6 Health-Forward Food Options to Improve Your Diet

Andrew J. Stillman, Monterey Bay Food Tours Blogger

Looking for healthy diet options? Well, even we over here at the Monterey Bay Food Tours are always on the hunt for healthy, locally sourced foods. While we show you some great options and have you taste some farm-to-table favorites on our Old Monterey Food Tour, we also wanted to share some ideas about things you could buy for yourself if you’re looking to make your diet a little healthier.

Photo courtesy of  Katie’s Cold Press

Photo courtesy of Katie’s Cold Press

Katie’s Coldpress

Juice cleanses are a popular way to supercharge your system with fresh, raw nutrients, and they can be a great transitional tool toward better eating habits. Like anything, when it comes to choosing a juice, there’s a wide range of options. Juices on the shelves at grocery stores aren’t pressed on-site by the store and have to be pasteurized. They’re easier to grab on the go, but don’t contain the fresh enzymes you’d get from a truly raw cold-pressed juice, and there’s a big difference in the flavor.

For folks in Monterey, you can always check out Katie’s Coldpress juices (also featured in Big Little Lies) to taste the difference for yourself. Be sure to ask her about her juice cleanses, one of which our fearless leader, Casey, tried out for herself.

Photo courtesy of  Helene Benson Photography

Photo courtesy of Helene Benson Photography

The Bitter Ginger

If you thought bitters only tastes good in cocktails, you’re mistaken. Bitters actually help out your digestive health, boost the immune system, and can even take a load of stress off your shoulders — something we all need every once in a while. When it comes to digestion, bitters mixes with the stomach acid to help your body process your food better. Paired with something like ginger or turmeric, it provides the best immunity boost.

Be sure to the check out The Bitter Ginger and his selection of bitters choices. They come straight out of Big Sur, are made in small batches, and most of the herbs and citrus are sourced from their own property. We think the high quality and fresh ingredients make them pretty unbeatable! Our go-to flavor is Blood Orange, but we’ll leave it up to you to choose a favorite for yourself.

Photo courtesy of  Almighty Kombucha

Photo courtesy of Almighty Kombucha

Almighty Kombucha

Kombucha is arguably the most popular option on this list. It provides you with some necessary probiotics, has the same health benefits as green tea, kills bacteria, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease — just to name a few reasons people love it so much. Although the vinegar-esque taste is acquired for some, it’s hard to deny how much better you feel after drinking it frequently.

While there’s no shortage of places to find kombucha, if you’re in the Monterey area and love farmer’s markets, we always recommend Almighty Kombucha. We often offer it as an alternative for those not drinking alcohol at some of the stops on our tours. They, like many other local restaurants and products over the last year, were featured in season 2 of HBO’s Big Little Lies, and we couldn’t help our excitement anytime we saw Zoe Kravitz drinking one! With fall just around the corner, be sure to check out their Apple Pie flavor while it lasts.

Photo courtesy of  Helene Benson Photography

Photo courtesy of Helene Benson Photography

Carmel Berry Company

We might have the tiniest little bit of a sweet tooth, which is why we’re super huge fans of Carmel Berry Company’s Elderflower Cordial and Elderberry Syrup. The flowers themselves on an elderberry tree are the only things edible apart from the berries, and the buds are believed to provide antiseptic and anti-inflammatory remedies when applied as a topical. As for the elderberries, they provide one of the highest sources of antioxidants and help boost the immune system.

On our Old Monterey Food Tour, you can try these out for yourself in the Joseph Boston Store, or you can visit the Carmel Berry Company’s website for more information. Be sure to try their recipe for the Elderflower 75, which can be found on their website or in our September newsletter.

Photo courtesy of  Historic Garden League

Photo courtesy of Historic Garden League

The Honey Ladies

Another surprisingly healthy option to curb our sweet tooth cravings is none other than good, old fashioned honey. Honey provides antioxidants, the same as the elderberries, and it’s a better sweet option for people who suffer from diabetes. The antioxidants in honey can also help lower your blood pressure, if that’s something you suffer from, as well. When used as a topical, it also helps out with burns and open wounds.

For great, local Monterey County honey, we always recommend The Honey Ladies. Unfortunately, The Honey Ladies were victims in the Gilroy Garlic Festival shootings, but we’re happy to report they survived the attack. If you buy any of their honey at the Joseph Boston Store, the proceeds go to their medical bills, so we encourage you to help them out in any way you can! Additionally, if you’re interested in our Old Monterey Food Tour or any of the other tours we provide, we’re putting aside 15% of all gift card purchases through the end of September to their donations, as well!

Photo courtesy of  Helene Benson Photography

Photo courtesy of Helene Benson Photography

Big Sur Salts

Did you know there’s much more to salt than the simple white granules that sit on your dinner table? Well, until we discovered Big Sur Salts, we didn’t know there were so many options either! Delivering coastal quality that tastes like a sea breeze, we recommend Big Sur Salts for, well, anything, really! Put it on your cheese, on your ice cream, or just in your hand to taste their different flavors for yourself!

If you come along on our Old Monterey Food Tour, we offer a tasting of the salts with Schoch Family Farmstead’s Farmstead Jack cheese (the only Monterey Jack still produced in Monterey County) and the Mount Toro Tomme. We didn’t believe salt and cheese were a good mix until we tried it, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same! Check out their Alvarado Salt, which takes you on a culinary adventure down Alvarado Street in Monterey.

Have you tried any of these for yourself? What healthy foods and recipes do you like and use? Let us know in the comments!