It was boot camp, the suburban kind, in early 2000. At the end of week one, our instructor, talking about the importance of eating real food, grabbed a crumpled fast food bag, pulled out a burger and fries and said, "I've had these for two years." The food looked almost new, with no mold. Our group gasped, ready to embrace the unprocessed food lifestyle. A quick internet search today debunks the notion that the food didn't mold because it was over-processed; instead, it was because the burger and fries dried out quickly and couldn't mold—the same reason beef jerky doesn't.
- Lisa Sipe
- Eating real food on the go can fit into busy schedules when food is ready within minutes.
Fast forward a decade, when Garrett Wales conceives of a fast-casual restaurant similar to McDonald's or Burger King—but built around real, organic food with a healthy twist. Wales was busy growing 10 Barrel at the time, before the company sold to AB InBev. He shared the idea with partner Mike Moor, but neither did anything about it until three years ago when they stepped away from 10 Barrel.
"Between the two of us, we have five kids," said Wales about the the Life & Time philosophy. "It's the lifestyle we try to follow, the way we like to feed our families. We thought there had to be a desire for it. Convenience is king today."
Life & Time's menu includes burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, bowls, smoothies and soups. Breakfast includes burritos, bowls, a breakfast muffin and avocado toast.
Many people wonder how they can make a burger healthy. Wales admits healthy's a relative term. "We're all about real food, no sugar, no processing," said Wales. "Nothing to make food last longer on the shelf. Getting as organic as possible. Knowing that everything you are eating is a real food product, there is no bullshit in it."
- Lisa Sipe
- The Life and Time menu includes a crispy chicken sandwich, a Beyond Meat burger, sweet potato fries and a selection of bowls.
The newly built building on Bend's Century Drive is open and inviting, with lots of natural light and plenty of seats to dine in. It also has a drive-thru. I tried a spicy crispy chicken sando with sweet potato fries and a dragon fruit smoothie. The chicken was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious, but I definitely needed more hot sauce to make my sandwich truly spicy. The fries were cut thin, crispy and sweet; good on their own but even better with ketchup or Life & Time super sauce. My hot pink smoothie with dragon fruit, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate juice and almond milk was refreshing and not overly sweet.
My friend ordered the Beyond Meat plant-based burger with hand-punched, organic Kennebec potato fries. She enjoyed the vegan burger and the way it looks like real beef, but wished for fries cut thin, like my sweet potato fries.
On another visit, I ordered a crispy Thai bowl with ahi poke, quinoa, mint, basil, candied peanuts, carrots, cabbage, veggie slaw, broccolini and honey lime tamari sauce. I thought it was pretty incredible and enjoyed the pop of flavor from the fresh herbs. My dining partner appreciated how the spices weren't heavy, so you could still taste the vegetables and tuna.
We didn't dine with little ones, but the kids' menu includes chicken strips, peanut butter and jelly, a turkey sandwich, veggie or chicken teriyaki bowls and smoothies. Prices are affordable, from $2 to $6. Wales said, "We sell kids' food at cost, make no money, but it's in line with our mission," which includes doing their best to keep healthy food affordable.
"A lot of people debate about what is healthy," said Wales, "but there is no debate over processed sugar. It's a massive epidemic in this country and causing a lot of health issues. The major culprit is soda. There is no room for that in this concept at all." Instead of soda, you'll find flavored bubbly waters, kombucha and Zevia, a zero-calorie soft drink sweetened with stevia.
My past boot camp instructor would be happy to know such a place exists.