If I close my eyes and think about a place I wish existed – a place created to satisfy my every health food craving – I would envision a place called “Green & Tonic”. I would go there every day for fresh pressed juice. Lunch would be a green and gorgeous salad with nuts, quinoa, peppers, carrots, and avocado. Snacks would be almond-date chips and coconut rice pudding. Do I have your attention healthy food lovin’ people? It’s time to revive with real food.
Don’t we all crave real food?
If you thought this post was just a pipe-dream about a place I wish existed – then you thought wrong. Green & Tonic – a fabulous chain of good food outposts – is alive and kicking! It’s in downtown Greenwich. It’s in Cos Cob. It’s in Darien. And it may be coming to your town soon. It’s vegan – but man does the food pack a punch!
The space inside each location is calm, cool, and collected. You feel healthier when you walk in.
The Precious Wall Decor
Words To Live By
And the products they carry are truly unique. They offer up options for those with almost any food parameters.
And the owners… Cai and Jeff Pandolfino are stellar. They have each been working in the food industry for years – but this seems to be their greatest passion project. They love what they do. It’s hard work – but they love it.
The Line Up
Salads to Go
Cai and Jeff are that perfect balance of healthy, fun, laid back, and really well educated. If you want to understand why GMOs are bad – stop in at the Greenwich G&T, order up an Ultimate Warrior (apple cider, aloe vera juice, kale, bananas, chia seeds, spinach and camu camu) and ask Cai to start talking. She is a wealth of knowledge. I threw a couple questions her way and here’s what she had to say.
Q&A with Cai Pandolfino of Green & Tonic
Why did you decide to open Green & Tonic?
We found ourselves looking for quick, healthy eating alternatives in the neighborhood and kept coming up empty. We love drinking juice, but juicing at home is really labor intensive and messy! There was a moment when we looked at each other, and said, why not? Maybe this is a perfect new collaboration for us! We’d been in the food business for ages but loved the new challenge of learning the principles of cooking seriously healthy food and developing recipes without the crutches of rich, fatty ingredients. We wanted to create crave-worthy foods that were vegetarian, dairy free, and (some) gluten free, while working with nutrient-dense “super foods” and organic/non-GMO ingredients. The world of healthy eating is a maze of evolving information and an often confusing convergence of food, marketing, science, and medicine. It was a steep learning curve and an awesome challenge to take on both as cooks and ‘food entrepreneurs’, but I think the result was exactly what we had been looking for as consumers. G&T is an accessible, approachable, “go-to” where someone else has done the thinking – and the work for you.
What can people expect to see/eat/drink when they come in?
We feature a a full line of cold pressed juices and smoothies, and a new line of hot and iced beverages. We offer a number of boosters and plant proteins for our beverages.
Cold Pressed Convenience
To eat, we have a line of breakfast bars, oatmeal, and coconut yogurt. At lunch and dinner, lots of salads for grab and go, grain and bean-based side salads, and a variety of soups to eat hot or cold – or over grains for a heartier meal. We strive to keep it simple and delicious – with options to take home, eat in the store, or on the go.
Chia Pudding – I love you
Tinctures and Tonics
Our menu is vegan. We offer many gluten free options. We are almost totally organic/non-GMO (always working towards 100%!).
What are the benefits of doing a “cleanse”?
I know it sounds crazy, but I’m not a huge proponent of the “cleanse” craze unless you already eat very clean and want to ease into a periodic juice cleanse (mainly greens!). We recommend a “food & juice reset” which is basically a gentle transition into eating super clean. It incorporates both food drinks (juices and nut mylks) that include the essential vitamins, minerals, good fats, and (plant) proteins that enable you to ditch your sugar/carbohydrate/alcohol/
In general, the world of eating super clean can be daunting for people. I don’t think it benefits anyone to be truly miserable. That said, I don’t consider really wanting a glass of chardonnay miserable! There are always a few concessions to make, but the benefits to owning your health is empowering, and many people get this really euphoric sense of well-being and accomplishment after proving to themselves that that CAN do without the junk- and actually do and feel remarkably better… (and by better, I don’t mean just the way they look in a bathing suit!)
Good For You
As for cleansing, I think a healthy, alkaline body does a remarkably good job of cleansing itself. The challenge is getting our bodies to a consistent baseline of being well hydrated, well fed, well exercised, and well rested. A three day juice cleanse just doesn’t fit the bill. That’s why we try to offer solutions to making healthy eating something our customers can do every day.
What are the benefits of eating more fruits and veggies? More energy? Weight loss?
We talk about “plant-based” eating, which basically means making vegetables and fruit the center of your meals. Meat and dairy (if necessary) should decorate the plate, not form the foundation of a meal. We chose to stick to a totally vegan menu in the store, but we live and eat plant-based. I think this kind of eating works best for a young family. As for the benefits – fruit and vegetables provide us with all the nutrition that’s vital to our ongoing good health. When I eat this way, my weight is lower, my energy is higher (and more consistent), I sleep better, and feel better waking up. Other benefits include that we eat a more varied seasonal diet, and the cost is much lower when you consume fruits and vegetables. A plant based diet usually means many fewer runny noses and flu bugs – we stay remarkably more healthy in general!
The Salad Bar
Quite Possibly the Cutest Thing in the Joint – It’s a REAL Lemon People!
What’s your favorite drink on the menu? Food?
Oooh! Such a tough choice! My day starts with an Ultimate Warrior with a Power Shake (greens) boost. It keeps me full all morning – and it’s perfect post workout.
In the afternoon, I’m a sucker for the Matcha Fireball, which is a blend of our Fireball (spicy lemonade) and Matcha (green tea powder). I add a little Kamut (wheatgrass) to the blender (when in doubt, make it green!). Blended with ice, it makes a perfect summer drink with a little kick from the green tea. Way better than the standard iced coffee drink and keeps me rolling right through the late afternoon/dinner prep time that can be such a drag.
The Matcha Fireball
I love the Spice Market Salad (greens with sprouted almonds, scallions, curried quinoa, cilantro, peppers, cucumbers and our hemp-honey mustard dressing).
Spice Market Salad
(the dressing is so good I drank the leftovers)
For a filling, healthy treat, the Cacao Chia Bars are a big favorite.
Well Cai and Jeff – you had me at hello… You all know I am going to be a regular. And how cool is this? Green & Tonic will be hosting “Healthy Happy Hours” on a regular basis. Stop in to the Cos Cob location this Thursday (June 27th) at 5:30pm to hear a Certified Healthcare Counselor talk about foods that “feed and nourish” your body. Nice.