Dine Local, Feel Good: Healthy and Happy in the Valley
By Melissa Bradley
State College restaurants are taking advantage of the abundant harvest in their own backyard. The result? High quality food with major health benefits. Now is the time to renew those New Year’s resolutions and commit to lifestyle improvements. Fortunately, no sacrifices will be required in the taste department.
In downtown State College, Sower’s Harvest Café promises “Naturally Healthy Cuisine Served with a Hearty Welcome!” The café fulfills that mission with a menu that provides a key indicating which options are organic and local, gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free. They blend vegan smoothies (some are organic), which have no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, and they offer the option of adding protein powder. It’s the perfect location to wind down post-workout. Omelets made with organic, cage-free brown eggs, like the veggie pesto omelet, are perfect for any meal. For a healthy snack, try an organic yogurt parfait. You can also order fruit and veggie side options to balance out your meal.
Café Lemont can satisfy more than a caffeine craving. The café offers a complete menu of breakfast and lunch items, including vegetarian chili, quiche, and hummus made fresh on site and served daily. For added energy, they bake protein bars from scratch. Their organic eggs come from Green Heron Farm & Co., and they use milk from Meyer Dairy. Consider stopping here the next time you’re grabbing a cup of coffee—you might be less likely to cave in to pastry case temptations when presented with satisfying nutritious options.
Best known for its New York-style comfort food and pub cuisine, The Deli caters to dietary preferences with an array of designated selections, like the low-carb macadamia nut crusted salmon served with steamed broccoli or the bunless burger plate with a choice of cheese and baby field greens. The chicken or steak fajita pita is another flavorful, health-conscious entrée. Add avocado to increase your meal’s nutritional value. The Deli’s menu features an extensive list of entrée-sized salads, including a seared tuna salad, all made with local produce.
The Nittany Lion Inn is a favorite on-campus option where local food shines. For a vegetarian meal that satisfies, try the portabella, quinoa and oats dish, featuring savory steel cut oats, red quinoa, smoked portabella mushrooms and sautéed kale. The chickpea and kale stew, thickened with cashews and filled with fresh vegetables and chickpeas, is another hearty, comforting vegetarian dish rich in nutrients. For pescatarians, fresh seafood is always featured; on select Fridays, the dining room offers a complete seafood buffet. All of this is tucked into the quiet comfort of Penn State’s beautifully appointed iconic inn.
Even with State College restaurants offering balanced, nutritious options to fend off over-indulgence, some may prefer to dine in. If that’s the case, fresh ingredients are at your disposal all year round.
During the winter months, the downtown State College farmers’ market is held on Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Allen Street municipal building. The Boalsburg farmers’ marketis open every Tuesday from 2 pm to 6 pm. The vendors set up inside St. John’s United Church of Christ. Stock up on local produce, sustainable meats and seafood and fresh dairy products like kefir.
Nature’s Pantry is a locally owned supermarket offering allergy-free products, sports supplements, grass-fed beef, various legumes and grains and so much more. Use their Wellness Library to uncover reputable health information, or consult with a staff member—they are poised to help you take back your health with knowledge and variety.
With so much to love about dining out or eating at home in healthy Happy Valley, bland and boring need not apply.