LV Recommends: Three health-conscious restaurants that cater to those on the fringe

Rawlicious, Cedar Rapids

Where to eat if you’re vegan or gluten-free.

The Full Bowl

1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids
Inspired by a favorite restaurant in Eugene, Oregon, owner Wes Shirley has brought the concept of a creative rice and beans restaurant to NewBo City Market, sporting the apt and cutesy slogan, “Exploring the globe, one bowl at a time.” With a weekly rotating menu of three main options, The Full Bowl offers vegan, gluten-free, cultural riffs on rice and beans from across the world. My favorite, the Chana Masala Bowl, features a rich garbanzo bean curry with house-made mango chutney finished with freshly chopped cilantro. Another favorite, the No Coast Bowl, features black beans and brown rice with a lemon-garlic sauce, salsa, cabbage and fresh avocado. There’s always a third bowl on rotation, and these range from Ethiopian-influenced dishes to West African inspired takes on the rice and beans concept. Rest assured that most of the ingredients are organic, and your love of tasty, healthy comfort food can be fully realized in the middle of NewBo.

Mama Joy Foods
While not a restaurant, local company Mama Joy Foods is a refreshing addition to the gluten-free baked goods scene, and (bonus!) they’re made just outside of Cedar Rapids. Mama Joy’s various offerings can be found at New Pioneer Co-Op, select Hy-Vees and Bread Garden Market, and include her most popular product: chocolate chip cookies. Those of us who’ve had to put up with sub-par desserts and cookies in the gluten-free aisle can finally, joyfully embrace all of Mama Joy’s vegan, paleo, SCD and gluten-free products—and get this, they actually taste like fresh, home-baked cookies that are soft and delicious, a feat we never thought possible until now. With her explosive launch onto the scene this past fall, Joy Kerr-Leeper has been busy adding new products to the shelves, including pies for the holidays, pumpkin bars, waffles, breakfast cookies and cinnamon bun muffins. Our suggestion? If you’ve got an event coming up and want to bring a sweet treat that everyone at the party can enjoy, pick up any of Mama Joy’s products and revel in being the the most thoughtful houseguest ever.


1101 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids
Tucked into the cute makers-focused Delve MIY (make it yourself) space in the NewBo district, Rawlicious has quickly become a go-to lunch location for the health-minded and conscious-eating inclined in the Cedar Rapids area. Opened this past summer by local chef Jessica Lafayette, who has regularly taught vegan/raw cooking classes through Kirkwood, Rawlicious offers everything from smoothies and salads to creative soups, desserts and sandwiches. Everything is raw, vegan, and gluten free—and highly delicious. The most popular items among her loyal fans are the Not Tuna sandwich, the Collard Burrito and any of her daily soups (I recently tried the Cheez and Broccoli as well as the spicy Vegetable Noodle made with spiralized zucchini). If you’re feeling under the weather, try her Immunity juice shot complete with Himalayan salt on the rim and an orange slice reminiscent of your tequila days but oh-so- much better for you. If you’re feeling indulgent, try any (literally any) of her incredibly decadent desserts such as the key lime pie, the dream bar or brownie bites. The most exciting thing about Rawlicious is its rotating daily desserts, lunch and soup specials—every time you come you can try something new and you won’t leave hungry or disappointed.

Meet a nutritionist

By Sophia Finster

Doctor Julia Buchkina

Functional medicine, a science-based medical practice, aims to discover the root cause driving chronic diseases or symptoms, rather than using medicines alone to minimize or cover up symptoms. Doctor Julia Buchkina practices functional medicine at Upstream Functional Medicine in Iowa City.

For Buchkina, it’s about bringing the body into balance by asking questions: What things in your life do you have too much of that could be causing a problem and how can you get rid of them? What things do you not have enough of in your life and how can you get more of these? Many times the answers to these questions are related to food and most people can do a lot of healing just by moving to a strictly whole foods diet.

Buchkina helps her clients heal a diversity of health problems. These include but are not limited to chronic diseases, autoimmune disease, metabolic problems and mental health issues. Rather than using the “name it, blame it, tame it, with a pill for every ill” philosophy of medicine, she aims to discover the root cause of these ailments and helps people learn what diet and lifestyle changes are right for them.

“Genetics is about 10 to 30 percent of our health risk while 70 to 90 percent is environment,” Buchkina explained.

For those interested in learning more about functional medicine and healthy diet and lifestyle changes, Buchkina offers health classes open to the general public. They take place three to four Tuesdays every month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. These health classes cover a variety of topics including cooking, general medical conditions, stress management, primal fitness and more. She also offers free advice in two Facebook groups: Cooking with the Real Food Matrix and Functionally Healthy Living.

To learn more about Buchkina and Upstream Functional Medicine or to sign up for these classes, visit You can also connect with Upstream Functional Medicine on Facebook.

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