Let’s face it: Brussels sprouts can be pretty disgusting…until they’re chopped up and roasted with a little bacon. Tofu can be slimy…until it’s baked into crispy “fries” and served with sweet chili dipping sauce. Compared to when we were kids, it’s leaps and bounds easier to settle into a table at a healthy restaurant serving wholesome and tasty food. Several Seattle-area eateries are re-imagining the way veggie-heavy meals are prepared while teasing out kid-approved flavors. Read on for a few best bets.
The scene: A sweet new sushi lunch spot that opened last December in Pioneer Square, Gaba joins a wave of eateries working to change that neighborhood for the better. Local chef Matt Dillon and crew are launching new eateries in Pioneer Square in early 2013, a second Rain Shadow meats is in the works on Occidental Square, and beloved pasta spot Il Corvo just opened on James Street. Gaba is in good company.
The space: With limited seating, Gaba is more of a grab-and-go spot. Plan to visit on a nice day and nab a seat outside, or scoot onto stools along the window and take in the view. Kids will love watching the hustle and bustle while dipping colorful rolls into a variety of sauces.
Healthy picks for kids: The restaurant is named after ultra-nutritious sprouted GABA rice: a germinated brown rice that’s all the rage in Japan. Try the edamame hummus role with mango, avocado, and tofu and a side of perfectly salty seaweed salad.
Tips: Expect office workers to line up at noon, so get there at the 11:00 am opening or after 1:00 pm.
The scene: In addition to Wallingford’s Tilth and Fremont’s Agrodolce, chef Maria Hines is the woman behind Golden Beetle, a Mediterranean restaurant in Ballard. The seasonal menu is certified organic by Oregon Tilth.
The space: Golden Beetle’s dining room is warmly lit with candles glowing on the tables. While you’ll find room to store diaper bags and the like, there’s not a lot of space for little ones to roam. Bring along the iPad.
Healthy picks for kids: The sweet Muhammara dip with pomegranate molasses and walnuts and the salmon falafel with capers are flavorful and full of good fats. Grilled Halloumi cheese with pink lady apples and honey sauce is another kid favorite.
Tips: Reservations are accepted and can be made on the Golden Beetle website.
The scene: Soothing colors and stylish tables star at Remdy Teas in Capitol Hill. All 150 teas are organic, with many caffeine-free varieties available for kids.
The space: Teas lining shelves behind the counter are labeled by number. Each varietal and blend can be smelled and examined in beakers along the wall, too, giving kids a fun sensory experience.
Healthy picks for kids: Try the naturally sweet #7 (Digestive) with fennel, ginger, licorice, and vanilla, or an Antiox Berry tea smoothie made with organic fruit and sans-caffeine berry Rooibos tea.
Remedy’s small tea service is a unique way to experience the best bites the shop offers: for just over $20, you and your little one are served a pot of tea and a stacked platter filled with mini sandwiches, fruit, toast and jam, and less healthy (but delicious) chocolate truffles and cookies. Even healthy eaters have to indulge every now and again!
Tips: Tea is brought to the table while it’s still brewing. To quickly cool it down a few degrees and lessen the chance for burns, ask for ice cubes.
The space: Zaw offers carry-out orders only, so plan to eat at home.
Healthy picks for kids: All crusts are made with Bob’s Red Mill flours. Pick pies made with whole wheat crust and veggie-heavy toppings. Kids will want second helpings of the Cowardly Apricot, with free-range chicken, caramelized onions, apricots, and basil. To up kiddo vitamin intake, add on an Ironman spinach salad with sun dried tomatoes.
Tips: To lessen wait time, order online at the Zaw website. Gluten-free crust is also available.
Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine
The scene: With locations in Wallingford and Ballard, Jhanjay serves fresh, veg-heavy noodles, curries, and rice dishes. Meals are so flavorful and filling that kids won’t miss the meat.
The space: The Ballard location is large and able to accommodate groups. Servers are helpful, chatty and engage kids.
Healthy picks for kids: Monk’s Noodles with shitake mushrooms, green beans, zucchini, and spinach are flavorful without being muddled by salty sauce. In the summer, mango sticky rice with coconut milk is a classic, fresh dessert option.
Tips: One order of brown rice should be enough to fill the bellies of two little ones. For even healthier versions of many dishes, hold the egg.
What are your favorite healthy, family-friendly eateries around town?
— Sara Billups