In theory, summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh seasonal produce in practice, it’s a lot of burgers, brews and BBQ. If you’re looking to clean up your act in the dietary department, a great way to start is by grabbing something quick, convenient and healthy at lunch. These takeout spots are proof that life-sustaining eats don’t have to be deadly dull.
[Don’t miss Kim D’Eon’s healthy picks here]
Grain bowl Iunches area dime a dozen (or, more accurately, about 12 bucks each) in the downtown core. But RCK’s spiced-up Middle Eastern versions, like couscous and apricot Moroccan or the house special topped with harissa-cherry dressing (both $8.85) feel like cohesive meals instead of plain veggies in a box.
Here’s a tip: if that 2-inch layer of rice at the bottom is too heavy, they’ll throw your toppings onto a bed of kale for $2 extra. Or go for the half-pita pockets with a little steak or chicken at $5, they’re just filling enough to stave off the belly grumbles till dinner.
Dressings have been the downfall of many a great salad: assemble a beautiful array of fresh, glorious produce, then smother it all in oil and mayonnaise. At this health-oriented financial district chain, dressings are fashioned from puréed fruits and veggies for -options like the Il Padrino ($9.25), an Italian-inspired mess of just barely steamed zucchini pasta, pico de gallo and roasted veggies, or the feta-and-watermelon Lulumelon salad ($9.50).
Don’t miss the two other locations:120 Adelaide West (Richmond Adelaide Centre), 416-855-3322 145 King West (at University), 416-238-2628, ucrave.ca.
Chicken on a green salad is nothing new as far as lunches go – but then again, you probably haven’t been to chef Cory Vitiello’s new takeaway on Adelaide. He brought in a rotisserie oven from France to perfectly slow-roast a few lucky birds that end up either in sandwiches or on top of some of the most beautiful salad bar fixings I’ve ever seen: Steamed squash, pomegranate seeds, roasted cauliflower, French lentils, and on and on ($7 small, $11 large).
Lunch lifehack: this Seinfeld-referencing soup dispensary updates its website every morning with the daily lineup at each location, along with the nutritional info for each and every bowl ($7-$10 each).
Low-fat options abound, including the Parmesan- and orzo-laced “molto Mediterranean lentil,” an indulgent-tasting Jamaican crab bisque (pictured) and even a fat-free “vegetable miracle diet soup” that’s surprisingly satisfying (though I’d prefer it without the snake oil).
Don’t miss these additional locations:120 Adelaide West (Richmond Adelaide Centre), 647-352-7799 200 Wellington West (Metro Centre), 647-351-1723.
In addition to being righteously chill, Toronto’s premier Wilco-themed restaurant is great for lighter takes on your fave sandwiches. Take, for example, the Hey Chicken ($7.59), which replaces pulled pork with steamed, shredded breast meat lightly drizzled with BBQ sauce.
Tuna salad is usually a mayo bomb, but here the tuna in the Secret Of The Sea sammy ($6.59) is bound with grainy Dijon, plus a sprinkling of capers and a smear of black olive tapenade, for a lighter lunching experience. One caveat: everything on the menu is massive, so you may want to save half for later.
Don’t miss the Annex location at 605 Bloor West (at Markham), 647-351-7945.