Rachel, I’m so excited to hear more about Zoës Kitchen and your focus on the Mediterranean-style of eating!
The Mediterranean diet is receiving rave reviews from respected health organizations and nutrition advocates. I like to refer to it as a way of eating and not a diet, because it really emphasizes healthy eating and a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Recent research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has some great short and long term health benefits. In fact, a large research study following more than 1.5 million adults showed that a Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced risks of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. So it is definitely THE eating style for overall health and well-being.
I know Zoës is very innovative in focusing on the Mediterranean way of eating in all that you do, so tell us about that.
Yes, Americans are discovering the Mediterranean diet and its health related benefits. At Zoës Kitchen, we pride ourselves on providing a distinct menu of wholesome, Mediterranean-inspired dishes and it all began with our founder, Zoë Cassimus, whose family was from the Mediterranean. She inspired our menu through her family recipes, which are rich in tradition and symbolize the deep appreciation for nutritious food that you’ll find in the Mediterranean countries.
What makes the Mediterranean diet so great is that it emphasizes simple and fresh ingredients that are full of flavor. At Zoës Kitchen, our menu features an abundance of fresh produce and lean proteins that are predominantly preservative and additive-free. Therefore, we feel it’s not about restriction but instead, bringing back the enjoyment of eating.
We recently introduced guests to “Live Mediterranean”—our focus is to help people understand all the ways you can incorporate Mediterranean traditions in life. Specifically we’re sharing how this can be beneficial to health and general wellness. And although our focus is on food, we took it a bit further and leaned on four pillars – Eat, Cook, Connect and Live – that celebrate rich Mediterranean traditions.
AJM: I really love that philosophy. It’s refreshing to know that there are alternatives to the hurried American way of life. What are some of the most popular dishes at Zoës Kitchen that people should try?
RPL: We launched the Quinoa Salad about a year ago, and people love it. Our chicken kabobs are another favorite. They are so moist and easy to eat, and they are served with your choice of fresh sides and pita bread. And we have salmon, shrimp and beef kabobs, so there is something for everyone. Our guests also really like the orzo-tabouli salad. It has baby spinach, mixed greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and lemon vinaigrette. And, of course, the pita sandwiches are guests’ favorites. We prepare everything from scratch, so we can customize meals and offer gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items. We also do not have any nut products – that is a conscious decision so that we can serve those with nut allergies as well.
AJM: I love the Mediterranean Tuna Pita Sandwich at Zoës. No mayo, and all the flavor comes from the albacore, capers, olives and onions. It is really great! How about your kids’ menu?
RPL: We have a varied kids’ menu, although we see a lot of families order several items from our core menu and share them. Kids love the hummus and pita, quinoa salad and kabobs. I’m a mom of four, and it makes me happy and excited to see that parents are rising to the challenge and forming healthy habits when their kids are young. It is also great to see younger children enjoying Mediterranean foods. I love watching my two year old, Jack, eat quinoa and hummus. Kids’ palates are changing; they are more sophisticated now. We will be reinventing our kids’ menu in the future and will be looking at ways we can incorporate more full-flavor items that kiddos will love.
AJM: That is great! Congratulations on all the ways that Zoës Kitchen is contributing to creating a healthier America. We are thrilled to have you as a partner on HealthyDiningFinder and look forward to enjoying more wholesome, Mediterranean-inspired dishes from Zoës Kitchen in the future