Lyfe kitchen works at finding balance between health, taste

You stand in line to place your order, which is brought to your table, in the manner of fast-casual restaurants all around town. Crispy chicken fingers recipe But here’s what is different about LYFE Kitchen:

Sure, it’s marketing spin, but look around you: The living wall of fresh herbs, the big windows and airy dining rooms, the comfortable bar with stools, tables and soft seating — these are the trappings of a finer place than a build-your-own burrito joint.

LYFE is an acronym for “love your food everyday.” The restaurant was founded in 2011 by two former McDonald’s executives and an exec from Gardein, a meat-free food company (more to come on that). Easy chicken fingers In 2014, Memphis-based Carlisle Corp. How to cook chicken fingers bought a stake in LYFE, and Chance Carlisle is now LYFE CEO. How to make homemade chicken fingers The Memphis restaurant is the model for the ones still to open.

The concept of loving your food is nice, right? LYFE makes it easy for us to take advantage of the opportunities we get every week to nourish our bodies as we eat, to make them stronger and protect them from disease.

Deep fried chicken tenders recipe It’s fast enough, affordable enough and convenient enough (at least for folks in East Memphis and Germantown) that we can let someone else prepare a few of those meals for us and cut back on taqueria dinners and microwave popcorn for lunch. Chicken strips recipe ideas The question is, of course: How does it taste?

You’ll see kale, edamame, wheat berries and chia seeds on the menu, along with the Gardein products mentioned above. Zaxby’s chicken fingers recipe And while quinoa (keen-wah) might still be something new to you, you’re familiar with sweet potato fries or the idea of Art’s Unfried Chicken. Dipping sauce for chicken fingers (Art is Art Smith, LYFE’s executive chef, who was Oprah’s personal chef for 10 years. Oven chicken fingers He still cooks for her and other celebrities and dignitaries, and himself shed 100 pounds a few years ago. Chicken fingers recipe fried I met him when he was in town for the LYFE opening, and he said he wants the food to be healthful, but that it must taste good.)

If you consider country fried steak or fried chicken a regular dinner instead of an indulgence, the Ancient Grain Stir-fry might not hit the spot. Deep fried chicken fingers recipe Lightly cooked vegetables and Gardein beefless tips are mixed with quinoa, black rice, herbs and a sweet chili sauce and make a satisfying lunch or dinner, if a bit on the bland side. Chicken strips recipe oven I knew I wasn’t eating beef, but would I have known if I was unaware it was a substitute? I’m not sure. How to make chicken strips batter Witness:

Someone else at my table ordered the Spicy Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps and when I sampled the coarsely ground beef in those, I immediately said “Oh, now I can tell the difference,” sort of like drinking a nonalcoholic beer right after you had a real one. Zaxby’s chicken finger plate calories Except here’s the thing: There was no beef. Recipe chicken fingers Both dishes were made with Gardein, which is a plant-based beef substitute. Baked chicken tenders calories In the stir-fry, the tips were served in chunks, like beef tips. Cooking chicken tenders on stove In the lettuce wraps, they were ground and thus smaller and more apt to take on the flavor of the dish.

Mahi Fish Tacos were quite good, as was the Quinoa Crunch Bowl (quinoa, veggies, avocado, arugula, edamame hummus, spicy sauces). Homemade chicken tenders fried The flavor of the garlic-Parmesan sweet potato fries was fine, but they were limp both times I tried them. Baked chicken strips in oven Flatbreads are a safe bet.

Art’s Unfried Chicken is simple and the way I’ve “fried” chicken at home for years: It’s seasoned, coated in bread crumbs and baked. How to make chicken strips in the oven A boneless skinless breast is used at LYFE, and there’s plenty of flavor; if you want to add a dash of salt or a bit of pepper, go ahead. How long to cook chicken tenders at 350 The 566-calorie dish comes with roasted brussels sprouts (so over them), roasted butternut squash (very good), dried cranberries and cashew cream sauce. Arby’s chicken tenders calories I like the cashew cream sauce — it’s in other things on the menu, too — which is often used in vegan cooking as a cream substitute.

About that salt: Sodium counts and calories are listed on the printed menu. Making chicken fingers The sweet corn chowder (vegan and gluten free) was creamy (made with cashew cream), had a touch of spiciness and was substantial for 164 calories. Dip for chicken fingers But while the menu states a higher sodium count than for any of the entrées, we found that it needed a bit of salt. Sauce for chicken fingers Adjust as you need.

Breakfast at LYFE was a surprise. Healthy baked chicken fingers The spinach and avocado frittata, with just 405 calories including a side of chipotle potato hash, was rich and satisfying and contains 27 grams of protein, as I discovered when I went to the website.

(Full nutritional information should be easier to find and access. Pan fried chicken fingers It’s in a Microsoft Excel format online instead of an easy-to-read chart. Homemade baked chicken fingers But if you are concerned about the fat grams in your food, you’ll need to make the effort as some of the dishes are higher in fat and even in saturated fat than expected.)

The breakfast burrito was even better: A whole wheat tortilla filled with LYFE eggs, arugula, avocado, tomato, chipotle aioli, cheddar cheese and salsa fresca. Homemade chicken fingers baked LYFE eggs, by the way, are mixed two egg whites to one yolk.

The carrot-zucchini walnut muffin was so moist, so tender and so big that I asked two people to be sure that the 190-calorie count listed is for the whole muffin. Ultimate chicken fingers It’s a lighter version of the classic and delicious but greasy, heavy morning glory muffin; there are a couple in my freezer now. Homemade fried chicken fingers The fresh-squeezed orange juice at breakfast was ridiculously, almost comically, pulpy (“Spoon with your juice, ma’am?”). How long to bake chicken fingers My friend drank it, but I would have sent it back.

There’s still work to be done. How long to cook chicken fingers Above all, many of the well-prepared dishes could just use a little oomph, a little spice, a little wiggle in the walk.

Salt and pepper on the table helps, but how about a LYFE seasoning that could add a bit more nuance and could be added to taste? Or a heat scale when ordering?

There’s a nice little cocktail program at the bar, though, and the drinks are prepared with fresh ingredients and go a little light on alcohol — 1¼-ounce pours instead of the typical 1½.