How to eat clean in the capital
Here’s simple – but easy – ways you can feel better about yourself and your diet. From changing up your comfort food orders to our favourite healthy conscious cafes, this guide will help you eat clean without losing your mind.
Healthy spots to grab a bite to eat
Serving good food without the guilt
The clue is in the name at this salad bar. The menu features loaded salads, wraps and smoothies and produce is of a good quality. Most salads come in around a very reasonable 250 to 300 calories, but if you’re watching your weight avoid the smoothies that can easily rack up 400 calories or more.
Behind Shinning Tower, Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 11pm, Fri 3pm to 11pm.
Tel: (02) 6411297. Taxi: behind Shinning Tower, near RAK bank.
The Raw Place
If you’d rather your food didn’t come in contact with heat then this place is for you. While best known for their cold pressed juices and smoothies, this shop also serves a small selection of unpasteurised and unprocessed bites including pesto knoodles (or kelp noodles), acai bowl and a selection of truffles (try the matcha variety).
World Trade Center Souk, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 7am to 10.30pm, Dhs38. Tel: (02) 6334677. Taxi: World Trade Center Mall. therawplace.com
Typical café food is served with a healthy twist at this blink-or-you’ll-miss it restaurant in Rawdhat. Specialising in clean foods, crispy chicken strips get dredged in arrowroot flour and crushed almonds instead of panko crumbs and almond cream is used to lighten up a moreish chicken risotto. Asides for healthy substitutions and superfoods, you’ll also find paleo and raw options on the menu.
Qoot Wellness, Rawdhat, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 8am to 11pm, Fri 1pm to 11pm. Tel: (02) 4484668. Taxi: opposite Al Noor Hospital, near The Domes. instagram.com/qoot_ae
Located next door to crossfit gym Mprove Fitness, this curiously named café offers plenty of protein-packed meals and baked goods aimed at after workout recovery – including a seven-egg (yes, you read correctly) brekkie served with toast, avocado and salad.
Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 10pm. Tel: (02) 5557146. Taxi: near Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and BMW Showroom, Between The Bridges. facebook.com/steroidcafe
After Seema Shetty, the founder of Bite Rite, was diagnosed as pre-diabetic at the age of 21 she decided to change her eating habits for the better. While nutritionist approved meal-delivery plans are available, you don’t have to buy a subscription to try the food. All the dishes have calorie counts on them too,
so you know exactly how much of your daily allowance you’ve consumed.
Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 6179847. Taxi: NMC Hospital, Electra Street. biterite.ae
Eat this, not that
Simple swaps that’ll save you calories
Polish off a pizza pie
Swap your carby slice for a gluten-free variety at Tawa Bakery that’s surprisingly good. You’ll be hard-pressed to taste any differences in the pizza base and you won’t feel bloated after polishing off a couple of slices (or the whole thing). Try the veggie option that comes with mushrooms, bell peppers and spinach leaves or the moreish barbecue chicken.
Al Muneera Beach Plaza, Al Raha, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 5566900. Taxi: Al Muneera Beach Plaza. tawa.ae
Burgers can be healthy
You’ll find this healthy swap in the salad section of the menu at Soulfull. Don’t fret, it’s still a burger but instead of a bread bun you’ll find a round of iceberg lettuce sandwiching either a 200 gram grilled beef or chicken patty topped with peperonata, mozzarella and grilled mushrooms.
Golden Tower, Muroor Road, Al Nayhan, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 8am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 11pm, Dhs33 to Dhs38. Tel: (02) 6433669. Taxi: near Al Mamoura. soulfull.ae
Gobble up some guilt-free Thai food
Swap your rice noodles for shards of carrot instead. The vegan spicy Thai carrot noodles at Basiligo sees spiralised carrots get doused in a creamy peanut sauce and coconut milk sauce for a dish that – dare we say it – will have you forgetting all about pad Thai. Seriously.
Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, deliveries Sat to Thur 10am to 10pm . Tel: (02) 5530049. basiligo.ae
Fried chicken minus the fat
While it’s technically not fried, the heart-healthy flaxseed crusted chicken at Fanr should satisfy your cravings for a crunchy piece of poultry. Located in the healthy corner section of the menu, the whole dish will only set you back 383 calories and also includes grilled pineapple, potato wedges and avocado salsa.
Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 6575888. Taxi: Manarat on Saadiyat Island. fanrrestaurant.ae
Eat a better biryani
Try the protein-packed quinoa version of a traditional Indian biryani at Biryani Pot if you’re after a comforting bowl of grains. Cooked in a clay pot for added authenticity, we’re fans of the all-veggie version but you can also add chicken, lamb or shrimp into your bowl for even more protein.
The Galleria, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Maryah Island, daily 11am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 6766555. Taxi: Galleria, Al Maryah Island. biryanipot.ae
Upgrade your burrito
Natural Kitchen is a health café on Reem Island that serves a variety of soups, salads and wraps including a quinoa and black bean version that’ll keep your Mexican food cravings at bay. While there’s no refried beans and nacho cheese sauce in sight, the wrap does come stuffed with avocado, tomatoes, sweet corn, chillies and cilantro.
Marina Square, Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 6665995. Taxi: Marina Square,
Building 7. naturalkitchen.ae
A manakeesh minus the wheat
Chances are you can find manakeesh on just about every street corner of Abu Dhabi, but if you’re after a lighter and less greasy slice of bread, the eggplant topped variety at Firin Bakery is a good option. Not only is Firin’s version completely gluten-free, the crispy base is topped with thick slices of eggplant, grilled vegetables and a scant handful of kashkaval cheese.
Firin Gluten Free Bakery, Al Rowdah, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 7am to 10pm, Fri 2pm to 10pm. Tel: (02) 2666100. Taxi: Al Muntazah, near Al Bateen Executive Airport. firin.co
Have a Bounty bar (sort of)
If you’re after a choccie you can’t do much worse than this smoothie inspired by the Bounty bar. Nectar, the juice bar located inside fitness studio Bodytree, serves up a smoothie that’s made of fresh Thai coconut pulp, banana, organic cocoa powder, organic raw coconut, almonds, dates and flaxseed.
Bodytree Studio, Al Khalidiyah, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Wed 8.30am to 8.30pm, Thur 8.30am to 7pm, Sat 9am to 7pm. Tel: (02) 4434448. Taxi: turn right onto 11st street. bodytreestudio.com, lifeisnectar.com
Breakfast of champions
While there’s nothing as delicious as a full English fry-up, you’re looking at consuming around 800 (or more) calories before noon. Instead, opt for the organic three-egg and kale scramble at Nolu’s that includes chicken apple sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, choice of toast and fruit salad. You can even skip the yolks and opt for an egg white version for eight extra dirhams.
Al Bandar, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 5579500. Taxi: Al Bandar. nolusrestaurant.com
Nosh on a lighter lasagna
You won’t find any pasta in Kcal’s version of lasagne. This Italian staple is made with homemade tomato sauce and lean minced beef sandwiched between layers of eggplant instead. Topped with a crust of parmesan cheese, this main course comes in just under 300 calories. And for added veggies, the dish also comes with a side of green salad as well.
Al Mamoura building B, Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 8am to 10.30pm, Fri 10am to 10.30pm. Tel: (02) 8849476. Taxi: Al Mamoura Building, Muroor Road. kcalhealthyfastfood.com