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Restaurant Spotlight: Bliss and Vinegar

Recently voted best salads in GR by Grand Rapids Magazine, we are thrilled to share more about Bliss & Vinegar located in Ada. Chef Mark McNamara and his wife Jennifer, also the owners of Marco New American Bistro, were inspired to open a restaurant that would allow customers to make healthy choices. Over time, they noticed a clientele interested in getting meals to go or a quick lunch. Mark soon realized that Grand Rapids lacked restaurants that offered both fast service and a variety of healthy menu items. With a desire to make healthy food more convenient, Bliss & Vinegar was born.

bliss & vinegar

The name Bliss & Vinegar comes from the meaning behind each word. Bliss represents the feeling of eating well. When we eat food that is minimally processed, satiating, and nourishing, our bodies feel blissful and thankful. Vinegar represents the tangy flavor that compliments so many foods. Vinegar pairs well with fresh produce and provides even more delicious flavor.

GR Healthy Living - Grand Rapids Healthy Living Spot

Bliss & Vinegar has over 60 delicious toppings to choose from and they offer their own house-made dressings. These dressings are all-natural and preservative free. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are also readily available. Their produce is locally sourced through Farm Link, which connects restaurants to 20-30 local farms. Bliss & Vinegar uses only naturally raised beef and chicken that are free from hormones and antibiotics. To top it off, all their materials are recyclable. Talk about sustainability!

There is something for everyone on the menu. The Bowls of Warm Bliss are hearty and delicious and perfect heading into Fall and Winter. Each bowl has a base of warm quinoa with protein, vegetables, and house-made dressing. There’s even a BMB (Big Meat Bowl) that’s filled with grilled steak, herb roasted chicken, and bacon served over quinoa with red pepper, avocado, and a Greek yogurt ranch.

bliss & vinegar

Some of the most popular menu items include the Michigan Cobb, which is made with romaine lettuce, herb roasted chicken, tomato, onion, Michigan dried cherries, bacon, egg, and gorgonzola vinaigrette. Another favorite is the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili, which is also vegan and gluten-free. Jennifer states that the chili is even a hit with their children. Bliss & Vinegar also allows customers to create their own salad, bowl, or wrap. This can be very helpful to those that may have food allergies or intolerances. Catering options are also available, which is perfect for local businesses that want a healthy lunch option for the office.

bliss & vinegar

In addition to providing quick and healthy meals, Bliss & Vinegar is helping to create an environment of support and accountability. Last year they offered a “Bliss This!” Salad Challenge which offered helpful tips and recipes on how to create a different salad each day. Currently, they’re running a 30-day Healthy Challenge; the participants encourage each other to establish healthier habits that range from eating well to physical activity. Jennifer hopes to offer these groups more frequently and grow participation. Guests can also join their Newsletter service for more health-related tips.

bliss & vinegar

Bliss & Vinegar is community focused. They’ve partnered with local wellness sites, such as Pure Barre and Orange Theory Fitness. Every six weeks, customers are treated to a new local artist’s artwork through a partnership with Grand Valley Artists Association. The featured art displayed throughout the restaurants helps create a calming atmosphere.

“What we want to promote is that there are a lot of healthy options out there–we just have to help people switch it up and make it more exciting. Healthy food does not have to be boring food.” –Jennifer McNamara

bliss & vinegar

Bliss & Vinegar is ideal for anyone seeking a healthful, tasty meal. It’s great for a sit-down lunch or an easy dinner to pick up on the way home. The wide range of available produce, protein, and dressings, accommodates any type of diet. They also go beyond food by creating relationships with local fitness groups and by helping guests create healthier habits with wellness groups and challenges.

Bliss & Vinegar is located at 888 Forest Hill Ave SE Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Visit their website to learn more and to check out all of their menu items!

Jenn Fillenworth is a local blogger and creator of Jenny with the Good Eats. She is a Registered Dietitian, Culinary Student, and Master’s Candidate. Jenn has made appearances on WZZM 13 and Fox 17, promoting healthy eating and wellness to Greater Grand Rapids. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore new foods. For more recipes & healthy inspiration, follow her on Instagram: jennywiththegoodeats

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The Best Healthy Brunch Spots in Grand Rapids

Brunch is a fabulous way to catch up with friends, get a little buzzed, and soak up the previous night’s bad decisions. But in truth, brunching can lead to unnecessary calories & hinder that ab definition.  So if you’re health-conscious, you’ll want to know where to find healthy brunch options when it comes to dining out for this desirable duo meal. That way, you can maintain your weekday goals and not feel like a sloth when Monday rolls around. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of farm-to-table restaurants and fresh options in Grand Rapids. So, here’s a list of the top healthy brunch spots, all with locally sourced food, that will leave you feeling satisfied and with a foodie post to brag about.

Marie Catribs

healthy brunch

Image via @brewtsbloodymary | Instagram

Located in East Town, Marie Catribs offers some of the best vegan and vegetarian options in town. With a retro, hipster vibe, this neighborhood cafe and bakery offers flavorful sandwiches & hearty stews made from scratch. Their breakfast options include guilt-free choices like gluten-free sweet potato pancakes and the vegan breakfast burrito (and also the “hitchhiker” to satisfy your carnivorous friends’ cravings).  This place is always packed, so prepare to wait for a table during peak times. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday from 7 am to 11 am, and brunch on Saturday from 7 am to 12 pm.

Cherie Inn

healthy brunch

Image via @selectivepotential | Instagram

Cherie Inn is a charming, Parisian inspired eatery with a small-town vibe. The historic decor and intimate setting make this place a gem.  Their addicting hazelnut coffee is always hot and the servers make a point to keep your cup full.  Added bonus: it’s great for health nuts.  They have a separate gluten-free, vegan menu with a myriad of appetizing options. Try the sweet potato hash, granola-blueberry cakes, or egg white scramble.  Nestled in the heart of East Town, you’re in a prime spot to walk off those calories and check out a few local shops after brunch.

Little Lucy’s Cafe

little Lucys cafe

Image via @lucyscafegr | Instagram

Little Lucy’s is a fabulous addition to the budding Creston neighborhood. With a fun, hipster, and energetic atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with this adorable spot. Veg Crepe, Veggie chorizo, roasted beets, and breakfast bruschetta are just a few of their healthier menu options. Want to splurge a bit more? Try their mind-bomb vegan mac & cheese. Brunch your face off, folks!

Noco Provisions

health brunch

Image via brunchandbrows.com

With a modern, upscale environment, Noco is quickly becoming thee trendy restaurant in Forest Hills. You can expect both high quality and culinary talent to show up on your plate. Whether you’re vegetarian or carnivore, the menu is original and refreshing. Try a granola bowl, avocado mash toast, the bird feed salad, or seasonal veggie hash–we’re hungry just thinking about it. And for those craving meat, we hear their burger is to die for.

Terra

terra

Image via brunchandbrows.com

Terra is a stunning, spacious restaurant with beautiful decor. The soft, natural lighting, clean design, and wood accents are the perfect mix of modern and industrial. And their food is pretty epic. With all menu items sourced from local farms, you can expect a variety of tasty, healthy brunch options. Our personal favorites include the bubble and squeak, kale eggs benedict, and veggie omelet. If your crew is on the hungry side, they’ll be perfectly satisfied with the mushroom pizza.

Grove

grove Grand Rapids

Image via @grhealthyliving | Instagram

If you want a complete foodie and culinary experience, then you must check out Grove. This is the farm-to-table restaurant of your dreams. On top of the impeccable service, the food is seriously unreal. Grove also offers a separate vegan and vegetarian menu and with an incredible selection. Think chili deviled eggs, buffalo brassicas, and vegetable tacos–you won’t know where to begin. Added bonus: your plate will look like a work of art. Grove is on the pricier end, but certainly worth it.

Anna’s House

anna's house

Image via experiencer.com

Welcome to Anna’s House, where 50’s diner meets millennium. The bright & cheerful decor, attention to detail, cleanliness, and fantastic food all make this place worth your while. Over the past few years, this place has grown in popularity, so expect a wait if you go during peak hours. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, or carnivore, there’s a healthy brunch option for you to enjoy. Try the tempeh power bowl, quinoa crusted sausage quiche, or sweet potato and brussel sprouts hash. Take your coffee with almond milk head out for your Sunday ‘to-do’ without feeling that post-brunch guilt.

Nonna’s Trattoria & Pantry

nonna's pantry

Image via @thegrgirl | Instagram

This cozy Italian spot has an inviting, charming, and European-esque interior. All of their dishes are light and flavorful, and if you’re a coffee aficionado, you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy a French style omelette with fresh mushrooms and goat cheese, or avocado toast with Ezekiel bread. You also can’t wrong with other healthy options like their granola bowl or oatmeal. Overall Nonna’s offers a small-town atmosphere, yummy food, and friendly service.

 

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Restaurant Spotlight: Terra

The restaurant industry has shifted gears to provide more sustainable and healthier options to consumers. Additionally, many nationally known restaurant chains have announced closings over the past year. This trend indicates consumers desire healthy and locally produced food. At the forefront of this movement is Terra Restaurant GR. Located in Eastown, right off of Lake Drive, Terra GR has been focusing on local products and healthy eats since 2012. With a menu based on plant based foods and from scratch cooking, Terra has truly excelled in the farm-to-table movement.terra restaurant The farm-to-table movement creates a relationship between the supplier and consumer. The idea is to know that the food you are eating comes from a local and reputable source. By using a farm-to-table method, the carbon footprint is reduced and the food product becomes more sustainable and nutritious. This is because once fresh produce is harvested, it immediately begins to lose nutrients. Therefore, if a product is traveling across the country to your grocery store, many of the nutrients have been lost along the journey. Not to mention all the fuel it took to transport that product to your local grocery store or restaurant! By creating an ecosystem of local businesses, our food is more environmentally friendly, nutritious, and supports our own economy. terra restaurant General Manager, Christopher McDonald, gives the inside scoop on why Terra has become a must dine destination in Grand Rapids.

Terra GR has focused much of their menu on healthy ingredients, how did this philosophy come about?  

The philosophy really extends from eating clean food and knowing where and how food is sourced. For example, all of our proteins are ethically raised, antibiotic free, free-range, grass-fed. Those are the minimum requirements we have before looking any further into a product. terra restaurant Who are some of the local farmers that Terra sources from?  

We work with several local farms – over 40. Mainly for produce, we use Visser Farms, Ham Family Farms & Vertical Paradise for greens. For beef we use Creswick, pork comes from Jakes Country Meats and Sanders. Trout is sourced from La Sable at Harrietta Hills Trout Farm where the trout are not in a tight farm but are in a free-swimming environment in the La Sable River. Dancing Goat Creamery, Little Rooster, Grazing Fields free-range egg co-op, Zingermans, and much more! We also partner with West Michigan Farmlink which is a distributor for many local farms in the area such as Heidi’s Fruit Stand and Vertical Paradise when farms may not be large enough to supply the market solely or distribute themselves. 

Why is it important to Terra to keep things local and sustainable? 

It’s important for several reasons – the local economy, knowing exactly where the sourcing of food comes from, supporting the fantastic farms that are right in our own backyard are just a couple. We also want to support our local community where we do quarterly volunteer groups to Kids Food Basket and Feeding America as well as supporting local events and fundraisers. 

One of the things on Terra’s menu that always catches our eye is the beet margarita. Who helped create this cocktail and what is in it? 

Like many of our menu items, this was a collaborative effort from when we first opened. We use all hand-pressed juice, housemade simple syrup, tequila – of course, and beet juice that is a byproduct from when we roast beets for our Roasted Beet Salad, for example. terra restaurant We all have family members or friends that are a strict meat and potatoes people. Why should he come dine at Terra? 

We have a very diverse menu including sandwiches, pasta, and of course beef. Currently we are featuring on our dinner menu a Beer-Braised Short Rib that is designed specifically for that meat & potato guest. Our pizzas come out of a 600-degree wood-fired oven that also is a diverse crowd pleaser. terra restaurant Terra GR has been taking over the social media scene by giving their customers an inside look at new special features, community events they are involved with, and of course, #grassfed burger Tuesday. #Grassfed burgers have been taking over their Facebook account every Tuesday as a new grass-fed burger is featured. With a blend of chuck and brisket from Creswick Farms, this burger packs a flavor punch for typically only $8.50 and can be paired with a Michigan draft beer for an additional $3.50.

terra restaurant There are many reasons to visit Terra GR, from the sustainable culture to the wide array of choices available on the menu. Everyone will be able to find something that satisfies them and they’ll be supporting Grand Rapids businesses while dining. Visit http://www.terragr.com for more information on menus, hours, and contact information.

Jenn Fillenworth is a local blogger and creator of Jenny with the Good Eats. She is a Registered Dietitian, Culinary Student, and Master’s Candidate. Jenn has made appearances on WZZM 13 and Fox 17, promoting healthy eating and wellness to Greater Grand Rapids. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore new foods. For more recipes & healthy inspiration, follow her on Instagram: jennywiththegoodeats