Sick of calorific takeaways? Here's your guide to healthy alternatives
What’s On has the list of best healthy takeaways in Dubai. Find out prices of KCal, Health Factory, U’ve Got Meal, Live’ly, Right Bite, and example menus.
Time poor but cash rich, and sick of calorie-laden takeaways? One of the UAE’s healthy food delivery services might be for you. Our friends at ‘good‘ put them to the test
THE HEALTH FACTORY
The programme: ‘Miracle 1300’. As the name suggests, this diet works around a set 1,300 calories per day.
Consultation: The first step was to fill in a lengthy form online, listing everything from my weight to family health history. It was then sent to nutritionists who worked out that I was a little underweight, so extra calories would be added on to the diet. They also suggested that I could be intolerant to certain foods and encouraged me to look into this further.
Delivery: Every morning I woke up to find my cool bag on my doorstep. Cutlery and napkins were also provided, so I could grab my bag and head straight to work.
Choice: I had two choices for breakfast, a whopping five for lunch and three for dinner. You can even choose which side dish you want with each meal.
Food and portion size: The portion sizes varied, and some things such as the date cheesecake were tiny, but the risotto was so large I struggled to finish it. The food was well cooked with thought put into the recipes, which psychologically made it seem like I wasn’t missing out.
Hunger factor? Being a chronic snacker I found it hard not having anything to graze on during the day apart from the set dishes, but this was more about habit than portions.
Overall opinion? It was a great experience and has made me look at what I have been eating. I rarely eat breakfast and found that it gave me much more energy, so this is something I’ll adopt.
Price: The Miracle 1300 package is Dhs2,950 a month, which includes three meals per day plus two snacks, six days a week.
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with fresh tomatoes and thyme with brown bread, tea sachet
AM Snack: Fresh fruit medley
Lunch: Seasonal salad and spinach and ricotta cannelloni with tomato sauce
PM Snack: Cherry cheesecake
Dinner: Roasted pear and baby spinach salad, Shanghai stir-fried noodles with cabbage, peas, beans and mushrooms
Tel: (04) 3473808. healthfactory.com
Tested by: Aarti, editorial assistant
The programme: Kcal Extra comes from the Kcal team, the café and takeaway joint in JLT, which serves up dishes with no more than 300 calories. The home delivery service is based on the same principle; quick, healthy food.
Consultation: You are required to have a 40-minute consultation with a dietician (blood test is optional), which includes a body composition test. From the whirl of numbers, the dietician decides how much calories to put you on per day and then asks you a series of questions regarding medical conditions, food allergies, food restrictions, exercise regimes and so on, throwing in a couple of helpful pointers along the way. I was put down to consume 1,200 calories per day.
Delivery: Opting to have my bag delivered at work, I received it at around 9am. A tad late for breakfast, so to keep the rumblings of my tummy from scaring other Metro users I downed a cup of green tea in the morning.
Choice: My bespoke meal plan was sent through to me two days before my first bag was scheduled, but it didn’t offer any choices. However, I was asked to confirm if I wanted any changes to be made. Not being allergic to any food, I chose to stick to the meals offered.
Food and portion size: Portions were quite large given the amount of calories I was allowed to consume. I even found myself struggling to get through my snacks. The food was overall really enjoyable and made me discover ingredients I had never tried before.
Hunger factor: I didn’t feel hungry because I was deprived, but more due to boredom. I also greatly increased my water intake, which helped.
Overall opinion: I would have liked each meal to be labelled and, more importantly, the amount of calories mentioned. Overall, it was a very positive experience and I now find myself counting calories with every food item I choose to eat.
Price: Kcal Extra Success Plan for 28 days (seven days a week) costs Dhs3,450. Options are also available for 20 days (five days a week) and 24 days (six days a week).
Breakfast: Granola, yoghurt with strawberries
AM Snack: Walnuts
Lunch: Casablanca salad
PM Snack: Vietnamese spring roll
Dinner: Asparagus and feta stuffed chicken breast with root veggies and raisin side salad
Tel: (04) 4344111. kcalextra.com
Tested by: Karen, art director
The programme: More comprehensive with more choices than the ‘Standard’ selection, the ‘Gourmet’ programme is aimed at those with complicated health issues or picky eaters.
Consultation: A general questionnaire was filled out and a body composition analysis was done.
Delivery: You have the choice of having your food delivered to you fresh in the evening between 6pm and 10pm (for the next day), or in the morning between 9am and 1pm.
Choice: Loads. You have a choice of two breakfast options, and there are another 25 items if you’d prefer them. The morning snack was always fruit and yoghurt, lunch was a side dish (choice of three) and one of five mains (including a vegetarian option). The PM snack was a dessert of some sort and dinner was a further four options, including a choice of soup or salad.
Food and portion size: The food was tastier than I expected (except for the appetiser salads) and the portion sizes were what I expected: fairly small, but I would say I have a large appetite.
Hunger factor: The first couple of days were tough as I felt hungry most of the time. But to be fair, I was told I could add any veggies I liked to the food, so I should have done this more often.
Overall opinion: I was generally impressed with the overall scheme: the meals were delivered on time, the food was far tastier than I expected and I could eat food I never imagined, like cheesecake and noodles. Plus, the programme can be structured to your individual needs: If you don’t eat breakfast, for example, more calories will be allocated to your other meals.
Price: Dhs3,800 for Gourmet, Dhs3,300 for Standard – both inclusive of the full meal package for 28 days, initial consultation with the dietician, full body composition analysis and follow-ups.
Breakfast: Mini Wheat-a-Bix
AM snack: Fruit and yoghurt
Lunch: Season salad with balsamic, Thai green chicken curry with green beans and bamboo shoots with rice
PM snack: Apple pie with almonds
Dinner: Balsamic steak, leafy salad and protein bread
Every day: Tea sachet, milk, bottled water
Tel: (04) 3481008. lively.ae
Tested by: Vhairi, features editor
The programme: ‘RenewYou’. Tailored to the client’s needs, it is designed for those who want to lose weight, gain weight, improve overall health or simply want to eat healthier. Most people then.
Consultation: At Right Bite HQ my measurements and weight were taken, with the scales also calculating body composition and muscle/fat. It was determined that a couple of lbs and a little body fat could be shed. Portion control, a balanced diet of 1,350 calories per day and exercise was suggested.
Delivery: Every morning, by 6am, my cool bag was at my door. Inside, all the cartons were labelled with the name of the dish, calorie content and macronutrients. A daily menu was also helpfully included, reminding me what to eat and when.
Choice: Very good indeed. The menu changes weekly and there’s several choices for each meal, even snacks. There’s also an additional menu if nothing takes your fancy.
Food and portion size: Impressive. In fact, I was surprised the portions were so sizeable given their calorie count. The food itself was extremely tasty, and the fact there was plenty of sweet choices was certainly a bonus.
Hunger factor? Zero. This plan is about eating healthy, regularly (I did flout the rules and save the afternoon snack for an evening treat), sorry Right Bite.
Overall opinion? Definitely no deprivation in any way. The scheduled meal plan also encouraged the ‘picker’ in me to adopt better eating habits.
Price: The RenewYou Starter’s Package is Dhs3,170 (which includes the initial consultation as well as meal delivery for 24-days). A returnable deposit of Dhs100 is also required for the cool bags.
Breakfast: Peach, strawberry and hazelnut crepe with strawberries and mascrapone cheese, plus a low-fat peach yoghurt
AM snack: Apple
Lunch: Eggplant and tomato salad,garden style lasagne
PM snack: Ginger cake with light cream cheese
Dinner: Broccoli soup with breaded fish with green beans, grilled tomatoes, mushroom and BBQ sauce
Tel: (04) 3425208. right-bite.com
U’VE GOT MEAL
Tested by: Helen, editor
The programme: Diabetics, people suffering from high blood pressure or cholesterol and new mums have a specially designed ‘Well-Being’ plan, while most people wanting to shed some kilos will cut calories on the ‘Weight-Loss’ plan.
Consultation: You’re required to have a consultation, with weight and height measurements taken, then a discussion about your current eating habits. I was put on the Weight-Loss plan, which includes three meals and two snacks, totalling 1,300 calories per day, a recommendation to have no more than two alcoholic drinks each week, and was instructed to up the exercise too. Delivery: U’ve Got Meal delivered a blue cooler bag each morning at around 7.30am for the day ahead. Dead easy.
Choice: You get two choices for breakfast, a fixed fruit snack and fixed salad or side, two choices for an afternoon snack, then three choices for both lunch and dinner.
Food and portion size: It was a bit of a re-education on portions, especially as I was advised to eat dinner earlier, so there was some late-night tummy rumbling at first. On the whole the food tasted great (breakfasts in particular were delicious), but some could have looked more appealing. As there were a number of Arabic dishes on the menu, explanations would have been helpful.
Hunger factor? After the first two days I wasn’t hungry at all, and had to remind myself to eat my afternoon snack.
Overall opinion? It would have been useful if food had been labelled, or the cooler bag had included the daily menu, as I’d often forget what I’d ordered the week before. On the whole it was a simple, enjoyable process, with regular updates and emails from the team, a few kilos lost and an introduction to proper portions. Bye-bye big plates.
Price: The 24-day Weight-Loss Plan (three meals and two snacks per day) costs Dhs2,799. There is some flexibility if you want to reduce the number of days or meals, too.
Breakfast: Muesli with strawberry yoghurt
Fruit of the day: Pear
Lunch: Lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with three-colour pasta
PM Snack: Honey almond cake
Dinner: Chicken and sweet potato stew with stir-fry green beans and carrots
Tel: (600) 544402. uvegotmeal.com
The expert says…
Stephanie Karl, nutritionist at JTS Medical Centre, offers some advice on getting the most from your meals
All of the five options have sound nutrition as their base, but there is responsibility from the consumer to also ensure they are choosing a balance over the week and therefore some points become poignant as to what they should consider.
My suggestions are to help not only focus on the energy providing macro-nutrients – protein, fat and carbohydrates – but consume a balance of the micro-nutrients. These are the key to stabilising your hormones, boosting immunity, improving skin and hair, managing blood glucose, enriching your thyroid and bones, improving brain function and keeping oxidative stress down.
- If you eat meat, balance your choices to include red meat twice per week, fish twice, and chicken twice. Other protein foods are pulses, nuts, dairy, mushrooms and eggs.
- If you are vegetarian, ensure you include some vitamin C-rich food such as adding a squeeze of lemon juice, tomatoes, fresh citrus or a kiwi. Dates are rich in iron, as are prunes.
- Include two small portions of fruit per day, especially the fruits that are not tropical varieties. These tend to have a less potent effect on raising blood glucose.
- Choose foods rich in vitamin D3 such as fish, nuts, mushrooms, egg yolk, milk and fortified juice and cereal.
- Zinc is used abundantly in the body and is especially important to immunity and hormone regulation. Lamb, shellfish, oats, seeds, yoghurt, turkey and green peas are great food choices.
- Calcium is important and not widely distributed in foods. Eat dairy, celery, sesame seeds and tahine, bok choy, kale, almonds, broccoli and spinach.
- Iron-rich foods are red meat, prunes, dates, soy, lentils, tofu, egg yolk, green leafy vegetables.
- Fibre is what has slipped out of the diet as refining techniques have made foods so desirable. Add back in oats as your first cereal preference, apples, flaxseeds, and plenty of raw salad vegetables.
- A few raw nuts per day is a great way to get a wide range of minerals required for optimal biochemistry and plenty of vegetables containing sulphur such as kale, broccoli, green beans, onions and garlic really help clean up the liver and eliminate toxins.