- Alex Springer
The advent of spring typically has a way of sweeping away the psychological cobwebs and dust bunnies that my seasonal depression has accumulated, but this year I'm feeling particularly energized. Does it have anything to do with this spring coinciding with a vaccine that will combat not only the deadly pandemic but the mental straitjacket that I have sewn myself into?
All the same, this surge of positive energy has got me cleaning up my house and my habits, which means I've started to pay attention to food that has a similar effect. If you're in the same mindset—or just after some tasty, wholesome eats—it's time to check out Protein Foundry (multiple locations, theproteinfoundry.com). This self-styled health bar is packed with all kinds of health-conscious items that don't skimp on flavor.
The foundation of Protein Foundry's menu consists of thick, blended smoothies that consist of their famous acai, pitaya and Greek yogurt bowls, along with their drinkable Shakeouts. All of these pair well with their selection of gourmet toasts, which carry the savory side of the menu admirably. The goal of Protein Foundry is to deliver foods with the right amount of protein, antioxidants, vitamins and flavor to win over even the most stalwart of junk food enthusiasts—like me, for example.
Protein Foundry has done an excellent job of creating and maintaining its comfy post-workout vibe throughout its existence. From the reclaimed wood of its tables and finishes to the exposed brick of its accent wall, this is a place that calls to those who enjoy an active lifestyle—the place is replete with yoga pants and tousled ponytails on a regular basis. Since I'm in the process of transitioning from milkshakes to smoothies, I needed something from both worlds during my most recent visit.
I picked up the PB Edge Shakeout ($6.25) and the Snickerdoodle Shakeout ($6.25) for me and my wife, both of which are nice dessert-adjacent options. The PB Edge blends bananas, strawberries and blueberries with almond milk, organic peanut butter and chocolate whey protein powder. If you're a peanut butter fan at all, this is an excellent choice. The almond milk enhances the peanut-buttery-ness with its own nutty flavor, and the fruit combo is an ideal complement to this base layer of flavors. I would not have pegged blueberries and peanut butter as a good team, but I wouldn't have this Shakeout any other way.
Cinnamon is a tricky flavor to capture in a mixed-media smoothie, but the Snickerdoodle does it nicely. This too has the foundational flavors of almond milk along with almond butter, but the addition of raw oats helps create the cookie dough flavor that really sets up the cinnamon. Banana and vanilla whey protein powder are in there for some added sweetness, and they've even tossed in some creamy avocado to keep the whole thing from going off the saccharine rails. Even if these two options aren't up your alley, you're likely to find some iteration of a childhood favorite on Protein Foundry's list of Shakeouts. Try the raspberry cheesecake ($6.25) or the coconut and cacao Mounds of Joy ($6.25) if the former options don't tickle your fancy.
Protein Foundry is perhaps best known for its acai and pitaya—more commonly known as dragon fruit—bowls, packed with antioxidants and other goodies that are good for you. I tried the Velvet Samba Acai Bowl ($10.95) since I liked the idea of a raspberry and dark chocolate co-venture. The base of this fruity beast consists of acai, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, pomegranate and banana, all of which are bangers when paired with dark chocolate. The aforementioned dark chocolate topping gets mixed with organic hemp granola for some added crunch, along with some fresh raspberries and bananas. It's all suspiciously luxurious for something served at a health bar, which is why it's perfect for anyone who visits Protein Foundry with skepticism.
Though the menu does tend to lean sweet with its various fruit-based offerings, those craving savory will want to spend some quality time with Protein Foundry's gourmet toast options. I had to try the Cali Avocado Toast ($6.50) since I'm an entitled millennial, and I gotta say that it's well worth skipping out on that last mortgage payment for a slice of this goodness. All of Protein Foundry's toasts are made from sprouted wheatberry bread and artfully topped with their respective fixings—in my case, it was cottage cheese, avocado slices, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt and crushed pepitas. The kicker for me was the red pepper flakes—I'd never had that on avocado toast before, and now I don't think I can be expected to go back.
If you're on an upward spiral and looking for some healthy but tasty eats along the way, Protein Foundry and its various locations around town have you covered.