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She Said: Jewel’s Bakery is healthy vs. indulgent where everyone wins

(Instagram Photos/@jewelsbakeryandcafe)

On a recent visit to Jewel’s Bakery and Cafe, a local Phoenix gem that you must visit if you haven’t yet been, owner Julie Moreno introduced us to her new plant-based menu.

Moreno is already known for her innovative cooking and baking style offering items that are gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. All items on her new plant-based menu are vegan, with dishes like The Veg-Out Sandwich, Protein Bowl and Cashew Berry Bowl.

Don’t fret: If you are not feeling the vegan vibe, Jewel’s still offers their regular menu with all the favorites we have come to love.

But who doesn’t like to be offered options? We do, so we decided to have a little fun and have a lunchtime battle of healthy verses indulgent dishes.

Round One: The new plant-based menu

We started with the Whole Gardens Tacos, made with sweet potato, avocado, corn, spinach, mushroom, red bell pepper, quinoa, black beans, grilled onions, lime cilantro, cashew cream and salsa. Even the shell is crafted from veggies!

This dish is visually beautiful with vibrant colors enticing you. A burst of garden unfolds in each bite with a little kick of heat from the salsa.

What surprised me the most is the heartiness of these tacos — they were very filling, giving me the sense that I was eating a heavy meal.

Next was the Asian chopped salad a mix of kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage slaw, carrots, almonds, mandarin organs and red bell pepper with a peanut ginger dressing.

Once again, the colors were bursting off the plate. The enjoyable peanut ginger dressing does a wonderful job of tying all these vegetables together and brings some flavor to foods that can sometimes be a bit bland.

The mandarin oranges give a hint of sweetness and fit perfectly with this Asian-inspired salad.

Round Two: Indulgent items

Chicken and waffles — fried chicken and Belgian waffles, with warm buttermilk syrup and sweet honey hot sauce on the side.

Jewel’s has nailed this traditional Southern dish. The fried chicken is perfectly moist with a perfectly-seasoned batter that is fried to exactly the right crunch where you want it and tenderness where you expect it. A fluffy waffle lies underneath and is ready to soak up the buttermilk syrup and/or hot sauce overflowing off the chicken.

Next was the Hot Chick Sandwich made with fried chicken, blue cheese, house ranch, sharp white cheddar and Frank’s hot sauce on toasted flax bread.

The same delicious chicken from the chicken and waffles is used in this delectable sandwich. The cheeses add a bit of naughtiness, while the Frank’s gives it the mouthwatering kick. The flax seed bread is an added bonus.

It is delicious alone, but when it soaks up all the items in the sandwich — yum, yum, yum!

Note: Gluten-free onion rings — that I am currently daydreaming about — came as a side. This could be healthy or indulgent just depending how strict you want to get. (She Said Tip: Get a side of ranch and hot sauce to dip them in!)

Winner

I’m assuming you would think the indulgence dishes were the knock-out winners.

Don’t get me wrong: It’s rare I pass up any dish that includes fried chicken, but to be quite honest, I can’t stop thinking about the garden tacos and to think they are all plant-based blows my mind.

Let’s just say they have been added to my monthly must-have item list. When you eat for a living, dishes like these clean tacos are exactly what you crave on your night off.

Boring as it is, the outcome is a tie. I loved both the healthy and indulgent meals!

No matter what mood you are in, if you are trying to watch your waistline or if you and your dining companions can’t seem to agree, Jewel’s Bakery has got you covered.

There literally is something for every person, every eating style and every mood.