Delicious Plant-Based Dishes in Montclair, According to a Local Dietitian

As the term “plant-based” is becoming more and more of a trend, there are so many places in Montclair offering plant-based dishes. But before we dive in, it’s important to take a step back and look at what that actually means. Although there is no standard definition, it’s generally defined as eating mostly plants and fewer animal products. The goal should be to add more disease-fighting plants, not to eliminate your favorites. You don’t have to go completely vegan or vegetarian, but going “plant-based” means gaining health by reducing your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, while still feeling satisfied.

And since April is the month dedicated to celebrating our earth, what better time to try nutrient-dense, flavorful, plant-based dishes at your local restaurants, while lowering your carbon footprint?

At the end of the day, there are no real rules to sticking to a “plant-based” diet. It’s all about balance. So, go ahead, indulge in your oh-so-delicious meat dish if that’s your style, but perhaps this time you split it with a friend and pair it with one of the dishes highlighted below, so the plants are now the center of your plate. Read on for a list of plant-based dishes to try at Montclair restaurants, curated by local dietitian Christina Kamilaris.

Faubourg {Faubourg Restaurant + Bar}

In addition to the regular menu, Faubourg has an alternative plant-based version. The outstanding outdoor area makes for exceptional socially distanced dining this spring.

Baby kale + pistachios

faubourg

{Photo credit: @faubourgmontclair}

The dish is served with quinoa, avocado, and pomegranate is a perfect starter dish for the table. This colorful dish is loaded with phytonutrients, which are responsible for the color and smell of fruits and veggies. They’ve been found to lower the risk of disease and certain cancers, and increase liver enzymes that help the body naturally detoxify so you can skip those pricey teas!

Grilled avocado

faubourg

It’s grilling season and always fun to throw on your not-so-typical grilling foods like lettuce, watermelon, and avocados. We all know avocados are healthy, but did you know they actually contain more potassium than bananas? Ask for the grilled avocado for a filling side dish that you can also use to spread on bread and skip the butter.

Grilled broccoli rabe + lentils with tahini

faubourg

The Lentils have about 20 g of protein per cup. If you also love to cook, try these as a ground meat replacement. They’re the ideal swap for adding more plant-based meals to your weekly menu.

Read More: An Interview with Lauren Hirschberg, Owner of Turtle + the Wolf in Montclair

Le Souk {51 Watchung Plaza}

A blend of Middle Eastern cuisines from Syria, Morocco, and Turkey, Le Souk has an array of plant-based dishes.

Muhammara

le souk

{Photo credit: @lesouknj}

This is a blend of walnuts, fresh red pepper, red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, breadcrumbs, and “Le Souk special spices.” This dish is packed with plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be cardioprotective by lowering triglycerides and blood pressure while improving your good cholesterol. They have also been shown to support immune health, protect your stomach lining and gastrointestinal tract, and improve hair health. The spread pairs well with chopped veggies, pita, or any main dish. Got leftovers? Thin this spread by adding some water to use it as a salad dressing.

Fava bean salad with chickpea + tahini

This is great as an appetizer, side, or main dish. This dish is excellent if you want to split a meat dish while still meeting your protein needs. Fava beans not only provide iron, magnesium, zinc, and folate, but they also have about 13g of protein per cup and about 9 g of dietary fiber. Not impressed? They’ve also been shown to enhance glutathione activity which can delay cellular aging.

Falafel waffle

Le Souk

{Photo credit: @lesouknj}

The baked falafel waffles are a must-try and are served with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, hummus, tahini yogurt, pickles, and pita bread. Typically, falafels are made with chickpeas or fava beans along with spices then deep-fried. This baked, waffled version is a fun dish and a hit with the kiddos. This also happens to be gluten-free for those with celiac disease or who have a gluten intolerance, just ask to hold the pita.

Marcel Bakery + Kitchen {631 1/2 Valley Road}

If you haven’t tried Marcel’s Bakery & Kitchen yet, add it to your weekend to-do list. Located in Upper Montclair, Chef Meny Vaknin was featured on Chopped, and his dishes are jam-packed with flavor. If you’re someone who’s on the fence about eating plant proteins, here’s the place to start. The flavor combos are simply delicious.

Vegan strong

Marcel Bakery Kitchen

The Vegan Strong is marinated tofu, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms sautéed in salsa verde and topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. You can have this dish over rice or hummus. The hummus is super creamy, loaded with tahini, and impeccably spiced.

Tofu is loaded with calcium and protein. Since it doesn’t have much flavor, the taste will depend on how it’s prepared — and Marcel’s does an amazing job. Research shows that whole forms of soy can actually reduce your risk of certain diseases. When opting for a plant-based meal, look for at least one protein source with the total meal providing about 20-30 g of protein. One cup of tofu provides a whopping 20 g of protein. The chickpeas in the hummus, tahini, and pumpkin seeds further add a protein bump, along with healthy fats that leave you feeling full for hours and help your body absorb the nutrients in your meal.

Za’atar potatoes

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend and an interesting way to change up your typical potato. On the fence about potatoes? Instead of counting them as your veggie, count them as your carbohydrate for the meal. Aim for about ½ – 2 cups of total carbohydrates per meal depending on your hunger levels. As a reference, your fist is about the size of 1 cup.

See More: Elyssia’s Kitchen: A Modern, Chinese Eatery Started by a High School Student

Uncle Momo {702 Bloomfield Avenue}

This Lebanese French fusion restaurant is a great way to try something new, especially if you were unable to travel this year.

Babaganoush

Uncle Momo

{Photo credit: @unclemomojc}

Babaganoush is basically mashed grilled eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and EVOO. Ask for Uncle Momo’s freshly baked pita bread or a side of cucumbers for dipping.

Moussaka Veggie

This Lebanese take on moussaka, skips the meat entirely and adds a protein punch by tossing in chickpeas alongside eggplant and spices. This dish is loaded with fiber. Animal protein does not provide any fiber, so you must get these from veggies, whole grains, and plant proteins {like beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, or skins of fruits}. This fiber boost not only helps to keep you full and satisfied for hours but it also helps to do incredible things in the body like bind bad cholesterol and take it out of the bloodstream, help prevent blood sugar spikes, and help feed the good bacteria in your gut providing the immune support we all could use.


Written by:

Christina Kamilaris, MS, RDN, CDN, CSSD is a registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. Outside of working with students and athletes at NYU, She has a local private practice, Veggies n Spice. Covering weight concerns, medical conditions, hormone balance, sports nutrition, and more, Christina helps customize your nutrition, regain confidence, and take control of your health. On the weekends you’ll find her checking out local restaurants and markets with her husband, strolling the Brookdale park, or recipe testing new dishes and desserts.