This one’s a natural choice

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Plant-based bowls and smoothies are among the offerings at Nutritious You Cafe in Siesta Key’s Southbridge Mall

By Jane Bartnett

“The plant-based movement is growing,” said Marina Palmer, a certified personal trainer who manages her family’s Nutritious You Cafe.
This small-but-mighty casual dining spot, located in Southbridge Mall on Siesta Key, is a place to drop in and grab a treat before or after a trip to the beach and also features a small number of inside tables as well as comfortable dining outside under an umbrella.
The restaurant’s address is 6583 Midnight Pass Rd.
The 2023/2024 tourist season will mark the third year that Palmer and her family have owned the Siesta Key location that her father, Mario, and mother, Carey, purchased in the middle of 2020 from the previous owner. A year later the Palmers opened their second restaurant, Palmer’s Plant Based Café, in the Crossings Shopping Center at 3501 S. Tamiami Trail. It can be found in the space that once held the TooJay’s Deli.
Marina manages both. “I do it all,” she said with a laugh while discussing her busy schedule. “I’ve followed in my father’s footsteps.”
The Palmers are on trend with their dedication to plant-based dining. According to the national Plant Based Foods Association, 48% of U.S. restaurants serve plant-based foods as diners have become more aware of healthy eating,
“People in my generation are so excited to discover us,” said 24-year-old Marina. “My generation and younger — they’re so happy that they found our acai bowls. It’s a cool place to be.”

Carey Palmer (left) chats with a customer at Nutritious You Cafe. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

Nutritious You Cafe’s organic acai bowls are all-vegan and gluten-free and are priced between $12.95 and $14.95. Names include the Americana, Caramel Apple, Sarasota Tropical, Super Hero, and Willy Wonka.
“We help so many people who are looking for plant-based, gluten-free and kosher food,” Marina said.
Her mother, whose background is in health and wellness, noted that “plant-based is a good way to go for anyone with cardiac or vascular disease, or high cholesterol.”
To satisfy all members of the family and a variety of tastes, the cafe’s menu includes the Palmer’s Burger, which is a “vegan-beyond” burger; a vegan tuna wrap; and even a Reuben made from seitan — the vegan plant-based meat substitute.
To start the day, Marina recommends one of the cafe’s all-day breakfast items. That includes an egg and sausage bagel made with Just Egg, “beyond sausage,” and vegan cheese on an everything bagel. A diner who was enjoying avocado toast for lunch called it “amazing.”
Smoothie lovers will be happy to know that the Nutritious You Cafe offers six tempting varieties of vegan and gluten-free drinks. All are made on-site and priced at $12.95 each. The Pink Unicorn is made with banana, strawberries, Almond Mylk, and vanilla protein powder; the Monster Mash has mango, pineapple, spinach, orange juice, and flax seeds; the Peanut Butter is prepared with banana, Almond Mylk, Medjool Date, peanut butter and cacao powder; and the Sour Apple is made with banana, spinach, apple juice, Medjool date, lemon juice and pineapple; the Blood Dragon is made with dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, coconut water, and vanilla protein powder.
The 480-calorie Muscle Power smoothie, packed with 27 grams of protein, is made with banana, acai, Almond Mylk, almond butter, and vanilla protein powder.

Marina Palmer works the cafe’s counter. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

For a good “grab-and-go” option, Marina suggests the vegan protein balls and cookies.
Coffees are also a big seller. “We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on our hot and iced coffees,” said Carey. “Our lattes, espressos and espresso drinks are also popular.”
Juice fans will find five different 16-ounce organic and fresh cold-pressed juices.
The cafe also carries three different juice shots as well as a Three-Day Detox Juice Cleanse. Available as a set of 18 juices along with a free ginger shot, the juice cleanse sells for $240 and must be pre-ordered three days in advance.
A small selection of all-natural vegan soaps and facial products are also sold. As the busy season approaches, Marina is looking forward to greeting a new group of plant-based and kosher diners to her world. “So much of our menu is comfort food and familiar. We appeal to all kinds of people,” she said.
The cafe’s new signage on the exterior wall of the plaza has drawn in many new diners. “It’s a cozy, welcoming space,” said Carey.
Looking ahead, the Palmers are considering franchising their brand but. for now, they have made this small corner of Siesta Key their own. “We’ve found our recipe for success,” said Marina.
Nutritious You Cafe is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit online at nutritious

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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