Healthy eating has taken a giant leap forward in Lincoln Park. Freshii has expanded beyond the Loop and last week opened their newest location at 854 West Armitage. Now fresh, healthy, affordable, and really tasty “fast” food is available not only in dozens of locations around the globe and several spots in/around the Loop . . . it’s also right there just a few steps from the Armitage Brown Line stop.
Want more incentive? Even though the franchise began in Toronto, they have since moved their headquarters to Chicago. Yes! This is a locally-run, international company.
According to their website:
While working as the Marketing Manager for fashion icon Oscar de La Renta in New York City, Founder Matthew Corrin frequented the many corner ‘mom and pop’ delis on his lunch breaks. After one too many unhealthy lunches, Corrin set out to add magic to the fresh food business. The idea? To create a model that was scalable, branded and would ultimately change the way people eat, for the better. The mission was clear: to eliminate the excuse that people don’t eat well because there’s nothing convenient or affordable. With mission in hand, Freshii opened its first store in Toronto in 2005 met by massive lines.
Their manifesto is equally intriguing:
When you are hungry and there is only a candy bar in sight, do you grab for that candy bar?
Now, imagine if between your hand and that candy bar, we placed an apple? Might you choose that apple? Our goal is simple: Freshii wants to be that apple.
Through our vision of ‘Eat. Energize.’ Freshii is focused on providing fresh and nutritious meal choices that energize people on the go.
I was recently invited to sample a number of items from their extensive menu. If you (or anyone you know) has ever said that healthy food must be tasteless, boring, and/or unsatisfying then you must visit Freshii to have those ideas changed. Rarely have I left a tasting feeling so satisfied (a.k.a., stuffed). And the bonus? I felt pretty darned healthy at the same time.
The menu is far too extensive to detail here, so take a few minutes to browse through it online. Having said that, there are a few “must try” items:
- Pangoa: a delightful combination of brown rice, roasted chicken, avocado, corn, black beans, aged white cheddar, cilantro, grape tomatoes, a lime wedge, and hot sauce served in a biodegradable bowl. You can also substitute quinoa for an additional dollar. This was not only delicious, but more than enough to share with two people.
- Spicy Lemongrass Soup: a combination of lemongrass broth, rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and cilantro. Certainly, it was tasty. What elevates this (and their other soups) above the competition is the fact that all of the ingredients are put into the container raw. The hot broth is then poured over them and in a few minutes the vegetables have become tender-crisp while retaining all of their native flavor. This is a wonderfully different way to enjoy soup!
- #LifeSupport Juice: This is their signature blended juice with kale, spinach, avocado, pineapple, and banana. Note, it is not “juiced,” it is blended. That means it has all of the natural fiber, a smooth texture, and is almost like a meal in a glass.
There is so much more and it is all superb. Freshii can accommodate nearly any food allergy or intolerance (gluten, peanuts, dairy, etc.) and will thrill you if you are vegetarian or vegan.
Their menu may look complex, but it’s really quite simple to put together your order. In fact, they have forms and clipboards available so that you can craft your own special orders which are then prepared right in front of you while you watch.
Here are a few more awesome earth-friendly facts about how Freshii does business:
- Freshii uses no energy-hungry dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens.
- Every item is fresh and is prepared in full view.
- Rather than mixing items in bowls, they shake your meal in a biodegradable bag. That means they produce 5 to 7 times less of a carbon footprint than running even the most energy efficient dishwasher.
- Everything you take from the store either biodegrades naturally to the earth or is easily recyclable. Most of the packaging is made from eco-friendly vegetable starches, like corn or potatoes. It biodegrades quickly, leaving behind only carbon dioxide, biomass, and water.
Freshii also has a strong commitment to giving back to the community both locally and globally. They are currently partnering with Free The Children to help build school kitchens and vegetable gardens in developing communities around the world. Freshii is offering the option to purchase a “green” reusable bowl when you order. The proceeds from that purchase will go directly to fund these garden projects. According to their research it takes 15,340 bowls to build one kitchen and one garden. That garden and kitchen can then provide 97,500 school lunches per year. Email [email protected] for more information.