Tis the season for gingerbread and cookie exchanges and turkey dinners and all-around overindulging. Thankfully, the Valley is home to two newish dining destinations that allow us to eat a little healthier (especially during this gut-busting time of the year) without sacrificing some serious yums.
Nekter Juice Bar has grown to five Valley locations, so most of us don’t have to travel to far to get our juice fix (though the menu also spotlights delicious smoothies and acai bowls, too). The Cure is a crowd pleaser; a great option for a first timer. The Cure is slightly sweet and boasts a great beet flavor (and color), though it is also packed with the green goods, like kale and broccoli. A great option for the morning is the citrus-y The Buzz, with carrot, orange, lemon and ginger. The ginger provides a great wake-you-up zing. (Fan of ginger? Order up a one-ounce shot for less than a buck.) For something more filling, Popeye’s Acai features acai, banana, spinach and housemade vanilla cashew milk–and is then sweetened with a big of agave nectar. The result is super creamy and delicious. A great guilt-free dessert smoothie is Chocolate Dream, sweetened with cacao, carob and dates. The addition of avocado ensures that Chocolate Dream is utterly creamy and indulgent. If you’re visiting for breakfast, the Pitaya Bowl is in order. The bowl is layered with a blend of pitaya, banana, pineapple, coconut butter and coconut water topped with hempseed granola, coconut flakes, bananas and agave nectar. The bowl is filling and a pleasing blend of texture, from the smooth (pretty pink!) fruit blend to the crunchy but not hard granola to the chewy coconut flakes. The Acai Banana Berry bowl is a berry lover’s dream, decked with oodles of strawberries and blueberries (this is a great one for the kiddos). The bowls are large in size, definitely sharable especially when paired with one of Nekter’s fresh juices. nekterjuicebar.com.
Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty lunch or a quick pick-me-up smoothie, Grabbagreen has something for everyone. (Grabbagreen has two Scottsdale locations and one newbie in Downtown Phoenix.) For breakfast, Grabbagreen dishes up filling collard wraps or quinoa cakes to start your day in a healthy way. (Acai cups are also available and make a delish breakfast.) You’ll also find a long list of fresh juices that range from Heal with watermelon, carrot, apple, tumeric and lemon to Zen with spinach, cucumber, apple and celery. There is also a tempting variety of smoothies; Feeling Fabulous is a fave, with spinach, kale, avocado, cucumber, coconut, lemon, coconut water and agave. The coconut adds a yummy texture to the smoothie–a subtle crunch. Lunchtime visitors can choose dishes from the Grabba Greens and Grabba Grains (that have rice, noodles or quinoa as a base ingredient) menu. The So Cal Grabba Grain bowl is a slightly sweet medley of quinoa noodle, spinach, red pepper, avocado, cucumber, feta, mint and balsamic flax. The lunch offering is just enough for a satisfying lunch; you won’t be stuffed but you also won’t be reaching for a 3 p.m. snack, either. grabbagreen.com.