If you've read my last few posts, you'll have seen me mention how much I hate being relegated to salad for any meal whenever I'm dining out. I'm sure you're wondering "Why? What's so bad about salad?" I'm sure you're especially asking considering that I'm a vegetarian. "If you're not eating salad then what are you eating?" If you're thinking that, let me refer you to one of my previous posts: 10 Vegetarian Misconceptions Debunked.
Here are my problems with the plain ol' salad that you get at most places.
- Frisee - The lettuce or whatever greens that are chosen often contain those scraggly branches called frisee (also known as curly endive). Just pasting the photo of it below makes my skin crawl. Looking at this makes me feel like I'm being fed the crabgrass or weeds I just pulled up from my yard. Sorry - not interested
- Tomatoes - I have no problem with them by any means. But how often do you find that cherry tomatoes are just thrown into a salad? When eating a salad, I like to get a mouthful that is a mix of the ingredients. A cherry tomato practically constitutes a full mouthful. If I wanted to eat just a cherry tomato, I can go get them at the store. Chop the darn things up for me please!
- Caesar salad - Early on in my life, I often found myself ordering caesar salad on occasion....only to find that I never felt well after eating it. I always thought there was something in the main course that didn't agree with me. Little did I know that caesar dressing contains anchovies!! Not everyone knows that caesar dressing comes with anchovies. Please kindly label the menus to warn us doe-eyed innocents.
- Creamy dressings - I love a nice creamy dressing on my salad. Sadly, I often can't partake in that oh-so-yummy ranch or blue cheese dressing because creamy dressings generally contain eggs, which doesn't mesh well with my lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. "I'll take the Italian dressing please."
- A lack in variety of ingredients and offerings - Most places offer the same staples: greens, tomatoes, red onions, some dried up shredded carrots and cucumbers....sometimes mushrooms but you might be pushing your luck at that point. This basic salad will put me to sleep on the most sleepless of nights. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
Well...the day has finally come... I found a salad that I LOVE.
Where? I have been frequenting a restaurant called Freshii for awhile now. One day, my coworker brought back one of their meals and dropped the menu by my desk. After looking it over, I immediately went there for lunch that day and was floored at the wide variety of selections. It truly was a treasure trove of options for me to choose from. I could choose to from the menu to have a burrito, rice bowl, soup and, of course, salad. You can create a good salad at any salad bar like a Sweet Tomatoes but those restaurants are much larger and aren't found in central Chicago.
The idea behind Freshii came from Founder Matthew Corrin who desires to bring a place to eat that allows people to eat a healthy lunch quickly and conveniently. Additionally, Matthew has steadily built a franchise in several locations across the US that are green in that they use biodegradable or recyclable materials, use lower levels of energy, and even use eco-friendly cleaning products.
So Freshii is here to save my day. They have the typical starting greens (no nasty frisee), brown rice, noodles and even quinoa! My favorite ingredients on their menu: beets, bean sprouts, edamame, grilled tofu, blue cheese, goat cheese, blueberries, almonds and walnuts and a substantial list of dressings to ensure you never have the same salad twice. I haven't found many of these ingredients included in too many other salad bars. Besides these toppings, there are healthy toppings to satisfy the omnivorous palate as well. At the end of every Freshii meal, I find myself saying "I want more." For full info on this oasis in the world's desert of salad options, check out freshii.com.