If you are driving through Pawtuxet Village, you’ll notice a Grand Opening sign on the porch of the village’s new deli, catering to everyone who has made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier in 2012.
James “Jay” Schenck, a certified personal trainer who owns Exercise Solutions in Edgewood, has opened the healthy food deli at 2160 Broad St. on the Cranston side of the bridge. He works with his clients starting at 6 a.m. until opening the deli and then until 10 p.m. after closing, making for a long day. In between, he is cooking food and concocting recipes for the attractive prepared foods case.
We stopped in at lunch time and found him busy making his signature Southwest chicken soup, with chicken, black beans, onions, peppers and a dash of paprika and cumin. All his soups – in fact everything in the deli – is made fresh from scratch, using only the freshest and healthiest ingredients.
Why would a personal trainer want to open a restaurant?
“I love food,” Jay said. “Healthy food! In 2003 I developed Crohn’s disease. I went from 215 pounds to 178. I fought the disease without drugs. I understand what people go through. Besides caring for my physical body, I needed to eat right.
“A healthy diet is an important part of working with my training clients,” he continued.
The food not only has to be good for you, it has to taste good, and Schenck has proven that he knows how to do it. We have sampled a number of items, including a unique coconut-mango couscous, gluten-free pasta salad, tabouli, chick pea bean salad, hummus, pita chips, chicken salad and chicken sausage. We were surprised at how good chicken sausage, a food we had always avoided, tasted. We are now converts.
Jay’s special of the day last Thursday was a grilled chicken over couscous, with tomatillo sauce. Another customer raved about it, so we just had to have a bowl.
One stop at Fit and Fresh will convince you that healthy food can taste good. And, of course, it is good for you. All of the foods are bought locally, including the uncured gourmet ham, USDA choice angus roast beef and turkey, which comes from US Foods and are all natural, with no preservatives or artificial additives.
You can enjoy these delicious meats and more in wraps ($7.) Try the protein triple wrap with all three for $8. Burgers are reasonably priced at $5.50-$6.50, with a special portabella burger. There is also a large vegan menu, including tabouli ($7.99 lb.) and grilled tofu salad ($8.50 lb.).
While take-out is a big part of the business, there is a counter with a dozen chairs, and Jay has just started doing catering. A popular take-out item is the homemade hummus and pita chips.
Jay loves to talk menus with his customers, taking their advice on new ideas and constantly adding to the menu. Fit and Fresh Deli hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can call ahead to order or to hear the daily lunch and dinner specials at 383-4040.