Green Junkie: Affordable Farm-to-Fork Clean Eats
For Angela Sawan, a nutrition and dietetics graduate from the American University of Beirut, healthy eating might seem second nature. But the 30-something food science expert, who formerly worked in operations at Classic Burger Joint, will readily admit that what they teach you in the classroom holds little water in real life. The cookie cutter method that often forms academic curricula is not only tedious, it doesn’t apply to every human being. Each body is metabolically unique, and it’s important to tune in to its needs so that you become the healthiest version of yourself.
Armed with that knowledge, she and her long-time friend Cynthia Farhan, a media manager, made vast strides to eat clean, wholesome, and nourishing foods. The two started experimenting with sourcing their own produce directly from Lebanese farmers and were appalled by how readily available and affordable so-called trendy foods are. Kale, baby gem lettuce, cage-free eggs, grains, microgreens, dairy – they’re all grown or produced locally and don’t command a fortune. Why, then, are restaurants and cafes and even epiceries charging exorbitantly for them? Shouldn’t high-quality food be accessible?
The duo put their heads together and decided to launch “Green Junkie,” a delivery kitchen that serves the greater Beirut area Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 9 PM. The menu, spanning everything from all-day breakfast to salads, sandwiches, mains, bowls, dips, desserts, smoothies, and quenchers, was innovated by Chef Sally Jane, an American culinary guru, food writer, and consultant who resides in Beirut and runs supper clubs, cooking classes, and a catering business.
When Cynthia first sent me the six-page menu in PDF, I was intrigued and overwhelmed all at once. I honestly felt like I wanted, nay, needed, to try everything. My eyes hovered over the Sweet Potato Eggs, offering a choice of “olive-oil-fried egg or turmeric poached organic egg on a crispy sweet potato hash brown,” cradled in a nest of lemony arugula and avocado (8,500 LBP). Sweet potato anything makes me swoon, and Cynthia confirmed that this breed of spud is one of the few items the kitchen imports, as it does not exist in Lebanon.
Sensing my indecisiveness over what to order, the girls invited me to the kitchen, housed in the basement of a building in one of the narrow side streets of Mar Mikhael, behind a mechanic’s shop. I descended the ramp to discover a kitchen as sterile as a hospital ward, with equipment humming and steel counters glistening. I immediately thought “laboratory,” and in some sense, the Green Junkie is exactly that.
|I know it's hard to look past the food, but check out that kitchen! |
Doesn't it resemble an immaculate laboratory?
It’s where fresh and inspiring ingredients come together in unforeseen combinations, tantalizing the taste buds of eaters adventurous enough to embrace them. One of the menu highlights, for example, is the Sweet Potato & Feta sandwich, layering lamelles of grilled spiced sweet potato, pickled beetroot and red onion, feta from Jarjoura Dairy in Jdita (Bekaa), and garlic cream, all inside a supple ciabatta roll from Prunelle (10,500 LBP).
|A better look at that Sweet Potato & Feta ciabatta sandwich|
Seriously? Sweet potato, beetroot, and feta? Okay, I had to try this. One bite left me, the so-called Dictionary Danielle, at a loss for words. A dizzying spell of textures, flavors, herbs, and colors held me in a trance, and I yearned for more.
We graduated to a selection of salads, first the Green Goddess boasting gluten-free rice noodles, steamed broccoli, and an add-on poached egg, animated with fennel, lemon ginger, and avocado (11,500 LBP + 1,500 LBP). As you slowly indulge in this dish, you feel your insides undergoing a cathartic cleanse. Forget those horrid juices – this is a healthy purge for your body with solid food.
|In the foreground, Green Goddess Salad with poached egg; in the background, Taco Salad|
I fell in love with the Taco Salad (15,500 LBP), even though I fumbled to draw parallels with the Tex-Mex varieties of the Southwest United States, from whence I hail. Sure, it’s got shredded chipotle chicken, avocado, jalapeno, and cilantro (props for use of the word “cilantro” over the more European “coriander!"). But the binding sauce has a Mediterranean influence, steeped in yogurt, misleading you into thinking it were tahini. It’s bold and feisty and mesmerizing.
If your palate craves the piquant, you’ll want to order the baked salmon with zoodles, or zucchini noodles, basking in a green curry sauce (22,500 LBP). This is the perfect dish to warm the belly and touch the soul on a cold winter’s day.
|Spicy curry salmon with zucchini noodles, or zoodles, with a rosemary spritzer in the background|
Frankly, I was excited about desserts – when am I not? I know. But I’m always particularly curious about how much healthfulness can be packed into sweet temptations without sacrificing the element of delight. Green Junkie exemplifies that superlatively. The coconut lime tarts are a raw dessert with a crunchy almond base, totally free from dairy, sugar, and gluten (5,500 LBP).
|Coconut lime tarts free of gluten, sugar, and dairy|
If you’re keen on meeting your 5-a-day, sample the carrot cake with coconut cream frosting. Its density evokes a cake ball and happily contains no nuts (3,000 LBP).
|Carrot cake with coconut cream|
Pair a cuppa tea or coffee with Green Junkie’s whole-wheat biscotti, brimming with lemon zest, fennel seeds and rosemary (4,500 LBP). It's so complex and fragrant, you’ll want at least half a dozen to lap up your hot beverage.
Angela and Cynthia tell me that, after a mere seven weeks of operation, they’ve already amassed a number of patrons who call in daily for a dose of the healthy. Some even request to speak with the resident nutritionist to probe into the ingredients of particular dishes and seek recommendations.
Take it from a health nut like me – once you go clean, there ain’t no going back. Sure, you sneak in a concession or two here and there, but the feeding canvas becomes wholly nutritive and good-for-you. Your body will thank you. And you, in turn, can thank Green Junkie. They're doing all of Beirut a huge service.
Delivering Mondays through Saturdays, 9 AM – 9 PM
+961 1 44 88 01 / 02