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Get Real

The Real Food Movement gains ground in Eagle.

By Shawn King
Photography by Candace Sweet

“The closer we get to the dirt as consumers, the happier and healthier we’ll be.” Though this statement is probably not accepted as an axiom yet, a growing number of people think it should be, including some local restaurant owners. Groups have popped up all over the country urging consumers to buy local, eat quality non-GMO (genetically modified organism) foods, and encourage others to do the same. In this article, we’ll take a look at three Eagle restaurants that are on the leading edge of the Real Food Movement in the Treasure Valley.

Perks of Life
Heather Andrade, Owner

Pushing six feet tall, with curly locks that only red-heads can get away with, Heather Andrade is not the stereotypical image of a self-described baker. She runs Perks of Life, a cozy coffee shop just east of downtown Eagle that hums with the energy of devoted, loyal customers. One reason for that loyalty is Andrade’s passion to produce real food to perfection.

Every single pastry at Perks of Life is made from scratch, and a full 50 percent of the offerings are gluten-free. They use no soy milk, opting instead for rice or coconut milk (their favorite) because research on soy (a darling of food purists for over a decade), suggests that it’s been tainted by genetic modification and hormones. Andrade opined that she’d rather use raw milk if it was legal, and unfortunately you can’t run a coffee shop without offering soy.

Perks makes their own gluten-free flour blends to accommodate a growing number of customers looking for options in restaurants– even if it costs more. Heather isn’t sure if her customers are willing to pay an extra dollar for a cup of coffee to support cleaner foods, but her flourless brownie is a delicious example of what can be done when you make an ethical principle one of your primary ingredients.

Willow Creek Grill
Scott Weiss, General Manager

Willow Creek Grill sports a menu that appeals to a broad demographic while focusing on healthy fare. The location opened four years ago and is now an upscale mainstay in Eagle. If you’re worried about taste, their “What the Kale” salad, uses baby kale which passes as spring mix instead of mature leaves that seem more appropriate as cooking greens or a garnish than as a salad base. Accented with chili-roasted pecans and topped with salmon, this alternative to traditional salad provides anti-oxidants, protein, and Omega-3’s through mostly local products. All of the many salads on the menu are also available in a hand-held version as wraps.

The General Manager, Scott Weiss, is excited about their regular sushi-making classes every third Saturday that teach people how to appreciate food quality and begin eating with their eyes. Willow Creek offers diners the trifecta of Real Food initiatives– real, local, and promoted.

Bowl of Heaven
Gigi Davis, Owner

Gigi Davis, the owner of Bowl of Heaven, defied conventional wisdom 14 years ago when her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. “The best answer was that we basically just take the drugs and let him slowly die, and that wasn’t really an option,” declared Davis. Sparked by the belief that our bodies are fabulous self-healers, Bowl of Heaven emphasizes plant-based, nutrient-dense, super foods that help people live a healthier and more productive life. And you can tell, Davis rocks life. A scuba diving instructor and boot camp aficionado with a personal philosophy of “work hard, play hard, and refuel,” her goal is to take her entire family scuba diving on her 90th birthday.

“We run our bodies like jet airliners and we fuel them like lawn mowers—it makes no sense,” quipped Davis. Bowl of Heaven seeks to serve a wave of health conscious consumers that they feel is representative of Eagle as a community. They offer health classes and bio-photonic scanners (featured on the Dr. Oz show) that measure anti-oxidant levels, and they serve up pure food for busy go-getters who are taking a goal-oriented approach to fitness and health makeovers.

The Acai bowl contains pureed Brazilian acai, overnighted for freshness, combined with a few other ingredients like pomegranate, local honey, blueberries, and organic granola. You can’t really get much closer to what nature intended than what Davis serves in these bowls of heaven.