We hope you embraced some last-minute gluttony in 2014 because now that the New Year is here, we’re attempting to reel in our appetites. From a far-from-average kale salad to gluten-free roasted cauliflower masala, here are five healthy ways to enjoy yourself at Chicago restaurants.
Kale’s domination over the world of leafy greens lives on in Chef John Manion’s Latin-inspired salad. The menu staple is tossed in a toasty, roasted poblano dressing and generously sprinkled with Cotija cheese, pepitas, freshly sliced jalapeño, and bright, crunchy radishes. It’s also pretty sizeable, so it’ll fill you up without making you feel guilty. 954 W. Fulton Market, 312-226-5300
We love a good beef or tuna carpaccio just as much as the next foodie, but when it comes to something truly light, guilt-free, and delicious, we’re hard-pressed to do better than the vegetarian-friendly version at this Oak Street oasis. Paper-thin slices of fresh zucchini are delicately arranged on the plate, drizzled with lemon and Picholine olive oil, and finished with pine nuts and flakes of parmesan; make a meal of it with something else small, such as crostini or Provençal carrot and thyme soup. 104 E. Oak St., 312-445-0060
Davanti Enoteca may be best known for its hearty pastas, pizzas, and protein-centric entrées, but thanks to a refreshing, well-balanced farro salad, opting for a healthier option is as easy as it is satisfying. The farro itself offers a gentle crunch, while roasted butternut squash, creamy bits of goat cheese, hazelnuts, and watercress give it a boost of nutrients—and plenty of flavor. 30 E. Hubbard St., 312-605-5900
Looking for something gluten-free and light? The roasted cauliflower masala at Max’s only tastes rich—it’s actually packed with protein, vitamins, and a healthy dose of your daily veggie requirement. The cauliflower sits atop of a bed of braised French lentils and beneath a flurry of sliced almonds, and is finished with a generous helping of thick tomato garam masala. 1482 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-661-6581
For those times when you want to think outside the salad, try Chef Takashi’s miso-glazed yam cake served with tofu, eggplant, and oba. Despite its size, it’s loaded with comforting notes that we’ve come to associate with Chef Takashi’s cooking, and it's a great alternative to the hard-to-resist noodle and bao offerings. 116 W. Hubbard St., 312-464-0466