Enjoy a Healthy Spin on Comfort Foods at These Four San Diego Eateries

January 17, 2015

As people continue to care more about their personal fitness and well-being in 2015, we are seeing healthy spins on classic comfort foods showing up on menus all over San Diego. Diners can now find solace in knowing they don’t have to give up their favorite dishes altogether, but can instead find healthier takes on guilty-pleasures at restaurants across the county. Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, think about items like gluten-free spaghetti squash casserole - a veggie-filled alternative to the carb overload that usually accompanies the Italian staple.

A perfectly healthy alternative to heavy spaghetti, True Food Kitchen’s Spaghetti Squash Casserole is a delicious choice spaghetti made with squash that separates into strings to look like spaghetti and provide a taste that is debatably better than pasta. Sauced, sprinkled with cheese on top, and baked in the oven, guests are always happily surprised about this healthy comfort food dish. True Food Kitchen is a nutrition-forward restaurant concept with a menu based on the principals of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. True Food Kitchen offers cuisine inspired by the world’s healthiest populations, focusing on wholesome, all‐natural dishes that are prepared simply to highlight the natural health benefits and tastes of each ingredient.

A re-imagined version of the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, the b.t.l.a. at Veggie Grill features smoky tempeh bacon, sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro pesto, tossed arugula, aioli mayo and grilled sourdough. Veggie Grill, located in La Jolla and Encinitas, is a fast-casual restaurant chain that celebrates veggie lovers by offering a variety of hot sandwiches and burgers, entree salads, bowls, home-style plates, shareable sides, organic teas and house made desserts prepared with wholesome vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. Craft beer and wine are available in most locations as well as kid’s meals. 

The Fire Roasted Cauliflower available at The Pony Room at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is the perfect alternative to traditional mashed potatoes. This side dish is made with unique seasonings and spices, including olive pesto salad, capers, mustard oil, and onions. The equestrian-themed bar at Rancho Valencia, The Pony Room, draws inspiration from classic American icons including John Wayne, James Dean and Johnny Cash. In addition to healthy dining options, The Pony Room features the first offering of sparkling wine on draft in California, high-end wines on tap, a wide selection of spirits including more than 140 tequilas and handcrafted, one-of-a-kind cocktail creations.

Just a quick jaunt across the border, at Rancho La Puerta, Executive Chef Denise Roa offers the best and most unique healthy comfort dishes, with many "hide the veggies" dishes. These "hide the veggies" specialties include dishes that normally wouldn't have veggies but have them hidden for a healthy boost. For example, Rancho La Puerta offers dessert with squash, guacamole with peas, quinoa and whole grain stuffing instead of traditional stuffing, Mayan chocolate sorbet, polenta gratin with greens including swiss chard, collard greens, etc., among many others. Rancho La Puerta's Culinary Center known as “La Cocina Que Canta” (The Kitchen that Sings) welcomes guests each week for a diversity of hands-on culinary classes that emphasize the organic, semi-vegetarian cooking style that the Ranch is known for. Set on a six-acre organic farm, surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of orchards and billowing rows of herbs, and orchards, the location and selection of produce is a culinary dream for many of the visiting chefs.