Having been gluten-free for 10 years, I’ve certainly seen the good, the bad and the ugly when dining out. While we’ve come a long way, there are still times I am underwhelmed with a meal. This is why I love True Food Kitchen. At True Food Kitchen, they value who you are and wouldn’t want it any other way. With a menu designed by Dr. Andrew Weil, True Food Kitchen updates its menu seasonally to ensure you’re enjoying the freshest ingredients around. If this is a doctor’s idea of a ‘diet,’ count me in!

True Food Kitchen Stays ‘True’ to its Name

In 2008, Dr. Weil opened the first True Food Kitchen in Phoenix to glowing response. Based on anti-inflammatory diet principles, True Food Kitchen was a pioneer in the culinary world for those looking to follow certain lifestyles. Gluten-free? Carnivore? Vegan? True Food Kitchen has something for you. Since its inauguration, True Food Kitchen has migrated to 11 more U.S. states, including Jacksonville, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee. With eight locations in California alone, I was thrilled to check out the newest summer offerings in Pasadena. The verdict? It might have been my favorite menu yet.

Let’s Do Lunch!

It was a sunny afternoon on Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard when my husband and I arrived to enjoy some lunch. With a gorgeous and open patio setting, we opted for a table right on the border of being inside for the best of both worlds. We were quickly greeted by our server, Sean, who was extremely attentive and well-informed about the newest menu. As soon as I mentioned gluten-free, he made sure to recommend some highlighted dishes. He also offered to accommodate me should there be a dish I wanted to try that was not marked as gluten-free.

I am always eager to try True Food Kitchen’s salads. What can often be a plain, predictable dish is anything but here. The spring seasonal salad ranked among my favorites last season and new plates like the Korean noodle turned out to rival past favorites.

We began with some refreshing drinks packed with antioxidants. The green tea was exactly what I needed on a hot Los Angeles day. My husband tried the Medicine Man, which boasted green tea, cherry, pomegranate, honey and sea buckthorn. While we were not familiar with the latter, you definitely can taste the heavy brewed tea. It paired well with the tart of the cherry and sweetness from the honey.

Looking for something stronger? True Food Kitchen is all about bringing people together to eat and feel better while celebrating a passion for a better lifestyle. If you’re looking to celebrate, or simply say cheers with friends, True Food Kitchen boasts a full bar. You’ll also find each season features an exciting lineup of specialty cocktails. Coffee and espresso drinks are available, too.

Enjoying the Summer Menu at True Food Kitchen. FWT Magazine.

Heirloom tomato and watermelon appetizer. (c) Mary Farah.

Appetizers and Salads

For summer, the restaurant is pulling out all the stops with its starters and salads. Who doesn’t think summer when they see watermelon? The heirloom tomato and watermelon dish will definitely get you in that summertime mood. A delectable plate full of watermelon and tomatoes is topped with coconut lime yogurt, basil, mint and toasted pistachios. This flavorful combo is going to become a new summer standard for us. It was the perfect dish to beat the heat and leave us feeling refreshed.

The Korean noodle salad is also something to be desired. It’s a perfect example of the expertise that goes into the dishes at True Food Kitchen. Where else have you heard of sweet potato glass noodles? Bok choy, cucumber kimchi, mango, kale, bean sprouts and almond lime vinaigrette make up the rest of this plate. While the kimchi makes the entree not gluten-free, there’s no problem to have it omitted so gluten-free diners can enjoy this refreshing yet savory dish. Its generous portion size makes it an ideal lunch choice.

Add in a summer cocktail like the watermelon mojito (lime-infused rum and mint) or the wild orchid (lemon-infused vodka, lavender, blueberry) and you’ve got yourself quite the summer treat in the city.

Enjoying the Summer Menu at True Food Kitchen. FWT Magazine.

Korean Noodle Salad. (c) Mary Farah.

Let’s Do Brunch

Ah, the famous Sunday brunch! It’s no surprise that True Food Kitchen rolls out the griddle favorites and mimosas (blueberry mint mimosas, no less) every weekend. While in previous seasons the pancakes wee made with multigrain flours, new quinoa-based blueberry pancakes were unveiled on the summer menu. Gluten-free folks can rejoice since they are mouth watering and delicious. Organic maple syrup and a dollop of Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of berries make up the rest of this healthier spin on a Sunday morning favorite.

Enjoying the Summer Menu at True Food Kitchen. FWT Magazine.

Blueberry pancakes. (c) Mary Farah.

Enjoying the Summer Menu at True Food Kitchen. FWT Magazine.

Dessert time. (c) Mary Farah.

If you’re in the mood for tacos, you’re in luck. The summer variation on this menu staple includes tomatillo avocado salsa, pickled jicama slaw, coconut lime yogurt, anasazi beans and a choice of grilled fish or grass-fed steak.

Don’t leave True Food Kitchen without sampling one of the desserts. I admit, the summer berries bowl did sound a bit unusual. Rice…with berries? Sean explained that they’re reducing the amount of cane sugar used and instead try to source only natural sugars. The petite bowl consists of black forbidden rice, blackberries, watermelon, macadamia nuts and coconut whipped cream. Once again, True Food Kitchen proves its creations are always top-notch. It was the perfect end to an incredible visit. The best part? Everything is healthy, vegan and just 220 calories.

The author was a guest of True Food Kitchen.  All comments and opinions are that of the author.