Earlier this week I interviewed a nutrition consultant for a story coming up in Sunday's paper.
We talked about the value of whole foods; the power of food to heal; setting a good example for children when it comes to making healthy choices.
I thought guiltily of my breakfast: a flaky croissant loaded with butter and my Mom's raspberry jam. It seemed serendipitous when I headed out at lunchtime for my next restaurant review and landed at Buddha-Full Juice and Smoothies. It was obviously meant to be.
The little shop fits in perfectly with the heritage buildings, leafy trees and brick pavement on the rejuvenated stretch of West First just off Lonsdale. It's a little unpolished - the floor is austere concrete, tables are made from cable spools - and it's a whole lot hippie. In the back of the restaurant is even a bodywork area, where interested customers can get a massage.
Actually, as I stood in a hot sunbeam that fell through the doorway, studying the chalk-written list of smoothies and listening to the cool, down-tempo indie soundtrack that filled the air, I felt like I could be choosing my lunch in a laidback beach town, maybe La Jolla, CA., or Lahaina, on Maui. The stenciled seat covers ("You are nourished," "You are buddha-full") are an especially uplifting touch.
The good-for-you theme continues with the menu of smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices and eats, which is almost entirely organic and vegan.
Of the first, the blends are banana-based, with other fruits, protein, and healthy vitamin "boosts" offered as options. They range from run-of-the-mill to wildly supplemented. The Common Ground is a palatable-to-everyone mix of strawberries, banana and orange juice, while the 108 contains "E3-Live, maca, goji berries, bee pollen, orange juice, blueberries, mango, banana, and Buddha-blend protein powder."
I aimed for the middle with the Padma Persuasion, and got an elegant blend of rose water, mango, cardamom, almond milk, agave and banana. I got an extra lift by ordering a cold and flu Buddha boost.
My only complaint about the smoothies is that they come in just one size: a very filling 20 ounces. At $6 or $7 a go, you'll want to be sure you're thirsty enough to finish it all.
Fresh squeezed juices include both fruit and veggieheavy options. Seriously healthy drinkers might go for Ganeshas Greens: spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, lemon, apple, celery and romaine juice . . . personally, I'd be more tempted by lemon-scented detergent. But there are plenty of deliciously refreshing options too, like Sun Seeker, with pineapple, orange and banana.
Vegan food always fascinates me; it's less than masterful at some of its disguises. Take the "burger," for example: a raw nut patty topped with sprouts and tomato, all stacked up between lettuce "buns." The lasagna looks more like its namesake, but get closer - the layered pasta is also suspiciously leafy.
I soon found I had to shelve my cynicism though. My grilled wrap - stuffed with eggplant, mango and chickpea curry - was a savoury-sweet and utterly delicious contrast in flavours and textures. And with each bite I felt like I was doing something good for myself.
I liked the ginger-lemon-dill vinaigrette on the side salad too.
All this virtuousness gets pricey though - the bill for my wrap and drink was $16.18, including HST.
Buddha-Full Juice and Smoothies is at 106 -101 West First St., North Vancouver; 604-973-0231; www.buddhafull.ca.