Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Healthy Pick: Laughing Planet Cafe

Today I took a break from my "Food Cart Adventures" to go down 4th Avenue to the Laughing Planet Cafe with Mike for lunch.

Laughing Planet began in Portland in 2000, after initially launching in 1995 in Bloomington, Indiana. The restaurant web site has a fun infographic showing its history, starting with the dinosaurs and the invention of the burrito by the Aztecs. The first branch opened in Eugene in 2004, and now Laughing Planet has seven outposts in Portland, two in Eugene, and one in Corvallis. This is a company that cares about its communities, local farmers, and the environment. Many of the ingredients are local and organic. These are the company's mission and values:

When Kieran was rehearsing and acting in the Hullabaloo at Jane Theater Company, we would often stop by the Belmont location...especially when waiting for him in the evening. We also have a Laughing Planet near our house across from the Southwest Community Center and Gabriel Park. I was delighted to see, last year, that Laughing Planet was opening another spot right down the road from my office! I've been there a few times, including with Chris and Mike before we went to see the "Book of Mormon" in January.

Tomato, Kale, and White Bean Soup
This week I'm attempting to eat ala South Beach Diet Phase 1 style (no grains, alcohol, sugars), which is not very exciting! So I figured that Laughing Planet might offer me a wider variety of options than my beloved food carts. I chose the tomato, white bean, and kale soup, which comes with tortilla chips for $5. Great deal, right? Laughing Planet's soups are delicious, and this was no exception. Makes eating grain free a little easier. I suppose a rigorous South Beach Diet follower would not eat tortilla chips, but screw that! I miss my grains.

Mr. Green Jeans
Mike chose a special burrito bowl (burrito contents without the tortilla: Mr. Green Jeans, with organic brown rice, black beans, edamame, local sweet corn, Tillamook monterey jack, and pico de gallo, with a side of chicken. I had a bite, and it was yummy. He added hot sauce on the side to spice things up. It just occurred to me that Mike, having been raised all over the world (outside of the U.S.), probably doesn't know who Mr. Green Jeans was. He was my favorite character on Captain Kangaroo, played by an actor named Hugh Brannum, who died in 1987. Mike's dad's name was Hugh, and it's our oldest son's middle name.

Captain Kangaroo with the real Mr. Green Jeans
The last time we tried to eat at Laughing Planet at lunchtime, we were discouraged by the long line and lack of available tables and hit the food carts instead. Today we wised up and arrived before noon...but within a few minutes a line appeared all the way back to the door. It's a popular spot in this area with tons of PSU students and faculty and a number of businesspeople all looking for places to eat.

The poor souls waiting in line
A few weeks ago, I stopped by and bought an amazing, soft chocolate chip-oatmeal cookie ($2) that I didn't want to end. It made me want to bake whole-grain, fair trade chocolate chip cookies myself. Must stock up on more fair trade chocolate chips to hide from Mike.

Laughing Planet makes healthy taste delicious! Every time I go there, I'm reminded I need to visit more often.

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