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Devore's To-Go: Health Food Even a Hater Can Love 

Not your mother's health food co-op.Devore's Good Food, a neighborhood gem too often obscured by the mammoth shadow cast by Newport Market across the street,

Not your mother's health food co-op.Devore's Good Food, a neighborhood gem too often obscured by the mammoth shadow cast by Newport Market across the street, offers food you can truly feel good about. Produce is always organic and locally grown when in season. The shop is locally owned. And for those of us who are too busy/lazy/inept to feed ourselves, Devore's has a mountain of delicious prepared foods, including fully constructed but uncooked casseroles, pizzas, and pies (both sweet and savory) you can pop in the oven and pass off as home-cooking, as well as soups, wraps, quiches, salads, and other ready-to-eat meals in individual and family-sized portions.

I'll admit that when I first darkened Devore's doorstep, I was skeptical. If you were raised in a hippie commune in the '70s and spent your formative years crawling around among barrels of bulk grain in the food co-op that your mother helped found, you'd immediately see-and smell-red flags everywhere. Before you even enter, the old picnic tables on the worn wooden porch under a thatched awning and, particularly, the bulletin board by the front door displaying flyers for folk festivals, homeopathic healers, and lectures like "Be Kind to Your Colon" set off alarms. (No mom, this wheat gluten doesn't taste like chicken!) That distinct whiff of damp cardboard, soil, carrot greens, and freshly cut Camembert overcomes you as you walk the produce aisles and past the cheese counter. (Um, this "candy" looks suspiciously like dried apricots.) But as you make your way to the coolers in the back room brimming with attractive options, that visceral urge to flee subsides, and you realize that this isn't your mother's health food.

To start, apparently it's now acceptable for vegetarian dishes to be properly seasoned. Devore's has a variety of tasty veggie options available, including favorites like mac and cheese, "meatless" loaf, and spinach lasagna (sm. $5.49, lg. $9.95). The Southwest Quinoa Salad with Feta ($4.95) was light and lemony with organic black beans, peppers, onions, and corn. But as someone who has spent decades choosing foods that might help repair the psychological damage caused by a childhood of tempeh, wheat germ, and carob (it's nothing like chocolate), I was glad to see that today's healthy kitchens aren't afraid of a little bacon. The Classic Club Wrap ($5.95), smoked turkey, ham, and, yes, wood-smoked bacon with Swiss cheese, ranch aioli, and organic romaine lettuce was classic all around, just without the preservatives and additives that might come along with it elsewhere. Soups are definitely a draw. Choices included butternut squash, Thai red curry and lentil, and French sweet red pepper made with cream and vegetarian "chicken stock." The organic French tomato with basil and imported Parmesan ($3.95), which I ate with the bacon quiche, took me back to some of the happiest meals of my youth-the ones at my friends' houses whose parents let them eat sugared cereal and processed cheese.

It all got me thinking, if health food can mature in this manner, perhaps I can too. Maybe next visit I'll pick up one of the ready-to-bake casseroles or chicken potpies, set the table, pour a nice bottle of red chosen from Devore's wide selection of regional wines, and have a big grown-up dinner with friends. But, that probably won't happen. First I'd have to muss my totally pristine oven, and, to be realistic, it's hard to have a dinner party when you only have three plates. For now, choosing to eat healthy take out, and actually liking it, will have to be enough to make my mother proud. Baby steps.

Devore's Good Food

1124 NW Newport Ave., 389-6588

Mon-Sat. 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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