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Good Eats

Lighten up

Plant-based nutrition grows on us.


Remember that new year’s resolution to eat healthier and drop a few pounds? Maybe it lasted a couple of weeks and then, you know, life happens.
With swimsuit season in full swing, we once again feel the urge to lighten up.
Thankfully, the local pickings for healthy fare have recently gained options.
Three examples are Vibe Gastropub, a fully vegan gathering place where the chick’n isn’t chicken and kale is massaged; Clean Juice, a veteran-owned establishment that churns out cold-pressed juice cleanses, smoothies, acai bowls, sandwiches and wraps; and Earthhouse, a small eatery that features big flavors and promotes the concept of food as a natural medicine.
But none of it comes cheap. Organic rarely is. It’s not unusual to pay $15 to $20 for lunch or dinner (less for breakfast) and in the $8 to $10 range for juices and smoothies. In the big scheme of things, everything is more expensive these days. And wouldn’t you rather consume something delicious and nutritious anyway?
It’s also far from fast food, timewise. Many items are made to order. While you’re waiting, practice patience. Meditate. Or call ahead for takeout.
Relax in knowing that you’ll feed your body with clean fuel based on plants and smart proteins, and you may just get rewarded with less bloating and more energy. Bring on the swimsuit.
A community hub
Vibe Gastropub — just “Vibe” to the regulars — lives up to its name. We feel the positive energy from the moment we enter, making us linger for primo people-watching and pleasant conversation with fellow creatives.
Vibe is a celebration of all that is good and pure in the heart of downtown Fayetteville.
The eatery was the brainchild of Ambery Edge, who we spy making magic in the kitchen with Chef Jessie. Edge, who also runs ultramarathons, entered the local food scene some years ago with her Authentique Café food truck, which steadily gained a loyal following. In July 2022, she added the brick-and-mortar business on Hay Street.
The lovely Kim and Val are happy to take your order at the counter. A chalkboard menu keeps it simple. Waffles, french toast or avocado toast are featured for breakfast. Popular lunch and dinner selections include the chick’n buffalo sandwich (made from seitan); lentil tacos and Monte Cristo, all plant-based; and beautifully composed salads. Homemade vegan baked goods are also available.
A juice of the day headlines beverage choices that include sparkling lemonade, alkaline water and cappuccino. A variety of beer and wine options were slated to be added.
Take another sip and stay a while.
Vibe Gastropub is at 131 Hay St. Call 910-491-8259. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it is closed Saturday and Sunday.
Seriously delicious
Fayetteville’s Clean Juice cafe in Freedom Town Center is part of a rapidly growing franchise with six locations in Charlotte alone, according to its website.
The local outpost advertises itself as the only U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic juice bar and restaurant in the area.
Displays of community — and, in particular, support for the military — are visible at the veteran-owned business.
The mood is friendly here, and the attention to detail is wonderful. Watch your sandwiches being meticulously made and your fruit carefully chopped into bowls embellished with hemp or whey protein, perhaps drizzled with honey.
We were tempted by a double dose of mango. First, the Be Happy Bowl, which artfully combines mango, pineapple, banana, coconut oil, turmeric, maca root and coconut water, is layered with chia pudding and topped with granola, pineapple, mango and coconut (with a little peanut butter added for protein).
It was better than ice cream — yes, that good.
To drink: a very good mango and cream smoothie, spiked with banana, cinnamon, turmeric, vanilla, honey and almond milk.
My dining partner tried a dragon fruit bowl, which got the thumbs-up. We also devoured a wrap with real chicken and super-fresh avocado. We will return.
Find Clean Juice at 2735 Freedom Parkway Drive. Call 910-339-6140. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Lean and green
Call me crazy, but I immediately felt more energy after consuming a Green Reboot at Earthhouse.
More focus. Clearer thinking. And a great accompaniment to the Caribbean-inspired jackfruit quesadillas that are some kind of addictive.
The Reboot, just one of an array of juices on the menu, blends green apple, celery, cucumber, kale, parsley, romaine and spinach into a powerhouse of nutrition.
Next time, we’ll go for the Zen, which combines orange, strawberry and carrot juices — paired with the oyster mushroom sandwich. Or swing by for some special oats at breakfast time.
Earthhouse is in Westwood Shopping Center. Call 919-799-3511. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.