When we’re in the mood to eat out in New York City, sometimes it’s hard to pick a healthy and delicious restaurant given the bevy of options. That’s why we love this handy little booklet (small enough to bring with you everywhere you go!), Clean Plates Manhattan: A Guide to the Healthiest Tastiest and Most Sustainable Restaurants by Jared Koch, founder of Clean Plates and also a nutritional counselor, which makes eating out and eating healthy a simultaneous possibility.
“Eating healthier isn’t a sacrifice,” Koch tells us. “You can truly eat in a way where you love the foods you are eating while also knowing they are nourishing your body. If you just start with a small positive change it will build momentum and lead to greater change.”
Hence, Clean Plates was born. Listing over 200 establishments (including reviews in alphabetical order of its 75 favorites) representing a vast array of cuisine type, budgets and geographic locations with a focus on healthy, tasty and sustainable fare, the booklet also dishes out extra information on misunderstood food terms, chef interviews, Koch’s Five Precepts for Eating Well and more.
Here, we asked Koch about Clean Plates and what healthy and sustainable eating means to him.
- What was the motivation and inspiration behind Clean Plates?
When I started studying nutrition 10 years ago I was immediately transfixed by the topic and the lack of knowledge—both my own and society’s—on the subject. It became clear to me that nutrition is the foundation of many problems we face today, including personal and environmental health, as well as economic stability. After becoming a nutritional consultant and health coach certified by the Teachers College of Columbia University, the Global Institute for Alternative Medicine and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I began my own practice working with individuals to help them eat healthier and improve their lifestyles; that’s really where Clean Plates began. I discovered that while education and supporting my clients was important, simply giving them practical resources in the form of product and restaurant recommendations was the most useful tool.
I decided that a book and website would be a great way to not only preserve my recommendations but also to reach a greater audience while recognizing restaurants for responsible sourcing and delicious food, and hopefully inspiring other restaurants to follow suit. I hope people will be less confused about how and what to eat, using this book as a great practical resource to easily and enjoyably find restaurants serving healthy, sustainable and tasty food.
- Why do you feel sustainable restaurants are important?
We eat out a lot. I believe something like 35% of our calories in the U.S. come from restaurant meals. That’s a significant portion of our food system and can drive a lot of change towards healthier and sustainable eating.
- What does healthy eating mean to you?
In Clean Plates, I break down my advice into Five Precepts for Eating Healthier; guidelines on how to build a better relationship with food. My underlying philosophy is that there is more than one right way to eat. We are conditioned to look for the perfect diet but ultimately, each person needs to pay attention to their individual body and find out what works best for them. That being said, it is extremely important for everyone’s diet to consist of a large majority of real, whole and nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs/spices. If you consume animal foods then you want to eat the best quality possible: think pasture-raised, grass-fed animals free of hormones and antibiotics. Of course, reducing your intake of artificial and processed foods, especially refined sugar and corn syrup, will significantly help you be healthier. If you do only one thing to improve your diet, I would suggest adding more vegetables.
Look out for Clean Plates’ Brooklyn edition, which is scheduled to come out late fall of this year. Koch is also working on a Los Angeles edition, as well as a mobile app, which will enable people across the country to eat better and make educated restaurant choices with the help of Clean Plates.
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