Green, Green Everywhere: Your Mini Guide to 6 Tasty, Healthy Eats Near Grounds

Green, Green Everywhere: Your Mini Guide to 6 Tasty, Healthy Eats Near Grounds

Demanding classes, deadlines and the challenges of living away from the comforts of home can heap a lot of stress on college students, but we have some good news for you.

According to registered dietitian Katherine Basbaum, students can mitigate that stress by fueling their bodies with fresh, healthy foods.

“We know for a fact that your diet can affect your stress levels, either negatively or positively,” she said. Eating complex carbohydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables with antioxidants, lean proteins and plant-based oils “[is] going to be more of a mood-soother,” she added.

Conversely, eating foods that have high amounts of refined or added sugars are inflammatory. “So the last thing we want to do is add fuel to any kind of stress that the body is in,” she said.

Indulging in unhealthy foods might make you feel good in the short term, but “you’re not going to get a lasting health benefit from downing a Coca-Cola or eating a basket of fries,” Basbaum said.

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While it’s OK to enjoy the occasional splurge, she advises students to be mindful of maintaining a steady level of energy. Choose healthy proteins like lean chicken or tofu, complex carbs like sweet potatoes or pinto beans, and whole grains in good cereals and bread.

Students clock lots of miles walking to and from classes every week and college-aged students’ calorie and protein needs are fairly high because their metabolisms are strong, making good nutrition all the more important.

UVA’s Dining Services offers dozens of eating options across Grounds, including The Castle, a plant-forward restaurant offering salads, grain bowls and paninis.

UVA Today decided to look beyond Grounds and surveyed several nearby restaurants to help students find ways to eat healthy and tasty foods, while fueling their bodies for success.

Basil Mediterranean Bistro & Wine Bar

This Mediterranean restaurant, located at 109 14th St. NW, offers cuisines from France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Turkey. Gut-nourishing tzatziki, a yogurt-based dip blending cucumbers, garlic salt and olive oil, greets diners in the mezza, or shared plates, section of the menu.

That menu offers no fewer than 21 salads from which to choose. For instance, “Plato’s Republic” features mixed greens, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, fried pita chips for crunch and house-made lemon sumac vinaigrette. Diners can top their salads with chicken, shrimp, lamb, salmon, falafel or other options. The salads are so large, you’ll have leftovers for your next meal. Skewers, pastas, Lebanese pita roll-ups, Italian submarine sandwiches and paninis round out the healthfully oil-infused Mediterranean menu.

Box’d Kitchen

Box’d Kitchen, at 909 W. Main St., says its aim is simple: serve healthy and delicious food.

Its brightly colored salads feature locally grown produce like arugula, kale and other crunchy options like cucumbers and bell peppers. You can also mix in rice. Customers can top their salad with the protein of their choice; options include richly spiced lamb, chicken, beef, pork or tofu.

Finish the salad with a swirl of Box’d Kitchen’s homemade hot sauce, made from boiled habanero, jalapeno, green and red peppers. For a tangy alternative, opt for the house-made white sauce, prepared with organic Greek yogurt and finished with a secret blend of herbs and spices. Or live a little and indulge in both finishes for a mouth-watering sensation.

At the counter, you can also order steak or lamb wraps, veggies over rice and salad, or any combination of Box’d’s offerings.

Spice levels range from “none” to “extra,” with everything in between. The folks at Box’d also toss in a couple of pieces of pita bread so you can sop up the juices. Diners can enjoy their meal at one of several tables in the warmly lit rectangular space or take their food to go.

The Juice Laundry

Smoothies, soups, salads, juices and nut milks are the headliners at The Juice Laundry, which uses 100 percent organic fruits, veggies, spices, herbs, sprouts and nuts to make their foods. Vegan and gluten-free, you can start your day with a breakfast bowl featuring oats or quinoa with your choice of three toppings, like slivers of coconut, bananas and dates.

Located on The Corner at 1411 University Ave., the business was founded by UVA alumni Sarah and Mike Keenan. There are savory, rotating soups of the day and the vegan Caesar, a blend of kale and cabbage with dressing and parmesan. Or you can opt for one of six signature acai bowls, like the “Monster,” which is packed with cacao cashew butter, bananas, dates and house-made almond milk; or “Tropical Energy,” a swirl of mango, dragon fruit, bananas, dates and brewed guayusa, a highly caffeinated drink with twice the antioxidants of green tea.

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Poke Sushi Bowl

Joining the bowl revolution is the Hawaiian-inspired Poke Sushi Bowl, which basically serves deconstructed sushi. Tucked into the first floor of a retail building in the 100 block of 14th St. across the street from Revolutionary Soup (see below), the shop offers several signature bowls.

The “Classic Tuna” bowl boasts fresh Ahi tuna, sweet onion, hikiki (dried seaweed,) edamame, sesame seeds, green onion and soy sauce. Other signature bowls feature salmon and yellowtail tuna.

Or, like Burger King once advertised, you can “have it your way,” but without the guilt of downing a greasy burger and fries. You can choose your base (rice or salad,) add protein, mix-ins like mango, macadamia nuts or avocado, and finish with a sauce, like soy or sriracha. You can dine in at the lunch counter or take your bowl with you. And fun fact: Poke Sushi Bowl is jointly owned by first-generation UVA alumna Phung Huynh.

Revolutionary Soup

This Charlottesville institution far predated the bowl craze, which exploded on The Corner in 2015 with the opening of UVA alum-owned Roots Natural Kitchen (stay tuned). The difference is that “Rev Soup,” as it is known around town, fills its bowls with sumptuous soups instead of leafy greens.

Made from fresh ingredients, many sourced locally, the menu features several soup staples, like Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu, Lamb Curry, Tomato Basil and Classic Miso. But it doesn’t stop with soup. There are BLTs, classic grilled cheeses and mozzarella pesto sandwiches.

Salad makes an appearance at Rev Soup too. The house salad features spring greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, mandarin oranges, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and a balsamic vinaigrette. You can also choose from curried chicken salad, Tuscan white bean or Gulf Coast shrimp plates.

For other tummy-warming options, don’t miss Rev Soup’s tasty quesadillas, flecked with black beans, avocado, goat cheese or spinach. There is also shrimp marinated in smoked paprika and garlic, served over grits and topped with cheddar cheese.

Roots Natural Kitchen

Since opening in June 2015, Roots Natural Kitchen seemingly has had a line out the door. Students, faculty, staff and members of the public have flocked to the small restaurant for its ultra-fresh offerings served in – you guessed it – a bowl.

Roots has several signature bowls, including two UVA-themed dishes; The Corner Cobb and the Mad Bowl, named for the deep athletic field located behind Madison Hall.

And of course, you can build your own bowl, choosing from such bases as brown rice, Arcadian mix, spinach or bulgur. Next come several ingredients to pile on, like black beans, chickpeas, avocado, roasted beets, goat cheese or lime pickled onions. Top it off with grilled chicken or mushrooms or flavored tofu and one of the house-made dressings to keep a steady level of energy throughout the day.

Bon appetit!

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications