Urban Herbivore is changing the face of “fast food” or “grab and go food” as we know it. Food courts in malls were once dominated by fast food chains, today with the renaissance of healthy eating and the demand by consumers for healthy food choices, places like Urban Herbivore are taking centre stage.
With three locations: Toronto Eaton Centre, Kensington Market, and College St. (located in the same building as Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre), and plans for future expansion, Urban Herbivore is making its mark on the Toronto eating scene. The menu is vegan and offers only fresh, whole, mostly organic, vegan foods. Nothing is processed or contains preservatives or additives.
Meet the owner
Stephen Gardner is a chef, a pioneer and veteran in the area of vegan/vegetarian cuisine. With having owned several restaurants that span over a career of 30 years, Stephen is definitely an expert in his field with a vast portfolio. Some of the restaurants he’s owned and operated include: Café La Gaffe in Kensington Market, Taro Grill, and Fressen. Currently, he owns and operates: Grasslands on Queen St. and the growing Urban Herbivore chain.
When asked: Why Urban Herbivore? Stephen’s response was simple, “I want to serve everyday healthy fare, food that I have as a part of my everyday diet.”
The food is prepared on the spot, from scratch to maximize quality and freshness.
This theme of quality is also seen in the take-out packaging they use. All packaging is biodegradable and environmentally friendly, which means that it will decompose within 30 days vs. standard packaging that never decomposes. Although environmentally friendly packaging comes at a premium price, for example: a biodegradable straw, made out of corn, costs $0.8 vs. standard plastic straws that cost less than a penny, it is great to see that Urban Herbivore doesn’t compromise quality for cost. You may pay a little more for what you eat but at least you are supporting quality food and sustainable practices.
For more information on bio-degradable packaging visit: www.greenshift.ca
The menu selection is simple but vast and ranges from freshly pressed juices; grain or green bowels – with six tasty toppings to choose from 20 unique items; daily soups and stews made from scratch– Moroccan stew and coconut curry; sandwiches and sweets.
I was fortunate enough to sample a few of the items on the menu, everything was delicious!
Filling and satisfying, this stew was a warming mixture of tomato broth, root vegetables, chickpeas, corn and Moroccan spices, a perfect meal for a cold fall or winter day.
Next I gratefully began my adventure with the “build it yourself” salad I was generously gifted. The salad was a mixture of kale, kamut, and a variety of vegetables, topped with a tahini dressing. It was amazing! I loved every bite. This giant bowl of goddess goodness contained all the nourishment your body needs. Now I understand why this is Stephen’s staple meal each day.
Next up was the Avocado sandwich on homemade ciabatta bread made with: avocado, bruschetta tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, red leaf lettuce, and lemon tahini. This sandwich could satisfy even the most loyal carnivore.
An assortment of sweets is available for purchase. Some are gluten-free and some made with spelt flour. These baked goods contain organic sugar as well as sunflower and olive oils.
Although the cupcakes are gluten-free, they have Crisco in the icing so as holistic nutritionists, we cannot stand by the ingredients as we don’t recommend the use of this product.
On a brighter note, the cookies and muffins do not contain Crisco. I sampled the Ginger Molasses cookie and the Apple Cranberry muffin.
Ginger Molasses Cookies
Not having much of a sweet tooth, I didn’t know what to expect. But these cookies were yummy – soft, moist and chewy.
Apple Cranberry Muffin
This super muffin is amazing, a meal in itself, definitely made to share. They are nutrient dense and very filling. Ingredients include: spelt flour, apples, bananas, organic cane sugar, sunflower oil, salt and baking powder. Because there are no eggs used, a little more baking powder is added for binding. This does slightly raise the sodium content of the product, but the other nutrient dense ingredients (apples, spelt flour, bananas) offset the negative effects.
Note: both of these products contain sugar. While it is organic and a healthier source it is still sugar and can negatively impact blood sugar and our health. Keep in mind, overconsumption of anything sweet is not good for you. If eaten at all, these muffins and cookies are treats and should be treated that way.
I’m so happy that there are finally options available at the mall for health conscious eaters. My favourite items at Urban Herbivore from a Holistic Nutritionists perspective are the salad and the stew 🙂 Super healthy and incredibly delicious!
The next time you’re visiting the Eaton Centre in Toronto, or are near the other two locations, and hunger strikes, make a conscious decision to visit Urban Herbivore, instead of one of the other fast food options available. I promise you won’t be disappointed. You’ll leave feeling satiated and ready to conquer the rest of your day full of energy.
Remember: healthy, whole foods feed and nourish your body. Most fast food is just that – fast and full of dead and empty calories that rob the body of vital energy.
If you love the food at Urban Herbivore and want to help us spread the word please click the share links below. Also, if you eat there, leave me a comment to let me know what you tried and what you thought of it! I would love to hear from you!