check out zest's blog to learn about all things zest including recipes, events, and tricks/tips about healthy eating and living.

what is gluten-free?

  James Rickwood/ Flickr

James Rickwood/ Flickr

  what does gluten-free mean and why is it important? gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, barley, and rye. and, for some people, eating products such as bread, pasta, crackers causes them to suffer from a condition known as celiac disease which can manifest itself in the form of intestinal distress, skin irritation, or general fatigue and weakness. a gluten-free diet, therefore, proposes not eating or drinking anything made from grains--which includes beers and some wines. while not eating products made from grains can prevent the aforementioned discomfort, celiac disease can lead to other problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, and possibly raise the risk of developing lymphoma. naturally, here at zest, everything made in our kitchens or concocted in our bar is gluten-free from our zucchini noodles with fresh tomato sauce, pesto, & pine nuts to our chocolate beet cake with avocado mousse. we're living proof that not only is it possible to cut gluten specific items out but it can be nutritional and good. we achieve this by using grain alternatives such as quinoa, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, a variety of herbs and seasonings, and whatever the season offers us.

zest at the Taste of the Wasatch

we are excited and honored to have recently been confirmed for participation in the <a title="Taste of the Wasatch" href="">Taste of the Wasatch</a>: Salt Lake City's premiere culinary event. held on August 4th at Solitude Mountain Resort, all proceeds goes to supporting the efforts to fight hunger in Utah. <a title="General Admissions Tickets" href="">general admissions tickets </a>start at $90 dollars with $75 being deductible on your taxes, and go up from there in cost for VIP tickets and reserved tables.

visitors will be able to enjoy tastings from 50 different restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and breweries; live entertainment; and the opportunity to bid on two $20 zest gift cards in their auction. and, as always, our food will feature seasonal, fresh produce and will be vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

all photos are courtesy of Taste of the Wasatch and were taken by Tenacious Lens Photography

February is Heart Health Month

February is national heart health month so now is a great time to discuss how what we put in our bodies affects our hearts and the rest of our body.

We’ve decided to focus on two ingredients that we use often at zest - Beets and Red Wine, which are both great for heart health.

 Beets are great for heart health

Beet juice is helpful in the treatment of high blood pressure, angina and heart disease. A recent study at London's Mary University found that one small glass of beet juice a day was more effective at lowering high blood pressure than medication.

Beets also have many great qualities, including anti inflammatory, anti-cancer effects from the phytonutrient proanthocyanidin, also, an immunity booster with vitamin C, also high in vitamin B.

Beets are high in the minerals manganese and potassium. Manganese is great for healthy bones, liver, kidney and pancreas. Potassium helps insure healthy nerve and muscle function.

Red Wine for heart health

We've all heard the heart healthy benefits of red wine as well, being full of reservatrol and anti oxidants which prevent heart disease by increasing levels of "good" cholesterol and protecting against artery damage.

Now of course this red wine thing is in moderation, don't get too excited friends and drink the whole bottle!

zest combines both of these heart friendly ingredients to make a great heart healthy drink- beet sangria. If you have not had our beet sangria yet, it is delicious and very popular.

Cheers to a happy heart.

- Casey Staker

7 Benefits of Cashews

Here at Zest Kitchen we love cashews! We use them in a variety of dishes and we even make our own cashew cheese. We feel like a lot of people don’t know about the health benefits of consuming them, and sometimes think twice about eating them because of their “high fat content” (which is mostly the healthy kind of fat). We want to give you a little bit more information and show you how incorporating them in your diet can actually bring many benefits to your health.

The cashew tree is native to Brazil, where its fruit is considered a delicacy. In the 16th century, the Portuguese introduced them to India and some African countries, where they are now also grown. What we call the cashew nut is actually the seed of this fruit. Cashews are rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium and zinc. They are also good sources of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and protein.

 Here are seven health benefits of cashews.

Cancer Prevention
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.

Heart Health
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.

Bone Health
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It's a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

Good for the Nerves By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.

Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Prevent Gallstones
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses' Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Weight Loss
People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered "good fat." This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.

So, 'cashew' feel the joy yet?


how to become gluten-free for the new year

Now that we have all settled into 2013 it’s time to take a look at our resolutions for the new year.  What better way to improve your health and your life than resolving to go gluten-free for the new year! Below, I share with you my tips on how to become gluten-free.

how to become gluten-free?

If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle it can feel overwhelming.  There are so many brands of gluten-free foods, how are you going to know what is good?  I have spent a fortune over the last 11 years finding that question out.  A good place to start is a gluten-free support group.  There are several in the salt lake area and they meet regularly.  It was such a relief for me when I was first diagnosed to be around people who were going through the same lifestyle change as myself and who also had a lot more expierence than I.  A great website for referrence is which is the local web page for the Gluten Intorelance Group of GiG of North America.  They have information on support groups in Salt Lake, Utah County and Northern Utah.  They also have some great information for anyone new to the gluten free diet and even raising a gluten free child.  There is also a link to which is the official GiG webpage which gives you information for the United States and several other participating countries.  It’s very helpful when you are traveling as you can easily find gluten free restaurant and shopping listings and other helpful information to help you when you’re away from home.  University of Utah Health Care also holds a gluten intolerance group.  For more information on time and locations call (801)-263-3782.

Another good place to start is online.  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of gluten free bloggers.  Two of my favorites for recipes and the stunning pictutres are and  The glutenfreegoddess has an amazing vegan and vegetarian section.  There are hundreds of delicious recipes in every catagory including dairy free baking.  Traveling has always been a passion of mine and the even has recommendations for being gluten free in airports and how to plan ahead for it.  I have always had to bring a second suitcase with me when I travel to make sure I was able to eat on my vacation.  glutenfreegirl also has amazing recipes and some have a video to accompy them.  Plan on spending a lot of time on these websites if you’re anything like me.  There is A LOT of great information.

If you’re just wanting information on what is going on in the gluten free world, including trends, new research or even just product recommendations two really good websites are and  They also include recipes and even party planning tips and who doesn’t like a gluten free party?!! lists very impressive diet information including safe and unsafe food lists including one for alcohol which I have found has always been hard to navigate (no labels to double check).

Both websites have links to where you can do some gluten free shopping.  Check out the or  Both are great for some hard to find items, including gluten free body products which can be a life saver if you are required to use them.  You won’t have to drive all over the city anymore and you can pick up some pasta or bread at the same time!

Fortunately the gluten free food scene is becoming much more available and all the information we need is at our fingertips if you know where to look.  Just look for quality.  It’s hard to navigate around the huge amount of information that pops up in our web search.  Take a little extra time researching and you’ll be able to spot what’s genuine.  Or you can always come down to Zest and I would be happy to take some time and help you with any questions you have or give suggestions.  Happy Gluten Free New Year!!!!

-Emily Maxwell

zest | a powerhouse of flavor & health

People sometimes wonder why we decided to name our place “zest”. Well, there are a few reasons like simplicity & freshness, but also because zest is way more than meets the taste buds. It turns out its not only tasty but very healthy too!

You know how when you use a citrus fruit like oranges, limes or lemons you tend to throw out the peel? Well, you might want to think about it twice next time you do that, because as it turns out the peel brings not only a fresh tangy taste, but also more health benefits than you probably thought.

Lets take lemon for example. Lemon peels contain about 5 to 10 times more vitamins than lemon juice! Yep, that’s what you’ve been wasting! Lemon peels are also an excellent source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, folate, and beta carotene.

Lemon peels improve bone health too! Since lemon peels contain high amounts of calcium and vitamin C, lemon peels have been shown to aid preventing osteoporosis, inflammatory polyarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Don’t forget all the fiber you will get from lemon peels! 3.5 oz of lemon peels contains 10.6 grams of fiber.

Lemon Peels Reduce Oxidative Stress

We all want to reduce our levels of oxidative stress! Lemon peels contain citrus bioflavonoids which are very powerful at reducing your levels of oxidative stress . Lemon peels also aid in eradicating toxic elements in the body and removing carcinogenic elements.

Lemon Peels Help Fight Cancer

Lemons have been used to prevent and treat cancer. Lemons are anti-microbrial and ward off against bacterial infections and fungi. When lemon peels are consumed, they have been shown to prevent various types of cancers, including skin cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer. A study found that the consumption of lemon peels in tea was beneficial in preventing the development of cancer cells.

Lemons are also very alkalizing! Cancer thrives in an acidic body, by making your body alkaline this will prevent cancer. Take advantage of the whole lemon and don’t just juice and toss!

Lemon peels contain salvestrol Q40 and limonene, which have been shown to prevent and treat cancer. These components fight against present cancerous cells in the body.

So there you have it, zest is definitely more than meets the taste buds, it’s a flavor & health powerhouse. Come to our restaurant to find out for yourself!