OK To Be Eating…Healthy!
As with other college campuses, the amount of burger, pizza, and fast food restaurants at UF and the surrounding campus is a big reason for the Freshman 15. This is no surprise considering so many students live on a tight budget. But, today’s college students are demanding higher quality foods varied in taste and economically priced. There are several apps that many students can download for the latest promotions and deals at some of their favorite places. These include Hooked and Pocket Points. Certainly, sometimes nothing can take the place of a cheesy, greasy slice of pizza or a juicy hamburger but for those students that want food fast but healthy, UF students have many options. Some of UF students’ favorites include:
29 82 In the Swamp – formerly Three Natives, it is located in Midtown on West University Drive, they are known for their healthy menu including Acai bowls, Smoothies, Cold Pressed Juices and Shots, Wraps, Salads and Bagels
Bento Asian Kitchen & Sushi – Now has 3 locations in Gainesville – the newest location is in the base of The Standard at Gainesville Apartments right across from the University of Florida campus. Ideal for a quick, fresh-to-order lunch or dinner. Also located on Archer Rd and one on Newberry Road. Students can pick between a rice or noodle bowl or a box which includes salad, string beans, and rice. They also have a sushi menu and build your own poke bowl.
Big Island Bowls – Located on NW 8th Avenue, they serve up smoothies, acai bowls, poke bowls and Buddha bowls.
Bolay – Located at 2905 SW 42nd St. off Archer, this concept is similar to Chipotle in that you build your own bowl using freshly prepared gluten-free ingredients. Choose from small, large or kids bols adding a base, veggies, protein, and add-ons topped with different sauces. Great for vegetarians, vegans, healthy eaters.
Daily Green– located near downtown, this establishment offers organic and locally sourced foods for everyone including vegans and vegetarians. Soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies and their original waffle cones filled with your choice of tempeh, their famous tarragon yogurt chicken salad, a lentil burger and more.
Designer Greens– located in the UF Plaza Midtown, as its name implies, they serve design-your-own salads, Panini sandwiches, and wraps. Students can pick from half or full bowl salads and grilled sandwiches picking their own protein. Half salads range from $6.69 to $7.69 with an additional charge for adding grilled chicken or sliced turkey. Grilled Sandwiches are also in the $7.00 range.
Grill Fresh – located in Midtown behind The Swamp, the restaurant serves farm to table bowls that are gluten free, dairy free, hormone and antibiotic free and no sugar added. Students can choose one of their e different bowls which vary in the number of bases (think salad, noodles, rice, and potatoes), veggies, protein, and sauce. Prices range from $7.95 to $9.95 for the bowls.
Impulse Nutrition – located on SE 2nd Avenue downtown, this smoothie and juice place is popular after work outs or for those looking for a great protein shake.
Shake Smart – Started by two college students looking to make healthy more accessible to the college on-the-go lifestyle. UF has two locations; one in the Reitz Union and one at SW Student Rec. The menu consists of the obvious shakes but also acai bowls, cold brew coffee, sandwiches, oatmeal, and wraps.
SweetBerries – located on NW 13th Street just west of University, they are known for their frozen custards with many healthy toppings. They are also known for their Concrete, a frozen custard with mix-ins of student’s choice, served upside down (thus the reason it is called concrete) and their deli sandwiches (tempeh can be substituted for any meat) and salads.
Taziki’s Mediterranean Café– located in Butler Plaza off Archer, this is a healthy favorite amongst students with daily specials, and traditional Greek fare including soups, salads, gyro’s, fish, seafood, lamb and poultry, and vegetarian options
The Top – located in downtown Gainesville, there is typically a minimum 45-minute wait on weekends to get into this hip spot known for its vegetarian and vegan options and modern take on American food. Make sure you start with either their corn nuggets or fried pickles. As a pescatarian, some of my favorite entrees are the pecan crusted tofu, the seared scallops (usually a special), and their black bean burger.
Vale Food Co – Vale Food Company is a healthy fast-casual restaurant that recently opened in Gainesville. They are based out of Tallahassee having catered to the FSU campus (we’ll overlook this). Their food model is to make healthy eating more affordable, convenient, and delicious for college students. We are talking acai bowls, avocado toast… perfect if your student (or you) is a health nut. They will be rolling out optional meal plans in the near future.
Zoe’s Kitchen– Located on Archer Road, they serve a traditional Mediterranean menu in a fast service fashion including baked feta, various hummus flavors, various salads including a Greek and Mediterranean salad, sandwiches and pita, Piadina, kabobs, and bowls.
Even at some of the fast food restaurants, if your student can resist the temptation, many offer healthy alternatives including salads, grilled proteins, and veggie burgers.