Regional Dining Guide

Thrive Cafe: Healthy, Flavorful Options


Finding a healthy meal that tastes good doesn’t have to be frustrating. At this trendy restaurant, you can feel good about eating food that’s healthy and delicious.

The AvoCobbo bowl features spring mix, avocado, sweet potato, egg, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and hemp and sunflower seeds.

The AvoCobbo bowl features spring mix, avocado, sweet potato, egg, grape tomatoes, cucumber, and hemp and sunflower seeds.

Thrive Café, 6731 Broadcast Parkway, Loves Park, Ill., is celebrating its one-year anniversary in June with extended hours, new creations, trendy foods and an outdoor patio. It also made its debut this year at Rockford City Market.

Owner Jason Rager, also a personal trainer, is committed to helping people live healthier lives by making all menu items from fresh ingredients with no additional fat, sugar or dairy products.

“Customers are so excited about what we have to offer. We get a lot of people wanting to eat healthier because they are ill or on a special diet, or just following a national trend of eating healthier,” he says.

Rachel Ostendorf was hired in January to compile nutritional information on items sold at Thrive, help create new recipes and develop a meal planning system for customers who would like to get several days worth of meals at one time. With an associate’s degree in exercise science and a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Ball State University, Ostendorf is on her way to becoming a registered dietitian.

At Thrive, everyone gets involved in making good choices, she says.

“Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas for new menu items and combinations of tastes,” she says. “It’s a fun place to work, and everyone is encouraged to shape the future of what we will have to offer.”

New drinks and food being served up or soon to arrive include Kombucha, an on-tap fermented tea; food and drink items made with small amounts of activated charcoal to help absorb heavy metals from the body; overnight oats made with almond milk, fruit and a variety of toppings; homemade high-protein plant-based milks; a raw natural granola bar with dates, nuts and seeds; dishes with Tempeh (fermented soy); new juice flavors; drinkable soups; and different forms of mushrooms in coffee, tea and entrees.

Curry Chickpea Salad, the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl, and a salad made with the ancient grain Farro, Kimchi (fermented Korean vegetables) and Wakame (edible seaweed) are among the trendy international dishes that have been tried out with great success, Ostendorf says.

“People have a real interest in international foods, especially Asian and Thai dishes,” she says. “I love cooking, experimenting with food and showing people that healthy food is not only good for you, but can taste delicious, too. Promoting healthy lifestyles makes me even more passionate about what I do.”

These items are in addition to the regular menu which consists of plant-based smoothies, exotic smoothie bowls, cold-pressed juices, salads, wraps and entrees made with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, seeds and/or nuts. Proteins can be added to any item, including black beans or chickpeas, all-natural chicken, seared Ahi tuna and wild-caught salmon.

Other new items in recent months are cleansing vegetable juices, cashew nut milk, Shrimp Spring Rolls, a vegetable quiche and a caramelized onion and mushroom quiche, both made with a sweet potato crust. All salad dressings are made in house and are gluten-free and dairy-free.

Rager launched his business in the summer of 2015 at Peak Sports Club, in Loves Park, Ill., specializing in freshly made cold-pressed juices and smoothies. That location is still in operation.

The newest Thrive Café, just across the street, is open Mon-Fri. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. It’s closed on Sundays.

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