog, but others were newbies and are worth checking out.


Daniela Troia, the owner of Plantbar, is one of my favorite food people in Baltimore and I’ve been a fan of her restaurant in Towson (Zia’s Café) for years.

Now that she’s set up shop with her juice, smoothie and raw/vegan/gluten-free and aptly named Plantbar at Belvedere Market (my favorite place in Baltimore), I’m even more of a fan.

Plantbar had a bright and colorful booth with samples of their coconut bacon and three kinds of fresh, cold-pressed organic juices. Thai The Knot was especially refreshing on a hot day.

Little Baby's

Wandering down a little farther, I stumbled upon a long line for Little Baby’s Ice Cream, which I soon came to find out is an ice cream vendor based out of Philadelphia that will be making its way to the Baltimore market (Whole Foods and MOMs) by the summer.

I was elated to find out that they had a dairy-free, gluten-free option that I could sample called Coconut Tea.


They use coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, and the texture was JUST like regular ice cream.

The only hitch is that they use agave as one of the sweeteners, so I met the owner and suggested it might be worth considering making a version with coconut nectar instead because of the controversy around agave. He was open to it, which was really cool.

Soom Sesame

Making my way across the floor, I saw an eye-catching display for tahini-based dips (made from ground up sesame seeds) from a company called Soom.

I’m a big fan of tahini and use it in my Super Food Kale Salad Recipe as well as this Snickerdoodle Smoothie, so I knew I would be on board with their products.

I sampled a few of their dips and became an instant fan. With flavors like Classic Sesame and Spicy Sriracha to Thai Red Curry and Zesty Mediterranean, these dips were delicious! I asked about the ingredients and found out that they don’t use oils I avoid like canola oil, so that was a bonus! 🙂

They’re not in Baltimore yet but hope to make their way here. You can buy their plain tahini on Amazon though and check out this link for a list of where they sell in the Philly/NYC/DC/Rockville area.

Kate BakesI ventured up the steps to one of the upper levels and met a company I’ve been hearing about from Hometown Harvest for the past year or so – Kate Bakes.

After dealing with years of frustrating health issues herself, Kate was determined to make delicious treats that she could enjoy without gluten, dairy or any animal products. The bars are handmade in small batches using organic ingredients.

She does use agave as the sweetener along with a soy protein powder in the bars, so I emailed her to get more information about that and to see if she has plans for using alternative ingredients in future creations, since I generally avoid those two ingredients. She was prompt, thorough, and honest in her response (all things I really appreciate and respect!):

Currently we’re comfortable using agave for how it behaves in our recipes (texture and flavor profile) as well as it’s low glycemic index. Each bar actually has less than one serving (less than one tablespoon) of agave and the rest of our sugar content comes from the fruit we use in the recipes – bananas, raisins, dates, or cherries.  We use soy for the same reason.  When I was creating the recipes, I actually tried several different protein powders including rice and hemp.  The bars that came out the best (by far) were the ones using soy. Since I personally don’t have trouble with soy (and the list of things I do have trouble with is quite long!) I wanted to use it since I could eat it and felt it created the best tasting product. I know these ingredients may not be for everyone and I really appreciate you asking these questions to learn more.  As someone with a lot of restrictions, I completely understand there are many reasons why people may choose not to consume certain foods.

Click here to buy Kate’s bars online and to read more about her story.

Blind Spot

The next booth on my stop was Blind Spot Nut Butters, who I first found out about through Hometown Harvest. They sell them on their website, but I had never met the owner or tried more than one variety of their nut butters, so I was excited they had a booth at the event.

My favorite flavor is their Birds & Bees Almond Cashew Nut Butter, which is a great add-in to smoothies. Check out the ingredient list: Raw Almonds, Raw Cashews, Sunflower Seeds, Honey, Ground Flax, Millet, Chia Seeds. All real, whole foods. Just the way I like it!

Here’s where you can buy their nut butters in the MD/DC/VA/PA area and online on their website.

Jinji Booth

Tucked away in a back corner (but always with a line) was my favorite Baltimore chocolate maker – Pure Chocolate by Jinji.

I wrote extensively about how amazing her dairy-free, gluten-free chocolates are here and here. She sets up shop at Belvedere Market along with Plantbar and one more vendor I mention at the close of this post – Hex Ferments.

If you like chocolate, you HAVE to know about Jinji. Everything she makes is divine.

Cava Mezze

My second to last stop for the day was Cava Mezze, which makes Mediterranean dips like hummus, tzatziki, harissa, and tapenades. They had a veggie platter and a variety of their dips available for sampling.

I tried the roasted red pepper, spicy and traditional hummus varieties and they were all savory, creamy and reminded me of my semester abroad in Southern Spain. I love that Cava doesn’t use refined oils like canola oil in their products, unlike some other brands of hummus.

Check out all of their flavors on their website here or find them at MOMs Organic Market or Whole Foods.

Hex Ferments

The last stop on my gluten-free, dairy-free, journey brought me to Hex Ferments – a company I’ve known about for just over a year (mainly because they are parked right next to Jinji’s Chocolates at Belvedere Market).

As I’ve been in the process of healing my body and digestive health from years of antibiotics and acid reducers, I’ve incorporated more healing, nourishing foods into my diet, including some things I – as a picky eater – SWORE I would never eat.

Like sauerkraut and kimchi.

Both are fermented foods that support, protect and shield our immune system, digestion and overall well-being.

Hex was sampling their Sea Kraut and Miso Kimchi – both of which were packed with flavor.

Check out their shop at Belvedere Market and remember to “go with your gut!”

And, that’s a wrap 🙂

I do what I can to support local businesses by voting with my dollars and how I spend my money.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I feel particularly compelled to buy local and support small businesses.

I know they appreciate the love and confidence from their customers and that it encourages them to keep doing great work dedicated to helping us be well while at the same time enjoying amazing eats!

Did you go to The EmporiYUM? What were some of YOUR favorite stops? I’d love to hear from you!

Baltimore Healthy Dining Guide {Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo Options}

Dining out + healthy choices.

Is it possible to have both?

Fortunately, the Baltimore area has lots of great, convenient, delicious AND healthy dining options. Many of them source high quality, often organic, fresh, and nourishing ingredients from local farms. At the very least, these restaurants offer much healthier, fresher options than what you’d find at a typical fast food joint or deli.

Whether I’m cooking for myself or dining out, a simple food rule I use to guide what I eat is:

“Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants.”  

(Thanks to Michael Pollan. To learn more about my food philosophy, click here.) One thing all of these restaurants have in common is that they make eating more plants easier, tastier and even exciting!

Some of the restaurants are geared toward vegetarians, vegans, and those with food sensitivities and allergies, while others are not. I’ve indicated the best options for vegan and gluten-free diners below. Most of these places cater meals, too, so if you’re looking to bring some healthy options to your workplace or event, be sure to check out their websites for catering options!

Don’t live in/around Baltimore? Scroll to the bottom and check out how to find healthy dining options near you!


sweetgreen (Baltimore, MD – Harbor East; Multiple locations in DC, VA, PA, NY, MA, CA)

I’ve been waiting for almost 7 years for this place to make its way up from DC and open an location in Baltimore. I first found out about them at a client health fair in DC years ago and loved their food. Since then, I’ve made it a point to go there almost every time I’m in DC for lunch.

Started by three guys who were seniors at Georgetown University at the time, sweetgreen now has over 30 locations nationwide and will continue to expand. Their farm-to-table, sustainable, passion + purpose philosophy is totally aligned with how I live my life and what many of strive to do. Their food is second to none, and they rotate their menu seasonally, too. In the fall, my #1 pick is the Roasted Turkey & Brussels Sprouts Salad with roasted sweet potatoes and a cranberry vinaigrette. You have to check them out!


Naked Lunch Cafe (Inside MOMs Organic Market Baltimore, Rockville, Washington, DC locations)

When the new MOMs (My Organic Market) opened in Baltimore City earlier this year, I was stoked to check it out, even though we live within walking distance of the Timonium store. I was most excited about the addition of the Naked Lunch Cafe, which sells a variety of plant-based dishes for lunch, dinner or just a snack! Their butternut squash and chickpea soup is one of my favorites, and their bowls will cover you for two meals. My favorite bowl is the Crowder Bowl, which is made with brown rice, cashews, fresh veggies, tofu and a coconut curry dressing that is divine! You have to try their cauliflower steaks and vegan cauliflower nachos, too, because both are delicious. You’ll never look at cauliflower the same way again. They also sell fresh pressed juices and rotate their specials seasonally.

Stall 11 (Baltimore, MD – Remington @ R House)

You know an eatery is good when you’ve eaten about half of the items on their menu, and they’ve only been open for a few months. I LOVE THIS PLACE. It’s a hot spot for vegetarians and has lots of gluten-free options. Some of my favorites are the carrot bean smash with raw veggies, Korean BBQ Cauliflower (addictive and incredible), Kale Caesar Salad with Black Garlic Dressing, Kyoto Bowl, and any soups they serve.

Everything is fresh, delicious, colorful, and flavorful. You need to know about this place!

Harmony Bakery (Baltimore, MD – Hampden)

I was bummed when I first found out that Breathe Bookstore in Hampden was closing but was excited to find out about this bakery and cafe that has some similar menu items for lunch. Their kitchen and products are 100% gluten-free. They have lots of vegan options and change their menu seasonally, a sign of a true farm-to-table restaurant, which is something I look for when I’m picking a place to eat.

Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen / ARBA (Baltimore, MD – Locust Point; R. House)

You know you’ve arrived at a cool spot when you meet the CFO – Chief Falafel Officer – on your first trip there. When we’re in the mood for Mediterranean, Baba’s is where we go. Whether you’re in the mood for a hummus platter (order the veggies instead of the pita), kabobs, or platters with a gluten-free base of quinoa, this is the place to go. It’s a hole in the wall, so don’t expect to find a table, unless you’re there off hours, but make sure you check out this place. It’s one of our favorites!

They opened up a second location at R. House in Baltimore, my favorite spot to hang out, so visit them for a platter if you’re there!

Atwater’s (Baltimore, MD – Towson, Belvedere Square, Catonsville, Bare Hills)

If you’re looking for an amazing cup of soup or a beautiful fresh salad, look no further than Atwater’s. I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of their Towson location, so we love walking there for dinner on warmer nights (or on snow days – which we have done multiple times before!). All of their meals are made with fresh, often organic and seasonally local ingredients. They usually have vegan or at least dairy-free soup options, too, which is a huge plus for me and any others with food allergies or sensitivities who still want delicious food.

Zia’s Cafe & Plantbar (Baltimore, MD – Towson, Belvedere Square, Harbor Point)

Zia’s Cafe focuses on local & organic ingredients and has healthy choices for meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans & gluten-free eaters. They serve fresh fruit & vegetable juices and smoothies, fair-trade organic coffee, and a variety of delicious lunch options, including salads (Moroccan is my fave), soups (SO good), sandwiches, and black bean burgers. Their dairy-free desserts, especially the fruit-inspired dairy-free cheesecakes, are incredible. Zia’s also caters corporate meals and special events

Zia’s opened a sister location called Plantbar in my favorite place in Baltimore – Belvedere Square! Plantbar focuses on fresh pressed juices and smoothies but also carriers Zia’s signature line of delicious gluten-free, vegan eats. (Ideal for vegans, vegetarians, and dairy and gluten-free diners.)

Alma Cocina (Baltimore, MD – Canton)

My friend, Jinji, who owns an award-winning chocolate shop in Baltimore (seriously the best chocolate of your life), recommended this place to us. We’ve been back about 5 times since because we love it so much! They serve authentic Venezuelan food, and their arepas (think pita pocket but not) are gluten-free, so we always get at least one each. Their salads, ceviche, soups, entrees, appetizers and sides have always blown us away and are beautifully and artistically presented.

You have to try the cassava bread (gluten-free) with three dips.

Great Sage (Howard County – Clarksville, MD)


Celebrating my birthday at Great Sage!

This is the BEST vegan restaurant in the Baltimore area. We stumbled upon this place a couple of months ago, and it has quickly become one of our favorites! The restaurant is located just outside of Columbia in a place called Conscious Corner and serve amazing plant-based meals. Everything from their Israeli hummus appetizer to their seasonal salads, soups, sautéed greens, smoothies, and rich, dairy-free desserts are phenomenal. (Ideal for vegans, vegetarians, and dairy and gluten-free diners.)

Sweet 27 (Baltimore, MD – Hampden)

This cafe, bakery, bar and restaurant combines the best of all things, and they ‘re open late, too. Featuring a completely gluten-free menu and lots of options for omnivores and vegans alike, Sweet27 serves brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. Their multi-cultural flare means you’ll find a variety of unique options inspired  in South Asian and Caribbean flavors.

Woodberry Kitchen (Baltimore, MD – Clipper Mill)

This is our absolute favorite restaurant in Baltimore when we want to have a date night or are just looking for an amazingly delicious meal. They cater to the gluten-free and dairy-free crowd, labeling their plates with clearly labeled stickers to identify dishes as GF and DF. They partner with local farmers and value sustainability and top notch ingredients. Their head chef, Spike Gjerde, was the first Baltimore chef to win the prestigious James Beard Award.

The atmosphere is super cool, too. If you’re visiting Baltimore, this should be on your list!

Whole Foods (Baltimore, MD – Harbor East, Mount Washington, Annapolis)

Sure, the stigma is that Whole Foods = Whole Paycheck, but they’re trying their hardest to debunk that mentality. They have an awesome salad bar and a prepared foods counter that serves lots of healthy, tasty AND affordable options, including seasonal kale salads, slow roasted sweet potato wedges, and a variety of delicious proteins. The best part? All of the ingredients are natural or organic and as many as possible are locally grown. That means no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives or heart-clogging trans fats. 

Nalley Fresh (Baltimore, MD – Hunt Valley, Downtown, Towson, Timonium)

Think Chipotle in terms of the “make your own” approach…and then think of every salad topping you could possibly imagine, and that sums up Nalley Fresh. I’m a fan of their “SuperBowls” that feature either proteins, sweet potatoes, or brown rice as a base followed by your choice of dozens of veggies and finished off with broth, if you choose, or dressing. Their ingredients are not organic, so be aware of that. I prefer Zia’s, Plant Bar or sweetgreen for those reasons. You can even order online and pick up to avoid the long lines at lunchtime.

The Flying Avocado Cafe (Owings Mills, MD)

I used to live just up the street from this cafe, and it’s my go to spot whenever I meet someone for lunch in Owings Mills. I love their roasted vegetable salad with balsamic vinaigrette and roasted salmon. They also have smoothies, soups, homemade guac and hummus, salads, a variety of vegan dishes and a huge selection of herbal teas.

One World Cafe (Baltimore, MD – Near Hopkins)

With a variety of gluten-free, plant-based options that are both “planet and wallet friendly,” this popular spot near Hopkins’ Homewood Field is a great option for breakfast (yummy smoothies), lunch or dinner, and they’re open late (until 2:00 a.m.), so no matter when you’re looking for a healthy option, you can find one there.

A few others worth checking out:

  1. Grind House Juice Bar in downtown Baltimore
  2. Liquid Earth in Fells Point
  3. The Land of Kush in downtown Baltimore

Don’t live in Baltimore? Check out this post about five apps and websites to use to find healthy options near you!

What are your favorite healthy dining places where you live or have traveled? Feel free to share below!

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