A lot of people do not cook, as they simply do not know how to do this (Smith 7). Unfortunately, it leads to reduced healthy meal preparation at home. Years ago, students in schools were supposed to learn how to cook because it was a part of their education in the US. However, not too many of them were interested in home economic classes and did not enroll in the classes last two decades. Teaching of cooking skills was a part of those classes, and as students did not attend them, now people have lack of education and experience of cooking skills (Smith 7). Moreover, in the modern world, women, just like men, have jobs and take care about career more often than in previous centuries, therefore they have less time for cooking. As a result, Americans tend to eat out more often, and because buying fast food is more convenient, faster and cheaper, it leads them to be less healthy. Based on the article “Fast Food Consumption Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016, during 2013–2016, approximately 36,6 % of adults consumed fast food on a given day … Among adults who consumed fast food, the most commonly reported eating occasions were lunch (43.7%) and dinner (42.0%), followed by breakfast (22.7%) and snacks (22.6%).”

Recent statistics show that “[m]ore than 40 percent of Americans between the ages 40 and 59 are obese now. The number of overweight and obese people has never been so high in all human history…” (Furhman 76). Because of it, a lot of people have started to pay more attention to their health and health of their families now. Their aware that healthy food leads to reduction of diabetes and obesity, and lower number of cardiovascular diseases, and these facts tend people to extend healthy eating patterns. According to “ 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, сonsumers are increasingly making food and beverage choices based on their personal definitions of health, such as food described as natural, organic, high in protein or functional (e.g., items to help boost energy or de-stress)”, and  “40% of consumers say their definition of health has changed over the past two years.” That means in recent years more people have started to pay attention to their health and health of their families. It’s more known to people now that healthy food leads to reduction of diabetes and obesity, and lower number of cardiovascular diseases. A greater number of healthy restaurants and cafes have opened in the US, especially last decade. Austin has a lot of healthy restaurants which increase people’s interest every day. One such restaurant is Picnik, located on Burned Rd. This place is in the list of the top 25 places of Austin restaurants for healthy eating according to opinion of a restaurant critic Matthew Odam. Picnik deserves to be in this list, as the food  healthy and delicious at the same time, the staff is professional and friendly, and the atmosphere is very welcoming.

Picnik is focused on healthy food by promoting paleo, gluten free, and low sugar meals. The idea of opening the restaurant came from the owner Naomi Seifter, who has struggled with “chronic, food-allergy-related illness since she was a child” (“Our Story”). Due to this reason and in order stay healthy, she started researching the advantages of “an allergen-free diet.” Consequently, she realised that the best way to eat healthy is to cook at home  (“Our Story”). Since homemade food is much better and healthier than in restaurant, she wanted to share her knowledge with people, and  “the concept of restaurant was simple: wholesome food that’s convenient and nutritious” (“Our Story”).

Recently my friends and I visited Picnik, as we like interesting new places and healthy food. Healthy meals for us are a plate of vegetables, fruits, carbs, and some protein in accordance with the My Plate concept, a nutrition guide that is defined by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. The main appeal of the guide is to “focus on variety, amount, and nutrition, choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, start with small changes to build healthier eating styles, support healthy eating for everyone” (“What is Myplate?”). Besides, my friends and I are foodies and always looking for varieties and unique meals, especially with a lot of vegetables. So, I ordered the turmeric-crusted cauliflower steak and added a piece of grilled salmon. Many people believe that cauliflower is not delicious, especially raw, and I am one of these people. The main ingredients of this dish were turmeric-pistachio crust, caper-raisin purée, chickpea-cauliflower hummus and fresno chili relish. It was not surprise that the main benefits of most ingredients were antioxidant and anti-inflammatory as Picnik promotes healthy food. I would never recognized cauliflower in this plate because of such an unusual combination of ingredients that make food so delicious. The chef did a great job by hiding healthy and not delicious vegetables inside of that meal, which  made it all taste great. My friends ordered vegetarian tacos, and Rainbow Chopped Salad, and also were impressed by the diversity of vegetables and the way the meals were served. There were many items on the menu that have a number of healthy ingredients like that, that on their own are not delicious, but the way they are prepared are very tasty. Also, there are a lot of varieties of vegetarian meals, with the possibility to customize the meal by adding some protein on your plate. Food is served in nice shaped white plates and unique decorated.  Overall, everything was done well with a lot of uncommon and healthy ingredients. My meal was definitely prepared and served based on  USDA MyPlate approach, such as varieties, nutrition and amount.

Another thing that makes this restaurant attractive is the educated and friendly staff.  Because of the restaurant concept and potential lack of customers’ knowledge about  paleo food and benefits of some unusual ingredients, waiters in this place are supposed to be well educated. They have to be able to provide a quick answer why exact ingredient was added in the meal and how does it affect the taste and smell of the meal. Moreover, they have to be aware about proportions of ingredients that could lead to the different tastes of the food. Waiters in Picnik were very well informed about what their meals and beverages are made from. Also, they were very welcoming and polite. There was a dress code for the staff, and all waiters were dressed in white shirts and dark brown aprons. Our waiter introduced himself, gave an introduction about the restaurant concept, asked if anyone had any allergies, and told us about seasonal menu. He was very friendly and asked how we were doing on that rainy day, and how we managed to stay dry. I am a person who does not like spicy food, and asked the waiter’s recommendation in my case. He immediately recommended some items and let me know where it was possible to reduce spiciness. Such knowledge of the ingredients on the menu really impressed me. The awareness of restaurant staff met my expectations and made me respect this place, as I had never seen such well informed waiters before. Hospitality and positive attitude are very important in order to keep people coming back to a restaurant, and Picnik is definitely good at this.

The one thing that made me a little bit upset is the fact that there are no reservations, and it is leads possibility that all tables could be busy when you come there. Since a lot of people like to eat there, especially on the weekend, it is hard to predict how much time it will take to wait for your table. When my friends and I came on Saturday for lunch, we were asked to wait for 20-25 minutes. Normally in such cases restaurants offer people the option to wait at the bar area and grab some drinks. I expected that Picnik would offer us a dimly-lit place to sit  with quiet music which could help us to relax and forget the fact that we had to wait a half of hour for our table. I was interested to see what the owner organized in order to make the wait more pleasant.

The host invited us to sit on the comfortable couches with a bunch of light -colored and soft pillows. Some people who also were waiting, were buying restaurant house specialties, such as butter coffee or spicy tea, and then relaxed and chatted on the couches. Ultimately no one was upset with the long wait, just the opposite, everybody was looking forward to try the food. The interior of restaurant supported that and made the wait enjoyable. The walls and tables are painted in white and bright brown colors. There are a lot of shelves with books, and hanging basket of flowers on the walls, which makes people feel home. The bar is decorated by tiles with different shades of blue, and because it is the first think that a customer sees when he or she steps inside, it gives positive vibes of the place. Because of  friendly and comfortable atmosphere, our 25 minutes of waiting flew by very fast. Soon we were invited to take a seat, and by that time we were on a pleasant mood, as the house coffee  was very delicious, and a couch was so comfortable and soft.

Americans more and more are paying attention to their eating habits. Even when they eat out, they try to choose healthier options more often than five to ten years ago. Consequently, there are many more places with healthy food choices which are opening now. Healthy and yummy food, professional staff, and welcoming atmosphere are very important components for choosing the right place to eat. The Picnik is one of these restaurants where it is possible to find healthy food, friendly service, and a cozy atmosphere. No wonder that Picnik customers leave mostly positive comments and feedback on Yelp, as it has 4.5 stars rating and 434 reviews. Most people are impressed  by food and service the restaurant provides; I would recommend to everyone go and try this place.

Works Cited

“ 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report”. Technomic Winsight Company. Winsight, LLC. 1 November, 2018. Accesses date 24 November, 2018

Fryar, Cheryl D, at al. “ Fast Food Consumption Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016”. Сenter of Diseases Control and Prevention, October 2018,

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db322.htm. Accessed date 24 November, 2018

Fuhrman, Joel. “Let food be the medicine”. Fast Food Genocide, 1st ed., Harper One, 2017, p.76.

Odam, Mattew. ” Austin restaurants: Where to eat healthy”. Austin American Statesman,

           13 January 2017,

lsproxy.austincc.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1858134352?accountid=7013

“Our Story. We Make Good Food That Also Happens to be Good For You.” Picnik Journal, https://picnikaustin.com/blogs/journal/our-story. Accessed date 24 November, 2018

Smith, Lindsey P., et al. “Trends in US Home Food Preparation and Consumption: Analysis of National Nutrition Surveys and Time Use Studies from 1965-1966 to 2007-2008.” Nutrition Journal, vol. 12, May 2013, pp. 7. 1-101-10.EBSCOhost,doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-45.

“ What is Myplate?”.USDA Choose MyPlate.Gov, United States Department of Agriculture, 19 July 2018, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Accessed date 24 November, 2018

“ 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report”. Technomic Winsight Company. Winsight, LLC. 1 November, 2018. Accesses date 24 November, 2018