Otherwise healthy eaters can find themselves in lunch-hour crisis during the workweek.

Easy options are often not what the nutritionist would recommend. Diners can weigh the downsides of potato chips and fries or promise to burn off that burger with a few extra miles tacked onto tomorrow’s run.

But New Morning Natural Foods Market & Cafe in Biddeford has a menu fit for folks who need lunch on the go without the post-consumption guilt.

Located in the back of the New Morning Natural Foods Market, the cafe serves hot and cold lunches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Everything on the menu is prepared with natural ingredients, from the soups to the sandwiches. Tara Burns, in charge behind the counter, said they also go organic where possible while also trying to keep costs low.

The breads come from Borealis, the beans right off the shelves of the shop, and the hearty soups from Burns’ own recipe box. The soups rotate regularly and can include hearty options like dirty rice and red bean, sweet potato chili or creamy chicken broccoli, among many others ($3.95/small, $4.95/large).

A side salad or half a sandwich can be added to a small soup order for a total of $6.75 — or ditch the soup and run off with the salad and half sandwich for the same price.

Sandwiches are served on Borealis Aroostook wheat or a choice of wrap. The turkey sandwich ($6.10) features Applegate Farms turkey breast piled with veggies. The vegan-friendly hummus sandwich ($6.10) is made from New Morning hummus, veggies and Annie’s Goddess dressing. Other sandwiches include chicken salad ($6.35), tuna ($6.10) and marinated tofu ($6.35).

Entrees ($7.50) are more than enough to feed a ravenous lunch-hour eater and are served with a choice of a small soup or garden salad. The roasted sweet potato burrito is stuffed with beans, corn, cheddar cheese, brown rice, herbs and spices.

Options abound for vegan eaters, such as the coconut tempeh keema with onion, carrots, peas, tomato, coconut milk, coconut and curry tempeh served over brown rice. There’s also the vegan gazpacho and vegan stir fry with tofu, tempeh and veggies such as zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, celery, onions, peppers, carrots and brown rice.

Gluten-free eaters can order up the Mediterranean frittata with spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olives, feta, tomato and pesto. The stir fry, coconut tempeh and many of the soups are also gluten-free.

It may be hard to choose from such a crowded list of good-for-you possibilities. When you’ve honed in on something that suits you, place your order at the cafe counter. Diners can grab and go, or linger at one of the handful of small square tables.

There’s also a waste-free sensibility to the cafe. End-of-day leftovers are packaged and refrigerated for sale in the attached market. And hungry folks who aren’t able to swing in during the cafe’s open hours can call ahead and pick up their food later. Burns said she’s happy to prepare a lunch and leave it for customers in the kitchen fridge.

Once the plates are emptied and slipped into tubs of soapy water waiting on a side table, and the recyclables are tossed into the bin underneath, diners can pay their tab at the market’s front register.

No charge for the guilt-free feeling of eating a lunch that’s good for you.

 

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.