When you think of spring ingredients, what comes to mind? For me it’s fresh garden veggies, bright greens and a fresh hint of citrus. Last week, one of my girl friends met up at True Food Kitchen to try the new spring menu (they feature a rotating menu depending on the season) for some good-for-you fare, tasty drinks and of course, the latest gossip.
Continue reading to learn more about my favorite True Food Kitchen menu items, including must-try happy hour cocktails made with fresh ingredients and the best veg-friendly dumplings you’ll ever have (seriously!).
What Is True Food Kitchen?
True Food Kitchen is a health-inspired chain restaurant with locations across the country that puts an emphasis on fresh, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, meaning that each season the menu rotates depending on what fruits and veggies are in season and all items are locally sourced. The restaurant itself is large, airy, and inviting with modern decor, natural wood walls, local artwork and living plants scattered throughout. Very cool and relaxed vibes. The location I visited in El Segundo, Calif. also has a covered patio which is perfect for those sunny days and balmy evenings. The restaurant also features an open kitchen– you can even sit up at the front bar and watch the food being made, so cool!
True Food Kitchen’s concept is based on co-owner Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, which in a nutshell, encourages healthier eating habits to counteract inflammation. Before you nod off or ‘X’ out of the page, this doesn’t mean an overly restrictive menu or typical ‘health food’ (think funky raw foods or unappetizing low-fat foods). In fact, the menu offers something for everybody in your group– the meat eaters, the vegans, the Whole30-ers, the gluten free-ers– absolutely everyone can find something to appease their appetites. Each item is marked to signify if vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten-free.
The menu is based on a food pyramid that not only incorporates a large portion of veggies and fruits, but includes whole grains, fish, chicken, natural cheeses, anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric & ginger, as well as chocolate. Yes, there’s trendy foods such as kale and quinoa and there’s even beer & wine… and desserts. You can have your (flourless) chocolate cake and eat it too!
On our visit, one of the starters my girl Bailey and I enjoyed first was the Spring Asparagus Toast, which included a roasted onion garbanzo bean spread with hints of mint spooned over whole grain toast and topped with springy veggies including asparagus and radishes. Very tasty!
Next to try were the Edamame Dumplings and OMG were they delish! The dumplings included dashi (Japanese stock base), white truffle oil, a smattering of Asian herbs and a delicious whipped edamame filling. These were my absolute favorite, I could eat several platefuls!
Since we were there for the spring ingredients, we just had to try the Seasonal Ingredient Salad based on the managers recommendation. The salad included watercress, broccolini, asparagus. garbanzo beans, radishes, goat cheese, almonds and raisins in a turmeric chia vinaigrette. This salad is definitely on a whole other level of salad! While the flavors melded together really well- I loved the zippyness of the goat cheese and the vinaigrette was super light and tasty– it wasn’t my favorite. I’m not a fan of raisins and I could have done without the almonds personally.
We had to try one of the pizzas so I let Bailey pick and she decided to go with the Grilled Artichoke & Pesto Pizza. For me, the ricotta was the standout– it’s actually a vegan almond ricotta and TBH, I couldn’t even tell the difference. And I love me some ricotta! The black walnut pesto was wonderful and I really liked that it had spinach on it. I’m not the biggest fan of squash– I probably would have opted to try the Fennel Chicken Sausage pizza instead, but I will admit that this one was tasty and was the more good-for-you option. Definitely a thumbs up!
I’m a sucker for a good bowl and an even bigger sucker for poke so the Poke Bowl was right up my tastebuds’ alley. The bowl was filled with delicious wild caught albacore tuna, avocado, quinoa rice, cucumber, mushrooms, snow peas and a YUMMY turmeric ponzu sauce. The bowl was light, yet filling with just the right amount of each ingredient. Sometimes bowls will be packed with rice or quinoa but that wasn’t the case here, it was a perfect ratio. If you love poke bowls, this is one to try– yum, yum!
Unfortunately after all this we were stuffed so I didn’t get to try dessert. The Flourless Chocolate Cake sounded amazing, as did the Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp… next time!
Let’s get down to the drinks. While True Food Kitchen does offer beer, wine, juices, teas, kombucha and other non-alcoholic concoctions, we were there for happy hour so a drink… or few… was a must! I had a hard time choosing my favorite drink. The Basil Cucumber Collins (made with a lemon-infused vodka, basil and cucumber) was deliciously refreshing. I also really liked the Citrus Skinny Margarita (organic tequila, muddled citrus, cucumber and mint), which threw most other skinny margaritas I’ve had to shame. Bailey enjoyed the zesty Lemongrass Margarita (a mix of añejo tequila, mango, lime and lemongrass). Of course we had to try the Farmers Market Sangria, which included organic white wine, spiced brandy and seasonal fruits… SO tasty!
I highly recommend visiting True Food Kitchen, especially if you’re after fare that’s healthy, satisfying and nutritious without sacrificing taste. True Food Kitchen offers brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s great for a date for two, happy hour with girlfriends, or for a group.
Ready to get your fill of fresh springtime ingredients? Find a True Food Kitchen location near you. If you sign up as a True Insider you can score $10 off your food purchase of $20+. Which of these dishes are you dying to try? Let me know in the comments below!