Indy's dining on a diet guide 

What to cook and where to go when you're on that health grind

click to enlarge img_2286.jpg

This is the time of temptation: when the New Years resolutions lose their luster and letting go of your healthier eating habits just shakes your bones with excitement for those long lost carbs and sugars. The NUVO office is no exception. We decided to pull together a quick dining diet guide. By no means is this list comprehensive, but it's a way to keep your sanity. Bear in mind that these diets are a fulltime way of life for those who have dietary restrictions or are passionate about ending the detriments of meat production. 

Giving up the gluten

Peetering out the amount wheat in your diet can be more simple than you may first think – after all, we live in a beautiful world full of corn and quinoa and oats and rice and buckwheat and the almighty potato. There's a big world of starches to keep your stomach full and wheat-free, and that means there's a million ways to be gluten-free at many Indy restaurants: think opting for corn chip nachos at Old Point Tavern instead of sandwiches or going for a lettuce and rice bowl instead of flour tortilla-wrapped monstrosity at your favorite burrito joint.

Massive disclaimer here: These kind of freewheelin' thinkin' applies if you're avoiding gluten for reasons other than serious allergies and conditions like celiac disease. That's because, as those with celiac disease know, even if you order gluten-free off the menu, there's the risk for gluten contamination in kitchens that process gluten-filled dishes for other diners. and are great resources for those looking to research options before they go: when I was digging, I learned that the Caveman Truck and Ezra's Enlightened Cafe have dedicated gluten-free food prep spaces. Ditto for The Flying Cupcake's 56th and Illinois location, which has a special space for baking gluten-free cupcakes – plus their Carmel, Mass Ave and 82nd St. locations all offer gluten-free treats in separate display cases to minimize cross-contamination. Plus, traveling food fests like the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest returns to the Fairgrounds in October with tons of options and info for those living totally gluten-free.

But if you're cutting gluten because you're looking to lose a few, or simply because you find you feel better without it (many do!) know that in 2016 restaurants are becoming increasingly more sensitive to the needs of diners that wanna cut the wheat. I've found my body runs best when I phase out most wheat products, so I opt in for Asian cuisine at spots like Rook and Thai Spice, where I can do rice noodle and curry dishes.

Drinkers: Grab a gluten-reduced concoctions at New Day Meadery and Mallow Run Winery, plus check in with big brew-list places like The Aristocrat, Twenty Tap, District Tap and Union 50 for gluten-free suggestions. Trader Joe's, The Hop Shop and Bloomington's Sahara Mart carry gluten-free six-packs. - Katherine Coplen, senior editor.

Where to go:
Ezra's Enlightened Cafe, 6516 Ferguson St
Public Greens, 900 E 64th St
Tulip Noir Cafe, 1224 W 86th St


There are two ways to approach this: juicing as some kind of cleansing/detox/weight-loss program during which you’ve restricted yourself to liquids OR as a way to get more veggies and fruits into your diet. Since a) yours truly doesn’t have a broken jaw, and b) the research is pretttty sketchy on the benefits of an all-blended menu, I’ve opted for juicing-as-supplement to what I’m eating already.

A quick search online reveals that a great many juice recipes involve starting with kale — and then trying to cover up the taste of the stuff. Since I’m no fan of the ubiquitous green hipster food myself, a few stabs at adjusting a recipe I’d come across yielded this concoction:

½ cup kale
1 banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp honey
8 oz. unsweetened plain almond milk

All of that stuff run through a Ninja juicer on “extract” yields a pretty tasty — if somewhat strangely-colored — drink that fits nicely into an imperial pint glass or so. In order to avoid hunger pangs later, simply garnish with a pizza. (I’m kidding. Kind of.)

Most medical types don’t recommend juicing for weight-loss or detox — if you’re not getting protein (which is common in these diets) you’ll lose muscle mass, and you’ve already got a liver and kidneys to flush stuff out of your system.

Beyond that, a good friend who pulled off a multi-week all-blended diet revealed these lovely tidbits:

“The worst part was the headaches. After day two, I began to get headaches and felt a bit weak and dizzy. Once the ‘cleanse’ part of the diet happened I did start to feel better and even had a nice jolt of energy. The first five days were rough, though. My relationship barely survived.”

Yes, there is such a thing as being “hangry.”

Also, if you’ve shelled out for a decent blender, that sucker can make some fantastic warm-weather run drinks. The missus and I mix bananas, pineapple, spiced rum and coconut-water ice cubes. After two or three, you don’t give a damn about your weight. - Ed Wenck, managing editor

Where to go:
Natural Born Juicers, 865 Massachusetts Ave
The Garden Table, 908 E Westfield Blvd

Whole 30

My first thought before I began the Whole30 (for me, a Whole5, since I only did it for 5 days) was “really?” On the Whole30, added sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy can’t be consumed for 30 days. Grains! Dairy! Seriously? The point of the lifestyle change is to reset your body and allow you to reevaluate your relationship with food. The guidebook says “Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making.” Seems like a lofty goal. It also seems like it would be difficult to eat out on this program, but Indy has mastered the art of healthy living.

I had breakfast at Café Patachou and was surprised at how easy it was to make decisions while being confined to the rules of the Whole30. The staff was great in helping me identify ingredients I could and couldn’t eat. Although I was eyeing everyone’s croissant French toast, I ordered an omelet with potatoes, avocado, and bacon and was not disappointed. Patachou has lots of natural ingredients on their menu, so it’s a great place for those committing to a Whole30.

Shopping on this program was a bit more difficult because it required me to ditch my routine Frosted Flakes nightcap, but places like Locally Grown Gardens and Wildwood Market stock tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, and some meat options. By the end of my 5 days, I was already feeling much better, mentally and physically. I considered keeping on for the full 30 days, but a cheeseburger and fries just kept calling my name. -Annika Larson, news intern.

Where to go:
Café Patachou, 4901 N Pennsylvania St
Cook at home. Go to crossfit. You will feel better.

click to enlarge One of Tinker Street's previous vegan options - TINKER STREET INSTAGRAM
  • One of Tinker Street's previous vegan options
  • Tinker Street Instagram


Full disclosure: I have been an on-and-off-again vegetarian or vegan for large chunks of my life with years of meat eating in between. Indy’s kitchen forces of nature know their damn way around bellies, fillets, charcuteries and swimmers of the earth; but I’ll be the first to say that our chefs have got to step up the vegan game. Contrary to popular belief, not consuming animals (or derived byproducts) doesn't have to leave you with a raw or an overly carb heavy plate.

While you can find something at almost any restaurant (enjoy that $10 block of iceberg lettuce), vegan meals that are made with intent instead of on the whim of an afterthought are few and far between. Places like The Sinking Ship, Broad Ripple Brewpub and Twenty Tap have you covered on the bar food front. The vegan fish and chips at the Brewpub is made with a fluffy tofu, battered with their own brew and fried golden with Old Bay seasoning. They currently are sporting 21 options that can be made vegan without loosing the luster. Twenty Tap and Three Carrots both have house ban mi’s that are completely different, but can hold their own against the Vietnamese traditional sandwich. Tinker Street — in addition to having one of the best wine lists in the city —- has botanical covered in a way that bring out the qualities of each veggie.

Many go vegan for health reasons or dietary restrictions, but for those who see it as a tangible way to exercise their passion for environmental and animal rights consider taking it a step further and asking about the origin of your produce, the impact it took to process it and the most sustainable mediums for change. You’re already on the right track. - Emily Taylor, arts editor.

Where to go:
Three Carrots, City Market, 222 E Mitchell
Broad Ripple Brewpub, 842 E 65th St
Tinker Street, 402 E 16th St
Duos Kitchen, 2960 N Meridian St

click to enlarge Steak and shrimp teriyaki with vegetables (without rice) from Tomo.
  • Steak and shrimp teriyaki with vegetables (without rice) from Tomo.

Paleo/Primal diet

When it comes to eating “primal” on a paleo diet, it’s all about going back to basics. There is no need to pattern your plate after Fred Flintstone and find this biggest dinosaur burger around, but rather throw out everything processed. If it comes in a box on a shelf or is processed with a bunch of words you can’t pronounce or spell — don’t eat it! Instead treat your palate to natural meats, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Then say no to grains, legumes (sorry, no peanuts), dairy (good-bye cheese), starches (no rice potatos or pasta) and alcohol (that is by far the hardest part).

It may seem like there is nothing left to enjoy but that is farthest from the truth. Herbs, spices and seasonings are you best friend!

Dining out may seem a bit intimidating at first when going paleo, but if you just think about going back the basics, everything will work out. The Caveman Truck is a given with an entire menu dedicated to the primal palate. There is also Artie’s Paleo To Go, which is a meal delivery service with a primal friendly menu that delivers to CrossFit locations around town. But if find yourself on a side of town the Caveman Truck is not and it’s too late for a delivery from Artie, there are still lost of choices out there.

Farm–to-table restaurants are always great choices to stay away from processed foods. From there, it’s only a matter of sticking to meat-and-veggie entrees and asking for any dairy-based sauces to be left off your plate.

Another great choice is Asian cuisine. Now I know you are thinking, “What about the rice?” But, any great Chinese or Japanese restaurant serves steamed rice on the side. Simply ask for the entree without rice or simply sliding the rice bowl to the side solves that problem.

For the sweet tooth, stick to raw sugars, fruits and honey.

Eating the basics can simple without sacrificing taste. -Amber Stearns, news editor 

Where to go:
Tomo 7411 N. Keystone Ave.
Bluebeard 653 Virginia Ave.
Cerulean 339 S. Delaware St.

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About The Author

Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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