Sponsored content from one of our advertising partners.
“Wow, I’ve got to say that this eating healthier has been surprisingly much more fun and tastier than I was expecting.” David told Sarah Johnson, a conscience foodie and part of the local Cole Team real estate. The New Year is well on its way, already a month and half has flown by. While there are many of us who may have already completely forgotten about some of our New Year’s Resolutions, well this article might just help restore those healthy eating intentions.
First off, the foods we all choose to eat has a huge impact on how we feel today, tomorrow, and what the future holds in maintaining good health. We are not qualified to get scientific here, but simply put, having a proper balance and improving your eating habits can be life enhancing. “For me, eating should be appetizing and gratifying,” David said when he started this month’s healthy venture. We wanted to find restaurants and dishes that made eating healthier, easier, and yes, enjoyable too!!
Favorite Healthy Cuisine: 2 Dog-A Local Eatery (Downtown Gainesville)
This restaurant, 2 Dog should sound quite familiar as they were our Local’s Favorite Brunch spot in last month’s breakfast and brunch article. Tina, her husband/chef Tim Roberts opened this puppy back in 1997. Ever since Tim continues to bring their menu to life with a creative scratch kitchen, skilled cooks, and caring staff to make you feel at home.
At David’s last visit, Tina recommended “The Meal”, sliced grilled portabellas, black beans over brown rice, topped with feta cheese and ranchero – which was so flavorful and satisfying. Another entrée that will bring you back time-again, is the Grilled Shrimp Bruschetta Salad. Perfectly cooked and seasoned shrimp on a bed of greens with a tomato and artichoke bruschetta, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and drizzled with made in-house balsamic vinaigrette. We look forward to our next trip back, so we can discover their Made To Order Salmon, the Spinach & Walnut Salad with bleu cheese crumbles, walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette.
2 Dog is open Wednesday–Saturday 11am-9pm, and catering on demand. If you tell them David said, “I need a slice of that amazing Peanut-butter pie!”, they might just bring you an extra one to take home! Thank you and congratulations Tim and Tina for sharing your passion for great food and making a difference in our great community!!
Homemade and Healthy: Sweet Magnolia's Cafe and Bakery (on the square in Gainesville)
On the corner of Gainesville square, you will find a quaint family-owned eatery called Sweet Magnolia’s Café and Bakery that offers an abundance of homemade goodies. We decided to venture in where Dharma and Paresh Patel, the owners provided us with great recommendations from their menu which lists a wide array of fresh house-made healthy dishes including gourmet sandwiches, salads, wraps, and delicious homemade soup.
The first was Rebecca’s Famous Chicken Salad, chosen by Esquire Magazine as one of the Best Sandwiches in America. Chunks of fresh-roasted, seasoned chicken with red grapes, toasted pecans, celery, organic greens, mounded on sourdough bread - did not disappoint!
Sarah is passionate about chicken salad sandwiches, and her favorite healthy option is the Grilled Chicken Summer Salad made with organic greens, pecans, strawberries and the oh so yummy homemade Honey Pecan Dressing. We also enjoyed
the Carter Wrap, grilled chicken breast, pesto sauce, spring greens, and the tasty grilled sweet Vidalia onions and along delicious homemade broccoli soup.
We found Sweet Magnolia’s Café and Bakery to be the perfect cozy spot to relax, enjoy the atmosphere and talk with friends while enjoying the many healthy choices on their homemade inspired menu. They are open Monday-Saturday, 10am-3pm and catering also available.
Favorite Healthy and Holy: Harvest Kitchen (South Enota Dr. / Sherwood Plaza)
Just on the north-side of downtown is a rather new restaurant, Harvest Kitchen. It certainly was a pleasant surprise when David made his first visit there. Very nice cozy feel, especially with the incredibly friendly and attentive staff. The menu is full of appealing tapas, small dishes that delivered a Spanish flair. The kitchen, and chef are quite accommodative, and knowledgeable for those guests with dietarian restrictions.
The Avocado Toast topped with smoked salmon was picture perfect and tasted amazing. We also found the Gambas Pil Pil dish, with pan seared shrimp, shaved garlic, paprika and olive oil to give us another reason to return. But the prized meal is the Spanish Paella, seasoned rice cooked with saffron, herbs, tomato, bell pepper, onion, peas, Spanish chorizo, grilled shrimp, mussels, and chicken. We have also heard that the Brussel Sprouts is another winner!
Julia Still and Myles Willman are business partners that met through a missionary program a few years ago and had this restaurant dream soon after. In August of 2020 this dream really took hold when they opened their doors. The pandemic did delay their plans to open, but with 3 chefs in the kitchen their Spanish cuisines could not wait any longer.
Julia with a passion for their guests to feel a “sense of peace and belonging”, well mission accomplished – congratulations on being our Favorite Healthy & Holy spot! They are open Thursday-Saturday, 11am-9pm, Sunday Brunch 10am-2pm and catering too.
Healthy and Historic: Luna's Restaurant (downtown Gainesville Square)
Located in the Hunt Tower, this historic hotel building that was built in 1937 by Brenau University an Art Deco building that the university sold in 1969. The restaurant décor offers an intimate atmosphere with warm murals, and classic dining experience. The menu is comprised of countless American cuisine options, along with gluten free and special dietary options.
The Baby Spinach appetizer was nice, with dried cranberries, candied pecans, crumble goat cheese and pomegranate vinaigrette. Followed by their delightful Lobster Meat entrée, that was seared, with wild rice, julienned vegetables, corn, mushrooms, spinach, and green onions. The Waldorf Salad, with grilled chicken, pecans, pineapple, celery, raisins, apples and yogurt dressing was another favorite.
Their hours are Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm, and Saturday 5pm-11pm.
Urban Healthy: Hopscotch Restaurant (Downtown Gainesville Square)
This upscale casual, Mediterranean inspired, urban bistro sits on the historic square in downtown Gainesville. The food selection may not be too extensive, but the quality and taste of the tapas menu is right on. Which goes hand-and-hand with one of their tag lines, “A love affair with food.”
With shrimp in mind, we enjoyed the Shrimp & Light Garlic, nicely grilled and seasoned, EVOO and garlic slices, their Shrimp Tacos and also the Blacken Shrimp and arugula. Other favorites of this seasonally changing menu have included Salmon and Vegetables and Charred Octopus with chipotle smear.
So, if you are looking for something quirky and fun, Hopscotch is the place. Open Tuesday-Friday, 5pm-11pm.