Plant-based bites in South Florida
Check out some of the area’s most buzzworthy dining options for vegan and raw cuisine
Doctors and nutritionists tell us that diet and exercise are critical in the fight against high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. To that end, some South Florida residents are eliminating meat and seafood altogether, turning vegan, or, at the far end of the spectrum, eating only raw, non-cooked food. The trend has led to an increase in restaurants, delivery services, food trucks and private chefs catering to such audiences.
Lifestyle talked with some of the healthiest people we know, including local influencers and an Olympian, and asked for their recommendations of plant-based foodie finds.
Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel, an Olympic silver medalist, says she went on a plant-based diet nine years ago. “I’ve seen a big improvement in my energy levels for training as well as my recovery after training,” she says in a YouTube video for Copper Branch, a plant-based Canadian food chain with a new Fort Lauderdale location. Whether you’re headed for an open-water swim or plan on lounging in your board shorts, a visit to Copper Branch near the 17th Street Causeway is a good way to fuel up for a healthy day at the beach. Customer favorites include the General Copper bowl with shiitake mushrooms for protein and a sauce including gluten-free tamari, red wine vinegar and fennel; and the Aztec Power Bowl with sweet potatoes, corn and vegan sour cream.
Contact: 1515 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; eatcopperbranch.com
Green Bar & Kitchen
Just west of Copper Branch, Green Bar is snagging rave reviews across social media and from the culinary community. “Gluten-free vegan cupcakes!” exclaims Maria Medina, owner of Minuteman Press in Wilton Manors, when asked about her favorite item. “[And] the burgers are great.” Apparently, it’s the BAD Burger that takes home awards. The patty—made with mung beans and soy-based tempeh bacon—is topped with maple glaze, chipotle “mayo” and Chao cheese, made of coconut and fermented tofu. Served on a croissant, BAD won the “burger” battle at the 2018 SEED Food and Wine Week in Miami, says Kellie Maestrey, the restaurant’s general manager.
Contact: 1075 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; greenbarkitchen.com
At Myapapaya’s popular and high-energy location near the Galleria, it’s common to see every table full while five people stand in line to order. “On a recent trip to Fort Lauderdale, we loved it so much we went two days in a row,” says New York-based Melissa Eboli, a nutritional chef and certified culinary nutrition expert. “We got the banana kush, green peanut butter smoothies and the Mediterranean platter, but asked for no dairy.” Couch potatoes also can enjoy the menu. Think Sunday night: You have nothing to cook, and you don’t want to order pizza. Myapapaya comes to the rescue with options such as the beet and citrus salad or burrito with brown rice and legumes.
Contact: 1040 Bayview Drive and 2528 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; myapapaya.com
Raw Chef Carla
Carla Martins comes to our attention via the #choose954 cultural movement. She specializes in meals built on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweed and mushrooms, which she then delivers to clients throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties. She does not heat food above 118 degrees to preserve natural enzymes and nutrients. “My clients are people who want to eat a healthier diet but don’t know how,” she says. “Everything has amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. We don’t need animals for that—nuts and seeds and leafy greens are excellent sources. Fruits and veggies offer plenty of carbs as well. It is quite easy to meet macronutrient requirements on a plant-based diet.” In addition to private classes in people’s homes, Martins gives a “plant-based basics” workshop every Tuesday and Wednesday at Plant Culinary, located in The Sacred Space Miami.
Hollywood’s Yellow Green Farmers Market
South Florida’s largest farmers market, with more than 300 booths, is open on Saturdays and Sundays year-round. Vendors share an ideal: Earthly discovery is key to building a robust community. When conversing with local farmers, you’ll learn the journey food makes from land or sea to your kitchen table. “The farmers market provides great exposure to many different ways to prepare vegan recipes. It facilitates eating like that at home,” says Hollywood resident and real estate agent Marni Rutenberg Ledwitz. “The challenge is to try to make it a lifestyle. It’s not that easy.”
Contact: 3080 Sheridan St., Hollywood; ygfarmersmarket.com