A healthy LYFE-style is natural at this Palo Alto eatery

LYFE Kitchen herb wall

The herb wall is a trademark at LYFE. Photos: Kristi Garrett

It’s always a bonus to find a restaurant where I can eat delicious and healthy vegetarian food on the road. Being hungry in Palo Alto recently, a quick web search directed me to a LYFE Kitchen that looked promising.

LYFE, which stands for Love Your Food Everyday, is a nationwide franchise that promotes sustainable agriculture and uses locally sourced produce whenever possible. The fresh “LYFE-style” begins near the door where an herb wall of micro greens, herbs and lettuces grows.

The health-conscious can rest easy eating there, as every dish contains less than 600 calories. Herbs and spices take precendence over oil and salt. No dish has more than 1,000 mg of sodium, and usually much less.
There’s a menu for omnivores, one for vegetarians and vegans, and one that’s gluten-free.

After visiting the restaurant, it dawned on me that I’ve purchased LYFE frozen entrees in my supermarket. Their artful ingredients come “pre-plated” in a brown microwavable pouch and are usually surprisingly flavorful for a frozen meal.

‘Eat good, feel good, do good’

The LYFE Kitchen corporation prides itself on a philosophy of environmental and community stewardship.

The Palo Alto restaurant was the original location founded in 2011 by former McDonald’s executive Mike Roberts and investment banker Stephen Sidwell, with the healthy order-at-the-counter menu created by former Oprah
Winfrey private chef, Art Smith.

LYFE Kitchen Palo Alto

Entrance to the Palo Alto location.

A growing number of franchises now spread across California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Illinois and New York.

The restaurants themselves are furnished with recycled and sustainable building materials like bamboo, salvaged woods, and even recycled milk and juice cartons. Plans are to build new locations under the strict LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Each location gives back to its community through local charities and programs that support the corporation’s “eat good, feel good, do good” philosophy.

Infused with flavor

At a table laid with my companions’ pescatarian and gluten-free choices, I had the vegan Thai red curry bowl, a savory dish of marinated tofu, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, peas and thai basil over whole grain wheatberries. Very satisfying (and the favorite among us) at 510 calories.

Vegan Thai red curry.

Vegan Thai red curry.

The star for me, however, was the vegan grilled artichoke appetizer. Marinated and grilled to perfection, dipped in caper aioli, these were lip-smacking good; 307 calories for 4 quarters of artichoke.

We topped off our meal with a couple of LYFE Waters. The jewel-colored Hibiscus Beet water infused with beets, apple, lemon and ginger could very well serve as a light meal replacement for someone on the run. It contained 121 calories. The Ginger Mint Chia water, at just 56 calories, is packed with filling chia seeds, ginger, lime and mint. More substantial fruit smoothies are also offered, as well as wine and beer.

LYFE Ginger Mint Chia water

Ginger Mint Chia water

The menu also offers a refreshingly original selection of salad entrees and sandwiches — yes, even for the gluten-free. LYFE serves meat and fish as well, so the whole gang can eat there together in the inviting and comfortable dining areas meant for lounging. There’s even a “community” table where single diners can enjoy some company.

I wish there was a LYFE in Sacramento; it would easily become one of my regulars.

LYFE Kitchen is located at 167 North Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto. Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday, with slightly longer hours on the weekends. Check for a location near you, and order online at www.lyfekitchen.com.

Kristi Garrett

Kristi Garrett is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Veggie Enthusiast of Little Green Wheelbarrow. After 16 years in journalism and corporate communications, she figures it's time to get some dirt under her nails.

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