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health bar and healthy restaurants in dc proper

so i am trying to eat whole grain low fat etc... which is fairly easy to do when i am the cook but oing out to dinner in dc is challenging. i tried to look up health bar on u but it looks like they changed their name (if not owners) and haven't posted a menu yet. just in general, are there any restaurants in dc (metro-able) that focus on healthy food? the only place i can think of is hook being big on sustainable... but that's not really what i am looking for... and also, a casual place. easy on the pocketbook.


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  1. Looks they changed the name to Cafe 1612. I don't see a menu online, but the idea seems the same:
    "Café 1612 offers fresh, healthy and low fat foods served from early until late in a casual environment for everyone and anytime. Our knowledgeable and courteous staff serves the best beer, wine, spirits and frozen cosmopolitans available anywhere."

    You might also want to check out Rock Creek Mazza for some health concisous food: http://www.rockcreekrestaurant.com/me...

    1. Rock Creek Maza would be your more upscale choice. The food isn't exactly cheap, but their Chef Ethan McKee (sp?) is amazingly talented at putting out very tasty food using no butter, cream or lard. They have a back side of the menu that lists the nutritional value of all of their menu items, which would be helpful for those who are being uber conscious of what their daily intake is.
      For your more casual/carry-out dining, I would maybe recommend Java Green, a vegetarian restaurant on 19th NW between K and L streets. I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch, but have enjoyed quite a few things on their menu.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jamonportodos

        Java Green is a great healthy option that even I like. (I usually do not go for that stuff).

      2. Let me just warn you that the old Health Bar actually had quite a few unhealthy dishes. They also tended to mix their steamed broccoli with butter (which kinda defeats the purpose of eating it).

        Rock Creek is definitely an option--going there tonight--but it's quite pricey.

        You really can have a somewhat healthy meal at just about anywhere if you make some modifications and aren't afraid to ask. Chix on U St uses organic chickens and their sides are fairly healthy. Salads at Baja Fresh and California Tortilla can be modified to be healthy. You get the idea...

        1. interestingly enough, ethnic restaurants are your best bet for healthy food. Vietnamese food like pho is extremely healthy, tasty and inexpensive. Most oriental places will let you order steamed entrees w/ sauce on the side and brown rice. Egg drop & hot & sour soups are very low cal & fat. Lebanese food is good also if you order from the vegetarian selections. Lebanese Taverna is our fave; there is a location on CT ave in woodley park and a few others. They have mezza and sampler platters that you can get purely veggie. And most nice upscale places serve some sort of fish dish and many are getting smart w/ steamed veggies & such. Don't ever be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared and ask for things steamed, grilled, or without sauce (or maybe sauce on the side). i often ask my food to be prepared with no oil or butter (most places have spray). Other general tips: keep AWAY from the bread basket. Limit your alcoholic drinks and try to stick to wine or light beer. Mixed drinks usually have a ton of calories (margaritas, daiquiris, most martinis, etc). Some lower cal choices are bloody marys and vodka tonics or rum & diet coke. You can also ask for half of your entree to be boxed up before it even comes to your plate.
          Another good option is the Whole Foods stores; they have really awesome food/salad bars and if you choose carefully you can get a healthy meal that way to take home. Easy on the pocketbook it isnt, but i would think cheaper than most restaurants.

          2 Replies
          1. re: DCDOLL

            I agree with a lot of what you have to say about the ethnic restaurants. It's very easy to get things steamed. However, veggie dishes at middle eastern places tend to have WAY MORE calories than grilled chicken ones. While olive oil is good for you in moderation (we're talking about up to 2 tbsp a day), many of these veggie dishes/apps are blended with up to a 1/2-1 cup of oil and then is often drizzled with more. Be very careful when you get these. Many veggies, like eggplant soak up liquids like you wouldn't believe.

            Also, tonic (with gin or vodka) has just as many calories as coke. I think you meant to say vodka soda, which is vodka and soda water (carbonated). Basically one drink would have 1.5 shots, so a drink like this would have 120 calories and just about no carbs.

            Whole Foods is a good option IF you make good choices. Many of their prepared foods on the display and in the salad bar are swimming in oi. Even their steamed veggies at the P St location is mixed with some butter (even though it's not listed). Don't always go by the labels; they are often wrong. Many times they have a couple of variations of similar dishes, and they have the wrong tag on it. This has been a problem, at once again, the P St. location. Once they even labeled something as vegan and it ended up having chicken in it (and not the soy protein kind!).

            Just about any restaurant will steam veggies for you on request. Levante's is another good Lebanese restaurant; I actually think it's better than Lebanese Taverna many days.

            1. re: Jacey

              Totally agree. i know they use lots of EVOO in middle eastern stuff generally speaking. And whole foods can be a fat trap...!!! But that's why i said be careful. On the vodka tonic, i said that because i have some tonic at home that has 0 calories. But it may be diet tonic. I do know that one of them naturally has no calories and it may be soda. Thanks for the reminder on that; i'll have to make sure i stick to wine when i'm out which i prefer anyway!

          2. I don't know if you like sushi, but it is a great healthy option. Normally high in your omega vitamins with good fats and low in calories, just avoid things like tempura rolls with avacado and go with sashimi or other things. They also have veggie rolls at most sushi places that can be quite good.

            I would recommend some places, but I don't know where you live. You post a lot about Dupont and they have some good places on P st. I can't remember the name of the place my brother took me, but it was great, save the wasabi appetizer that I couldn't breathe for a few seconds after eating. I think you said you don't like real spicy food, so avoid that... I know Cafe Asia has sushi happy hour specials that are really cheap, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              Sakana is the really good sushi spot on P St. They certainly have healthy options...I think you can get the sushi with brown rice etc. They have lots of different veggie and non-veggie options. Plus the sushi is totally affordable. I went on Friday with one of my friends, we both got a salad, miso soup, and shared 3 different rolls. The check came to around $14 each before tip. Not bad.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Agree, Sakana is a good sushi deal in Dupont. Whole Foods also has brown rice sushi.

            2. Teaism might be a good option for you -- for breakfast, they have things like tofu scramble, and many of their lunch/dinner entrees feature brown rice (actually their brown basmati pilaf is delicious) and things like tofu, tempeh or grilled salmon. Plus, they're relatively reasonable.

              I have not had good luck finding brown rice at Asian restaurants. Specifically, the Vietnamese restaurant on Connecticut in Cleveland Park does not have brown rice. Pho would not be a good whole grain option because of the rice noodles.

              California Tortilla does have one salad -- I believe it is called the Mexican garden salad -- that is pretty healthy if you order it without the tortilla strips and with light cheese.

              Rock Creek Mazza would be an excellent choice for a nice (spendy) dinner. Also very good is Mourayo, a Greek restaurant near Dupont Circle. They have lots of fish (baked in a salt crust seems popular) and dips make from chick peas or fava beans. Their grilled octopus starter is delicious and big enough for a main course.

              Hook is fun and sexy, but I don't think of the food as particularly low in fat, or heavy on the whole grains. They do use a lot of organic produce and, of course, sustainably caught fish.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Cookingthebooks

                thanks for the recs guys! i will check out sakana. i live in woodley so typically eat anywhere from farragut up to cleveland park. i'll go to admo once in a while... i have been sticking to a lot of asian food for the healthy food/dining out option. i tried malaysian kopitam last Friday and i really love tono sushi in woodley. maybe i'll add levante to the list as well. i wish there was a place where you could order whole blueberry pancakes and soy sausage or something like that for breakfast! i have yet to see those options out there :(

                1. re: polly parker

                  you can get soy sausage and eggwhite stuff at open city.

                  last time i went, i had the spinach and eggwhite omelet that comes with a small fruit salad and wheat toast.

                  they also have decent salads.

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    first of all, thank you for the suggestion. unfortunately open city really rubs me the wrong way. i just can't stand how crowded it is, how often you are seated so closely to another table, and often the wait is too long for me (i'm impatient and need my coffee seat and a menu stat for brunch). it reminds me of new york restaurants and that is one of my pet peeves (guess i can't live in nyc) - they don't have the space to have been roomy booths and space adequately IMO. if you can tolerate all of that i understand they do a very decent brunch.

                    1. re: polly parker

                      I don't 100% dig the place, but you were looking for soy sausage, and they have it.

                      I believe they also have it as busboys and poets. They also serve their breakfast with whole grain toast.

                      I know le pan quotidien and GTown has egg whites and all that stuff.

                      The rare times I eat out, i stop worrying about what the calories and fat are because even if you think it's healthy, chances are they have added oil/butter/extra salt to what you happen to be eating.

                      Also consider Vegetate in Shaw.

                    2. re: Jeserf

                      Daily Grill actually has an egg white omlete that comes with whole wheat toast and fruit.

                2. Juice Joint on Vermont. Mcpherson Sq. very healthy. great smoothies.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: zelda68

                    how could I forget the juice joint?
                    my favorite place to get lunch when I'm at work on the rare chance I don't bring my lunch with me.

                    the holland's pocked with added avocado ROCKS...so does the tofu/veggies/brown rice - they use briggs amino acids, and it tastes super good

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      thanks zelda & jeserf - i work around the corner from the juicejoint and never knew it. now i have a place to stop in for lunch!

                  2. Is ethiopian food healthy? I haven't had it but I imagine they would be veggie heavy, perhaps in a healthy way? I just know it is mainly veggie and might be a good choice in DC.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      I think a lot of the veggies are cooked in butter. Veggie freindly does not necesarily equal healthy.

                      1. re: jes

                        Agree--same with Indian food. There are a ton of veggie dishes but most are either swimming in oil or they use lots of ghee (a worst form of butter). At Indian the best option are the tandoori chicken or seafood kabobs.

                        1. re: Jacey

                          How is ghee a "worst" form of butter? It's simply clarified butter.

                          It's worth noting, though, that some Indian restaurants cut costs by using "fake" ghee (basically hydrogenated vegetable oils) that ARE worse than butter in terms of trans fats vs. sat fats.

                          1. re: sweth

                            Most do that except the VERY best Indian restaurants.