Review: White Bear Lake's Best Light Dishes

Six delicious dishes to help you kick off a new year of healthy eating.
Acqua's branzino is light and flaky in texture, but deliciously rich in flavor.

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. And for many, that means kicking their New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds into high gear. But watching what you eat doesn’t mean you have to skimp on flavor. To aid you on your quest for figure-friendly dishes, we’ve found some of the area’s most scrumptious selections that won’t leave you feeling one bit guilty.



Featuring rustic Italian cuisine and seasonal local ingredients, Acqua is a great place for a night out on the town. So often, Italian food conjures images of heavy pastas and cheesy goodness. But Acqua features a menu full of fresh fish entrees and even a selection of small plates that are perfect for those wanting something a little lighter. We love the salmon entrée with all of its bright, fresh flavors ($26). Seared wild salmon is the star of this dish, accompanied by stewed artichokes, preserved lemon, pomodoraccio (semi sun-dried) tomato and a mouth-watering saffron risotto cake. You can also order this winning dish as part of the three-course tasting menu ($40). Pair it with the roasted beet salad and trio of Izzy’s sorbets for one meal you’re bound to remember. 4453 Lake Ave. S., White Bear Lake; 651.407.7317.


Eat @ Banning and 5th

Serving breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday, and dinner on Thursday evenings, Eat @ Banning and 5th in downtown White Bear Lake boasts a rotating selection of more than 100 different soups, 10 sandwiches and six salads each day. For a tasty lunch that’s on the lighter side, Manager Shawn Smith recommends the pick-two combo that includes two of the following: half sandwich, soup or “just a little” salad ($7.50). “I try to have a vegetarian soup on the menu every day, and often have a gluten-free choice—all of which are made in-house with no added salt or MSG,” Smith says. And as far as the sandwiches go, we love the point sandwich, which features a plethora of veggies and hummus on pumpernickel. 2202 Fifth St. Suite 22, White Bear Lake; 651.653.1225.


Ingredients Café & Take Away

Using local and sustainable food whenever possible, Chef Ben Pratt is always putting an interesting spin on his dishes at Ingredients Café. While pastas with heavy cream sauces might not be the most figure-friendly dishes around, Pratt has created a lighter version that we think is just as delicious. The creamless alfredo ditches the heavy cream and combines the flavors of an herb cauliflower puree, parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, prosciutto ham and oven-roasted tomatoes, which are tossed into tasty rigatoni noodles ($15.95). And for those stopping by for lunch, you can order the smaller version for $12.95. 4725 Highway 61, White Bear Lake; 651.426.6611.


Keys Café & Bakery

Nothing says Minnesota like wild rice. Keys Café & Bakery has been lauded for their creamy wild rice soup, but for something on the lighter side, we love the Minnesota wild rice salad ($9.95). This dish is chock-full of goodness—with Minnesota wild rice as the star of the salad. The turkey and roasted almonds add a nice helping of protein, and paired with the fresh mixed greens, olives, tomatoes and onions, you won’t be disappointed. 2208 Fourth St., White Bear Lake; 651.426.2885.



Start your day off with a healthy dose of protein and veggies at Cravings. One of the café’s most popular lighter options is the garden omelet ($9). Packed with spinach, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese, this will give you all the energy you need for a productive day. You can even order up this hearty breakfast favorite with egg whites only for a small additional amount. And while you’re at it, you can substitute your side of hashbrowns for fresh fruit ($1.50). If you’re looking for something quick and easy, try Cravings’ low-fat muffins made from fat-free yogurt. 1600 E. County Road E, White Bear Lake; 651.482.7742.


Cobblestone Café

A staple in the White Bear Lake community since 1947, the Cobblestone Café brings a crowd of regulars each day to enjoy its beloved hometown cooking. For a lighter lunch option, we love the grilled salmon salad ($8.95). Packed with tons of Omega 3 and lean protein, the grilled salmon filet is what makes this salad a winner in our books. And you’ll get a good dose of veggies with mixed greens and tomatoes, along with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and sliced egg. Served with a piece of garlic toast, this lunch will leave you feeling satisfied and rejuvenated for the long afternoon ahead. 2760 Washington Square, White Bear Lake; 651.429.6793