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Rooted: Eat More Plants — It will add wholesome food to your new year

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The "sure-fire" bowl is adorned with creamy lime-cilantro dressing at Medford’s Rooted: Eat More Plants. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The “pina colada” bowl’s base is blended with coconut milk at Medford’s Rooted: Eat More Plants. Photos by Sarah Lemon
The "summer cider” salad at Medford’s Rooted: Eat More Plants incorporates roasted chickpeas. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Fresh juices, such as the "Beetlejuice," are sold in 12-ounce bottles at Rooted: Eat More Plants in Medford. Photos by Sarah Lemon
Candied jalapeños are a feature of the “sure-fire” bowl at Medford’s Rooted: Eat More Plants. Photos by Sarah Lemon

If consuming more plant-based foods plays into the new year’s resolutions, it pays to patronize Rooted.

Subtitled “Eat More Plants,” the south Medford fast-casual concept has grown a strong following since its September debut. An online platform for pickup orders or delivery through DoorDash makes it even easier for customers to add wholesome salads, wraps, panini and grain bowls to their everyday regimens.

Whole foods define the menu at Rooted, which bases recipes around black beans and chickpeas, brown rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds and a veritable cornucopia of fresh produce. For meat substitutes, there are old-school mushrooms and tofu, as well as the more trendy jackfruit. Pasture-raised eggs even are available for breakfast burritos.

Notably absent are processed plant-based meat substitutes, recently receiving some negative attention for containing ingredients that aren’t, strictly speaking, healthy. Gravitating toward the basics, if not necessarily vegan foods, I found plenty to pique my interest at Rooted.

Walnuts and blueberries with quinoa and baby kale ($12.99) stood out from the menu’s other salads. But I wondered about the blueberries’ freshness during the cold season. Roasted chickpeas composing the “summer cider” salad ($12.99) represented a hearty helping of protein alongside pumpkin seeds. Other salads include the “green glow,” so named for its spinach and pea shoots, and the “sweet ’n spicy,” touting candied jalapeno with portobello mushroom and pear.

Thirsty and craving the quench of ginger, I selected the “Beetlejuice” ($8) from Rooted’s lineup of fresh-pressed, organic beverages. Had the hour been earlier, I would have opted for the “citrus sunrise,” comprising grapefruit, blood orange and carrot juices. Each is packaged in a 12-ounce bottle, displayed in a self-serve cooler.

Also spiced with ginger, a 2-ounce “flu shot” ($4) promotes wellness with its dose of garlic and oregano oil. An “immunity shot” boosts pineapple juice with turmeric, cayenne and black pepper.

My salad came out generously arrayed in chickpeas and half an avocado.

Sampling the salad first without dressing, I found the legumes’ seasoning so satisfying that I almost didn’t want the apple cider vinaigrette, particularly once I mixed in some of the rich avocado. Wedges of cucumber complemented the crunch of romaine lettuce, which constituted most of the mixed greens, although I located a few spinach leaves in the bowl.

The beet juice, enhanced with carrot, celery and lemon was lightly sweet and not too earthy. More than I needed in a sitting, I took the rest for my drive home with the resolve not to spill a drop of the intensely pigmented liquid en route.

A return visit later that week with my partner came early enough to sample the “citrus sunrise,” along with some of Rooted’s breakfast items. I assumed my partner would gravitate to a breakfast burrito, which number four types on Rooted’s menu. Ranging in price from $9.99 to $11.49, all feature scrambled tofu, although two scrambled eggs can be substituted for an additional $2.

But my partner surprised me with his choice of the “pina colada” smoothie bowl, the only one of Rooted’s four made with coconut milk. Almond milk is the base for Rooted’s namesake bowl with acai, as well as the “berry-cherry” and “peanut butter-banana” bowls. Adding 18 grams of plant-based protein powder tacks $3 onto the smoothie bowls’ $7.99 price.

A bowl can be the chosen format for about half of Rooted’s items. Breakfast and lunch burrito fillings can lose the tortillas and repose instead in a dish. Conversely, any salad can be prepared as a wrap. For $2.99, add a side salad, fresh fruit, guacamole with chips or hummus with veggies to any and all of the above.

Served with a choice of side, panini — from $13.49 to $16.49 — bookend portobello mushrooms, chickpeas, pulled jackfruit and nut butters. Provolone and Gouda cheeses are dairy-free, and mayonnaise and pesto are vegan.

Customers with even stricter dietary needs or more specific tastes can mix and match from nearly 60 ingredients to build their own burrito, wrap, salad or bowl, priced at $9.99 per pound. Those who value variety can get half a panini and side of hummus and veggies, plus seasonal fresh fruit for $11.99.

Fruit fairly spilled over the edge of my partner’s smoothie bowl, which also boasted shredded coconut and gluten-free granola. The sliced banana and blood orange eclipsed the strawberries’ flavor, which no doubt would shine brightly in summer when the oranges wane.

Sweet and spicy, candied jalapenos were the star of my “sure-fire” bowl ($11.99). With the substitution of scrambled tofu for the jackfruit, the bowl mimicked the flavors of a breakfast burrito with black beans, guacamole, salsa and a creamy lime-cilantro dressing that adorned the plate’s edge in loops and swirls.

Egg lover that I am, I didn’t miss their texture, accomplished convincingly by the scrambled soft tofu. The bean curd’s mild flavor accommodates an even wider range of flavors than egg does. Next time I’d forgo romaine lettuce at breakfast and build my own bowl with spinach, or skip the greens entirely and add some cashew queso.

Located at 1325 Center Drive, Suite 108, Rooted: Eat More Plants is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. See the menu and order at rootedmedford.com. Or call 458-225-9861.

Tempo Tidbits

Twenty-percent discounts promote “wellness Wednesday” at Medford Food Co-op’s cafe.

Ordering salads, smoothies and “wellness elixirs” on Wednesdays brings an additional incentive at The Cafe,

945 S. Riverside Ave. Previously, the Co-op’s eatery discounted those items by 10%, now applied Wednesdays to wellness and body care products in the store.

Enhanced with locally made Herb Pharm tinctures, “wellness elixirs” include the black elderberry toddy, lavender lemonade, maca mocha, “golden milk” and “cold-busting” hot chocolate, regularly priced from $3 to $6 for 16 ounces.

See the menu medfordfood.coop/cafe. The Cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Call 541-646-3686.

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The three-course “locals special” has returned to Ashland’s Hearsay Restaurant, Lounge & Garden.

Available Sunday and Monday evenings, the fixed price of $28 per person affords a starter, entree and dessert. The latest menu features soup du jour, Caesar and arugula salads, a fish burger and 6-ounce sirloin steak, both served with fries, and shrimp and spinach-pesto pastas. Desserts are caramel-sauced bread pudding and house-made ice cream or sorbet.

Hearsay’s regular menu prices for main courses range from $16 for the beer-battered cod burger with fries to $38 for beef tenderloin. The restaurant located at 40 S. First St., under Oregon Cabaret Theatre, serves new American cuisine and cocktails steeped in the ambiance and music of the 1930s.

Adorned in colorful, abstract murals of cosmopolitan clientele, the main dining room suggests both opulent jazz club and shadowy speakeasy. In warm weather, Hearsay’s lush, walled garden is a hidden oasis above downtown Ashland.

Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Hearsay’s Sunday brunch, which resumed last spring, is paused during the restaurant’s staffing shortage. Reserve at hearsayashland.com or call 541-625-0505.

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Sunday brunch kicks off this weekend at a new downtown Medford establishment.

Tartine Brunch Club adjusted its hours of operation a month after opening at 36 S. Central Ave. Initially doing business Tuesday through Saturday, Tartine announced it would extend brunch to Sunday and close Monday and Tuesday. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Serving whimsical cocktails and Mexican specialties alongside France’s favorite snacks, Claudia Morales and Carlos Torres opened Tartine after operating Medford’s Xilakil Latin Fusion for nearly three years. The couple’s new concept has been so popular it’s announced several early closures after selling out of its menu midweek.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow @the.whole.dish on Instagram, @thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.