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For whatever reason, beach vacations have become synonymous with unhealthy foods. Maybe it's the convenience of grabbing some quick grub to go, or perhaps it's the vacation mentality that you deserve to spoil yourself. Of course, it could be the fact that there are pizza parlors, burger joints and ice cream shops on virtually every corner.
But that mindset is changing, especially in Myrtle Beach, where the natural-food trend is finally starting to take hold. Restaurants are recognizing that some visitors want to maintain their moderate diets and have begun offering healthy alternatives to the pound-packing items on their menus. Some are even strictly health-food establishments specializing in organic, all-natural dishes.
The Grand Strand is uniquely positioned to provide such eateries. The abundance of fresh seafood and produce in the region makes it easy to offer excellent salads, soups and seafood dishes that do not add on empty calories. Guests are discovering the joys of eating light during their beach vacation and are seeking out restaurants that serve some sort of healthy options. Here are five places to get a tasty but healthy meal:
* Bay Naturals: Guests at Ocean Reef can walk to this health food store/cafe, which not only serves healthy cuisine but also offers hard-to-find grocery items you might want to pick up for your stay. Serving three meals a day with vegetarian and vegan options, this natural foods store does a healthy business (pun intended) with locals and visitors alike. Featuring a juice bar with a wide range of ingredients, patrons can build their own beverage for a quick pick-me-up or enjoy an all-natural meal.
* Black Thai Cafe: Located on Main Street in Myrtle Beach's downtown district, this pan-Asian cafe offers a healthy menu with lots of flavor. Serving both vegetarian and gluten-free versions of everything on the menu, Black Thai is at the forefront of the healthy eating trend in Myrtle Beach. Daily specials and Meat-free soups, salads and a wide selection of starters feature fresh ingredients and an array of herbs and spices.
* Collectors Cafe: This art museum/fine-dining restaurant also features some creative healthy dishes for customers looking for lighter fare. Fresh seafood, chops, lobster, yellow-fin tuna, and lump crab meat are among the fresh, local ingredients used by Collectors Café to create some culinary masterpieces that are also good for you. The salads can be a meal in itself, and they will make it your way. Best of all, Long Bay is only a few blocks away so you can enjoy a nice lunch or dinner and walk it off to and from the resort.
* Green Grubbin': Eating healthy at the beach is easier than ever with this new restaurant concept, which uses fresh local products with no HMOs or antibiotics to produce the healthiest possible salads, wraps and even ice cream. Located in downtown Myrtle Beach, Green Grubbin' delivers as far north as Long Bay Resort and beyond. Top off your meal with a sweet treat that won’t haunt you on the scales with a scoop all-natural ice cream.
* Margaritaville: Singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett once mocked the health food craze with his hit "Cheeseburger in Paradise." Many years later, he and his namesake restaurant have gotten on board with the trend by offering healthier fare at his restaurant named after another hit song, “Margaritaville.” Located at Heroes Harbour in the Broadway at the Beach complex, Margaritaville recently unveiled its latest menu changes to include lots of low-fat, low-calorie options, including salads and seafood dishes.