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Healthy Santa Barbara Restaurants and Markets

Santa BarbaraFor such a small town, Santa Barbara sure has a lot to offer in the way of restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and other food outlets.  The tricky part is navigating your way through all of the enticing options to the ones that serve not only your belly but also your health.

Before I introduce you to my favorite Santa Barbara foodie locales, I want to express that I recognize that I am not the “norm”- my partner and I sacrifice such things as a vehicle, cell phone, cable and other “toys” so that we can have more to spend on our food and our health.  None the less, I still feel that it is important for everyone, no matter what their situation, to make conscious food choices that reap personal health benefits as well as enjoyment.

Every Saturday, I purchase almost all of my “groceries” at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market.  There you can find fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, nuts, cheeses, butter, oils, honey, bread, olives, wine, beans, and more.  And no matter what your schedule, you can always make time to stop at one of the 8 markets located around town.  For other items I cannot find at the farmers market, such as grains, specialty grocery items, paper, health and cleaning products, I shop at Lassen’s, IV Co-op, or Lazy Acres.  I find that shopping for most of my groceries at the farmers market saves me a ton of money and impacts my health in an overwhelmingly positive way.  Not only am I eating all fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in season at the height of ripeness, but I am also less likely to fill up my cart with expensive packaged foods since I seldom visit the grocery store (maybe 2-3 times per month).  AND, organic produce will ALWAYS be cheaper at the farmers market when compared with the grocery store.  It is a win-win situation no doubt!

When I need a night off from cooking and want to go out to eat, I almost always choose restaurants that create menu items I cannot replicate at home.  I also pick establishments that are locally owned and that source their ingredients locally as well, so I know that I am supporting the local economy and getting the freshest possible meal.  My ultimate favorites are Restaurant Julienne and The Hungry Cat – both are truly committed to creating the most amazing menu items from the freshest local ingredients possible.  For something more casual, I prefer the All India Cafe, which uses fresh, simple ingredients void of preservatives such as MSG, to make tasty traditional Indian dishes.  Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant is also a favorite and one of the only local Mexican food establishments I know of here in Santa Barbara that values fresh ingredients and lighter, healthier preparations of traditional Mexican fare.  Lastly, if I am in need of either a quick breakfast or lunch, I stop by Backyard Bowls and get myself an Island Bowl – acai blended with mango and coconut milk and topped with locally grown strawberries, blueberries, and hemp granola.

Wherever you decide to spend your food dollars, just remember one thing that will always be true: you get what you pay for.  If you want a meal made from fresh, organic and healthy ingredients, it is indeed going to cost more than a meal made from packaged, pesticide sprayed and highly processed ingredients.  The choice IS yours.

Katie Falbo, Quality Control Manager of Sunshine Wellness

california organic foodie


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