Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s new COVID-19 guidelines mean for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible.
If there’s ever been a time to want to boost immunity, reduce stress, improve overall health and save the planet, it’s now. As Oregonians well know, food has the power to do all of that, as we carefully consider our habits during the COVID-19 pandemic and take the time for much-needed self-care. Here are some ways to support Oregon’s booming food-and-drink wellness brands in 2021 and feel like your best you at the same time.
Natural Energy Drinks: Looking to cut back on coffee but still needing a healthy boost? Consider the feel-good fuel at Bend-based Riff called Alter Ego — an all-natural, sparkling energy drink made with upcycled coffee fruit (cascara), the naturally sweet and naturally caffeinated fruity pulp that surrounds the coffee bean and is typically a wasted byproduct of harvest. Alter Ego won a recent award for its sustainable impact at the 2020 Bend Venture Conference.
Green Tea: Perhaps an herbal brew is more your cup of tea? Black woman-owned Mamancy Tea & Chocolate in Beaverton offers a variety of curated teas from around the world, including the Green Tea Energy, packed with EGCG polyphenols with a variety of health benefits. Don’t forget the rock star of green teas, matcha, the bright-green Japanese elixir that’s said to have 10 times as many antioxidants as traditional green tea, with all of its immunity-boosting benefits. Find matcha at most tea shops, including Stash Tea and Steven Smith Teamaker (which has its own wellness collection), and smaller shops offering online delivery, like Cup of Tea in Clackamas, the Teapot on Wheels in Medford and Salem-based Minto Island Tea Company, which farms its own organic, small-batch, handpicked teas in Willamette Valley. Based in the Mt. Hood & Columbia Gorge Region, sustainability-minded Mountain Mel’s produces loose-leaf herbal teas to boost women’s health.
Boosted Coffee: If you can’t put down your morning java, why not give it a natural jolt? Green Salmon Coffee Company in Yachats sells fair-trade, organic hemp oil-infused coffee (fresh-roasted beans available by the pound for online orders), known for its full-body physical and mental health benefits. And maybe you’ve heard about the craze over stress-busting adaptogen herbs, found in mushrooms (not the hallucinogenic kind), which can be mixed as a powder into your coffee or tea. Portland-based Roots & Crowns is an online shop that sells just the potion: Their Cocoa Dust is made from a blend of nine ingredients including Oregon-grown lion’s mane mushrooms, the stress-fighting ashwagandha herb, gingko and cacao.
Kefir and Kombucha: If you’ve been looking to harness the power of probiotics for better gut health, beverages are an easy way to do that. Portland-based Driftwest Water Kefir sells cans of non-GMO sparkling drinks in fresh-fruit flavors, sourcing its ingredients from local companies like Oregon Fruit, Columbia Gorge Organic, Starvation Alley Farms and GloryBee. The raw drinks are dairy- and gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar and nonalcoholic, made from culturing water and organic cane sugar with kefir “grains” — the live culture known as SCOBY. Kefir is a cousin of kombucha, the fermented beverage everyone either loves or hates, but that has been growing in the marketplace as Oregon craft brewers tinker with flavors. Try the fiery Golden Goddess flavor at Elevate Kombucha in Eugene (now selling from their outlet store in the same building as their brewing space), made with a green tea blend, ginger, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, agave and cayenne powder, and available for home delivery. Hood River-based One Breath Beverage offers locals a chance to get their fill of their bubbly-water kefirs and kombuchas with their Love Club, a weekly growler pickup of their latest seasonal flavors.
Plant-Based Takeout: Oregon recently ranked fifth in a survey of top states for vegan-friendly takeout food in America, so reducing your meat consumption can be an easy and tasty venture.
Creative mac-and-cheese bowls, preorder lasagna bakes and cheesecake are on the menu at Vtopia, an all-vegan restaurant and cheese shop in Portland; don’t forget a hunk of smoked whiskey cashew-based cheese for a late-night snack. NW Raw Organic Juice Bar in Ashland serves everything from green juices and hearty smoothies to loaded waffles and vegan pho, made with a housemade healing veggie broth with zucchini noodles, mushrooms and jalapeno. Noster Kitchen in Coos Bay is another favorite for its tasty scratch breakfasts, housemade granola and power bowls, with a seasonally changing menu. Venti’s Cafe offers two locations in Salem with takeout and outdoor dining, known for its inventive vegan dishes like street tacos with Korean barbecue tempeh or nachos with vegan chorizo.
DIY Healthy Lunch at Home: Next time you head to the pantry or fridge in search of a nourishing meal, it’s nice to have a few staples on hand. The boxed organic soups and broths at Pacific Foods, based in Tigard, are a perfect remedy for cold winter days. Wellness seekers go for the immunity-boosting chicken with turmeric, ginger and black pepper, collagen-filled bone broths and the creamy tomato soup, which is packed with lycopene antioxidants for heart-healthy and cancer-fighting properties. Find the soup at your favorite grocery store, and while you’re there, load up on more ingredients for your at-home lunch. Fresh ramen noodles from Portland-based Umi Organic pair well with a simple broth; Choi’s Kimchi is a gluten-free, all-natural fermented superfood; and Portland’s Ota Tofu still makes their tofu by hand daily with non-GMO soybeans, as they have since 1911.