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Eat and Drink

Honeybrains, neurologist-run NYC cafe, is serving up food for thought in NoLIta

Dr. Alon Seifan is trying to save lives, one honey-sweetened coffee and fresh-pressed juice at a time.

Seifan is a full-time neurologist, but he's also the medical mind behind the new NoLIta cafe Honeybrains -- where he's applying medicine to the menu.

"I have all this knowledge that I think can really make a difference in people's lives," Seifan said in a telephone interview. "What can I do with it?"

Seifan asked himself that question a few years ago, and eventually he found that the answer was a restaurant. He looked at evidence-based ways of eating, from the Mediterranean diet to the USDA's guidelines, and worked with the ingredients they had in common.

That broke down to five basic groups, Seifan said: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats.

Here's a look at how those ingredients -- and the one that gives the cafe its name, honey -- are being used at the restaurant, which opens Tuesday.

There's a lot of honey

Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

"Raw honeys seem to be gentler on our blood sugar, and if we just used raw honeys instead of sugars, we'd have this huge antioxidant component to our diet and maybe less diabetes," Seifan said.

There's even honey in the coffee

Once you drink a cup of coffee with
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

Once you drink a cup of coffee with raw honey melted into it, you'll never go back, Seifan (not pictured) assured.

"I can't drink coffee with sugar anymore," he said.

If coffee's not your thing, grab a juice

Honeybrains is also offering up fresh-pressed juices in
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

Honeybrains is also offering up fresh-pressed juices in every color of the rainbow. And the restaurant actually uses those colors to categorize its fruits and veggies.

"What we did was, let's prioritize ingredients within these groups," Seifan said, basing it on the plant pigment and color. "It's the color in fruits and vegetables that actually is good for us -- color and fiber."

There are plenty of snacks

You won't find much negativity at Honeybrains --
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

You won't find much negativity at Honeybrains -- it's all about what you should eat, not what you should avoid.

"We feel pretty good about this kind of system that very easily explains something that's super hard to understand," he said, referring to the science of the brain. "We're doing it in a way that's only with positivity -- which is actually the way that nutrition advice works."

Bite into honey-roasted sandwiches

There's that ingredient again -- here in the
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

There's that ingredient again -- here in the honey-roasted organic chicken club, topped with pickled radishes, scallions, root veggies and fresh chiles. It embodies Seifan's philosophy of taking his five food groups and garnishing them with "herbs and spices and fermented food" before lightly sweetening them "with natural, colorful sweeteners."

There's lots of fish on the menu

Just as he picked the veggies with the
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

Just as he picked the veggies with the healthiest pigments, Seifan chose to use the protein with the most Omega-3 -- meaning there's a lot of salmon and tuna on the menu. Pictured is the S.S. Salmon Sandwich, with organic salmon, marinated tomatoes and hummus.

And avocado

You can't talk about healthy fats without talking
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

You can't talk about healthy fats without talking about avocado. Here, it's smashed on some bread with alfalfa sprouts, black chile and pickled green papaya.

Sip on some matcha or kombucha

You can also choose from a selection of
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

You can also choose from a selection of kombucha teas and sparkling matcha teas.

It's a one-stop wellness shop

Seifan is also incorporating his knowledge about things
Photo Credit: Jillian Jorgensen

Seifan is also incorporating his knowledge about things like meditation and supplements into the cafe -- offering up a curated list of items he's investigated.

"What you see, it may be small -- but that's because of all the sculpting that went into creating all these interesting and healthy combinations that we think will not only be good for you, but also fun," Seifan said.

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