The Gym Rat Diaries: Lunch break at The Protein Bar
Every other week, this column will review ways and places to eat healthy in D.C.
With the growing popularity of juice detoxes and the paleo diet, it’s becoming harder and harder to get a good meal that fits everyone's dietary needs. No matter what, protein is a key nutrient especially when you combine healthy eating and a fitness regimen. Women and men over the age of 19 need 46 and 56 grams of protein per day, respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Where To Go
The Protein Bar is a chain restaurant that caters to serving healthy, tasty food to its customers.
There are three locations in D.C., which you can check out on their website. Two of the locations are walking distance from the Farragut North Metro station and the third is walking distance from the Gallery Place/ Chinatown Metro station.
The Protein Bar offers dine in and take out orders, including a fridge stocked with vegetable juice blends for any time of day.
What makes this place extra special is the amount of protein in its entrees. All of their meals are fairly low-calorie and contain up to 48 grams of protein. Other items on their menu and nutritional information can be found here.
> Superfood vegan salad. Photo by Arielle Weg.
What To Try
The Protein Bar offers breakfast, protein bowls made with their custom organic quinoa blend, salads with their signature super six salad mixes, protein bar-ritos in a whole wheat wrap, signature drinks and soups.
Their signature drinks are made to order with almond milk and high protein ingredients. An alternative is their cold-pressed raw juice, which is great for a detox. These are stocked daily on their fridge and are ready as a grab and go.
One of the great juices is the Sweetgreen juice, made with pineapple, apple, spinach, romaine, kale, celery, ginger, cucumber, parsley, lemon and lime. The juice is dark green and has a little bit of a sour aftertaste. It was surprisingly good, and you could taste most of the ingredients in every sip. The juice has enough calories to be considered a snack or a small meal, about 220 per bottle. It’s a pretty filling juice with a hefty supply of fruits and vegetables.
If you’re looking for a vegan and gluten free option, the Superfood Vegan salad is a good choice. Every salad starts with the base of the super six salad mix of romaine, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots and purple cabbage. This particular salad includes marinated organic tofu, kale, toasted pepitas, chickpeas, avocado and house-made chia dressing. The salad is a perfect lunch, and the six different greens offer great variety.
At first the Superfood Vegan just taste like a variety of lettuce in a bowl, but after a few bites it will grow on you. The crunchiness from the pepitas and sweetness from the dressing adds some flavor to the salad, making it acceptably tasty.
Sweetgreen juice. Photo by Arielle Weg.
Tips To Know
Make sure you check out hours of the locations before you head out to grab a bite. The hours vary, for example The Penn Quarter location is the only one open on weekends. You can check out the hours here.
The meals can get kind of pricey because they serve such a wide range of not-so-cheap produce like kale. The salad and juice together was just under $20. Only ordering one of them would offer a more affordable meal, and some of the other menu items are cheaper than the salad.
Make sure you let the cashier know if you have a dietary restriction. Any entree with chicken can be swapped for tofu, and most meals can be made vegan or paleo.