By Ben Olson
There is a misconception that healthy food sacrifices taste for nutrition. Let’s agree to dispel that myth — especially after eating from the menu at Sandpoint’s unique food truck, Heart Bowls.
Katie Adams and Jamie Terry started the business with a mission to build a happier and healthier community by sharing plant-based menu items structured around whole foods and so-called “superfoods.” Superfoods are mostly plant-based foods that are nutritionally dense and thus good for one’s health. Blueberries, kale, acai and salmon are popular examples.
One goal of Heart Bowls is to get rid of the obstacles in the way of eating right.
“There are a lot of hurdles to eating well, whether they’re financial, psychological or just convenience,” said Terry. “If we can lower or eliminate those hurdles, why not?”
Adams and Terry champion the return to a diet from before convenience eating became popular.
“What’s happening now is we’re going back to the ’30s, when grandmas had their gardens and we eat our vegetables,” Terry said. “It’s not complicated. People just got really confused about what food is.”
“Now people are starting to realize you can have health and convenience,” Adams added.
The menu at Heart Bowls spans from hot to cold, sweet to savory. Starting with cold options, one of the most popular choices — and one that earns a badge for being different than anything else in town — is a smoothie bowl, of which they have a half dozen varieties. This unique item, which can double as breakfast or lunch, features fruit-based smoothies prepared with special high-speed blenders and topped with granola, fresh berries, bananas, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, natural peanut butter drizzle and more. Most bowls cost $7 to $8, with various boosts available for a small extra charge. Those interested in just smoothies can buy 24-ounce portions without toppings for $8.
Adams first incorporated the smoothie bowl into her personal diet when she and her husband started traveling and eating healthy.
“I was experimenting with a raw vegan lifestyle and smoothie bowls are extremely prevalent in that lifestyle,” she said. “I discovered that blending whole foods preserved the nutrients and fiber, while juicing removes the nutrients and fiber. This bowl, in my mind, is one of the more perfect, nutritious foods to eat.”
Adams said the secret to a good smoothie is simple: put fruit in a good blender.
“You need a good blender,” Adams agreed. “The first thing my husband and I possessed and owned when we moved was a Vitamix. We literally didn’t have anything else, just our Vitamix. It’s the most valuable thing in my life.”
Another cold drinkable is the “mylkshake,” which is dairy-free and made up mostly of frozen bananas and a small amount of vanilla soy milk, as well as other natural flavorings. Most flavors go for $5.50 each.
“It’s a real whole food shake,” Adams said. “One of the more heartwarming pieces of feedback we get is, ‘I can eat this and it tastes good, but I can actually enjoy it because I know it’s not bad for me.’”
“There’s no guilt,” Terry agreed.
Rounding out the cold side of the menu, Heart Bowls offers N’Ice Cream, which is also banana-based “ice cream” with toppings that make this sundae guilt-free and delicious. N’Ice Cream Bowls cost under $7, with a small extra charge for extra toppings.
Heart Bowls also has a nice selection of warm bowls for the cold winter days.
Popular rice bowls include the Hawaiian, Southwest and Medeterranian options on top of a bed of brown and white rice. Regular sized entrees are $8 while the large costs $12 and can easily be split between two meals.
Oatmeal bowls have similar topping options as smoothie bowls, but feature a hot oatmeal base and average about $6.
Finally, the newest addition to Heart Bowls’ menu is the pancake “taco” bowls, featuring thin pancakes made without white flour or sugar.
“Our batter is made out of whole oats, applesauce and water,” Adams said. “We grind our own flour and it goes right on the griddle. It’s really like an oatmeal pancake.”
While pancake bowls can be eaten traditionally with fork and knife, Heart Bowls has options to stuff them with whole food ingredients and sell it as a “taco” that sells for around $6.
At the heart of it all, Adams and Terry have created a unique eatery that proves taste does not get sacrificed for nutrition. With a prime location next to The Longshot, diners can compliment Heart Bowls with their favorite coffee or tea.
By eliminating all or most of the dreaded triad of empty calories — salt, oil and sugar — Heart Bowls has lived up to its mission to promote a healthier community. Added touches make it even more successful, like offering only compostable, plastic-free bowls, as well as keeping prices low and portions large to help entice more people to consider a healthier option. They also have a selection of baked goods made without any butter or oil.
It’s possible Adams and Terry are using some sort of magic inside that food truck on Boyer, but it probably makes more sense that they just care about good food that’s good for you — and they want to share the fruits of their labor with others.
“I know how much [eating well] changed my life,” Adams said. “I know how much better I feel eating good food that is benefiting the planet and not destroying it. That feeling was so powerful, I couldn’t help but give it back to our community.”
“Because of loss early in my life, I became very aware of our time here, that it’s shorter than we want it to be,” Terry said. “In the time we have, deep down I believe we all want to make an impact, and it’s a lot easier to do that when we have our health. It’s the first thing we take for granted and when it goes, it’s the only thing we want.”
Heart Bowls is open seven days from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., located at 102 S. Boyer Ave., just east of The Longshot at the intersection of Hwy 2 and Boyer. If you haven’t tried it yet, take this reporter’s advice: Everything is amazing.
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