It’s a month from the start of the new year, and for many folks in this season of resolutions, the road paved with good intentions — less sugar, fewer carbs, more fresh produce — now sometimes threatens to turn back toward too much sugar, bad fats and meals grabbed on the go for convenience.
Well, steady on. BFF Café is here to help.
The restaurant offers sit-down and to-go menus of dishes designed to be nutritionally balanced and to take into account dietary restrictions (BFF stands for Be Fit Foods).
After a year or so of settling in, BFF’s owners say they have refined their version of “clean eating” and are ready for wider release.
“We offered too much customization in the beginning; our menu was too big,” said Jennifer Boscovich, co-owner of BFF Café.
“After a year, we’ve learned our boundaries and learned better what our guests want from us and how to bring them clean food that tastes good.”
Not just dieters
The menu at BFF Café now runs to about three dozen items: sauces; snacks; salads; breakfast, lunch and dinner; a quartet of desserts.
Calories, fat, carbs and protein are provided for each dish, and a colored dietary key indicates if the dish is diabetic friendly, gluten-free, paleo, vegan or vegetarian (or some combination thereof).
Address: 3594 W. Plumb Lane, at South McCarran Boulevard
On the web:www.bffcafe.com
Ordering: Fuel pack to-go meals can be purchased at the café or ordered online
After being open a little more than a year, who are BFF’s customers? Who are the folks stopping by for a Greek zoodle salad — BFF is big, big, big on the vegetable noodles — or taking a shredded beef taco fuel pack (more on that in second) from the refrigerated case?
“I expected this to be mostly dieters, and we definitely have them, but people are becoming more health conscious more of the time,” Boscovich said. “Seventy five percent of our customers say they’re simply making healthier choices.”
On the go
And BFF aims to make it easy for folks to make those choices by marrying nutrition with the convenience of prepared meals to go.
“Time is the biggest problem everyone has,” said Gwen Sedler, BFF’s other owner. “You have to plan, drive to the grocery store, prep it, make it, then clean it all up. We do that for you. You grab some of our fuel packs, and dinner is done.”
The meal-size fuel packs run about $8-13 and include re-heating or microwaving instructions.
There are egg white pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, salmon tacos goosed by lime from the snacks menu, a Thai salad, grilled salmon with roasted vegetables, and braised beef atop — what else? — a tangle of zoodles.
Mindful of the fact people often think clean food is bland — and remembering dishes that fell short on seasoning when BFF debuted — the team now includes sauces with the savory fuel packs.
So the Thai salad, for instance, comes with a container of miso dressing, and chimichurri accompanies the braised beef.
The right recipe
Cauliflower bread has been a particular success that’s grown from the streamlining of the menu and improved kitchen processes (as in: “We do our best to use all the stumps for our veggies stocks or soups,” said BFF chef Ricardo Felipe. “We try not to have too much hit the bin.”)
Thin, slightly moist cauliflower patties stand in for standard bread in the egg white fuel pack or with a bison burger; for hand-held Caprese pizzas and other ‘za, they substitute for regular crust. Cauliflower bread also is sold in 12-packs and can be frozen.
I tried some of the bread and found it versatile and filling.
I used the patties to make a breakfast sandwich and fried some in a skillet to top with salsa and, for a snack, heated a handful of patties and swiped them with full-fat cream cheese (an approach I’m sure the BFF crew doesn’t recommend).
“The cauliflower bread took us 26 different tries to develop the recipe we have now,” Felipe said. “We didn’t throw in the towel” (nor did they resort to salting the cauliflower, the usual method for removing excess moisture).
The (peanut butter) bomb
Desserts are among the newer menu items. I sampled all four.
The coconut oil chocolate chip cookie? I didn’t finish it. The vegan brownie was better, with some moments of texture. The oat flour pumpkin muffins were moist and hit the spot (especially with a big gob of butter).
But the peanut butter, honey and dark chocolate balls (called bombs on the menu) were outstanding. I’m not a sweets person, but I finished them in one sitting. You wouldn’t have known they were from a healthful eating restaurant.
The chef has plans for the dessert menu, he said. “We’re trying to develop some where people can take them and bake them at home.”
And BFF’s owners have plans for their fuel packs, plans made possible by the approval of a manufacturing license about four months ago. Besides BFF, the packs now are sold in outlets like Kaia Fit, Orangetheory Fitness and Reno Kicks Fitness, Sedler, the co-owner, said.
“We want to be in gym fridges all over Reno,” she continued “You’re done with a workout, you’re tired, you don’t want to go home and make something, so here’s BFF fuel packs in the fridge.”
It’s clear that Sedler and her business partner Boscovich are on a mission (but in a friendly way, without preaching, and with a love of good food).
And they don’t think of themselves as just restaurateurs. As Boscovich put it: “We’re actually in the health and wellness industry. We want to show people that a lot of how you feel comes down a lot to what you eat.”