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Apr 21, 2009 09:30 AM

Healthy restaurants and/or cafes in Toronto?

My friends and I are on a big health kick, so where in DOWNTOWN Toronto can we get healthy eats?

None of us are vegetarians, so we're not really looking to go to one of those vegan places (we still eat chicken and fish, y'know, healthier meats) but then again, we also want to avoid the obvious "greasy spoon" places.

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  1. I tend to gravitate toward Asian cuisines for healthier options, as they tend to be more willing to incorporate vegetables into dishes. Consider sushi for fairly clean eats. Sugar and sodium counts aside, you can make a great meal of soup, salad, edamame, sushi or sashimi. If you can find a place that'll use brown rice, all the better. I'm also partial to Vietnamese places, such as Mimi Gardens or Hanoi 3 Seasons, that offer sauteed greens with garlic, which can be shared alongside a chicken, fish or seafood dish or shrimp salad rolls. Thai is great, as long as you order carefully. As long as oil isn't a factor, Chinese cuisine offers a plethora of fresh vegetables -- always ask what seasonal vegetables they have that day. I've even asked if they can do a dish of chicken with gai laan (Chinese broccoli) and garlic. They never turn me down, even if it's not on the menu, provided they have all the ingredients. I ask if they have baby bok choy or pea shoots or snow peas and build dishes around those. Again, these dishes won't necessary be low in oils, sodium or sugars, but the focus is on lean meats and highly nutritious colourful veggies. I think a decently healthy meal can be had at Little Tibet, if you're into momos and stir-fried vegetables. If you're raw fish fans, try a Hwe Dup Bap at a Korean restaurant that also has a sushi bar, such as Seoul House or Il Bun Ji. It's a mix of salad greens and shredded vegetables, topped with a few types of diced raw fish and drizzled with toasted sesame oil. You add the side bowl of rice, hot/sweet sauce to your taste, mix the whole thing up and enjoy! It's delicious ... and healthy!

    It's possible to eat well at Greek or Middle Eastern restaurants, but you have to show an enormous amount of restraint. For a low carb meal, I'd head to Starfish or any oyster house for some oysters on the half shell and a green salad. Any place that steams mussels will do them for you with white wine, herbs, garlic and easy on the olive oil (meaning no butter and no cream). Combine it with a salad and a piece or two of bread and you have a nice meal. If I'm
    trying to eat carefully (which is most of the time!), I'll probably save Italian food, pub grub, dim-sum or French for a splurge day. If you are willing to go completely vegetarian for a meal, try a vegetarian combo at an Ethiopian restaurant. You won't miss the meat. Sure, there's butter in the dishes, but the legumes, collards and salad make up for the minor indulgence. You won't leave hungry!

    It's possible to make fast food a little more friendly to waist-size, but it requires some sacrifices. Best to visit "build-your-own" sandwich/sub places, or stick to grilled chicken sandwiches with salads and dressings/sauces on the side.

    Unfortunately, you'll probably have to make your own healthy Mexican or Tex-Mex, burgers or dips at home, if you're looking to save a few hundred fat grams and calories. It's next to impossible to eat well in these types of places. If they make a sopa de tortilla or ceviche, you might be in luck, but otherwise, it's better to save these places for the splurge days and just enjoy the grease-up with a tasty margarita!

    1. I am not a vegan nor a vegetarian, but I heartily recommend Camros Organic Eatery on Hayden just southeast of Yonge & Bloor. Really delicious food. I was hesitant to visit because in the past I have had veggie/healthy food that was heavily overspiced and simply not very satisfying, but this place suffered from none of those afflictions. It's a seat-yourself kind of place and is only open weekdays for lunch hours, though.

      25 Hayden St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gary

        Mocha Mocha is fantastic. Everything is fresh, fresh, fresh, healthy and tastes great.

        1. re: Gary

          i love Camros.

          also, if you use the "Search" feature on the board, you'll find the following previous discussions of some places:

          Use CTL F or apple-F in the threads to find "healthy" in the entries.

          hope this helps!

        2. So far these are pretty good suggestions but I should specify that when I say downtown I mean the actual downtown core (I live next to the skydome), so, a bit further south of bloor and not really east of yonge or too far west of bathurst. I'm quite interested in places to eat around Queen West though, I've been to Coca Tapas for lunch and it was pretty good and nothing was overly bad for us... except for the dessert, which c'mon, we still enjoyed.

          7 Replies
          1. re: AlianaIharosi

            Ravisoups on Adelaide has fantastic soups and if you avoid the coconut milk version (though incredibly delicious), I would classify it as a healthy option (Apricot and Red Lentil being my favourite). The wraps are also filled with healthy, flavourful options.
            Also, Helena's Kitchen in The Grange foodcourt at Dundas and McCaul has wonderful choices including quiches, stewed chicken and amazingly fresh and crisp side dishes.

            322 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

              1. re: ChalkBoy

                Live doesn't exactly fit the specified location.

                I find there are a lot of healthy options on College St. -- Kalendar and Utopia, for example. As for Queen W., there are tonnes of sushi places...

                1. re: piccola

                  I saw Kalendar about a week or so ago and heard they have Hungarian food which I'm curious about. I'm wondering if it's as good as my Magyar nana makes lol thanks for the suggestion, I'll have to try this place sometime soon

                  1. re: AlianaIharosi

                    Kalendar isn't remotely Hungarian. Awful food, no prob.

                    1. re: Dimbulb

                      Must agree with Dimbulb. Kalendar does a lot of things and none of them well, with sullen service to boot.

                    2. re: AlianaIharosi

                      Not Hungarian at all. And I think they do breakfast/brunch pretty well. I haven't tried much on their dinner menu.

              2. Try Le Gourmand, just up the street from you at Spadina/Richmond. Great sandwiches and salads.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tasoid

                  I walk by there all the time and never think to go in, thanks, I'll check it out!

                2. I revisited the King West neighbourhood today, and stopped for Brunch at Zoe's. (b/w spadina and portland).
                  They have renovated the space sometime in the past year, you still have the option of table service or take-away.

                  I had a delicious frittata (roasted tomato, goat cheese, egg whites) with a side salad and multigrain toast... the brunch menu overall looked very appetizing.
                  Also, one of the best Lattes I've had in a while

                  The menu is large, with at least 20 different salads, and a dozen sandwiches. If you're looking for a healthy option, this place will serve you well. Plus, if summer ever truly comes, the patio at the side of the restaurant is quite nice.