C alories in, calories out, they say.
So in a town like Boulder, where it seems like everyone's a triathlete and yoga studios are popping up on every corner, healthy restaurants to replenish all that burned-off energy are in demand.
Most every eatery now has a handful of healthy items, but here are a few that specialize in fueling the body right.
Native Foods Cafe
1675 29th St. #1272
11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
It used to be that going vegan meant learning to cook for yourself and resigning to eat mostly in the company of other meat/dairy/egg avoiders. Any human with taste buds, though, should be happy to join you at the all-vegan Native Foods, where bold flavors can please any palate.
One of the most popular meals, which also is recommended for first timers, is the Chicken Run Ranch Burger ($9.95). It's not chicken. The ranch isn't dairy-based. Here's the deal: Topped with ranch dressing, lettuce, onions and carrots, the "burger" patty is the restaurant's homemade Native Chicken, which is made from soy, wheat and pea protein. They also feature Native Bacon (thinly sliced, baked tofu in a secret smokehouse sauce) on entrees like the $9.95 bacon cheeseburger.
Does it taste like bacon? Not really, but it tastes damn good and that's more important.
Native Food's menu spans the globe, with dishes inspired by Morocco, China, India and Greece, but its Mexican offerings are particularly nice. Try the Ensalada Azteca ($9.95) with quinoa, lettuce, avocado, jicama, cucumber, currants and pumpkin seeds in a mango-lime vinaigrette.
4457 Broadway St.
7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays
Another vegan venue, but instead of specializing in creating tasty faux meats, Julia's Kitchen focuses on naturally vegan ingredients like whole grains, beans, fresh veggies and spices renown for their therapeutic properties as well as their flavor. For instance, Ayurvedic medicine celebrates Kitchari ($6 small/$10.25 large) -- a porridge made with split mung beans and brown rice spiced with turmeric, ginger and lemon -- for the dish's grounding and healing properties.
As frosting on the cake (vegan frosting!), Julia's menu is also 100-percent gluten free, including their fresh baked goods and pastries. The sprouted-buckwheat pancakes ($7 small/$10.50 large) are particularly popular with gluten avoiders.
Dedicated to serve even the most demanding of the Boulder community, Julia's even makes space for raw vegans. The raw pizza ($6.75 half/$12.50) has a crust of dehydrated sprouted buckwheat topped with pesto and almond cheese. Plus, there's a raw-vegan banana ice cream for $4.50.
2805 Pearl St.
6 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays
Turley's has all the benefits of a chain restaurant -- a please-everyone menu, friendly well-trained staff and a large dining room -- with none of the guilt, since the restaurant is locally owned and operated, and sources organic and local ingredients whenever possible.
Though the eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, they're known for breakfast and serve it all day. With their measured definition of healthy, you'll still easily find traditional eggs and bacon, but that's balanced out with turkey sausage in the biscuits and gravy ($9.50), gluten-free pumpkin waffles ($9) and scrambled tofu with tomatoes, green onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and brown rice or quinoa ($12.50).
For dinner, try the buffalo meatloaf ($16.50) or the red quinoa salad with kale, black and pinto beans, roasted red peppers and roasted pineapple with ginger-lime dressing ($13 small/$16 large).
A Cup of Peace
3216 Arapahoe Ave. #B
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays
As the name suggests, A Cup of Peace specializes in teas, stocking more than 100 varieties from all over the world, many of them therapeutic. With some advice from the friendly staff, you can choose one that restores energy, soothes stress, improves mental function, balances digestion or, you know, just one that tastes great.
In addition to the tea, however, the café serves fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free Korean food. Using traditional recipes tweaked to "optimize wellness," they cover Korean classics like Bibimbap ($6.99) and the barbecue-style Dup Bop ($7.99). With tofu, chicken or beef, the latter is served in a steaming, fragrant pot alongside the eatery's homemade kimchi.
If you only have time for a quick pick-me-up, though, Cup of Peace has a multigrain energy shake ($4.50 for a large) with 20 organic nutrients as well as enough protein and fiber to keep you fueled for hours.
Garbanzo's Mediterranean Grill
1905 29th St.
10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest in the world. At Garbanzo's, they embrace that wellness by using fresh ingredients and listing calorie counts and other vital nutritional data clearly on the menu to take the guessing out of healthy eating.
It's a build-your-own, fast-casual set up, where the main options are pita, laffa (wraps) or platters. Prices range from $6.69-$7.99 based on your choice of filling, including falafel, Portobello mushrooms, steak or chicken, but the real flavor comes from the toppings. With different combinations of salads (hummus, babaganoush, cabbage, tabuleh) and sauces (tzatziki, tahini, Greek vinaigrette, hot red chili), you'd be hard pressed to have the same meal twice.
The daily soups, though, have the lowest calorie count at only 80-230 per cup ($3.99) or 120-350 ($4.89) per bowl depending on flavor -- and they try to have at least one vegan soup option every day.