The Northwest’s love affair with healthy foods continues to swell with a slate of fresh openings and trends.
Next to make waves is University District’s future dining destination, Freshii. Set to open in 2020, residents and neighbours in our corner of the city will be able to enjoy quick, nutritious meals that are easy on the waistline and equally delicious.
We caught up with Zora Boyal, co-owner of U/D’s upcoming culinary gem, to learn the skinny about its health-conscious, clean-eating culture. The Toronto-based company has been whipping up made-to-order, wholesome meals for customers across Canada since 2005.
“Essentially, we make healthy fast food that’s not only convenient and affordable, it’s also hearty, nourishing and a wondrous attack on the senses!” Zora exclaims.
Whatever you choose – quinoa or rice bowl, burrito, smoothie, wrap, salad, juice, soup – you can’t go wrong with its fresh, made-from-scratch eating options. We’re excited to get the scoop about what we can expect with Freshii’s future location, along with some alternatives to fall’s seasonal comfort foods, tips for the health-conscious and even a recipe recommendation that will be a fan favourite with family and friends this Thanksgiving season. Let’s take a look!
With plenty of choices to satisfy cravings, we’re hard-pressed to think of another fast-casual spot that’s led by nutrition in the same way Freshii is. Its wholesome-forward approach to food brings vegetables into the spotlight, showcasing seasonally-connected flavours in bold new ways.
Its goal? To help people live better by making healthy food convenient, flavourful and nutritious.
“You can order and go within minutes or even order online and pick up!,” says Zora. “Freshii is perfect for people on the go like busy families and students or even nurses and doctors working shifts at the nearby Alberta Children’s Hospital. Once open, people can also sit and mingle or enjoy a nice leisurely stroll with new friends at the North Pond Park with coffee and meal in hand.”
From vegetarian and vegan to gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free options, there’s something for everyone.
“Customers can build their own meal making Freshii a great option for people who wish to enjoy fast food while maintaining the delicate balance of their personal health,” he notes.
Its Tortilla Soup, Tex Mex Burrito, Banana Crunch Smoothie and Pangoa Bowl only skims the surface of Freshii’s light and tasty offerings.
Beyond its vast array of crave-worthy menu options, customers can also take comfort in knowing ingredients come from local purveyors and Freshii is just as much focused on the environment as it is on health.
Everything from packaging and cutlery to its store designs use eco-friendly materials!
“We’re bringing a fresh and innovative dining experience to University District’s diverse clientele,” adds Zora. “Our brand and vibe are a natural fit with U/D’s focus on sustainability and vision for vitality. We can’t think of a better partner and are excited to connect residents and neighbours with the Freshii experience.”
Is there anything more fall than pumpkin? The colour and flavour pretty much signify the arrival of autumn. The good news is that you can embrace all that the season has to offer without compromising on your health. Forgo pumpkin lattes, sweet pies and rich, savoury soups and choose heart-healthy alternatives that will tease your taste buds and satisfy your cravings for comfort food this fall.
Instead of a pumpkin spice latte, opt for an Energii Bite Smoothie, a customer favourite at Freshii. Made with chocolate chips, peanut butter, coconut, frozen yogurt and ice, this delightfully rich smoothie is packed full of nutrients to help boost your body and health. Pick one up or make your own at home!
This Thanksgiving season, instead of indulging in a slice of pumpkin pie, treat yourself to some pumpkin energy bites made with rolled oats, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter and honey. They are delicious and will help you get through that turkey coma.
Cooler nights call for a big bowl of comfort. In place of a steaming bowl of creamy spicy pumpkin soup, make a big pot of homemade chili. More than simply scrumptious, chili is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food and is an easy one-pot meal that’s often made with ingredients you already have on hand!
Healthy cooking doesn’t mean you have to become a gourmet chef or sacrifice flavour. Just a few small and very simple basic cooking techniques and tips can make you eat better, feel better and make taste a kitchen priority when preparing nutritious, satisfying meals. Let’s dive in!
From cabbage, parsnips and asparagus to green beans, tomatoes, thinly sliced cuts of meat and more. Overcooking ingredients can destroy flavour and nutrients making them dry and bland. Avoid this common pitfall by blanching your ingredients (yes even meats!) for two and a half minutes and cooling them in ice water. Not only will it take away the bitterness, it will keep the flavour, colour, texture and overall appeal of those luscious and delectable ingredients. Overcooked food will be a thing of the past.
Lift and balance flavour with red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties — sweet, hot and dried. Or, add a dash of hot pepper sauce, but remember a small amount goes a long way.
Whether you’re cooking stuffed peppers, preparing a pepper appetizer for guests or simply adding them to a stir-fry, creating meals with peppers is one of the best ways to add colour, crunch, taste and sweetness to dishes without adding salt or fat. Pep away!
The autumn harvest includes a variety of crisp fruits and root vegetables – perfect for creating comfort meals to enjoy with friends and family as the weather begins to cool. From persimmons and beets to pomegranates, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. Autumn brings seasonal produce picks that will keep things fresh and boost your health. Rich in vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and water, it’s hard to resist the gorgeous nutritional profile of fruits and vegetables.
Shop locally to get the freshest in-season produce in your area. The Bearspaw or Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Markets are great places to start and they are just a hop, skip and jump away from University District!
Tip: Some vegetables and fruits — such as mushrooms, tomatoes, chilies, cherries, and cranberries — have a more intense zest when dried than when fresh. Add them to a meal when you want a burst of flavour!
The perfect mix of sweet, savoury, soft and crunchy. This simple and easy vegetarian recipe for couscous salad is packed with texture, flavour and is deliciously addictive! From the juicy cucumber, sweet pepper, crunchy toasted almonds and savoury couscous, this salad has it all. It’s no wonder it’s a University District favourite!
Great for easy and quick lunches or a side salad with dinner. Enjoy it as is or jazz up meal time with a toasted pita and large dollop of hummus! However you choose to dress it, this salad will be much-loved by family and guests this Thanksgiving season. Let’s get cooking!
Step 1: Prepare the couscous
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil and stir in the couscous. Once simmering, remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for five (5) minutes. Lightly fluff your couscous with a fork, allowing it to cool for at least 10 minutes.
Tip: Swap out your couscous with quinoa for a gluten-free version. Simply adjust the cooking time and follow steps two through four!
Step 2: Combine ingredients and toss
In a large salad bowl, combine your cooled couscous and lightly toss it with the drained garbanzo beans and chopped vegetables – cucumber, red pepper and green onions.
Tip: For a touch of sweetness, toss in some cranberries and/or raisins.
Step 3: Mix salad dressing and add to couscous mixture
In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon zest and black pepper. Add the vinaigrette and lemon dressing to the couscous mixture and mix well.
Step 4: Garnish, serve and enjoy
For a boost in flavour and added zing, garnish your salad with a dash of lemon pepper. Sprinkle on top and serve!
Tip: Use a light hand when adding seasonings so as not to overpower the other flavours. Consider toasting some almonds in a dry pan for another layer of texture. Delish!
Preparing healthy meals packed with flavour, crunch, punch and zing has never been easier. Whether you’re starting small or making big changes in your quest for healthy living, we hope these expert tips and delicious inspiration help you prepare hearty and healthy meals for you and your family this fall season and all throughout the year!
Do you have simple healthy snack or salad recipe that our readers must try or a nourishing alternative to a Thanksgiving favourite that guests will love? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The University District blog is a resource for Calgarians who want to live, work, play, visit or buy in the northwest. We will provide you with information, stories, news and inspiration about the things that matter so you can live a more inspired, active and connected life in NW Calgary at University District… Life works here.