Healthy Eating, Healthy Minds: Seeking Nutrition in Colorado Springs

Amongst the constant commotion and chaos of life at Colorado College, eating becomes a matter of minutes crammed between commitments. Cooking while off the meal plan often becomes a source of stress, and it can be difficult to find the time needed to cook a nutritious meal, often leaving students no choice but to substitute with a handful of trail mix or frozen meals from Local Goods (the C Store). Even students on the meal plan struggle to make substantial mealtime a priority: “Sometimes I’ll be in such a rush that I won’t have time to actually sit down to eat,” said sophomore Callie Zucker.

The high speed and high functioning of the Colorado College community requires constant energy, fuel, food, and most importantly, quality food. Beyond the oiled, meaty Skirted Heifer burgers and heavy quantities of curry and rice from Everest Nepal, there are dozens of restaurants and café’s that serve quick, organic, and healthy eating options.

Ola Juice Bar sits just a short walk away from campus on East Kiowa Street, serving juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and savory bowls for quick pick up or sit-down service, seven days a week. The Ola website reads, “Ola is here to help provide fast, nutrient dense beverages and food for those who lead athletic lifestyles and individuals who want to take control of their health.” Managing work and life at CC is already a struggle, and Ola allows a quick and easy option to help sustain students throughout the busy weeks.

The menu has a variety of smoothie bowls with a frozen banana base and a selection of nutritious powders, superfoods, other fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, granola, and paleo options. The bowls themselves display a rainbow of colors and textures, available in both small and large sizes. For example, the “POWER BOWL” consists of an acai, greens, chlorella, strawberries, banana, and an almond milk base, with a choice of paleo or regular organic granola, strawberries, pineapple, bananas, almond butter, or hemp seeds as toppings.

Ola’s savory bowls offer the base options of rice, quinoa, lettuce, or a wrap. Again, there are a variety of bowl options, along with the option to build your own. In addition to the various other topping choices, the menu offers multiple dressing options, such as, ginger tamari, spicy peanut, lemon chive, shitake sesame, spicy cilantro citrus, white balsamic vinaigrette, oil & vinegar.

Similar to Ola, Willamette Market and Deli (located on Willamette Ave) is quaint and welcoming, with a local neighborhood aesthetic. The food there is also quick to prepare and tastes incredibly fresh and delicious. They offer both vegan and non-vegan options; for example, several regular hotdog combinations are available, alongside a “vegan carrot dog” option, where a whole carrot is cooked and marinated like meat, placed in a regular bun, and topped with crispy French fries and fresh sour kraut.

Unlike Ola, in addition to their café-dining option, Willamette Market and Deli is also a store where customers can purchase organic, sustainable, and regional food products. Junior Cassidy Lam said, “The aesthetic was very hip and crunchy, and they managed to sneak a whole carrot in a bun and call it a hotdog.”

Willamette also offers a selection of sandwiches, soups, wraps, fries, and delicious desserts. The store is only just reaching it’s one year anniversary, as it opened at the end of last October. It is co-owned by Amy Emerson, who worked with grocery stores in the past and now runs the market section of the establishment, and Natalie Peck, who worked in the restaurant business for many years and now manages the deli section. Given their backgrounds, both owners are very intentional about sourcing and providing the most organic and sustainable food products.

Mountain Mama is another restaurant-deli location that also offers natural and organic produce, vitamin/supplements, natural body care, perishables, frozen foods, bulk Foods, and bulk Herbs. Similar to Willamette, a bakery/cafe sits amongst the natural foods and supplements, and the service is quick and efficient.

Located on Uintah Street, Mountain Mama is under a five-minute drive from campus. It is a family owned business that opened in 1979, and it has sustained its goal of supporting the healthy and active lifestyle of local Colorado Springs residents. Their website reads, “Many Mountain Mama employees have been with our company for well over a decade, some over two decades, which speaks well of the sense of community Mountain Mama has created and the experience and knowledge of the staff.”

The café menu offers an extensive range of beverages, from smoothies and juices to coffees and teas (with non-dairy options). The food consists of mainly salads, sandwiches, and paninis, with the option of building your own. Mountain Mama offers fresh baked bread from their in-store bakery, natural meats, organic vegetables, and homemade desserts, and gluten free options.

The food is very affordable, mostly priced under 10 dollars, with size options available as well. The café has a beautiful view facing pikes peak and provides a very humble, comfortable, and intimate atmosphere. Junior Ali Takkunen said, “Mountain Mama has an amazing assortment of eats – everything is made with fresh ingredients that I trust are responsibly sourced. Whether I am running in and grabbing a quick hummus wrap to eat for lunch or choosing to dine in their fantastic little cafe area mountain mamas never fails to please.”

With the efficient service, reasonable cost, close distance, and nutritional value of these three establishments in Colorado Springs, time should no longer be an excuse for a cliff bar or frozen meal substitute for meals. Food is fuel, and good fuel is essential in order to sustain energy and rigor on the Colorado College block plan.

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