Indulgence Without Regret

Healthy comfort food options in The Park.
You'll be on trend if you order this delicious kale salad from Yum! filled with flavor and nutrients.

Another new year is upon us, and with it comes another shot at losing those last15 pounds. We all know diet and exercise work in tandem to create a healthy individual. Tohelp keep the diet half of the bargain, we asked chefs from six St. Louis Park restaurants to share their favorite healthy dishes. These vegan, gluten-free and traditional dishes offer a healthy alternative for dining out and are so fresh you’ll never want to see another Big Mac.

Sunrise Stir Fry

Wok in the Park

The key to a healthy diet and lifestyle is being in control. Wok in the Park offers a bevy of fresh fruits and veggies so you can create the perfect custom dish. The sunrise stir fry brings together your choice of meat with pineapple, pea pods, carrots, cashews and onions ($11). Order it with crisp veggies, succulent chicken, pork or tofu, for a delicious gluten-free dish that’s always different. “I love it because it’s a perfect blend of fruits, nuts and vegetables in a flavorful, medium-spiced, creamy turmeric sauce,” says manager Grace Ray. Bonus feature: Turmeric is heart-healthy and known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.3005 Utah Ave. S; 952.657.5754.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Cooper Pub

Nothing says “comfort” quite like a traditional, filling meal from decades past. The chefs at Cooper Pub are masters of tradition and experts in flavor. While corned beef and cabbage can dial up the calories, executive chef Nick Hess recommends asking for a leaner cut of the corned beef and substituting veggies on the side to lighten the load. Let’s not forget that the occasional indulgence is permitted. If you’re going full Irish, order it with the red potatoes and garlic cream sauce ($13.75). 1607 Park Place Blvd.; 952.698.2000.

Falafel Platter

Vitali’s Bistro

Vitali’s Bistro has established itself as one of the hottest destinations for all-natural, healthy vegan dining. That’s no small feat for a restaurant that opened just a year ago. Using organic ingredients whenever possible, VitaliLogmanand his crew of culinary artists create dishes like the falafel platter, made with no artificial colors or flavor. A trifecta of hummus, falafel and Israeli salad make this platter one of the bistro’s most ordered items ($14.99). Logmansays the different ingredients balance each other; the freshness of the Israeli salad offsets the warm falafel bowl to create a plate with a variety of flavors that work in harmony. “Everybody eats the entire dish,” he adds. You don’t have to be a vegan to clean your plate—it’s just that good. 5101 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.929.1075.

Kale Salad

Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

Yum! is famous for its rotating menu, bringing customers the freshest dishes for the right season. To welcome all of the “newly resolved” into 2014, Yum! has cooked up three healthy items that can be eaten separately or paired for the perfect lunch. The kale salad offers a fresh blend of currants, carrots, tomatoes, shaved Parmesan cheese and pine nuts drizzled with a house lemon vinaigrette ($8.95). Add chicken for $2 if you need a protein boost. If you’re craving a soup and salad, owner Patti Soskin recommends the veggie sandwich ($7.95) and low-fat pea soup ($3.95 cup/$4.95 bowl). The veggie sandwich is packed with avocado, cucumber, sprouts, tomato, spinach, cheddar and Muenster cheese, with a honey mustard on whole-grain bread. Eating your vegetables has never tasted so good. 4000 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.922.4000.

Grilled Garden Burger

Bunny’s Bar & Grill

One of the hardest parts of dieting is abstaining from the foods we love. High on the list of foods to avoid are burgers. Fortunately, Bunny’s grilled garden burger is a healthy alternative to keep burger lovers happy while avoiding the grease and fat. Bite into an all-natural black bean burger, grilled and served on an onion roll with lettuce, tomato, red onion and your choice of cheese ($8.95). Substitute fries with fresh fruit or veggies, and reclaim one of your favorite guilty pleasures. This healthy vegetarian option is so delicious, you’ll think you’re cheating on your diet. 5916 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.922.9515.

Shrimp Flatbread

Mill Valley Kitchen

You could say that healthy comfort food is Mill Valley Kitchen’s specialty. All of their ingredients are fresh and local, with nutritional information even provided on their menu. We recommend the delicious shrimp flatbread sandwich. This whole-grain flatbread is overflowing with fresh shrimp, roasted tomato, red chili and savory garlic ($13). The best part is that this dish is only 474 calories, with 35 grams of protein. Pair it with a cup of vegan chili ($3.50), and you’ve got the perfect post-workout meal. 3906 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.358.2000.