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Downtown Lite

January 7, 2010 by Jill Spear

It’s time to man up, grit our collective teeth and forge ahead with our New Year’s Resolutions on diet and health. I’ve talked to restaurant managers across Downtown Phoenix to find healthy options for dining out, which you’ll find listed below.

First, to make sure I’m giving you some good basic advice, I’ve sought out the diva of diet, the queen of culinary do-right, Oprah herself. While she doesn’t always follow her own advice, Oprah does have terrific medical advisors, including Dr. David Katz, a world-renowned specialist in nutrition. Here are a few key tips from Dr. Katz and other specialists:

Make half of every meal fruits or vegetables. This way, you get enough nutrients and you automatically reduce the number of fat and calories you consume. Just watch out for fatty dressings and toppings.

Be sure to limit sugar, eat high-fiber carbs like whole wheat bread, and include some healthy proteins in every meal – like eggs, chicken, fish or beans – to help you feel full and stay on your plan. Another good tip: keep the ingredient list short in the foods you eat or the items you order. Longer lists usually equal more sugar, salt and calories.

OK, enough nagging. Here are some suggestions for eating lite Downtown:

Sonoma Casual Dining

If Dr. Katz were here, he’d give these guys a gold star. Their breakfast-all-day menu includes fresh whole grain crepes with fruit and a build-your-own omelet bar. Choose the veggie omelet and ask for egg whites or egg substitutes. Another great choice is the grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli dish, the perfect diet lunch. If you prefer, Sonoma will even cook your food with PAM instead of butter. [Editor’s Note: The Breakfast Joynt has taken over breakfast at Sonoma and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Go check ’em out.]

Thai Elephant

The Imperial Veggies dish is an excellent option. You can add tofu for protein and choose brown rice over white rice for a higher fiber content.

First Watch

At First Watch, they’ve made it easy to pick out the healthiest item on the menu. It’s called Not Guilty. A whole-wheat tortilla encloses this veggie wrap, which includes a side of hummus.

hard_rock_cafe-003Hard Rock Café

If you want something filling, order the salmon at the Hard Rock. It comes with a side of broccoli and mashed potatoes, but they’ll be happy to substitute something healthier for the spuds.

Hanny’s

The Beet Salad is seriously healthy. Big slices of gorgeous red and yellow beets, topped with either gorgonzola or goat cheese – hey, there’s your protein – are accompanied by fresh greens with a lemon vinaigrette.

Coach & Willie’s

The Chicken Italiano might be your best bet. It’s a grilled chicken breast topped with fresh mozzarella and roma tomatoes. A tasty and very filling lunch, high in protein and low in carbs.

District American Kitchen and Wine Bar

Light and delicious, the Baby Arugula Salad is made with heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts and fresh mozzarella. Order the sweet basil dressing on the side, and use it sparingly.


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