New year, new you? That’s all well and good for the first few weeks of 2014 and then, well, don’t we all begin to slip backward? One new habit worth forming (and keeping) is a periodic visit to Zeal in Boulder. This restaurant from Ironman competitor Wayde Jester and culinary director Arik Markus helps make healthy eating achievable. Zeal’s premise is simple: clean, delicious food made from organic and sustainable ingredients. Consider the eatery a scaled-down, more local version of True Food Kitchen that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Whenever you go, begin with a red juice (apple, beets, and ginger) or a green smoothie such as the mango nana with mango, pineapple, banana, apple, and choice of milk. There are add-ins like spirulina, bee pollen, and chia seeds for an additional $1.50. (Kale is one of those extras but I’m hard-pressed to spend $1.50 on a couple leaves when I could, say, buy a whole bunch at the store for the same amount.)

Follow that with the Cobb chicken sandwich, pictured, on spelt-flour bread. The combination of avocado, pastured bacon, egg, charred tomato, cashew cheese, and nutritional yeast is so hearty and satisfying that it could become your new favorite lunch. (And it’ll definitely supplant the more traditional, dressing-laden salad.) You can also order the sandwich on Kim & Jake’s gluten-free oat bread, a rice wrap, or a collard green wrap.

The Cobb, in fact, is a good metaphor for Zeal: The idea here is not finding good health through deprivation, but finding good health through whole, real, and good-tasting food.

Tidbit: As a parent of a child with food allergies, I appreciate Zeal’s careful annotation of dishes made with dairy, wheat, soy, and corn. Labels also flag vegan choices and the occasional conventionally grown ingredient. I do wish, however, that the menu noted plates containing nuts.

1710 Pearl St., Boulder, 720-708-6309

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.