How to Eat Vegan and Healthy in South Florida

When I was younger, I was not a big fan of Florida in general. It seemed so flat and blah to me. When my mom bought a place in South Florida, I began bringing my young daughters for vacations. It was always an easy, inexpensive vacation for us. And, as a single mom, funds were limited. During these trips, I uncovered many of the natural wonders the state has to offer. The nature centers, the tropical plants, the warm weather and of course the gators, make it a unique and wonderous place that I know consider a second home with relocation thoughts tugging at the back of our minds.

South Florida offers natural beauty and a great selection of vegan foods!

South Florida offers natural beauty and a great selection of vegan foods!

I had not been there in a couple of years this time around but was delighted to find how much things have shifted in terms of food options for vegan, even raw food enthusiasts.  In the past, there were limited options available. In just the last couple of years, there are numerous options available not only in terms of foods, but also in terms of fresh, organic juices as well. Yet another reason to consider a move!

We were able to sample several delicious restaurants and juice bars in the area and would have needed another several days to try them all.

I also found my new addiction, Chunkie Dunkies (chunkiedunkies.com) cookies! They are raw, vegan, gluten free and delicious. We discovered them while we were dining at DIG (Doing It Green) restaurant in Delray (digdelray.com). While DIG is not vegan, it offers many vegan options. They use fresh, organic, seasonal produce as well as ethically tended and naturally fed animals, a much healthier than the mass-produced option where animals are raised under inhumane conditions and fed corn as well as by-products of other animals – yuck!

Concluding our delicious meal at DIG, we ordered Chunkie Dunkies off of the dessert menu. Now we are hooked! I ran back to the house and looked up their website, immediately inquiring whether I can order these nutritious cookies (that’s right, nutritious) and have them delivered to us back home in New Jersey.  Dina, the owner and chef, was very accommodating and friendly. Indeed, Chunkie Dunkies are available for delivery, which meant I would not have to travel all the way back to Florida to enjoy them.

In the meantime, we found Chunkie Dunkies accidently during a trip to the juice bar in Boca Raton Whole Foods where they offer many of the varieties for sale.  We snatched up several flavors and assured Dina we would be ordering once we got back to New Jersey.

Here in northern, New Jersey, there are really very few vegan or vegetarian options and even fewer raw food ones. Something like Chunkie Dunkies does not exist. In order to get a good raw vegan meal, we have to travel to Manhattan, which is fun to do at times but not practical on a regular basis. Jeez, the toll alone is $13!

My new addiction aside, we also dined at Darbster in West Palm Beach (darbster.com). Darbster is an authentic vegan restaurant with some raw food options as well. I ordered the Raw Tuna Salad sandwich on flax bread. The “tuna” was derived using almonds and was absolutely delicious. It captured the essence, texture and taste of tuna beautifully. My husband enjoyed the tofu scramble served with whole grain bread, potatoes and vegan sausage. We can’t wait to go back down to Florida to try something else off of the menu. It was also nice to sit on their garden terrace outside. We were next to a canal and could see an alligator sitting on the bank of the water. It was amazing.

Another favorite place of mine, which has become a staple for me each time I visit the area, is 4th Generation Market (4thgenerationmarket.com) in Boca Raton. They are pricey but they offer many delicious raw and vegan foods and desserts in a deli-like environment. You can grab and go – perfect picnic food! My routine is to grab a variety of foods and a fresh, organic juice and enjoy a picnic on the beach – heaven.

Another new addition to downtown Delray Beach is JuiceBuzz (facebook.com/juicebuzzdelray). This juice bar offers organic, cold pressed juices.

The first thing I do when I get to any destination is check out my Happy Cow app. It tells me where I can find nearby vegan or vegetarian dining options. That’s how we found Garden of Vegan (facebook.com/Gardenofvegan4u). We tried juices as well as items off of the menu (unfortunately, I don’t remember which ones – should have written them down!) We found everything to be fresh and delicious. Another place to add to our list for next trip.

We didn’t have a chance to try Nature’s Way Café (natureswaycafe.com), also with a location in downtown Delray, but have it on the list for next time!

It was refreshing and gratifying to find how things are shifting in terms of healthy eating in South Florida. We had been to California over the summer and were amazed at how there is a juice bar on every corner and vegan dining galore. But, so glad to see that here on the east coast, we are not getting left too far behind.

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