Not every smoothie fan is a Spider-Man fan, nor the other way around. But those at the center of a Venn diagram between the two may be drawn to Nosh Paleo Cafe’s Green Goblin smoothie.
Green spirulina, kale, pineapple, lemon peel, and coconut milk are among the ingredients local restaurateur Aubriel Ruano blends together for this drink, part of a long lineup of beverages that adhere to the tenets of the Paleolithic diet, also known as the Paleo diet or caveman diet.
The protocol greenlights meat, fish, and most vegetables (except nightshade vegetables), but sugar, dairy products, and processed oils are big no-nos.
“Everything in here, even the teas and smoothies, are packed full of veggies. With the mint chocolate chip smoothie, you can’t even taste that it has cauliflower and kale in it,” said Ruano, who first embraced the Paleo diet—specifically the Wahls protocol—in 2019, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Ruano’s goal with Nosh Paleo Cafe—which opened in November—is to spread awareness about the diet, based on her own beneficial experience adapting to the Wahls protocol to relieve the symptoms of her disease, and give others with dietary restrictions a nice, cozy comfort food restaurant without inducing anxiety over the menu options.
“I’ve been cooking this way for three and a half years. I pretty much take the recipes I used to cook but modify them so they’re strictly Paleo. I make stuff people are familiar with, stuff they enjoy eating, just a cleaner, healthier, good-for-you version,” said Ruano, who curated Nosh Paleo Cafe’s wide-ranging menu to include soups, sandwiches, coffee, desserts, and more.
“It’s really inspiring to know that when people come here, they’re looking for almost a sanctuary—they don’t know where to eat, they don’t know what to eat, they don’t know where to go,” added Ruano, who converses with the cafe’s customers as often as possible, trading stories about different dietary needs and approaches in the process.
“When they come in here, I hear all of that and it’s really awesome, and it makes this a community place to be, and that’s what I want it to be.”
Of course, having a dietary restriction is not a requirement for entry at Nosh Paleo Cafe. Ruano said it’s easy to assume the cafe is a regular restaurant without paying attention to the menu items’ ingredients. On the other hand, she thinks it’s amusing when guests come in with an experimental mindset.
“Some people simply come in because they want a smoothie, or tell me they want to experiment. One guy was like, ‘My wife wanted me to come here as an experiment.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s not really an experiment, man,’” Ruano said with a laugh. “This is the same kind of food that you eat, just without all the junk.”
Among her most popular items, Ruano listed her club sandwiches—made with organic chicken, vegan mayonnaise, grapes, cashew halves, organic celery, red onion, carrots, mint leaves, curry spice, and sesame bread, served with a choice of of roasted Brussels sprouts or sweet potato fries on the side—and sugarless chocolate chip cookies.
Nosh Paleo Cafe has a breakfast selection as well, including a breakfast scramble and waffles (traditional or pumpkin), both with the option to add two strips of Ruano’s favorite food, bacon.
“I actually eat bacon every day, which is like the best thing ever,” Ruano said. “I was always told you shouldn’t eat bacon, and that it’s like a heart attack on a plate. But with MS, you actually need a lot of fat, because when your immune system attacks your nerves, it eats the myelin sheath, which is like a wire covering, which is needed fat.
“So in order to rejuvenate that, you need to have fat in your diet,” Ruano continued. “Cholesterol is actually good for you. You just have to know how to eat the right type of food.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood never turns down bacon. Send comments to [email protected].