When it comes to healthy eating during the workweek, lunchtime is a struggle. Think about it: Breakfast is easy, thanks to ready-to-go options like oatmeal and smoothies. Dinner isn’t too bad, either, since there’s more time to prep a homemade soup or seasonal salad.
During lunch hour, however, thoughts of clean dining go out the window as the convenience of French fries and Number 3 specials from the drive-through sing an all too tempting siren song. Five minutes for a full meal? Yeah, it’s an easy sell when the stomach rumbles threaten to morph into full-on hangry mode.
The Green Bowl Café understands that temptation. That’s why it’s on a mission to prove that healthy eating isn’t just delicious, but easily achievable, too. Open since the end of October, the Wappingers Falls eatery has made a name for itself as a one-stop-shop for clean, convenient, and 100-percent delectable meals in Dutchess County.
Its focus is on organic ingredients, sustainable practices, and full-on flavor above all.
“Earlier this year, we realized the need in our area for a healthier café,” says owner Yami Holguin. “I have lived in the Hudson Valley for over 15 years and, in our location, healthy options are scarce without having to go into Main Street, Beacon or the Village of Wappingers.”
After her younger sister passed away from cancer, Holguin made the leap to pursue the café and spread her passion for healthy eating with the community. She had already converted her family to organic cuisine and learned how to make nutritious tweaks to traditional Hispanic fare. Playing off this, she chose to focus the café theme on local, fresh ingredients that taste just as good as they are good for you.
Case in point: On The Green Bowl Café’s menu, healthy and flavorful meals are everywhere. For lunch, colorful salads, sandwiches, and wraps are welcome alternatives to fast food runs. Dishes like The Chimi, a zippy salad with avocado and chimichurri dressing, and the pesto chicken sandwich with red peppers and onions offer full-on flavor. They sit alongside an abundance of keto, low-carb, and vegan entrees, including the delectable vegan grilled cheese and the vegan soul sandwich with tomatoes, spinach, and avocado.
Of course, the shining stars of The Green Bowl Café are undoubtedly the Hispanic specialties. Drawing on her old favorite recipes, Holguin tweaks traditional arepas and empanadas to be gluten-free and vegan. Arepas like the Veggie Queen, with black beans and red onions, and La Cubana, with roasted pork and mozzarella, are home run sand light enough to pair with salad or smoothie.
The empanadas, meanwhile, use 100-percent gluten-free Venezuelan corn meal to achieve that addictively chewy dough that’s later fried to perfection. As for flavors, the empanadas pack in cheese, roasted pork, chicken, or beef. For vegan and vegetarian eaters, Holguin also makes a sweet potato and black been rendition. Don’t forget to tack on an order of yuca fries, which are just as divine on their own as they are loaded with topping like shredded chicken, onions, and pico de gallo.
And that’s just the lunch spread. During the morning hours, The Green Bowl Café keeps the hits coming with fresh bagels, Instagrammable acai bowls, and avocado toast. The bites pair wonderfully with made-to-order smoothies and juices, which come in a sizeable range of flavors. Need breakfast on the go? Order the Breakfast 2 Go, a smoothie packed with banana, strawberries, granola, cinnamon, and coconut or almond milk.
In the mood for a cleansing juice? Go for the Veggie Burst, which is powered by kale, spinach, lemon, apple, pineapple, and a kick of ginger.
So what’s the biggest hit on the menu?
“Our shredded short rib empanada, our vegan black bean empanada, and our fresh salads and juices,” Holguin says. “We [also] have specialty soups that rotate every few days and we do plan on adding rice bowls (with Dominican rice), quinoa bowls, and zucchini bowls.”
As for where she sources ingredients, Holguin looks to local suppliers like Hudson River Fruit and Hepworth Farms in Milton and Satur Farms in Calverton for crisp, seasonal produce. Locally, she also frequents the Goshen Farmers Market, which she hopes to utilize more come spring.
Looking ahead, Holguin is excited to establish The Green Bowl Café as a go-to eatery for the local breakfast and lunch crowd. If all goes well, she may even expand to additional locations in the region. Until then, she’s happy to serve nutritious, genuinely good food to the Hudson Valley.
“Everyone has been so supportive and so positive about having healthier options in this area,” she enthuses. “We couldn’t be more blessed to have such an amazing client base.”
The Green Bowl Café
1485 Rte 9D, Wappingers Falls