Clean Eating: The Benefits Behind the Trendiness
by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
The notion of “clean eating” has become something of a buzzword in recent years. In fact, this term often seems indicative of wellness gurus in designer yoga apparel exiting their boutique fitness studios with a liquefied “superfood” concoction in hand. Of course, that image is hyperbolic, and I have also been known to drink smoothies with eyebrow-raising amounts of kale in them to recharge after exercise.
But the point remains that clean eating is not a trend for just the socially elite who can afford the price of $2.50 on a single avocado. Clean eating is a lifestyle centered on the idea that whole nutrition, as the earth intended, ensures the optimal functioning of our bodies and the maximum quality of our lives. The focus is on health not status, and as this approach to food gains more traction, there is an increased demand to make it accessible for everyone.
That mission is exactly what compels the team at Café Evergreen, a popular institution in Nokomis owned by Ted and Annette Weinberger. With an emphasis on fresh, natural ingredients from local and organic sources, Café Evergreen has brought clean eating to the Suncoast community in a manner that feels pure, honest and unpretentious.
“Our philosophy on clean eating is simple—minimally processed foods with a concentration on produce, unrefined grains such as quinoa or brown rice, grass-fed animals and organic whenever possible. Clean eating is not the opposite of ‘unhygienic’—clean eating is the ability to understand the ingredients in food and the reason behind them,” Ted explains.
“I believe the public is more educated now than five years ago, but there are still many sick people on various medications. They are medicating their bodies without addressing the real problem—a diet high in processed foods that will contribute to inflammation, disease and earlier death. Here at Café Evergreen, we make all our soups, salad dressings and sauces to avoid unhealthy ingredients or preservatives that offer no value to the food.
“We realize that just because the FDA allows a certain ingredient, this does not mean it is beneficial. One example is high fructose corn syrup which is often used as a cheap filler. This additive has been linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Sourcing our food organically also protects it from the exposure to GMOs, and preparing our menu items from scratch avoids the consumption of trans fat.
“This ingredient is created through a process of hydrogenating oils, and is found in deep fried cuisine to increase its shelf–life. That is one reason we do not have a fryer in the café—food should be eaten in a short period of time at the peak of freshness, not after being on a supermarket shelf loaded with unhealthy preservatives,” he continues.
So where does that scrupulous attention to quality originate from? For the owners of Café Evergreen, this passion and precision are rooted in centuries of evidence which support clean eating as a time-honored practice—not some transient fad.
Ted elaborates, “Hippocrates had a famous quote, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ which we have translated to ‘food is medicine.’ Even before Hippocrates, the Vedas promoted Ayurvedic medicine or healing based on nutrition. The Chinese also had a guide called the Yinshan Zhengyao that instructed people on how to maintain their health and evade sickness through eating habits. Since the beginning of time, those who prepared the food were also charged with the well-being of their tribe.
“The word ‘restaurant’ is derived from the French verb ‘restaurer’ which means to restore. At Café Evergreen, we continue this restorative tradition with our bone broth which contains amino acids like arginine, glutamine and cysteine that boost immunity, fight inflammation, strengthen the bones and teeth, and promote weight loss.
“In addition, we use an abundance of beets which can lower blood pressure, enhance oxygen circulation and regulate digestion with their high fiber content. The nitrate properties in beets can increase blood-flow to the brain as well, supporting cognitive function and reducing the risk of dementia onset.
“There is also an entire section of our beverage menu dedicated to probiotic drinks—especially the house-made kefir water. ‘Kefir’ comes from a Turkish word meaning ‘to feel good.’ Kefir grains have about 30 strains of bacteria and yeasts, making this beverage a rich and diverse source of probiotics.
“We are known for going out of our way to obtain the freshest, healthiest products. Some examples of this are Java Planet from Tampa, our organic coffee roaster, and Fort McCoy Ranch near Ocala, our grass-fed beef supplier. Even our bottled water is sourced from clouds above the Florida Everglades. This eco-friendly process utilizes the sun’s evaporation power to ensure the water does not make contact with impurities on the ground.”
And if their open-minded attitudes and enthusiastic stomachs are any indication, the community is embracing Café Evergreen’s dedication to wellness. “Sarasota has become increasingly receptive toward clean eating as this area grows and attracts the more cosmopolitan demographic,” Ted points out.
“We are fortunate to have many well-traveled guests who appreciate exotic food and flavors. We are also located near healthcare workers who understand the importance of clean eating because they witness the results of a poor nutrition among their patients. Café Evergreen is always in a state of growth. We strive to be leaders in promoting a dining experience that is wholesome, delicious and unique.” Not to mention—clean, of course.
Café Evergreen is located at 801 South Tamiami Trail, Nokomis. The juice and smoothie bar is open Sunday–Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast is served Saturday–Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch and dinner are served Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, call 941-412-4334 or visit CafeEvergreen.net.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer based in Southwest Florida. Her personal blog HealthBeAHippie.Wordpress.com features practical tips for embracing an active, nutritious and empowered lifestyle.