A few weeks have passed since you first resolved to shed a few pounds for 2012, so it’s only natural that your determination is beginning to waver (or is that just us?). However, dieting doesn’t have to involve dry rice cakes and stepping onto the scales every five minutes – there are plenty of restaurants across Dubai serving healthy and delicious dishes designed to help you stick to your diet. We’ve picked 19 such venues on the basis of their clear, informative menus (which list the calories so you don’t have to) or their special dishes designed to help you lead a healthier, slimmer lifestyle this year.
Balance Café: This café is part of Balance Wellness Centre, in case you fancy a quick workout before your healthy meal. Dieters can order dishes such as vegetarian lasagne (475 calories, Dhs26), pan-seared corn-fed chicken supreme (355 calories, Dhs42), or poached strawberry in balsamic syrup (111 calories, Dhs16). Oasis Centre, Al Quoz (04 515 4051).
THE One Deli: This deli offers gourmet veggies, specials and sandwiches – a combination of which can be chosen for a set price (Dhs29 for one gourmet veggie and one side dish). Even better, the chefs select the healthiest ingredients – low-fat cream cheese, bread made from carrots, spinach and couscous (intriguing!) – and everything is made with olive oil, rather than sunflower oil. Unsure what to order? The staff can guide you to the healthiest dishes on the menu. Near Jumeirah Mosque, opposite Palm Strip Mall, Jumeirah 1 (04 345 6687).
Waterfront: This restaurant offers views of the Burj Al Arab, as well as healthy organic food and a menu featuring calorie counts. Some of the dishes on this menu are entirely raw, meaning you’ll absorb all the nutrients as they were intended, though we opted for the wholewheat linguine with prawns and broccoli, which contains 290 calories (Dhs90). Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8815).
Café Chic: To help dieters stick to their resolutions, Chef Etienne has put together a five-course ‘Greenhouse Detox Menu’, which features low-calorie ingredients, the majority of which are picked from the restaurant’s very own greenhouse. We recommend the king steamed John Dory, Chinese cabbage and a spiced tomato chutney. The menu will set you back Dhs395, or Dhs430 with a trio of health drinks (wheatgrass smoothie, carrot and ginger, and beetroot with passion fruit). Le Méridien Dubai, Airport Road, Garhoud (04 702 2615).
La Romana Dal 1947: In need of a sweet treat to sate those sugar cravings? La Romana’s gelato is free from trans fats and has a maximum seven per cent fat content (because it only uses fresh milk and cream, rather than oils and butters like mass-produced versions). Happily, all this healthiness doesn’t detract from the full, dense flavour (the nutty and chocolate varieties are a highlight). Thrifty dieters will be pleased to hear that three scoops cost Dhs11. Al Barsha Mall, www.gelateriaromana.com (no number).
Rivington Grill: With a reputation for hearty British fare, Rivington Grill might not be the first place you’d think to head for a diet-friendly meal. However, those in the know recommend ordering the scallops with winter cauliflower and sauce Jacqueline. The scallops are high in protein and, providing you steer clear of the bread basket, are a winner for anyone who’s calorie counting. Note that though the dish is a starter, it can be prepared as a main on request (Dhs85). Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0903).
Zahr El-Laymoun: There’s not a fried dish on the menu at this Lebanese-Mediterranean restaurant – everything is either baked or grilled. Two simple dishes, the mixed grill platter (Dhs74) and the Mediterranean salad (Dhs40), are a combination that would have Dr Atkins salivating – the lean chicken is joyfully protein-heavy, while the salad offers a kaleidoscope of vitamins thanks to the greens, nuts, aubergine and sliced marrow. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 448 6060).
Spectrum on One: This sprawling international eatery is perhaps best known for its gut-busting Friday brunch, but it appears to be changing its ways with the new Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu, which features diabetic-friendly, vegan, macrobiotic and gluten-free dishes. Our pick of the bunch has to be the diabetic-friendly tataki of grilled cantaloupe with Maldon salt and hazelnut powder (Dhs35). The Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 332 5555).
Baker & Spice: This British deli-café is bursting with locally sourced, in-season fresh fruit and veg. There’s an emphasis on healthy eating – the sautéed red mullet with wilted beetroot and green tahini (Dhs36) offers plenty of protein (courtesy of the fish), while the beetroot helps prevent the build-up of fatty deposits on the liver. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 425 2240).
Bert’s: Situated alongside markedly unhealthier neighbours (Marble Slab and KFC, to name but a few), Bert’s is a good option whether you’re on a diet or simply not interested in eating junk. Opt for the grilled Atlantic salmon with apple fennel salad and minted yoghurt (Dhs60) – it’s high in lean protein, and will fill you up even without the carbs. Street 2, The Greens (04 361 9292).
Lafayette Gourmet: For the healthiest choice at this high-end food emporium, head for the salad bar, where you can get creative by ordering the make-your-own variety (Dhs45). Choose from a huge range of leaves and toppings, from fresh seafood and sashimi to roast chicken, cheeses, vegetables and various meats. The staff are very knowledgeable too, and are able to point you in the right direction when it comes to healthy eating. The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).
Circle: Circle’s pumpkin and quinoa (pronounced ‘kinwa’ and high in dietary fibre) salad (Dhs38) is light, filling and very tasty, thanks to beetroot, feta, sunflower seeds and enough spinach to get those vital vitamins into you. Carnivores can add chicken for Dhs8. However, even without the meat, pumpkins are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, and are one of the rare veggies allowed during carb-free diets such as Atkins. Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza (04 342 8177); Dubai Media City (04 391 5170).
Organic Foods & Café:All the ingredients served here are organic (as you may be able to deduce from the name), but just because they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides doesn’t mean pizza automatically becomes a health food. Instead, stick to the salads: we recommend the brown lentil (Dhs20), which is high in protein and will keep you full longer than others, but watch your portion sizes if you’re counting calories. The Dubai Mall (04 434 0577).
Sophie’s: The new kid on the healthy-eating block offers Palm residents fresh, locally grown produce. The quinoa salad (Dhs18), with braised sweetcorn, spring onion and avocado, is a zesty, filling combination that’s low in fat and abundant with unique flavour. Building 8, Shoreline Apartments, Palm Jumeirah (04 332 8006).
Wild Peeta: The phrases ‘fast food’ and ‘healthy eating’ are seldom uttered in the same breath, which makes Wild Peeta’s inclusion on this list all the more notable. The local Emirati franchise makes a point of using fresh, lean ingredients, and you won’t find a trace of trans-fat in anything you order. What’s more, the meal deals are cheap and delicious – we recommend the red lentil soup and chicken wrap (Dhs29). Trade Centre Boulevard, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.wildpeeta.com (800 9453).
Sumo Sushi: Dieters should steer clear of any sushi containing mayonnaise, cream cheese or tempura (otherwise known as ‘crunchy-crazies’), but you can’t go wrong by ordering the steamed edamame (soya beans) for a fat-free, high-protein snack, or the avocado maguro salad (Dhs22), which comprises fresh chunks of avocado and tuna sashimi (tuna being one of the leanest sources of meat protein out there). Various locations including Building 10, Dubai Media City (04 391 4141).
The Fountain: This venue offers two different ‘fat-burning’ (or at least ‘diet-friendly’) meals every day of the working week, including Cajun-spiced chicken breast with braised carrot, leeks and broccoli, or barbecued spiced salmon steaks with red cabbage and apple (Dhs85 each). According to the menu, all dishes contain ingredients to speed up the metabolism. Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments, Bur Dubai (04 336 6000).
Le Pain Quotidien: Founded by Belgian farmer Alain Coumont in 1990, international chain PQ’s main focus is its bread (the name translates as ‘the daily bread’). It serves high-quality organic ingredients, and even uses recycled materials in its outlets: think energy-efficient lamps and reclaimed wood, as well as environmentally friendly packaging. What’s more, the dishes taste fantastic: we’re fans of the Atlantic shrimp salad with avocado and salsa (Dhs45). Rimal, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 428 1305). Other locations: Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif, JBR.
Mövenpick Hotel, JBR: In late 2011, the Mövenpick hotel group rolled out its new super-healthy ‘Power Bites’ menu for kids. As well as giving traditional kids’ favourites a healthy twist (largely by adding extra fruit and veg to give dishes a vitamin boost), the hands-on presentation, where kids get to build their own dishes, make healthy mealtimes fun rather than a chore. There are even quirky touches such as ninja figures or mini construction workers building their dinner on the plate. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, The Walk at JBR (04 449 8888).