Following a write-in campaign by their loyal customers, Jersey Girl Cafe, located on Route 33 in Hamilton, was featured on the Food Network’s popular program “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” in December. “It was very exciting, a huge opportunity, and an amazing honor,” enthuses Chef Kathy Rana, owner of Jersey Girl Cafe. The locally owned restaurant also has a second location in the Hamilton Marketplace near Staples.

New in 2017, Rana is excited about Jersey Girl Cafe’s venture with THE MAX Challenge — a system combining nutrition counseling, fitness classes, and motivation to help people lose weight. “Change is hard, and changing how you eat and how you cook is especially challenging. Most people who succeed in changing how they eat use a variety of support tools (groups, apps, diet programs) to help with making changes,” explains Rana.

She has created a special menu that meets the needs of MAX Challenge clients. “You can eat healthy,” adds Rana, “but too much is still too much.” THE MAX Challenge menu identifies dishes that are dairy-free, gluten-free, and low-fat. As with the rest of the Jersey Girl Cafe menu, the MAX Challenge-compliant dishes are prepared using fresh vegetables and house-made sauces.

For example the MAX Challenge breakfast combo can be ordered with eggs or egg whites, and then loaded up with vegetables, turkey sausage, Jersey General Mango Salsa, and served with fresh fruit. For lunch Chef Rana recommends taking the bread off any sandwich and trying it over a bed of organic spinach or mixed greens. Jersey Girl Cafe recommends their house-made roasted tomato vinaigrette salad dressing, or one of their other low-fat and sugar-free dressings.

“You can also double the portion of chicken breast or wild-caught salmon for a high protein, low carb meal,” adds Rana. “We prepare our menu fresh, daily. Our sauces are made in-house, and soups are made from scratch. We do not use chicken base or chicken bouillon because they are very high in sodium.”

Rana boasts: “Jersey Girl Cafe is the most vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the area. We offer a number of vegetarian sandwiches and at least one vegetarian soup every day.” They also work with their gluten-free customers to provide dishes served over long grain rice or organic spinach.

Another way Jersey Girl Cafe helps its customers eat healthy is through a modified personal chef service called Chef Express. Chef Express offers healthy, delicious meals using fresh, locally grown vegetables, herbs, seafood, and top quality lean meats. Once a week customers order up to a week’s worth of meals and pick them up. Rana describes the portions as “right-sized, because it is so easy to overeat when you’ve had a long, hectic day.” Using recipes from The MAX Challenge Cookbook, Chef Express offers dishes that meet the nutritional guidelines of the MAX Challenge nutrition program.

On Monday nights their Route 33 location closes early to offer special events. “We offer cooking classes, girls’ night out events, and fundraisers with the schools and charity groups. We work with a number of local organizations and groups, including the Hamilton Area YMCA. In the past we have had jewelry making classes, a DIY facial night, and canvas paint nights,” details Rana. Their psychic night with tarot reader and palm reader was by far their most popular event to date. “We totally sold out.”

On Monday, February 27, they will host a Girls Night Out with dinner and “instruction on how to take great food photos with your smart phone. Also known as ‘food porn.’ We have a fantastic photographer who will reveal the secrets of taking amazing food photos,” enthuses Rana. Details about the event are available at www.JerseyGirlCafeNJ.com, tickets can be purchased through eventbrite.com.

Come into one of Jersey Girl Cafe’s locations to experience real, fresh, local, amazingly good food in Hamilton.

Jersey Girl Cafe, 731 Route 33, Hamilton. 609-838-9799. Hours: Monday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hamilton Marketplace, 608 Marketplace Boulevard, Hamilton. 609-585-3532. Hours: Monday-Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Email: info@jerseygirlcafenj.com. www.JerseyGirlCafeNJ.com. Order online: www.JerseyGirlCafeOnlineOrder.com.

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