Yes, Virginia, there is healthy fast food in Charlotte


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'Tis the season for fun and festivities. For weeks we whirl between office holiday parties and sparkly New Year celebrations, with a stop for family gatherings featuring the annual retelling of Uncle Bob's "hilarious" flaming turkey story.

With all the dashing about, nobody could blame you for wanting to hunker down at home for a night and let someone else do the cooking. But that doesn't mean you have to order pizza or stop off at Bigbelly Burgers. Charlotte's local food scene offers plenty of tasty, healthy alternatives to mass-produced takeout meals.

Beverlys Gourmet Foods
  • Beverly's Gourmet Foods

A natural outgrowth of a family farm, Beverly's Gourmet Foods offers a wide variety of appetizing meal options. You can start your day with vegetarian breakfast quinoa, or start your dinner with a comforting black bean soup or spicy corn chowder. If you're tired of meat-and-starch holiday meals, try a casserole of roasted vegetables or some vegan stuffed peppers (note: no vegans were harmed in the making of this dish).

With a main location inside the Mecklenberg County Market in the Dilworth/Myers Park area, Beverly's also stocks a cooler at Southend's Atherton Market. The menu shifts with the seasons, so visit the website to see what's cooking for the upcoming weeks.

Over on Elizabeth Ave, Earl's Grocery made a big splash when it opened this summer, offering more taste and variety than your neighborhood grocery store. Owners Bonnie Warford and Tricia Maddrey, of Carpe Diem fame, keep their gourmet eyes peeled for unusual and fun flavors, like Korean style beef jerky or Sriracha mayonnaise. In addition, chef Marc Jacksina, formerly of Halcyon and Nan & Byron's, is constantly adjusting his menu and recipes. While I'm partial to his "lardcore" fried-chicken Fridays, there's fun to be had with spicy kimchi collards or tangy pickled salads - think calamari or shrimp. A carefully curated selection of wine and beers will help you achieve that relaxing evening at home.

For those of us who orbit further from Uptown, there are other retailers making local food convenient. Provisions by Sandy Creek sells Carolina-sourced breads, dairy and produce in Waxhaw and Belmont, and Reid's Fine Foods recently opened a Fort Mill location at Rts. 521 and 160. If you orbit northwards, pick up a quick meal at Millstone Bakehouse on South Main St. in Davidson.

But if even one more item on your list of errands threatens to push you over the edge, a little planning can still bring healthy local food to your door. Enter Nourish, a delivery service dropping local organic and vegan meals at Charlotte doors. Each Monday a new menu goes out to their newsletter subscribers, or just find it on their website. Choose the items you want (note there's a $50 minimum), and Nourish will deliver it the following Monday or Tuesday.

If you're looking to improve your eating habits in the new year, this is seriously healthy food: locally grown, with no meat, dairy, processed sugar or gluten. Make sure to check out this diet blog as well. Yet there is still a good variety of intriguing dishes. If brussels sprouts and quinoa salad don't appeal, how about a meatless shepherd's pie or butternut squash "mac 'n' cheeze"?

Make sure to check out this diet blog as well.

Whatever your speed this busy holiday season, here's hoping you make it through to 2015 happy, healthy and just a little sane.


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