Healthy Gourmet To-Go
As the mercury rises and the smell of summer fills the air, we are all drawn outside to enjoy our favorite outdoor pastimes. The Cape and Islands come alive in the summer and there is no shortage of ways to enjoy our exquisite landscape. Whether your tastes lean towards the active; kayaking in the miles of pristine marshland that comprise our shores or hiking any of the hundreds of nature trails throughout the Cape, or you prefer watching Cape Cod League baseball games or enjoying any of the wonderful outdoor concerts, – held weekly in several towns all over Cape Cod – this spectacular sandbar has it all. Of course, in order to sustain our exuberant energy during these outdoor endeavors, we are going to require a bit of delicious sustenance. Options abound for a whole host of healthy to-go restaurants and shops that cater to those who prefer to dine al fresco when weather permits.
Picnic food has come a long way in recent years and there are many delicious options available to replace the old fat-filled stand-bys of cold fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw and salt-filled deli meat sandwiches. Many Cape and Island to-go shops cater to today’s diners’ desire for healthy fresh foods that travel well and taste great at room temperature. Some of these to-go joints even cater to the ever-growing numbers of people who seek to get more out of the foods they eat, by buying and eating foods designed to help us achieve optimal health.
Earthly Delights in Osterville is just one of those places. The food served here is fresh, mostly organic and even offers a wide variety of freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices available with a myriad of herbal boosters to enhance your health. They even offer the elixir touted by many nutrition fanatics as a miracle food, Wheatgrass juice. Wheatgrass juice is a powerful source of anti-oxidants and rich in minerals and is known to help detoxify the system as well as help the body’s digestive system absorb nutrients more effectively. The restaurant serves up wholesome breakfast wraps and freshly made muffins using all natural and organic ingredients. There are also a variety of hot and cold entrees available and these change daily but common offerings are vegetarian lasagna, bean burritos, and whole wheat pizzas.
You can search the Cape and you will not find a more diverse and health oriented sandwich menu anywhere. First off, all sandwiches come with the standard fixins’ of tomato, lettuce, cucumber and shredded carrots. With these veggies on your sandwich you are already off to a great start at eating your nine daily fruit and vegetable servings. Some of the unique offerings are; a Tempeh Reuben (this take off of the N.Y. deli original features golden baked tempeh strips topped with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and melted swiss on seven grain bread), another is the Organic Sunshine burger (made with brown rice, sunflower seeds and veggies served on a sprouted whole wheat bun with all the fixins’). The menu also features a variety of sandwiches made with nitrate free turkey, dolphin safe tuna and all natural chicken salad. The enormous menu is sure to please even the most finicky palates. For those of you with kids there is even an all natural peanut butter sandwich with fruit jam or banana, honey and raisins. The prices are very reasonable with most sandwiches ranging from $4.99-$6.99, making Earthly Delights an ideal spot if you find yourself in Osterville and looking for a great meal on the go.
The Box Lunch, which is considered a true Cape Cod franchise, first opened its doors at the original location in Wellfleet in 1977. Since then it has been offering Cape Codders and tourists alike fresh, healthy and even some vegetarian fare in a quick, convenient and affordable way. The home of the rollwich, the Box Lunch’s mission statement is simple, “We represent to the traditional fast food market what the Boston Tea Party was to the Colonists – A REVOLUTION.” That pretty much sums up their dedication to using fresh high quality ingredients and their emphasis on customer service will having you coming back again and again.
In addition to the lengthy menu of wrap sandwiches – and you can always create your own combinations – they have added freshly prepared salads-to-go to their menus. Try a classic Caesar, or the veggie-loaded Greek salad, the portions are huge and a bargain at the price of $4.99. No matter where you find yourself on the Cape with locations in Provincetown, Wellfleet, Eastham, South Dennis, Hyannis and Falmouth, there is sure to be a Box Lunch near you. Even better, the easily carried and compact rollwiches are ideal to throw in your backpack if you are heading off on the Rail Trail for a leisurely bike along this historic path, or to toss in your beach bag on your way to the ocean.
There are several markets which cater to the to-go crowd offering everything you could possibly need for a picture perfect Cape Cod picnic. If you are in the lower/mid cape area, Ring Bros. Marketplace in South Dennis brings together a variety of local cape food producers and vendors like Good JuJu Bakery (for gluten free products), Chatham Fish and Lobster, Dark Horse Beef and Deli, Spinner’s Pizza and Burritos, Nata Noodles, and of course Ring Brothers which specializes in produce and other high quality grocery items. Harney’s Liquors is also part of the marketplace and offers top shelf liquors as well as that perfect bottle of wine to enhance your al fresco dining experience, perhaps out on the flats of Mayflower or Corporation beaches.
Just past the Cape’s “elbow” in Eastham, you can find The Loft: Local and Organic Foods To-Go. This well-kept secret is run by healthy foods caterer and chef, Judy Welch. The Loft has delicious soups, salads, sandwiches, deserts, gluten-free desserts and organic lunches made fresh daily.
If you are heading to Herring Cove or Race Point Light on the tip of the Outer Cape to be dazzled by a glorious sunset bathed in that quintessential Cape Cod pink glow do not forget to stop at Angel Foods market in the East End of Provincetown. Located at 467 Commercial Street, in the heart of the gallery district, Angel Foods has all you could possibly need for a truly spectacular picnic feast. If you are feeling a bit indulgent try some of their beautifully crafted artisanal cheese, including a Berkshire Blue from the western part of the state and even a cheese from a local artisan in Mattapoisett. To go along with these rich and earthy cheeses pick up a loaf of Iggy’s Bread of the World delivered daily. Anyone who loves bread knows how fantastic a fresh loaf of Iggy’s bread can be. To round out your decadent sunset soiree you need go no further than across the store to treat yourself to a wonderful bottle of champagne or wine, whatever suits your tastes.
Angel Foods might carry some of the area’s most delicious freshly baked pies and cookies but they also offer a whole host of healthy salads and prepared foods to go. Two of the more popular dishes are the Grilled Vegetables which is an assortment of red and green peppers, zucchini, summer squash and eggplant and the Beans & Greens, a delightful and heart healthy combination of sweet baby spinach and red kidney beans seasoned with slow roasted garlic. The grocery section carries an assortment of organic produce to go along with your healthy to-go fare.
Healthy food and produce stores like Bradford Natural Market in Provincetown, Naked Earth (on 6A) in Brewster and Chatham and Dennisport Natural Foods, make a great one-stop-shop for packing your own brown bag to-go. A smorgasbord of healthy choices lets you assemble your own “energy pack” to enjoy throughout the day.
With all of these wonderful markets and to-go restaurants, you might manage to make it through the summer without ever having to turn on the stove! Thanks to current trends which are demanding more organic, sustainably-produced and healthier food products, more and more food establishments are offering these types of items at increasingly affordable prices. The face of the classic picnic will be forever changed as we all benefit from the healthy, local choices available to us.
Be sure to visit the various Farmer’s Markets on the Cape and Islands’ this summer where a whole host of vendors are offering locally grown and produced food stuffs (see schedule at right). The Optimal Kitchen will be debuting at the Orleans’ Farmers Market this summer and offering customers a variety of healthy snacks and treats (to-go) using wholesome fresh ingredients, all of which are specifically designed to help you achieve an optimal state of wellness and being. ’Til next time. - cha
Written by Heather Bailey, Summer 2008
Heather Bailey, CNC, has been a chef, food writer and educator on Cape Cod for the past 8 years. She has recently received her certification as a Nutritional Consultant and has opened The Optimal Kitchen, offering nutritional consults, private and group cooking instruction, wellness coaching and personal chef services. Heather can be reached at 774-216-9553.