Healthy Food Fast

When you’re on the go, it’s easy to let healthy eating fall by the wayside. Who has time to cook while braving US 26? Fortunately, Portland boasts a variety of fast food options for the diet-conscious person. Popular local spots offer rice bowls that can be customized to include either meat or milk, or neither. Veggie eateries feature surprisingly tasty treats with nary a hint of dairy.

All of the restaurants listed below offer takeout, so enjoy a healthy meal on the way to your next appointment.

Café Yumm

Popular with Portland State University students, this café offers a variety of healthy options. The café chain is known for its tasty sauces, which can be purchased at Whole Foods and New Seasons (that is, if they aren’t sold out). You can order a rice bowl in one of three sizes, depending on your level of hunger. Choose brown or white jasmine rice, red or black beans, and your choice of deluxe toppings for a satisfying lunch. Café Yumm has three Portland locations; at the one at SW Morrison and 3rd, you may order online.

Laughing Planet

With nine locations in Portland alone, Laughing Planet is well placed to curb your cravings. The environmentally conscious company sources its ingredients from local farms and producers, and offers a varied menu of “burritos, bowls and goofiness.” Rice bowls come in Cuban, Indian, Korean or Thai flavors. You can add Draper Valley chicken, organic tempeh and tofu, or pasture-raised beef to any meal. Kids will love the quesadillas and mashed potatoes with melted Tillamook cheddar, as well as a selection of plastic dinosaurs to play with.

Veggie Grill

California-based Veggie Grill, which opened in downtown Portland a couple years ago, is completely meat and dairy free. The restaurant is known for scrumptious sandwiches like Santa Fe crispy chickin’, glazed tofu banh mi, “crab cake” and this writer’s personal favorite, the “Bali Bliss” – grilled tempeh in a chipotle ranch dressing. Carb-avoiders can go for the Savory Kale Caesar and Quinoa Power Salad. Kids will enjoy the Yukon gold fries and a chicken nugget substitute so convincing that they’ll never know the difference. If you download Veggie Grill’s loyalty app, you’ll receive a free snack.

The Whole Bowl

Believe it or not, that line down the block isn’t for ice cream, it’s for a bowl of rice, beans, avocado, salsa, olives, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro and secret “Tali sauce.” Why is this food cart’s sole offering so popular? Is it the low price ($5.50 for a “bambino bowl”) that attracts the crowds, or the secret sauce? We may ponder this question while waiting for a healthy meal at one of six locations; the Hawthorne site offers a sit-down experience.

Garden Bar

If your healthy eating regimen doesn’t include a lot of carbs, you may not be interested in patronizing one of the various rice bowl restaurants. In that case, refresh your palate with a salad from Garden Bar. “In carrots we trust” is the motto of this newish salad chain, where owners Ana Chaud and Christopher Handford aim to offer “the best possible kind of fast food.” There are plenty of gluten-free and veggie options to suit your palate. While some items combine meat and dairy ingredients, the Bliss Detox, Northwest Bowl, Garden Chopped, Bamboo Revolution and Tuna Nicoise do not. You can also choose all of your own ingredients for a perfectly customized meal; there are 15 salad dressings!

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