How Some Chicago Restaurants Adapt To Stay Healthy

In the wake of national chains working hard to make sure that their food is healthy, Chicago-area restaurants are working harder to make sure that they can keep up with healthy food trends while still maintaining what makes them unique.

Helen Cameron, owner of Uncommon Ground, said her restaurant already leads the way when it comes to healthy food.

Uncommon Ground was the first restaurant in the country to have a certified organic rooftop farm, and is on track to be named the greenest restaurant in the country, according to Cameron.

"We tend to be leaders," explained Cameron. "Bigger chains watch us."

Cameron explains that while it's important for customers to appreciate the taste of the food in a restaurant, the health is just as important.

While health can be expected in a restaurant that has such green roots, it's certainly not the only restaurant in the city that has health on their mind. Even a bar, where fried food and greasy burgers would normally reign supreme, owners are still health concious.

"Sure we're a bar, but many of our means are healthy, or can be made healthy," explains Sarah McKinnon, owner of Timothy O'Toole's.

McKinnon prides her restaurant on the fact that everything that they serve is made in house, right down to their dressings. This, she said, keeps their food a bit healthier, as well as a higher quality.

One thing that you won't be seeing at Timothy O'Toole's are those little numbers on the menu that tell you how many calories are in each of their meals.

"It's extremely expensive," McKinnon said of the process, explaining that every product would need to be sent to a food lab to be analyzed.  That's not practical for smaller restaurants, she said.

Dan Raskin, owner of Manny's Cafeteria and Deli agreed, saying that it would cost too much for them to have everything analyzed, and that their food isn't always the same.

"Everything is handmade," Raskin explains. "We don't measure out our sandwiches, and those restaurants have them portioned to a tee."

Raskin goes on to explain that they do follow along with some of the popular food trends, such as removing MSG from their food, and using oils with no trans fats.

All three of the restaurants stay popular among locals, so it seems that the healthier options seem to be popular.

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