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20 Healthy [Must-Try] Foods in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

on 28th Feb, 2018
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Eating Out or Eating In? Healthy Food Delivery in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

UAE is fast becoming a foodie capital, offering tremendous food varieties and choices to the consumers. There are nearly 10,000 food and beverage outlets in Dubai, 2000 in Abu Dhabi and 1,200 in Sharjah (according to TripAdvisor). That’s over 13,000 restaurants and cafes across the 3 emirates alone! It’s hard to quote an exact figure because new restaurants are opening their doors daily. Next time you walk along Jumeirah or wander around the mall, try to count the restaurants you see. Bet that afterwards, you will notice new food chains opened. UAE now has the largest number of food and beverage outlets, per capita, around the world, according to CBRE.

The increasing number of restaurants in the country was a result of the increase in demand. A 2016 Khaleej Times' online poll showed that among respondents:
  • 35% dine out at least 2-3 times a week;
  • 43% eat out on the weekends; and
  • 17% eat out or order in every day.
Rapid economic growth and fast-paced lifestyle mean that people are on-the-go most of the time. The culture surrounding the food preparation and consumption has also changed, with people becoming more used to eating out and ordering deliveries at home. These changes have had some negative consequences. A recent survey showed that nearly 50% of UAE residents are overweight, and another 13% are considered obese. People don’t get enough exercise, and many are not eating right.

What should you do if you are working all the time with no time to shop for or cook the right food? Even when you eat at home, you still order in. It can be hard to stick to a healthy eating plan when most of your meals are prepared by someone else. Fast food restaurants make their money by offering cheap tasty food that is often pre-cooked or deep fried. It is engineered to appeal to our most basic and primitive food cravings - salty, and sweet and full of carbs. The alternative healthy foods sometimes look like what a rabbit or gerbil might enjoy such as slices of carrots, green leaves, and dry rice cakes.

There are ways to eat healthier whether you want to dine out or opt for healthy food delivery to your home or office. You need to make a conscious decision to change your eating habits and try to find healthy alternatives to your favourite foods.

The first step is to find restaurants or cafes that make healthy eating their priority. This will make it easier for you to order because you are confident that they use fresh ingredients for your meals.

Once you’ve spotted an attractive restaurant, take a few minutes to study the menu to make sure that they offer healthy options. How the food is cooked is also a very important indicator of how healthy it is. Try to avoid restaurants that fry most of their dishes. Focus on places that offer a good variety of salads, and other vegetarian or vegan cuisines. Dubai may be inundated with fast food places but you can still find healthy food alternatives.

With your family and friends, just check these 20 must-try healthy foods in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that are also satisfying and pleasurable for your taste buds.

NEED TO MUNCH; GO FOR THE CRUNCH: FAST FOOD SUBSTITUTES

1. Power Bites 


These have a tasty combination of nuts, raisins and even pieces of chocolate, baked into little bars of goodness. They provide the much-needed energy and fill you up so you end up eating less than if you went for a bag of potato chips.

2. Sweet Potato Fries

The jury is still out on whether sweet potato fries are better than regular ones. But who cares? They’re still yummy and eating them may get you out of the habit of asking for traditional French fries. If you are craving something fried, this may be one of the better choices because they have a relatively high fibre content and a good dose of Vitamin A and Potassium, as well as other nutrients. Dietary fibre contributes to your heart’s health and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.

3. Falafel

Deep-fried bean paste patty is one of the traditional and vegan staple foods of the Middle East cooking, and is a great substitute for processed meats or burgers. Falafel has a satisfying salty crunch that makes them pleasant to eat. They are filling so you will never be tempted to have too many. Circle Café serves them as a sandwich, a wrap or an addition to your salad.

4. Chicken Skewers

When you think of foods on sticks, you’ll probably think of the most famous street foods such as barbeque, caramel apples, corn dogs, kebabs and satay. These grilled delicacies are actually not that unhealthy. Grilled chicken skewers, for example, provide lean protein for all the meat lovers. There are restaurants that pair these with different sides. Depending on your health requirements. You can skip on the rice and opt for the healthier substitute. At Circle Café, you can choose other alternatives such as quinoa, sweet potato fries and salad. Just watch out for the quantity to avoid overeating, giving you the extra calories you don’t need.

5. Edamame



Edamame is prepared by boiling immature young soybeans with their pods. It is a very popular side dish in Japan that is gradually becoming well-known around the world. Like soybeans, Edamame is full of good health benefits containing carbs, protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Munching on a bowl can even be more satisfying than fries or chips, and is just as tasty.

6. Banana Oat Fuel Smoothie

                             
Substitute gooey fat-filled milkshakes with a smoothie that combines fruits with milk (dairy or non-dairy), so why Indulge when you can still satisfy your sweet tooth while lowering the calorie content and boosting the health value naturally. Bananas are an essential source of Potassium. Bananas and Oats both contain soluble fibre needed for digestive health. The combination of these two power foods will definitely give you more reasons to give it a go.

“A SALAD IS NOT A MEAL, IT’S A STYLE” (FRAN LEBOWITZ)

7. Pumpkin Salad

Pumpkins are not just for Halloween decoration or pie filling. They are a superfood loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre, but fewer calories.

Quinoa is another superfood: gluten-free, high in protein and fibre, and is one of the few plant foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids. The sweetness of the pumpkin compliments the bitter nuttiness of Quinoa. Circle Café tops this winning combination off with pine nuts, beetroot, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and pesto. It’s another power meal in a bowl recipe offered by Circle Café. Try it for lunch, dinner or even breakfast.

8. Caesar Salad

One of the most familiar salads around; it is a staple of many restaurant menus, from fast food outlets to the finest dining establishments. But not all Caesar Salads are the same. Make sure that the ingredients are super fresh and that the dressing is subtle, not overpowering. The traditional recipe calls for a base of romaine lettuce, croutons and grated or shaved slices of Parmesan cheese. But it’s the creamy dressing that makes a salad a Caesar, with the distinctive flavour of mashed anchovies finished off by freshly ground black pepper. Romaine lettuce is fat-free and very low in calories. It is a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin A, Folate and Potassium. Adding a portion of grilled chicken to the mix adds lean protein to your intake. Chicken is an excellent source of Vitamin B-12 and Niacin. For an extra health benefit, cut down on the fats by asking for your dressing on the side so you can control how much you consume.

9. Goat Cheese Salad

Goat cheese has a sharp earthy flavour that is not for everyone’s taste. But, it usually has calories and fats that are lower than that of cow’s milk cheese and are easier to digest.

The best Goat Cheese salads are paired with dark leafy greens and cherry tomatoes. A balsamic vinegar dressing also adds piquancy to the mix. Circle Café tops the salad with walnuts for an additional crunch and twist, with the extra health benefits.

10. Lentil Salad

This is a healthy salad with a Moroccan touch. Lentils are another super rich food that is high in protein and fibre and are an excellent source of essential minerals.

Lentils, cherry tomato, grilled zucchini, mint, feta cheese, roasted capsicums, raisins and lettuce, and other regional spices make up this delicious meal. For an extra protein punch, grilled chicken, almonds or walnuts can be added.

11. Crunchy Noodle Chicken Salad

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Mario Batali once wrote, "The single word 'crispy' sells more food than a barrage of adjectives... There is something innately appealing about crispy food." We love anything that is crunchy or crispy like popcorn, chips, and fried chicken. A crunchy noodle salad can satisfy these urges in a delicious yet healthy way. Circle Café’s version lays grilled chicken (never fried) over a layer of red and green cabbage. Adding sesame, roasted almonds and sunflower seeds adds extra crunch; and finally, the honey soy dressing brings a sweet Asian flavour to a fully satisfying culinary experience. Chicken meat provides a complete source of protein because it supplies all the essential amino acids needed by the body. Nutritionists also recommend lean meat such as of chicken because it is lower in cholesterol and saturated fats than that of the red meat.

12. Italian Salad

What could be simpler and better than an Italian Salad? Circle Café serves a version with grilled chicken as a base, adding mixed leaves, avocado, cherry tomatoes and green olives. Italian dressing or vinaigrette adds tanginess to this light dish that can be eaten as a starter or entrée. Italian dressing is generally healthier than creamy salad dressings because it has fewer calories and fat without compromising the taste.

BREAKFAST IS FOR CHAMPIONS

13. Avocado on toast

Avocado on toast is not just for the hipsters anymore. It’s basically for everyone. Avocado is an energy-rich food that when smashed, is as tasty and creamy as butter. Spread over lightly-toasted bread and sprinkled with chilli for that extra tang, this can be a simple yet excellent breakfast choice for you.

14. Grilled Halloumi Bagel

Halloumi is made from sheep’s milk mixed with that of the goats. It is a great ingredient because it retains its shape even when grilled. Heating halloumi doesn’t melt it but softens the inside giving it a somewhat meaty texture, while the outside caramelises. Circle Café serves its grilled halloumi on a bagel with fresh thyme. Halloumi is a great source of protein for all the other types of cheese. One ounce serving of regular halloumi contains 6 grams of protein.

15. Foul Moudamas (Middle Eastern Baked Beans)

Middle Eastern baked beans, called foul madamas (or ful medames) is an Egyptian national dish usually served for breakfast. Foul is made from Fava beans, which are stewed overnight, then served with oil or butter and cumin. Fava beans are packed with nutrients. They have no saturated fats or cholesterol, and have high concentrations of essential vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of lean protein. Circle Café’s foul madamas are made with olive oil, garlic, parsley, chilli pepper and fried onions, served with Arabic bread. It is a rich and satisfying start to your day.

16. Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish based on baked eggs in a tomato sauce base. Tomatoes, peppers, onions and cumin are stewed together in a skillet. Eggs are then carefully cracked over this mixture and delicately poached. The entire dish is then served in the same cooking pan accompanied by bread to sop up the rich juices and yummy eggs. This classic recipe makes a filling breakfast or even a light lunch. Despite years of getting a bad press, eggs are once again recognised as a vital part of any well-balanced diet. Eggs are a rich source of high-quality protein, and both the white and the yolk contain vitamins and minerals. The yolk also has the so-called good cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids.

17. Greek Yoghurt Powerball Bowl



If you’re in the mood for a lighter breakfast, more sweet than savoury, a bowl full of the rich goodness of Greek yoghurt jazzed up with dark chocolate shavings, pistachio, and fresh orange, Circle Café’s signature Powerball mix is the answer. Greek yoghurt is a wonder food. A single cup contains the recommended dietary guideline of three daily servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products. It has more protein than milk and is full of probiotics which are considered the healthy bacteria that helps to boost immunity and reduces digestive problems. It’s also an excellent source for calcium, providing 18.7% of the daily recommended intake. So, combining it with other essential ingredients will make this dish a healthy and delectable choice.
More breakfast options on The Breakfast Shop's menu!
SOME OTHER STUFF & JUICE

18. Salmon Teriyaki 

When you are not in the mood for a salad, you can always opt for a grilled fish. Salmon, in particular, is an excellent source of protein, vitamins and Omega-3s but is still low in calories. Circle Café tops it with a delicate Teriyaki sauce – complementing the delicate, pure taste of salmon with its sweet and tangy flavour.

19. Carrot Cake

When you just can’t give up the sweets, try to go for the healthier option and still enjoy its taste. Circle Café’s beta-carotene-rich carrot cake is made of (of course) carrots, pineapple and walnuts, topped with cream cheese icing. It’s a rich indulgence but not a complete waste of calories.

20. Juice it Up


Fresh juices are a great way to re-hydrate while getting the nutritional benefits from their sources. Being dehydrated is one of the main reasons why people eat when they are not really hungry. Thirst can also make you crave the wrong sorts of foods, from extra sweet to extra salty ones. Juice is a great accompaniment to any meal and a perfect replacement for sodas. Try Circle Café’s traditional watermelon, pineapple or orange juice, or go for more fruity cocktails like the “Go Green” which is a combination of apple, cucumber, celery & mint; or the appropriately named “Immune Boost”, a mixture of carrot, ginger and orange.

Conclusion: Eat Well; Live Well - Without Sacrificing Taste or Nutrition

Clean eating doesn’t have to be boring. There are tons of options you can choose from restaurants offering healthy food deliveries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Never skip meals. This encourages bingeing and produces an unhealthy attitude towards food, and may cause metabolic changes that make losing weight and maintaining it more difficult. Whatever your goal is, just make sure you are getting the proper nutrition you need. Keep these tips in mind:

1. Search the web for the healthy restaurants in Dubai 2017 and study their menus. Always keep a record of their healthy food options when ordering. That way you will be less tempted to go for a fast food option when you are ravenous and in a rush. Check for the substitutes for your fast food favourites that are lower in saturated fats and sodium.

2. Look for balance. That means choosing foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals without forgetting the protein. Include healthy fats, like olive oil and avocados and whole-meal carbs.

3. Load up on Vegetables and Fruits: Fresh vegetables are the starting block of any healthy eating plan. Focus on increasing consumption of nutrient-rich leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale. According to WebMD, incorporating salad into your daily eating habits may be the single most important thing you can do to ensure lifelong health. Nutritionists recommend to consume at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and eating salad helps towards that goal.

4. Experiment with salads. Combine colours, textures and flavours. Add nuts, cheese, different kinds of greens, raw and cooked vegetables, grilled chicken or steak for a filling meal in a bowl. The colour of fruits or vegetables is often a good indicator of the nutrients it contains. Example, blue and purple fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that promote good health. Lycopene, an anti-cancer phytochemical is found in red foods like tomatoes. Orange vegetables, like pumpkins and carrots, contain beta-carotene which is converted into Vitamin A. If it’s difficult to remember which fruits and vegetables contain which basic, just try to have a mixture of colours.

5. Control your sugar & salt cravings - don’t let them control you: Sugar and salt cravings are hard-wired into our brains. The trick is how to satisfy the craving without consuming too much of these. It’s okay to skip dessert with most meals as a weight management measure, but too much abstinence will only encourage over-indulgence at some point. Manage your cravings for sweets and reward yourself every once in a while, with a luscious but healthy dessert like Carrot cake or Greek Yoghurt with fruit. And if you’re used to adding too much salt to your food, you can still re-train your palates. Forget about the salt on your dining table and focus on the food served. It may take a while for you to get used to it, but you’ll soon realise that you’re already enjoying less-salty and healthier meals.

6. Pay Attention to Portion Size how much you eat is just as important as what you eat, so always try to control the portion sizes. A spoonful of ice cream is better for you than gorging on a tub of fat-free frozen yoghurt (typically high in sugar).

7. Enjoy your food: Eat slowly and savour each bite. Eating slowly gives your body time to feel satisfied so you are likely to consume less. It also aids in digestion.

We hope these tips will help you with your healthy eating lifestyle. And if you're looking for a place to dine in or for healthy food delivery in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you must try Circle Cafe. With a vast menu of foods that are healthy yet irresistibly delicious, we are sure to have you coming back for more!

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