New eateries take healthy approach to dining

LOS ANGELES "When I've eaten out at healthy restaurants, I find them weird or boring or both," said physician and chef Dr. Andrew Weil.

He says the magic is missing in the realm of natural and organic offerings.

"I think I make wonderful food and I've always felt that nobody has brought together the worlds of fine dining and /*healthy eating*/," said Dr. Weil.

So he cooked up True Food in Newport Beach.

"It's not twigs and berries. It's not that un-tasty health food that people sort of attribute health food to being," said Michael Stebner, concept chef for True Food.

Stebner says unhealthy happens when chefs get creative with cream, butter, sugar, and salt.

"We get the best possible ingredients and we don't do a lot to them. But to do that you have to be seasonal and you have to be very, very fresh," he said.

Examples? Street style steak tacos with Anasazi beans, quinoa tabouli pomegranate salad with Marcona almonds, hummus with Greek salad, chicken curry brown rice veggies, and some summer sippers like lemonade/cucumber, black tea pomegranate and cranberry juice.

The real proof that health food has gone main stream is the menu. It's no longer just tempeh, tofu and sprouts; we're now looking at beef, healthy fats, and even wine.

Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa also thinks healthy is hot.

"We didn't take an item and take away from it. What we did is we start with a blank plate," said Clifford Pleau, Seasons 52 culinary director. "We added the ingredients that are essential to make that plate really sing."

Pleau says there's no butter or fryers in his house. Like the name, the menu changes weekly and quarterly with the change of local and regional seasons as well.

With no plate costing you more than 475 calories, they serve six to eight ounces of lean protein.

"Around that we build the entree focused a lot on vegetables, a lot on high flavor profile contributing items," said Pleau.

Like a roasted shrimp and peppers chipotle grilled pineapple flatbread and Maui tuna crunch salad and tomato avocado salad on Ciabatta bread.

Desserts are the real deal but they're served in shot glasses for what they deem 'the right size.'

The new arrivals to Southern California both take reservations and have valet parking.

True Food originated in Phoenix. Look for another restaurant in both Scottsdale, Arizona and Santa Monica in the near future.

Seasons 52 has 12 locations nationally and they too, look to open more in California.

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