The beginning of January has me bursting with optimism for the New Year. My life is going to change for the better. I am going to turn over a new leaf — a lettuce leaf in this case. Watch me dump my boyfriend Cheese for greener pastures — literally. But where does one go in this bustling metropolis of Lansing to find super-healthy lunch options? I had to go scout out a few possibilities. The Spotted Dog Located right on Washington Square in the heart of downtown is The Spotted Dog. An unassuming little place, you would never know it hosted a smorgasbord of eclectic and imaginative salads. These salads run the gamut from savory to sweet. Some host artichoke hearts, colorful peppers, olives or avocado. Some boast mandarin oranges, blueberries, pineapple or papaya. My boyfriend Cheese shows up in the form of gorgonzola, feta or mozzarella. His best friend Nuts is tossed about like no tomorrow. Proteins weave in and out in all shapes and sizes. I think it is safe to say that when it comes to The Spotted Dog, you would be hard-pressed not to find something to tempt your re-energized, healthy palate. Let’s get a touch more specific. I met two of my beloved colleagues for lunch. They each had the same thing, a combo with a half of a chicken salad sandwich and a half of a Strawberry Delight salad. Each claimed the chicken salad was fresh and light. One liked the crunch of the celery, the other liked the chew of the cherries. When it came to the salad, laden with strawberries, oranges, mozzarella and almonds, it was decided that the mango dressing beat the raspberry vinaigrette. Apparently the mango cut the sweetness really well with its punch of tang. Now, I opted for a completely bi-polar lunch. I had half of the Fantastic Turkey sandwich. And it was. My other half was the Blue Moon salad. The turkey sandwich had smoked turkey, Gouda, cucumber, guacamole and garlic cheese spread on sourdough. My salad was greens, cashews, blue cheese and mandarin oranges with a balsamic dressing. Each on their own rocked. However, I got so overly excited with all my choices, I can’t say I did a very good job of ordering things to complement each other. You will do much better. The Spotted Dog rounds out their menu nicely with some beautifully prepared salads, like the Thai Slaw with Chicken and Broccoli Cherry Pasta. There are also soups, quiches and macaroni and cheese. Baked goods are available to top off your meal. I, however, tried to ignore them with my New Year’s steely resolve and discipline. Better Health – Frandor Just walking into Better Health reinforces all of those resolutions running through your head. Look, organic! Look, supplements! I think you are healthier just by surrounding yourself with Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Probiotics. However, did you know they have a scrumptious little café in the back corner? First off is their salad bar. Fraught with brightly colored choices of vegetables, your body will hum with anticipated nutrients. There are also great pasta salads, specialty olives, stuffed grape leaves and more. Their soups look wonderful. The coconut chicken curry tempted me a touch more than the vegan chili, which I am sure is fabulous in its own right. I, however, lost my heart to the Bull Feather sandwich with a $3.11 salad (you pay by the pound and I thought mine was pretty darn big). The Bull Feather includes organic turkey and roast beef on grilled rye with lettuce, tomato, onion, Swiss, horseradish and caser dressing. It may not sound like this sandwich would have super clean flavors, but it did. Is it the quality of the ingredients? I don’t know, but it was excellent. My salad was fun too. I just dumped a bunch of stuff on and hoped for the best … dill chicken, three-bean salad, greens, carrots, feta, tomatoes and more … pretty much kitchen sink stuff. It worked. Do I look leaner? What I liked about the Better Health menu was the vegetarian options. I may not choose them, but to be able to have a “Reuben” or “BLT” with someone else making the mess sounds like a good idea to me. Now, I flushed my lunch down with water (give your insides a bath!) but the organic juice bar had some really lovely choices. Do you think vegan dessert counts as no dessert? I do. Yum! (P.S. I only pretended to try to eat healthy for the making of this article. It actually was not that painful and everything tasted great. Who knew? Don’t tell Cheese).
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.