In my worship of food, the idea of nixing certain edibles freaks me out. Which is why vegetarianism and veganism seems like, to me, a step up from waterboarding. I get the ethical points and health benefits. I’ve just never been convinced that I could walk away from a vegan meal feeling half as happy as I would after wolfing down a cheeseburger and fries.
So you can imagine, I was a little wary when I opened the door to Fairfield eatery, Catch a Healthy Habit. This place is almost vegan—the only animal product they use is honey in a few of their desserts. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and, I wondered, flavor-free? I hoped I wouldn’t walk out of there still starving.
With a few tables, the bright place has a small café-like feel. Much of the space is dominated by the counter and food prep area. There are some shelves for books and healthy foods, but I made a beeline for the menu.
I’m always wary of food in quotation marks, and there they were. “Meatballs.” Cashew “cheese.” Almond “milk.” Just be honest with me, food. But hey, I was being open-minded. I dove right in—and I’m glad I did. Here are my five favorite items on the menu.
The nori wrap is delicious combo of sunflower sprouts, cashew cheese, fig marmalade, beet, and spinach. The wrap itself is made of nori—the same kind of seaweed that you’ll find in sushi. The fig marmalade is a touch sweet, but nicely tempered by the avocado. Don’t be afraid of a little mess. If you can get to the end of the wrap without it exploding in your hands—bravo—this isn’t a feat I have mastered.
This juice is a mixture of cucumber, green apple, lime and mint. My favorite mojitos involve rum and sugar, but this one comes in at a close second. The green apple adds a refreshing tartness.
Don’t let the idea of eating kelp scare you away. This dish uses kelp and shredded zuchinni to get the same texture as rice noodles (without the gut-bomb feeling later). The pad Thai sauce is light, with lime suggesting a tangy fish sauce. The cashews provide an almost meaty taste, balanced by the brightness of the cilantro.
“Coffee” and “Cream”
This is a tasty alternative to a calorie loaded latte. This drink is a mixture of almond milk, palm sugar, and “teecino”—an herbal coffee-like concoction that is caffeine-free. It doesn’t taste just like coffee, but with hints of chicory and carob, it comes pretty close. On a hot day, this drink is great over ice.
This is one dessert that won’t sit in your stomach like a brick after you eat it. A swirl of dates and a caramel-like cashew layer are made sweetly spicy with real cinnamon. All the sweetness, minus the guilt.
While I won’t adopt an all-veggie diet any time soon, delicious bites like these make me think that I can at least I’ll flirt with the idea once in a while.
39 Unquowa Road, Fairfield