Where to Get Nourished in Charlotte: 2020
From our guide to wellness in Charlotte
Eat for Your Chakra at Lotus Soul Café
Behind the juice bar at Lotus Soul Café in Cornelius, an “honesty board” has a short list of ingredients offered that day that aren’t USDA organic. Today it’s vegan mayo and almonds, and a few customers opt to leave those ingredients out of their orders. Deciphering the food industry’s claims and checking labels in the grocery store is hard enough, and when you spend close to $10 on a matcha latte smoothie with almond milk, founders Heather Krengel and Sheila Tierney want you to know exactly what you’re getting.
They opened Lotus Soul Café last November with two main goals: gut health and immune support. The retail area brims with supplements that promise to rescue your liver, boost your dopamine, lower your stress, and balance your hormones. It’s an approach many swear by—but if you’re not inclined to spend $32 on a 4-ounce bottle of Adaptogenic superfood blend, Lotus has more affordable ways to invest in your health.
The café menu includes organic kombucha and kefir drinks on tap, juices, smoothies, and food options like Heart Beet Toast, topped with beet hummus, spinach, goat cheese, and hemp seeds; and Life of Chi Salad, made with chickpeas, red onion, tomatoes, and avocado. But look closer and you’ll see tiny dots of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or purple next to each item. That’s a color key to mark which of your seven chakras that selection will balance.
“Our bodies are made up of seven major energy sources, from the top of our crown to the base of our spine,” Tierney explains. “When we’re at our best selves, all of our chakras—or energy fields—are open.” The heart chakra, for example, is associated with balance within yourself and your relationships, and leafy green foods like kale, spinach, and bok choy heal this chakra.
Krengel, who grew up on an organic farm, built the menu with her own recipes, anchored by ingredients like chickpeas, oats, quinoa, and mixed greens, so it’s almost all vegan and paleo-friendly. Tierney, who has eased into this way of eating since she launched the business, started by swapping out dairy milk for almond milk and pasta for chickpeas. “I’m not feeling as bloated, and I’m not craving complex carbs,” she says. “Eating plant-based, organic, live food is how you heal yourself—and weight loss is just a natural thing that will happen.” —T.B.
Claim: Lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improved blood sugar control.
Experience: A plant-based diet makes you feel “more movable, more in tune with your body and how it reacts to what you feed it,” says Julia Simon, chef and co-founder of Nourish Charlotte, a vegan and gluten-free meal delivery service. When you order Nourish’s five lunches plan from the website, don’t expect five salads. A typical delivery might include Jamaican shepherd’s pie with collards, risotto-stuffed peppers, two Bodhi bowls, and one salad with cacciatore chickpeas and cauliflower. Each meal leaves you feeling full and energized, and they’re delicious.
Verdict: You won’t notice an instant change in your well-being after a week of meals from Nourish, but every dish feels like a gift to yourself. Meals are filling and flavorful and go beyond a classic house salad.
Details: The “Just Lunches” plan is $53.55 a week (if you subscribe). Without a subscription, you’ll pay $63 plus $10 for the one-time cooler fee. Nourish has many other plan options, including family plans with four dinners, breakfasts, salads, and snacks. Order at nourishcharlotte.com by Thursday for delivery on Monday or Tuesday.
Bonus: Nourish can also accommodate nut and soy allergies. Just be sure to select the nut- or soy-free meal plan when ordering. —E.W.
Claim: Improved digestion, sleep, and immune system; healthier skin, hair, and nails.
Experience: Bone broth is made from beef bones, turkey, and chicken, so it tastes warm and savory, like a richer chicken noodle soup without chicken or noodles. Sip on it as an afternoon snack or in place of your daily caffeine fix or nightly glass of wine, and you’ll probably eat less for dinner and sleep better. If you’re doing a cleanse, replace two meals a day with a pint of bone broth, and have a lean protein and vegetables for your third meal. It’s a great way to detox or reset after a weekend of heavy eating or drinking.
Verdict: A pint of bone broth is roughly 80 calories and 16 grams of protein. On a busy day, it’s great for sipping at your desk or in the carpool line. But it’s not filling like a bowl of chili. Unless you’re drinking it as part of a cleanse, it’s not a satisfying swap for a meal.
Details: Brave Bone Broth is available at Green Brothers Juice Company and Reid’s Fine Foods. One pint is $12 and lasts one week refrigerated and six months frozen.
Bonus: Sign up for Brave Bone Broth’s delivery service and receive six pints of bone broth every other week for a total of 12 pints per month for $150. Or try a half order (six pints per month) for $75 to see if it works for you. —T.B.
Claim: Improved gut health and immunity.
Experience: Kombucha is a fermented, raw, and unpasteurized drink that contains enzymes that are beneficial for the digestive system. UpDog Kombucha has a cute dog on the label and comes in seven flavors, all named after yoga poses. Founders Olivia Wolff and Lauren Miller started the company out of their dorm rooms at Wake Forest University a few years ago. Their kombucha is sweeter than vinegar-forward brands, but they don’t add any sugar after fermentation, so it’s lower in added sugar than most kombuchas at the grocery store. Drink it as a regular substitute for alcohol or soda and you’ll likely experience improved gut health, or just sip it if you have an occasional craving.
Verdict: This is an easy-to-drink kombucha that’s accessible for anybody, especially those new to kombucha. It’s not cheap, but Wolff occasionally teaches kombucha classes in Charlotte through SkillPop and other venues, so you can learn to make your own at a fraction of the price.
Details: A bottle retails at around $5, depending on where you buy it. Growler refills cost $10 (32 oz.) or $18 (64 oz.). To find UpDog, visit updogkombucha.com or @updogkombucha on Instagram.
Bonus: Find Wolff’s kombucha classes on SkillPop (skillpop.com) or at Resident Culture Brewing Company. —E.W.
DAILY ROUTINE: Jim Stouffer, Executive Chef at La Belle Helene
As executive chef at the popular uptown restaurant La Belle Helene, Jim Stouffer spends 55 to 65 hours a week in a kitchen surrounded by duck confit, boeuf bourguignon, and fromage boards. He tastes his food all day to ensure quality, and, at 46, says his weight rarely fluctuates more than 5 to 7 pounds.
This wasn’t always the case, though. In his mid-20s, Stouffer peaked at 216 pounds and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. Today he’s learned that a combination of mountain biking and intermittent fasting on his day off every Monday is the best way to keep his weight—and health—in check.
We caught up with Stouffer to see what a day of intermittent fasting looks like:
5 a.m. Wake up, get myself dressed and ready.
6 a.m. Get my boys (ages 6 and 9) up, make them breakfast, and make coffee for myself.
7:45 a.m. Drop the kids off at school.
8 a.m. Buy myself a kefir (a fermented milk drink) on the way home.
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I usually go mountain biking, sometimes at the Whitewater Center or the Rocky River Trail in Concord, and always drink plenty of water.
3:15 p.m. Pick the kids up at school.
4 p.m. Take the boys to a skate park.
5 p.m. Come home to start dinner for the kids, usually something healthy like chicken and veggies. I might pour myself a glass of wine.
6 p.m. Homework time.
8:30 p.m. Put the boys to bed.
10 p.m. Bedtime for me.