Thursday, September 29, 2011

Litestars Serves Up Big Flavors With Less Calories

This fast-casual restaurant in Foggy Bottom truly believes that fast food can be healthy after all. Litestars proclaims itself as “the healthier quick bistro” and it certainly lives up to its name. The menu features Soupdrinks, Gourmet Salads and Tartlets, all made with the freshest ingredients to help those on the go make nutritious, but delicious, food choices.

Walking through the pristine kitchen, it is apparent that Chef Annie Leconte takes great pride in the quality of her equipment, products and ingredients. Upon entering, I immediately realized there was something missing – there is no freezer to be found in this kitchen. No soups that were made two weeks ago, no proteins past their shelf-life, only fresh vegetables and ingredients are used to ensure that all the nutrients remain in the food when they get to the customer.
For me, the highlight here is the individually-sized tartlets. There are seven different choices, three of which are vegetarian: Bison, Turkey, Chicken, Salmon, Zucchini, Tomato and Ratatouille (the last two are also vegan). The dough for the tartlets is made every day using whole wheat flour and palm shortening in order to keep the fat and calories at a minimum. Baked tarts are changed out every two hours to ensure that each one is at the peak of freshness.

I tried both the Bison and the Zucchini tartlets for comparison. The Bison tartlet was generously filled with juicy meat, tomatoes, egg whites and mozzarella. It was hearty and could certainly satisfy a carnivore looking for a healthy lunch alternative.

The Zucchini tartlet, my personal favorite, was fluffy (egg whites), creamy (sour cream), cheesy (mozzarella) and absolutely delicious. Who knew you could pack so much flavor into a 270 calorie tart? When compared to a high-calorie traditional quiche it was just as yummy, without any of the guilt.
They also offer multiple gourmet salad options, many of which feature grains to keep you full longer. The stand out salad, and a popular choice among customers, is the Mango Chicken Gourmet Salad which is packed with mango chunks, dried cranberries, chicken and a curry-style spice mixture. It is also gluten-free, low cholesterol and free of saturated fats – BONUS!
Last, but certainly not least, Litestars features seven varieties of Soupdrinks, which can be likened to a savory smoothie. This makes a great portable meal and the flavors are switched out seasonally to either warm you up or keep you cool as you’re running around town. The Emerald Soupdrink, which is the only chilled option to remain on the menu throughout winter, contains cucumber, pineapple, apple juice and spices. It still maintained the refreshing aspect of a smoothie, but is a much more substantial option than the sugary drinks we are used to. If you’re looking for something with a bit more kick, try the Funshine Soupdrink featuring butternut squash, gala apples, and a spicy finish. All of the Soupdrinks are vegan, gluten-free and naturally sweetened.

By: Ashley Murray
Capital Cooking Contributor

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