51 healthiest dishes in Dubai

Octopus, asparagus, pumpkins and more must-try dishes


How many of you resolved to ‘eat more healthily’ in 2013, but fell off the bandwagon somewhere in mid-January? There’s extra motivation to rethink your food habits this week: the Arab Health Summit continues until Thursday January 31, and the two-day Weight Loss Show starts on Tuesday February 1.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore: we’ve scoured Dubai’s restaurants for our favourite dishes that are healthy yet tasty. As well as low-fat, low-calorie recipes, we’ve also found options containing superfoods, which are packed with important nutrients. Enjoy them guilt-free!


1 Anar-o-Khiyar Salad at Anar: With crunchy cucumber and pomegranate seeds drizzled with ‘ab-ghureh’ (the juice of unripe grapes), this refreshing low-fat Arabic salad is high in vitamin E, which is a valuable antioxidant.
Dhs52. Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 368 6505).

2 Asparagus risotto at Balance Café: Lycra-clad athletes trot in from the adjoining gym to sample this risotto. Not only is the tender asparagus crammed with antioxidants and a hold-all full of vitamins, it has just 313 calories and 11g of fat. We know because the menu told us!
Dhs26. Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 515 4051).

3 Bean soup, mushroom risotto and cherry and coconut cake at Right Bite: The ideal way to eat healthily without the fuss: Right Bite delivers a varied menu of sizeable, healthy, calorie-light dishes – such as this lunch option – to your door.
Day packages from Dhs54. www.right-bite.com (04 338 8763).

4 Broccoli and blue cheese soup at Café Baroque: The café offers a daily changing selection of affordable soups. This particular recipe has a light consistency that won’t leave you feeling too heavy, and broccoli is packed with antioxidants.
Dhs15. Mujran 5, Plaza Level, JBR (04 361 4252).

5 Cabbage salad at Bazerkan: A zingy salad choice featuring chopped cabbage, tomato and a sprinkling of dry mint, with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. Low in calories with a dash of good fats.
Dhs15. Bahar, Plaza Level, JBR (04 424 3838).

6 Chargrilled octopus at Après: Low in fat and high in protein, this tender grilled octopus tentacle arrives atop a mini portion of Greek salad.
Dhs45 (starter), Dhs80 (main). Mall of the Emirates (04 341 2575).

7 Chicken livers at Zahr El-Laymoun: This healthy Arabic eatery dishes up baked (not fried) chicken livers with a drizzling of pomegranate molasses.
Dhs35. Souk Al Bahar (04 448 6060).

8 Crab bucket at Aprons & Hammers: Crab meat is a great source of Omega-3, which is good for the heart and memory.
From Dhs140 for eight pieces. Dubai International Marine Club, Dubai Marina (04 454 7097).

9 Dal fry at Ravi Restaurant: Don’t be perturbed by the ‘fry’. This is one of the least oily curries on the Satwa stalwart’s menu, and the lentils will keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
Dhs7. Satwa (04 331 5353).

10 Egg-white omelette at Bert’s Café:
A high-protein meal: the omelette contains fresh mushrooms and gently wilted fresh spinach. The tomato and cucumber garnish is a little obscure, but we like it.
Dhs25. The Greens Town Centre (04 361 9292).

View Small bites and sides
View Takeaways and And a beverage…
View Essential Superfoods
View Expert healthy eating tips

11 Eggplant moussaka at Al Halabi: A rich, garlicky tomato sauce envelops deliciously soft eggplant in this cold mezze dish. Cooked tomatoes have been shown to fight cancer and keep your heart healthier than those eaten raw.
Dhs24. Mall of the Emirates (04 395 1615).

12 Feta and quinoa salad at Bo House: Recommended to us by the Health Factory, we love the grilled asparagus that gives some crunch to the low-fat creaminess of the feta cheese. Plus the quinoa is protein-packed!
Dhs50. The Walk, JBR (04 429 8655).

13 Fish cakes at Baker & Spice:
These filling fish cakes are grilled, not fried, which cuts the calories. They’re served with salad leaves, but avoid the red pepper aioli if you’re watching your fat intake.
Dhs82. Various locations including Souk Al Bahar (04 425 2240).

14 Gluten-free bread sandwich at The Pavilion: As its name suggests, those who are allergic can snack on this satisfying open sandwich, topped with smoked salmon and a sweet and flavoursome honey coriander dressing.
Dhs55. Downtown Dubai (04 447 7025).

15 Halloumi Asparagus salad at Arabian Tea House Café: The halloumi cheese and tangy mustard dressing makes this salad a wholesome meal, while the asparagus – loaded with vitamins and folic acid – gives it a healthy lift.
Dhs37. Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai (04 353 5071).

16 Grilled chicken salad at Zaatar w Zeit: It may have just had a branding makeover, but Zaatar’s chicken salad with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes remains a great, light option when everyone else is tucking into cheesy wraps and manakish.
Dhs34. Various locations, including Sheikh Zayed Road (600 522 231).

17 Grilled veg with quinoa risotto at The Pavilion: The dish’s thick, creamy consistency with a generous helping of parmesan betrays its healthiness somewhat, but it does include fibre-rich, quinoa, thought to lower blood pressure and help ward off diabetes.
Dhs55. Downtown Dubai (04 447 7025).

18 Halibut with spelt risotto at Traiteur: Not only is spelt a superfood, it is also a great option for gluten-free dining. This particular concoction is a creative and successful use of the ingredient, with a creamy nutty flavour, and perfectly prepared halibut.
Dhs180. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).

19 Heirloom tomatoes with burrata at Traiteur: This salad boasts a variety of rare tomato varieties, in varying shades of yellow and red, offering a mix of texture and flavour. The excellent locally made burrata cheese rounds off this delicious dish.
Dhs73. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222).

20 Mediterranean couscous salad at The Lime Tree Café: Of all the Lime Tree’s healthy salads, we recommended this: a bed of Moroccan-style couscous served with fresh Mediterranean vegetables such as mushrooms, courgette and pepper.
Dhs24. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 349 8498).

21 Papaya salad at The Royal Buddha: Strands of antioxidant-rich shredded green papaya are marinated in lime juice and chilli (to kick-start the metabolism) and topped with peanuts.
Dhs35. Holiday Inn Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 323 4333).

22 Pumpkin and coconut soup at Circle: Though the addition of coconut milk to this rich, creamy soup pushes up the calorie and fat content, the blended pumpkin part is full of vitamins, fibre and potassium.
Dhs24 (available on Mondays). Dubai Media City (04 391 5170).

23 Quinoa and grilled veg at Shakespeare & Co: These two are a great fibre-laden vegetarian combination – ask the kitchen to hold the pesto dressing, as this will add unnecessary fat. Instead, ask for a lemon wedge and some extra-virgin olive oil on the side instead.
Dhs46. Various locations including The Springs Town Centre, Emirates Living (04 360 8886).

24 Roasted pumpkin, broccoli and mushroom salad at 1762: Made fresh each day, the crisp broccoli in this salad has cholesterol-lowering benefits as well as being good for detoxing. Mixed in with the mushy pumpkin and soft mushrooms, it makes a filling lunch.
Dhs25. DIFC (800 1762).

25 Rocca salad at Al Hallab: A low-calorie mezze option, the rocca leaves, tomatoes and onions create a light, fresh salad, with just a small drizzle of lemon dressing.
Dhs16. Various locations including Mall of the Emirates (04 341 1880).

26 Salad bar at Baker & Spice: The options on the sizeable salad counter change each day, and are packed with fresh, healthy ingredients: we like the asparagus salad and the tomato and mozzarella.
Dhs58 for four different scoops. Various locations including Souk Al Bahar (04 425 2240).

27 Salmon at Bo House: The fish is lightly grilled and the dish comes complete with garden vegetables, mashed potato and a lemon butter sauce that gives it extra sweetness and a bit of zing.
Dhs90. The Walk, JBR (04 429 8655).

28 Smoked salmon salad at Galler Pure Cocoa: With avocado, fresh raw mushrooms, chives, spring onion and the café’s home-made seafood dressing, this salad is fresh and light.
Dhs42. Mall of the Emirates (04 341 6218).

29 Smoked trout salad with Asian greens, blood orange and almonds at Make Business Hub: The fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and the orange is packed with vitamin C. The two taste great with the Asian greens.
Dhs47. Al Fattan Towers, Dubai Marina (055 104 0581).

30 Spinach and fennel soup at THE One Deli: The menu at this café changes daily, so it’s difficult to predict what you’ll get when you arrive. The soups, however, are generally delicious: the fresh, clean taste of this recipe, teamed with a buttery wedge of carrot bread, make it an excellent option.
Dhs22. Al Quoz (04 346 8977).

31 Spinach Salad at More: With feta cheese, roasted pumpkin, pine nuts and honey balsamic dressing, this is a sweet and healthy treat, low in cholesterol and fat with a low glycaemic index.
Dhs52. DIFC(04 370 0469).

32 Spinach with celery and onions at Wafi Gourmet: If you’ve ever eaten a spinach fatayer (pastry parcel), this savoury yet deeply lemony concoction is what they’re stuffed with. Served cold, the dish is packed with nutrients.
Dhs27. Various locations, including The Dubai Mall (04 330 8297).

33 Tuna and salmon tartare at Zuma: This omega-rich concoction of raw salmon and tuna is beautifully presented in a wooden box, and can be scooped up with large flatbread-style crackers.
Dhs195. Gate Village, DIFC (04 425 5660).

34 Tuna steak at Barasti: You might expect Barasti to concentrate on grills and fries – but the healthy tuna steak is served with green beans, olives, tomatoes and baby potatoes.
Dhs125. Al Sufouh Road (04 399 3333).

35 Veggie burger at Balance café: This dish, like many of those served in the café, is based on ayurvedic principles: the notion that the body is made up of five elements, and that food containing the right proportion of these elements gives us balance. The burger’s nutritional details are also printed on the menu.
Dhs22. Oasis Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Quoz (04 515 4051).

36 Warm goat’s cheese salad at Paul CafÉ: Chunks of warm goat’s cheese are drizzled with a sweet vinaigrette and served on a bed of leafy mixed greens, asparagus and cherry tomatoes.
Dhs50. Various locations including The Walk at JBR (04 437 6494).

37 Wholewheat spaghetti with prawns at the Waterfront: We love the flavour of this wholewheat spaghetti, boiled in broth and served with a generous portion of prawns, broccoli, chilli and garlic.
Dhs90. Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 406 8999).

Small bites and sides

38 Avocado maguro at Sumo: Tender raw tuna chunks, creamy avocado, sesame seeds and a wonderfully tangy dressing combine in this carb-and gluten-free dish that’s as tasty as it is healthy.
Dhs32. Various locations including Media City (04 390 4746).

39 Beetroot chips at Burger Rebels: This side dish may be deep-fried, but it’s made with paper-thin discs of superfood beetroot, so it offers a healthier alternative to fries.
Dhs15. Wafi, Oud Metha (04 324 4252).

40 Germinated brown rice at Sino Chai: Health-conscious Taiwanese restaurant Sino Chai claims to be the only venue in Dubai offering this deliciously nutty variety of rice. Also worth trying are the fantastic rice noodles, freshly made in-house using this brown germinated rice.
Dhs12. Building 27, Dubai Healthcare City (04 435 5650).

41 Hawaiian ahi poke at Trader Vic’s: This dish of raw tuna salad, teamed with a smooth avocado mousse, is a veritable powerhouse of healthy omega oils. The juicy tuna flesh, sweet soy and creamy avocado also offer a wonderful mix of textures and flavours.
Dhs63. InterContinental Dubai Festival City, Festival City (04 255 9000).

42 ‘Live’ guacamole at Loca: Fresh avocados, tomatoes, onions, chili, coriander and a squeeze of lemon are mashed together at your table – no additives, no nonsense.
Dhs55. Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah (04 346 1111).

43 Scallop and tomato carpaccio at Yuraku: Combining ultra-thin slices of creamy scallop flesh, sweet tomato and a little avocado, this dish offers an elegant combination of Vitamins B12 and C, as well as omega oils.
Dhs50. Asiana Hotel, Deira (04 238 7777).

44 Shimesaba kikka at TOMO: This dish of cured mackerel in vinegar with chrysanthemum flower is as delicate and refined in flavour as it looks: subtly sour with a sweet floral note. Mackerel is packed with omega oils, while chrysanthemums are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, vitamin C and niacin.
Dhs40. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 357 7888).

45 Summer rolls at Hanoi: Low fat and full of flavour, stuffed with shrimp, veg and coriander, summer rolls are a healthy alternative to deep-fried spring rolls.
Dhs18. Goldcrest Executive Building, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 431 3099).


46 Broccoli and quinoa soup at Richy’s: This delicious ‘soup of the day’ special combines superfood quinoa with broccoli, known for its anti-cancer properties.
Dhs22. HDS Tower, Cluster F, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 452 9991).

47 Five-spice distinction salad at Richy’s: This soba noodle salad is light and fresh, with a balance of food groups. It comes with beef and tomatoes, and a soy, sesame and ginger dressing.
From Dhs34. HDS Tower, Cluster F, Jumeirah Lakes Towers (04 452 9991).

48 Salmon ragout and brown rice at KCal: This nutritional dish is guaranteed to leave you full, while cherry tomatoes add some sweetness.
Dhs54. www.kcalhealthyfastfood.com (04 447 3844).

49 Superbiotic pizza at NKD:
For healthy eating, takeaway pizza may not be the first item on your list, but this recipe offers a healthy mix of vegetables, including artichoke, spinach, bell peppers and mushrooms, as well as infection-fighting garlic and onion. Gluten-free crusts are also available.
From Dhs29. Various locations including Al Barsha (04 369 9396) and Dubai Marina (04 453 4313).

50 Turkey salad sub at Subway: In a rush? Opt for a six-inch turkey salad sandwich on wheat or white bread, hold the cheese, pile on the salad (except anything pickled), and opt for either mustard or vinegar, and you’re looking at one of the lowest fat and calorie options on the menu.
Dhs16. Various locations, including Dubai Internet City (04 391 0700).

And a beverage…

51 Coconut water at all major supermarkets: Need to rehydrate after the gym? This natural juice is full of electrolytes and potassium, but doesn’t contain the refined sugar or additives found in sports drinks.
Dhs10.25 per carton. Waitrose, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0700).

Essential Superfoods

High in antioxidants, vitamin C and lutein, which prevents macular degeneration in the eyes.

Full of antioxidants and high in vitamin C, kiwis are also a source of potassium, fibre, and vitamins A and E.

High in vitamin B6, and the essential amino acids needed for cell renewal.

A good source of cartenoids (like all orange-coloured veg), which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Contains Omega-3 oils to prevent heart disease, depression and dementia.

Expert healthy eating tips

Carole Holditch, founder of Dubai-based healthy eating programme Good Habits, shares five culinary tips to keep you on track.

1 Next time you’re scrambling eggs for a meal, try using just the egg whites. Alternatively, rather than having two whole eggs, mix one egg with an egg white and you’ll save 85 calories.

2 Rather than slapping mayonnaise on your sandwich, give mustard a try. It packs a flavour punch and is low in calories.

3 Chicken contains fewer calories than red meat, so limit your intake of red meat to once or twice per week, and make stir-fries and casseroles using chicken instead.

4 Can’t live without your weekly pizza takeaway? Be a little savvy when ordering and go for lower-calorie toppings such as capsicums, pineapple and mushrooms instead of meat.

5 Opt for 50g of cottage cheese instead of the same portion of cheddar cheese – you’ll save yourself 150 calories.

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