4 of Canada’s healthiest restaurants
It’s possible to dine out and still eat well. Try these top picks for healthy and delicious Canadian restaurants
Camros Organic Eatery, Toronto
Iranian-born cellist and teacher Mojdeh Shams, who now lives in Toronto, was tired of her migraines, her teenage son’s stomach troubles and her husband’s weight gain. “My son did some research as to what might be troubling him and found a book about organic foods called Eating Alive.” The book, by Jonn Matsen, a Vancouver-based naturopathic doctor, convinced Shams their diet of conventionally grown foods was the key to her family’s health issues, so she switched to 100 percent organic. That was about eight years ago, and not only did it make everyone feel better, it sowed the seeds of her thriving, all-organic vegetarian restaurant Camros.
Borrowing from the culinary traditions of her Iranian homeland-lots of legumes, veggies, cinnamon, saffron, cumin and turmeric-she creates a daily selection of salads, stews, rice-based dishes and fresh juices for the 30-seat, cafeteria-style spot painted a sunshine yellow. “When we opened, we had only three tables, but we were so popular we had to expand right away.” To keep her legions of fans happy, Shams changes the menu biweekly, and with exotic dishes such as gheyme (Persian lentil stew) and ghorme sabzi (spicy simmered kidney beans), people keep coming back.
Shams is committed to environmentally friendly living. “We use only filtered water for everything: soaking beans, boiling, cooking. And we only use non-chemical cleaning products.” Almost all items are gluten-free, and takeout containers are compostable.
25 Hayden St., camroseatery.com
Aphrodite’s Café & Pie Shop, Vancouver
If you’re harbouring doubts that eating healthfully and mindfully can be delicious, read the menu at Aphrodite’s. Two faves: roasted free-range chicken breast with chipotle and lime barbecue sauce, and BLT with organic artisanal bacon, organic cheddar, oven-dried organic Roma tomatoes, garlic aioli and arugula. And how about this? More than 14 varieties of homemade pie-some gluten-free-for dessert.
3598 W. 4th Ave., organiccafe.ca
Earls Kitchen & Bar, across Canada
This multi-award-winning chain of family-friendly restaurants is continuing its eastern expansion from Western Canada with a new location in Toronto’s financial district. Famous for its fun comfort food, the chain is getting more serious about healthy eating by baking all breads in-house and making all sauces, soups and dressings from scratch using the freshest local ingredients. Earls has also made a commitment to the world’s fish stocks, with its Ocean Wise-approved dishes. Cedar planked salmon with fresh seasonal veggies, brown basmati rice and arugula salad is an omega-3-rich, healthy hit with customers.
Yukon, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario; earls.ca
Gratitude Café, Calgary
Opening a vegetarian, vegan and raw café in the heart of cattle country takes some serious confidence! Not surprisingly, this is Calgary’s only raw-food restaurant-not counting the steak tartare served everywhere else in the city, of course. The folksy menu caters to clientele with food sensitivities. Symbols beside menu items let the diner know if a dish is raw, or can be made vegan or gluten-free. On the menu: salads, pizza, desserts, organic wines and beer, and a commitment to the environment through recycling, waste- and energy use-reducing programs. Try the Spicy Lentil Curry.
#101, 227-10th St. N.W., gratitudecafe.ca