Want Fresh, Fast, and Healthy? Purely is the Place to Be

Being Italian, I had high expectations for the gelato at Purely. Non-traditional soft serve gelato sounded iffy at first. But no lie the gelato was so good I shed a tear. Italy will just have to wait for now.

Dominic Leong, owner of Purely, informed me that he studied the art of making gelato n Rimini, Italy, help start and ran the restaurant chain Pino Gelato (one of their locations is at Hartsfield Jackson Airport) for 12 years, and even modified the soft serve gelato machine himself.

Leong is the ultimate renaissance man. He consults and designs restaurants, as he did with Purely (his baby), creates the innovative menu, cooks all the food, and engages customers with his bubbly personality.

The Midtown Atlanta space has tall glass windows looking out to busy Peachtree Street, bright lime green painted walls with eye catching photos of the food, and exquisite glass chandeliers.

The concept of Purely is like other ‘make-your-own restaurants’ where customers design their own meal in an assembly line style. All the meat and vegetables are prepared fresh daily, and customers have the option whether to create their own concoction or choose from already created specialties. Purely’s food is fast, fresh and healthy, which makes it a perfect lunch spot for business people and college students. What’s more, most meals are under $10.

Even the presentation of the food is stunning. Organic vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, kale and mixed greens are showcased in a glass container so customers are more attracted to eating fresh food.

Diners start by choosing their base in a bowl. They have options of white or brown rice, mixed greens and even gluten free pasta. For tacos and salads, customers choose their protein with options such as slow cooked Mexican style pork carnitas and or all natural Caribbean beef barbacoa. After, adding fresh veggies of your choice, top it off with sauces such as creamy chipotle and sweet chili.

Tacos are served in cooked to order warm Chinese steamed buns, but customers also have the option of a traditional corn tortilla. I tried the braised jerk chicken taco served with kale, and a customer favorite – Asian sesame sauce, topped with grape tomatoes and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. The taco was sweet considering the sauce, but I was expecting more of a kick since it was jerk chicken. I also felt the kale and the lack of sauce made the taco a little dry.

The spicy chicken teriyaki taco with Purely’s signature sauce (like spicy mayo), fresh red cabbage, well-seasoned chicken, the dish was very different though, hitting all the right notes of spice and texture.

Fun fact, Purely’s bowls are 70% decomposable.

Food bowls have become the new hipster food trend of 2018. Specifically, poke bowls, which are often served with raw fish, salad topping and Asian sauces. I created my own poke bowl and added tuna and salmon with spicy mayo, poke sauce, lime juice, mixed greens, cabbage and edamame. With several competitors out there trying to master the poke bowl trend, Purely’s bowl deserves a spot at the top. The bowl made for a light flavor packed lunch.

Bubble tea has never tickled my fancy, but I decided to give it another try by adding strawberry popping pearls (like tapioca but made of real fruit) to my matcha tea. With one sip, I was in heaven! Purely uses oolong tea as the base instead of water which gives it a more robust flavor. And did I mention the matcha powder is imported straight from Japan?

Purely’s biggest hit are the bubble waffles. Bubble waffles became popular in Hong Kong and are a fancier version of the traditional American ice cream waffle only with batter filled spheres, making it look more attractive. I filled mine with matcha gelato and triple berry sorbet, topped with mango and strawberry flavored popping pearls and fresh peaches.

Sorbet isn’t typically my first choice, but the soft serve gelato version of it made the consistency creamy rather than icy. Although bubble waffle tasted like a regular waffle, it was rather soft than crispy, which can be messy to eat.

What Purely is offering is not totally unique, but having the best gelato, teas, buddle waffles and poke bowls – all in a vibrant atmosphere at affordable prices – is notable. I would return to create new combinations using the fresh, healthy and organic ingredients Purely offers.

~ By Daniella Boik, Go Eat Give summer 2018 intern. Daniella is a journalism student at Georgia State University and has a passion for food, books and skateboards. When she’s not writing, she is drafting her ideas while running long distance. Follow her on Facebook 

Curry Masala

Curry Masala is the only Indian restaurant in Rapid City. “Someone has to serve the vegans, vegetarians and gluten and dairy allergic people” says Al, who is doing the community a service as well as running a successful business in downtown Rapid City. Many of the local patrons are searching for options that are able to meet their diet restrictions, which only Indian cuisine can provide.

There are no frills when it comes to the ambiance or the menu at Curry Masala. Formerly a pizza joint, the space now has few Indian posters and ethnic music in the background of the small but cozy dining area. The menu contains few options which indicate that the ingredients are fresh and everything is made from scratch daily. You won’t find the typical tandoori, tikka masala or naan here (although they are served from time to time). There are one-of-a-kind original dishes that incorporate influences of north and south Indian cuisine.

For appetizer, try the spinach pakora, a delicately fried vegetable fritter served with tamarind and mint chutneys. Entrée selections include rice dishes (biryani, pulao), curries (chicken, beef, fish) and homemade vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes). I highly recommend the mango lassi, which is made with mango pulp, buttermilk and cardamoms. It is nothing like you have ever tasted before!

All the recipes are passed by mothers and grandmothers of owners, Al Rodriguez and Justine Ashokar’s families from southern India.

Traditional Indian food is very different than how we know of it here in the west. In Indian households, ingredients are fresh and healthy. Butter, heavy cream, artificial coloring and white flour are never used in home-style cooking. Spice mixtures are made from scratch and attention is given to eating a well balanced diet. Curry Masala has carried on this tradition and offers simply prepared dishes using organic, locally sourced ingredients. It is a real treat for those who wish to eat out but also have to watch their physiological needs. As advertised, Curry Masala offer food that is of good quality, healthy and delicious!

Justine also teaches Indian cooking classes at Curry Masala. If after a lesson you are inspired to go home and try the recipes, you can also buy the spices on site. There is a little storefront at the restaurant. Curry Masala has two locations in Rapid City – a casual cafe on 2050 W. Main St. and a sit town style restaurant at 510 St. Joseph Street.


Sami’s organic lamb lasagna

Over the past few years, I have stayed away from lasagna, even though I love it. Reason being I was trying to heat healthy when given the option, and avoiding red meats. But when my friend, Sami brought over a large pan of her homemade organic lamb lasagna, I gave it a try and was hooked! A slight twist on the traditional Italian classic but retaining all of same textures and balances. It was the perfect combination of tender meat, not too tangy sauce, al dente noodles and the right amount of cheese. Everyone loved it!

With Fall around the corner, this is a comfort dish that will keep your entire family satisfied. Also, it makes good leftovers.

Sami purchases meats and vegetables from local farms that deliver to your door every week. Gegorgia Organics has a list of them where you can search by zip code. You pay a flat fee and state what size basket you would like. Some places require a weekly pickup. It makes a huge difference in the flavor, if you use organic vs. regular ingredients.

Organic Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat (grass-fed beef ok too)
  • 1.5 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 12 dry lasagna noodles (whole wheat better)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pint whole ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup choppsed fresh parshley (I used 2 tablespoons dried parsley since I didn’t have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. In large skillet brown ground meat, onion and garlic. Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Can make this ahead of time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees using convection setting. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles, and cook until al dente; drain. Lay noodles flat on towels, and blot dry.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover noodles with 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles, ricotta mixture and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Spray foil w/ nonstick oil and cover the whole thing. Bake 40 minutes; take foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

If you like this recipe, consider making a small donation to our nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give.

Cooking for good!

Linda Watson helps people save money, eat well, and make a difference by cooking seasonal food from scratch at less than the food-stamp allowance. Her book, Wildly Affordable Organic is all about delicious recipes that are made from scratch using fresh ingredients. Why good? “Because you will save money and feel better” she says. You will also increase your self-sufficiency, reduce suffering, and help slow global warming.

Linda first experimented to see what it feels like to live on a food-stamp budget and how does one eat healthy (let along organic) being on it. Allocating just $1.53 to each meal, she challenged herself to create family-friendly recipes that were simple, delicious and affordable.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it actually is not. Linda gives very simple tips throughout her book, along with her recipes. She talks about buying family-size bargains, making your own spice mixtures, cooking dry beans from scratch, freezing seasonal fruits and much more.

Even if you are a busy professional, you can Cook for Good by planning ahead and strategizing your meals. Linda claims that you can cook about 60% of your food from scratch in less time than it takes to watch a TV show!

I first met Linda at the IACP conference in Austin, TX back in June 2011. The moment I started talking to her about what she does, I could tell she was really passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Linda believes that helping people get enough good food to eat isn’t just a matter of giving them money, although money is essential. Linda also campaigns at state and national level to encourage the government to fund and make more convenient its financial support for hungry people.

To learn more about how you can help yourself and the planet, visit Cook for Good.

I will be giving away a copy of the book, Wildly Affordable Organic on Twitter! If you like to enter to win, all you need to do is follow GoEatGive on Twitter. Drawing will be held on August 31, 2011 and the winner will be notified through Twitter