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Fresh Planet offers healthy take on fast food in Tallmadge | Local Flavor

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My wife, Susie, and I are not what you would call health food enthusiasts.

It’s my opinion that carrots are best served in a cake with cream cheese frosting. Lettuce is the stuff that I leave at the bottom of a salad bowl after eating the tasty toppings. I don’t know how to pronounce acai, and, just between you and me, ginkgo biloba sounds like a reptile.

But that didn’t stop us from going to Fresh Planet on Tallmadge Circle. 

My former Beacon Journal colleague Charlene Nevada had recommended the restaurant, and despite our initial misgivings, we decided to give it a try.  

Tallmadge native Michael “Mick” Cochrane founded the business in 2002 as Liquid Planet in Cleveland and rebranded as Fresh Planet in 2013 to emphasize that the menu has more to offer than smoothies. The original store is at 11002 Clifton Blvd. on Cleveland’s West Side. His sister Tracey Cochrane Williams opened the Tallmadge location in October 2018.

It’s a fast-food restaurant with healthful options — or as Cochrane marketed it: “A better way to eat.”

Fresh Planet serves plant-rich food and drinks. The menu offers pizzas, toasted pita combos, egg pitas, rice bowls, acai bowls, garden fresh salads and housemade soups, plus more than 40 smoothies, fresh juices and creamy chills. The words “organic,” “wheatgrass,” “flaxseed powder,” “ginseng,” “bee pollen,” “astragalus,” “whey protein,” “spirulina,” and, yes, even “ginkgo biloba,” are listed among the ingredients.

The atmosphere is casual. The Tallmadge restaurant is a narrow space with wide mirrors, exposed ductwork and ceiling fans. The walls are orange, red and cream, and the restaurant’s slogan, “Eat Right. Feel Right,” is emblazoned in large letters.

Customers order food at one end of a counter, pick up their trays at the other end and take seats in blue vinyl booths or wooden tables with blue vinyl chairs.

What to order at Fresh Planet

Susie and I ordered toasted pita combos for $9.99 each. Customers have a choice of made-from-scratch sides: chips and hummus, paprikash rice, chips and salsa, hummus and celery, peanut butter and celery, coleslaw or black beans and rice. The combos are served in plastic baskets lined with deli paper.

I selected the Sunny, a pita sandwich made with a three-cheese blend, sunflower seeds and tomato, and I paired it with chips and hummus. My wife got a Turkey Reuben made with sliced turkey breast, Swiss cheese and coleslaw drizzled with Thousand Island dressing, and she ordered peanut butter and celery as her side.

Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, the Sunny was a toasty delight with sunflower seeds in every bite. It reminded me of something that I might order at Tommy’s Restaurant in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood of Coventry. I also enjoyed the cold, garlicky hummus with salty corn chips.

Susie liked the Turkey Reuben, but, boy, was it messy. Juice kept oozing out the sides and dripping onto her jacket. She’d take a bite, pause to clean herself, take another bite and cause more to drip. It was pretty comical.

“Eating healthy is a messy business,” she said with a laugh.

I associate peanut butter and celery with elementary school lunch, but my wife was really pleased with the side combination. She can see herself snacking on this at home.

“If I don’t go for the potato chips first,” she said jokingly.

The pita sandwiches were naturally thin, so I ordered backup. The Peanut Thai Rice Bowl ($9.99) features oven-roasted chicken, snow peas, carrots, peppers, broccoli, red cabbage and walnuts smothered in a peanut sauce.

That wonderful sauce, like what you might find on chicken satay, was sweet, warm and zesty, and generously slathered over fresh chicken, crunchy veggies and warm rice. Overall, it was a nice combination.

“That’s quite good,” Susie agreed.

For my beverage, I ordered a PB Walnut oatmeal protein smoothie ($7.49), made with organic oats, peanut butter, banana, skim milk, whey protein, nonfat frozen yogurt, honey and walnuts. I substituted almond milk for skim (soy milk was another option). It was a heavenly mixture, thick with a granular texture. Using the straw was a workout for my lips.

Susie sipped a small Pineapple Orange Chill ($4.95), a blend of pineapple, banana, orange juice, pineapple juice and nonfat frozen yogurt. Pineapple was the dominant flavor of this citrus-forward, not-too-sweet drink.

“It’s very cold,” she said. “They’re not kidding when they say it’s a chill.”

The drinks were really filling. I finished about one-fourth of my smoothie and had to take the rest for the road. 

Although there weren’t a lot of people dining inside on the Saturday afternoon we visited, the kitchen crew was busy with takeout orders.

The young staff, clad in colorful Fresh Planet T-shirts, couldn’t have been nicer to us. They explained the menu, answered our questions and offered suggestions on what to try.

Not including tax, our bill came to about $43. We left a tip in the jar at the cash register.

Overall, we were proud of ourselves for trying something different: fast food that was actually good for us.

“It’s not my usual fare, but I liked it,” Susie said.

Me, too.

After eating all that healthy food, we were tempted to run laps around Tallmadge Circle. A few more visits to Fresh Planet and we’ll be ready.

Mark J. Price can be reached at   mprice@thebeaconjournal.com 

Details

Place: Fresh Planet

Address: 116 Tallmadge Circle, Tallmadge

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Services: Take out or dine in

More info: fresh-planet.com or 330-849-5099

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