It's almost time for the 52nd annual Festival of the Arts. From July 12-15, downtown State College will transform back into the festival that features some of our favorite...
Healthy Valley: Where Good Meets Good for You
Whether you’re still trying to drop a few extra pounds for swimsuit season, or you just want to feel your best for the busy, warmer months, Happy Valley provides more than a few tasty options that are both good and good for you. While health-focused options are popping up downtown, farmers markets abound and even long-standing restaurants are adding more vegetarian and vegan options to their menus.
This great change is partially thanks to the large agricultural community adjacent to Happy Valley. Drive even just a few miles away from Penn State and you’ll find yourself surrounded by lush farmland and local growers, many of whom are happy to share their bounty with curious locals and out-of- towners alike.
So, where should you be headed for the freshest, healthiest and best tasting menus in town?
One of the newest options is Café Verve. This coffee shop and café boasts a vegan and vegetarian menu with an all-day breakfast and plenty of Instagram-worthy smoothie bowls. Unlike some other healthy options, Café Verve is completely affordable and totally kid-friendly, with a few options even the pickiest eaters will love (like the fresh mac n’ cheese, made daily). They even have a blue and white Penn State smoothie bowl made from frozen bananas, soy milk, blueberries, granola, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, flax seeds, hemp hearts and blue agave!
Another cute and healthy downtown café to try is hidden inside Webster’s Bookstore. This small eatery boasts many organic and local options, and you’ll find mouth-watering lunches like the fig pate, sweet potato beet salad and vegan sandwiches.
The Nittany Lion Inn Dining Room offers upscale healthful menu items, so you don’t have to sacrifice your waistline for a fun date night or family celebration. Vegetarian options are filling and flavorful, while fresh seafood is nearly always on the menu. On select Fridays, you’ll find a full seafood buffet.
For a quick lunch, Fiddlehead Café serves up some highly acclaimed salads, and they even deliver straight to your door. Each salad is made-to-order and contains an array of carefully curated ingredients, topped with a house-made dressing. The soups are also made from scratch, and you can choose to enjoy your salad as a wrap for on-the-go eating.
Another new face on the downtown scene is that of Tazzah Fresh. This salad and juice bar combo is super-affordable, with salads starting at just $7. With clean-eating options, lots of your favorite healthy ingredients and even a little dash of Middle Eastern flavor, it’s a welcome addition to State College.
For both dining out and any springtime events you may be planning, Harrison’s Wine Grill can meet any heart-healthy, vegetarian, dairy-free or gluten-free needs. Beyond their body-conscious menus, however, Harrison’s is also looking out for the health of the environment. All catering orders use recyclable and compostable materials, and a partnership with the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority results in nearly 1,000 pounds of composted organic waste per month.
Rather eat in? The area offers plenty of vendors on that front as well, so you can gather the ingredients you love, and enjoy them at your leisure. As noted, many of the Centre County producers spread the wealth, offering their fresh veggies, fruits and other items at farmers markets, on location and as part of local CSAs.
Pick from a large quantity of local items at the Harvest Shop at Tait Farm Foods, where they offer not only their own produce, but also items from select neighboring farms. The greenhouse is great for purchasing your own little starter plants, and on-site events and classes give you a great excuse to do anything from learning to create your own flatbread, to attending a nut butter tasting.
Of course, Centre County has a huge variety of farmers markets, where you can explore dozens of vendors all in one place. Choose from any of these easily accessible farmers markets:
- Bellefonte Farmers Market
- Boalsburg Farmers Market
- Downtown State College Farmers Market
- Lemont Farmers Market
- Lock Haven Farmers Market
- Millheim Farmers Market
- North Atherton Farmers Market
If your schedule won’t allow you to make it out to one of the many farms or farmers markets in the area, the Friends & Farmers Online Market has you covered. This cooperative brings together many of the best producers in our area to make the freshest local items available right online! It’s everything you love about a farmers market from the comfort of your own home. Visit their site to buy your items, then either choose from one of their pickup locations or have your order delivered right to you.
In Happy Valley, healthy eating has never been so easy or tasted so good!
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