Revel in the virtues of guilt-free dining out this January

By Angela Matano

Cava lets diners build their own nutrient-rich meals from an assortment of grains and greens

Whether you are one for New Year’s resolutions or have given up on the practice altogether, January is a natural time to take stock of your eating habits. One of the most difficult parts of maintaining a healthy diet comes into play when you want to go out for a meal. Luckily Westsiders, this part of town caters to those looking to nourish their bodies in every way possible, and there are quite a few restaurants with lighter choices on their menus — ones to suit just about everyone’s needs.

Meatless Meals @ Veggie Grill
Veggie Grill has got to be one of the first fast-casual concepts to blend vegan and vegetarian food with quick eats. The menu runs the gamut from Indian-inspired bowls to Mexican favorites, like tacos, to a “steakhouse burger” — all populated with tasty alternatives to meat, like soy-based chicken, tofu and tempeh. The Beyond Burger is plant-based as well, without GMOs, gluten or soy, yet maintains the texture and taste of beef. Veggie Grill also brandishes a plethora of salads, like the Vietnamese-inspired banh mi salad bursting with herbs, spices and heat. The focus on freshness and variety of flavors makes the food work on its own merits, rather than making you remember what’s missing.
2025 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | (310) 829-1155 |

Eat ‘Clean’ @ Kanpai Sushi
Japanese food, especially sushi, is a great way to eat out and stick to your healthy eating goals at the same time. Kanpai has a couple of locations, one on Sepulveda and one on Lincoln. Both are on the way to or from LAX, making them extremely convenient for a healthful meal pre-flight or post-arrival. There are 40-plus kinds of sake to choose from. Of course, if one of your resolutions is abstaining from alcohol the restaurant has a lot of other things to offer. Seasonal, fresh fish comes in from all over the world, and for those focused on eating “clean,” what could be more virtuous than thinly sliced sashimi? Augment your seafood with some miso soup, edamame or shishito peppers and revel in your superior willpower.
8325 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester | (310) 338-7223
8736 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Westchester | (310) 670-0533

Meaningful Mediterranean @ Luna Grill
The Mediterranean diet is often touted as one of the world’s healthiest. Luna Grill takes advantage of that fact with farm-fresh produce and many non-GMO items, like lamb, rice, salmon and grass-fed beef. The restaurant’s signature plates are really big enough for two and very reasonably priced. Try the Norwegian kosher salmon, flanked with basmati rice, soft pita bread, grilled tomatoes, salad and cucumber yogurt dip. Luna Grill’s concept of healthy eating speaks to those who want a real, satisfying, well-balanced meal without too many gimmicks distracting from the main ingredients.
3001 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica | (424) 231-5862
9901 Washington Blvd., Culver City | (424) 523-3242

Veggies Galore @ Cava
The variety of flavors — and the amount of flavor — that Cava manages to pack into one of their buildable meals is truly astounding. Depending on your preference, start with a grain, pita or greens, then layer spreads, proteins, dressings and toppings. I love my food juicy and spiked with a fair amount of acid, so Cava really suits me. The basic falafel — with eggplant and red pepper dip, harissa, pickled banana peppers, Kalamata olives, lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad, dressed with lemon-herb tahini — literally drips with tang. The number of vegetables involved in just one dish insures you get your recommended dosage for the entire day.
326 Lincoln Blvd., Venice | (310) 356-7272
1318 2nd St., Santa Monica | (310) 237-5591
9343 Culver Blvd., Culver City | (323)

‘DeStress’ @ Kreation Organic Kafe & Juicery
Kreation Kafe manages to be supremely healthy yet still serves something for just about everyone, no matter how picky. I recently ate there with the sometimes irascible Lily, a four-year-old with a lot of opinions on food. Luckily she was immediately mollified by the aptly named “DeStress” juice, a winning blend of strawberry, coconut and apple in the glorious shade of Pepto-Bismol. An order of bison meatballs and spaghetti didn’t hurt either, and there were smiles all around as the grown-ups partook in Mediterranean delights such as homemade hummus and spicy hav-a-cado soup. The newly opened Brentwood location even has a bar, featuring cold-pressed juice “kocktails.”
1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice | (310) 314-7778
1023 Montana Ave., Santa Monica | (310) 458-5880
151 S. Barrington Pl., Brentwood | (310)476-9300