Abu Dhabi's best healthy food

Where to eat well and watch the calories

So, it’s getting to that point where it’s getting a bit awkward to wish people a happy new year, isn’t it? The sound of fireworks is no longer ringing in your ears, the party dresses have been put away for another year and we are finally getting used to writing 2018 instead of 2017. But what about those resolutions? If you are anything like us, after a terrific 12 months of fine dining in the capital, you will have put a healthy eating regime at the top of your wish-list. With so many culinary temptations around, though, keeping your resolve isn’t easy. But cutting back on calories doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on flavour. We have hunted down the healthiest dishes in the city – that are good for you and still taste great. Let’s dig in.

Acai bowl at Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
If you are going to dance for hours on the beach you will need to fuel your body the right way. The team at the capital’s hottest party destination, funky beach club Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, are ensuring revellers have an extra spring in their step by serving up the quintessential super food, the acai bowl. The acai berry blend is brimming with fresh fruits and organic and homemade ingredients, including coconut milk, fresh banana, fresh kiwi, mixed berries, homemade granola and coconut flakes. Relax by the beach, soak up some Balearic beats and dig into a bowl-load of goodness.
Dhs50. Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotels and Resort, Sheikh Zayed Road, Ghantoot (056 113 3400).

Atun at Amerigos

Funky Mexican joint Amerigos is making plenty of new amigos with this excellent offering. Atun (meaning tuna in Spanish) is a lovely combination of yellow fin tuna, lifted by habanero citrus, jicama, red onion, coriander and avocado. The dish blends together a healthy mix of fats, proteins and fibres and, as tuna is low-fat and low in calories, you can (Mexican) wave away any fears about disrupting your diet here.
Dhs45. Open daily noon-4pm, 6pm-1am. Park Inn by Radisson Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 2000).

Baked sea bass at Aquarium
It’s easy to get hooked on the atmosphere of this snazzy seafood spot on the glittering Yas Marina stretch. You can enjoy a feast without counting every last calorie by plumping for the baked sea bass. It is marinated and baked until golden and served on a canape of steamed vegetables and carrot purée. This is a mouth-watering meal that is low on calories and full of protein and essential vitamins.
Dhs139. Open Sat-Wed noon-1.30am; Thu-Fri noon-2am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0007).

Chia pudding at Re:Fuel
If you don’t believe it’s possible to enjoy healthy food, well the proof is in the pudding. Gourmet spot Re:Fuel has crafted a chia dessert that’s easy on the wallet as well as the waistline. The bargain Dhs16 dessert has a host of wholesome ingredients, including coconut milk, fresh berries, natural honey and shredded coconut, along with those chia seeds, which have a raft of health benefits including helping digestion, building muscles, aiding your heart and dental health and even improving your skin.
Dhs16. Open 24 hours, daily. Aloft Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (02 654 5125).

Detox salad at Nahaam
Clean living never tasted so good. Nahaam takes a healthy salad to the next level, with nutritious ingredients such as charred kale, fresh greens, avocado and edamame and feta cheese all lovingly mixed up with green peas, pickled radicchio and yoghurt dressing. The dish is packed with plenty of greens and delicious dairy, offering good sources of fibre and protein in a dish that is filling enough to help get you through your day.
Dhs60. Open daily 11am-3pm. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, West Corniche (02 811 5894).

Egg avocado at Fifth Street Café
Stay en route for a healthier way of life by stopping by this cozy café. This nutritious and delicious dish is crafted using a whole egg, which is poached, plus crushed avocado, arugula, cottage cheese, tomato and extra virgin oil and sliced brown bread. Egg whites are full of protein and egg yolks are a great source of natural fats, while avocado contains vitamins vital for the human body. Get your day off to a cracking start.
Dhs50. Open 6am-midnight. Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street
(02 698 2222).


Hot smoked salmon salad at Café 302
If you have got a salad day planned, then fit Café 302 into your schedule. The laid-back hangout at Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana has lots of healthy choices on the menu, perfect for those counting their dirhams as well as their calories. The hot smoked salmon salad packs in plenty of flavour, too, with asparagus, baby gems, boiled egg, pickled red onions, all brought together with a zesty citrus dressing. The salmon is packed to the brim with protein and vitamins, while the asparagus aids digestion.
Open daily 6am-11pm. Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Fatima Bint Mubarak Street, Al Markiziya (02 610 6666).

Kale and blueberry salad at Cooper’s

Cooper’s is one of our favourite haunts – and not just because it’s right on the doorstep of our offices here at Time Out. But while we love its marathon happy hour, buzzing atmosphere and quality pub grub, we’ve never really thought it of as a place to step up your health regime. However, the kale and blueberry salad has given us plenty of food for thought. The power salad is loaded with nutritious ingredients, such as orange-infused carrots, sunflower seeds and roasted sweet potatoes, along with kale and blueberries. Kale is low in calories and high in fibre, while blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among any food group. Nobody can complain about us spending too long at the pub now (as long as we don’t pull a sickie the next day of course).
Dhs45. Open daily noon-2.30am. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Park area (02 657 3325).

Kale and quinoa salad at Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
Kale and quinoa together? Where can you go wrong? The answer is you can’t –especially when the dish is served up by the team at swanky American-style restaurant, Caramel. Wrap your fork around fresh curly kale, quinoa, almond flakes, Kenya beans, seedless red grapes, grated parmesan cheese and much more. The main ingredient of kale is high in antioxidants is an excellent source of Vitamin C and helps to lower cholesterol. It’s great when you are on a diet but even if not, the rich array of flavours mean you really shouldn’t be dodging salads any longer.
Dhs55. Open Sat-Wed 5pm-2am; Thu-Fri 5pm-3am. The Collection, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island (02 678 3344).

Lentils salad at La Petite Maison
If a visit to classy culinary newcomer La Petite Maison is high on the New Year agenda, you don’t even have to break the diet (or the bank) to do so. As you’d expect from one of the most highly regarded restaurant names in the UAE, this isn’t just your bog-standard salad. The lentil salad is a carnival of flavours, including burnt cherry tomatoes, red onions, olive oil vinaigrette, chillies and apples. The lentils don’t get lost in the mix, either. Plus they are a nutritional powerhouse, offering lots of essential nutrients that benefit your health, being a good source of iron as well as folate and magnesium, which contribute to a healthy heart.
Dhs55. Open daily noon-3.30pm; 7pm-11.30pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 692 9600).

Marinated sea bass carpaccio with grapefruit and kumqat at Roberto’s
Just because you are on a health kick it doesn’t mean you can’t visit a top-class restaurant. Stylish Italian eatery Roberto’s is serving up a superb sea bass fillet that has all the ingredients for a wholesome dining experience. The bass has plenty of raw appeal as, because it hasn’t been cooked, it still has its full protein structure, plus citrus is a natural antioxidant. The fish is complemented by grapefruit, kumquat, lemon gel, yuzu pearl, red radish, vene cress and mint oil. It sounds like the catch of the day to us.
Dhs83. Open daily noon-3am. Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 627 9009).

Pan fried salmon at Filini Garden
The capital’s coolest new al fresco spot has proved a breath of fresh air for Abu Dhabi’s dining scene and a visit here is good for your health as well as your vibe. Soak up the lively atmosphere and order the pan fried salmon, with fennel, sundried tomatoes, green beans and saffron sauce. As well as bringing plenty of flavour to the table, salmon is also really good for you. It is a high-fat fish, which might not sound great for your health, but most of them are heart-healthy fats so you will boost your wellbeing with every bite.
Dhs125. Open Sun-Wed 5pm-1am; Thu 5pm-3am; Fri noon-3am. Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi Yas Island (02 656 2000).

Poached egg on asparagus at The Lounge
If it’s time to ‘putt’ up or shut when it comes to your New Year health drive, swing on by to The Lounge at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa. Along with lovely views of the plush greens, you can tuck into poached egg on asparagus, a pleasant plate also boasting snap peas and shiitake mushroom with lemon zest and parsley sprinkled on top.
Dhs80. Open daily 7am-11pm. The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Sas Al Nakhl (02 616 9999).

Poached eggs with avocado at The Coffee Club
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so make sure you do it right. The lovely eggs are laid on toasted ciabatta, with guacamole, veal bacon, roasted tomatoes, rocket and pistachios added to the plate to make for a mouth-watering morning meal. The dish is also rich in health fat, thanks to the addition of avocado. What a way to start the day.
Dhs49. Various locations, including Unit 3, Al Bateen Wharf Retail and East Marina, Al Bateen: Open daily 7.30am-11pm (02 222 1266).

Poached organic salmon at Urban Kitchen
This meal is good for you from the first forkful to the last bite. The poached salmon – full of omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of vitamins, potassium and selenium – is accompanied by black rice, which contains Vitamin E and a vital antioxidant that is helpful in maintaining good eyesight and skin, as well as carrot orange mousseline. This is a treat for your whole body, not just the palate.
Dhs80. Open daily 6.30am-10pm. Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, Al Muroor Road (02 698 8137).

Pomelo salad at Cho Gao Marina Walk
The second Cho Gao restaurant in the city should be high on your culinary must-list when it comes to a healthy feed. The pomelo salad is a carnival of colours and flavours, with the juicy citrus food combining well with a wealth of tastes including boiled chicken julienne, shrimps, papaya sauce, chilli jam and crushed peanuts. The next time someone tells you salads are dull, take them here.
Dhs48. Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street (02 666 6888).

Quinoa biryani at Biryani Pot
As you can expect from the restaurant name, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to biryani, including a health-conscious take on the dish. The quinoa biryani (which is served up as a vegetarian or meat option) features organic quinoa, plus a mixture of vegetables and your choice of chicken, lamb, prawns or veggies, cooked up in a traditional clay pot, using organic grain. This a light take on the authentic dish, without the heaviness of rice.
Dhs44 (vegetarian), Dhs54 (chicken), Dhs60 (lamb), Dhs66 (prawn). Various locations, including The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 676 6555).

Quinoa salad at The Forge
It’s not just a great steak that is on the menu at this refined Ritz-Carlton restaurant, it does a mean salad too. This quinoa option, which is also entirely vegan, brings together some of the healthiest ingredients around in one pretty package. From the gluten-free red quinoa, high in protein and all nine essential amino acids, to the calcium-rich beetroot and vitamin-filled grapefruit, there are no shortage of health benefits to tucking into this meal. Plus, let’s not forget how good it tastes and the fine setting you can enjoy at one of the city’s top hotels.
Dhs45. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-11pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta (02 818 8282).

Quinoa, verdure saltate e anacardi at Café Milano
Join the trendy set at the Four Seasons Hotel’s super cool Café Milano for a super salad with an extra sprinkling of Italian style. Quinoa is joined by sautéed vegetables and cashews and dressed with a touch of extra virgin olive oil produced in Tuscany using traditional techniques where it is first cold pressed and cultivated by hand. Gluten-free quinoa has double the protein content of rice, while the cashews are filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s never been more fashionable to get in shape at the winner of our Best Italian restaurant.
Dhs60. Open Sat-Wed noon-11.30pm; Thu-Fri noon-12.30am. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2630).

Raw papaya salad at Cho Gao
Salads are alwaysa good when you're trying to be healhty aren’t they? Enjoy a fresh, zingy take with an Asian flavour at Cho Gao. The raw green papaya salad is topped off with tomatoes, fresh beans, carrots, roasted peanuts and a zesty chili lime dressing that packs an extra punch. The papaya plant is filled with antioxidants and anti-cancer properties so you will feel in rude health while enjoying a light and flavoursome meal.
Dhs43. Open daily noon-1am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohamed Street (02 616 6149).

Salmon pesto at Carluccio’s
Enjoy seafood, Italian-style, at the globally renowned Carluccio’s. Salmon is always a healthy option and it is even better for you here, as the piece of fish is grilled alongside the vegetables, retaining flavour and nutrition. The fregola pasta is oven toasted rather than fried and the home made basil pesto uses Italian extra virgin olive oil. You won’t need to worry about piling on the pounds and the substantial feed won’t shed too many dirhams, either. We doff our caps to that late, great Italian.
Dhs86. Various locations, including Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Salam Street: Open Sat-Wed 9am-11pm; Thu-Fri 9am-midnight (02 641 2231).

Salmon roe and avocado temaki at 99 Sushi Bar
One of the newest additions to the ever-growing roster of restaurants on Al Maryah Island, 99 Sushi Bar has already made a massive impression with capital foodie fans and scooped the Best Newcomer gong at our 2017 restaurant awards. The innovative array of Japanese dishes contain a number of healthy options, too, including the salmon roe and avocado temaki. The delicate fish eggs are rich sources of vitamin B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain function and a healthy heart. Eating here really is a smart choice.
Dhs65. Open Sun-Wed noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm; Thu-Fri noon-3.30pm, 7.30pm-12.30am. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 672 3333).

Scottish smoked salmon salad at Belgian Café Yas Island
A Scottish dish at a Belgian-inspired restaurant in the Middle East? There is certainly an international flavour at play at this Yas Island favourite. The Scottish smoked salmon is spruced up with rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, red onion, horseradish mayo and syrup de liege (a Belgian jam) and served with rye bread. It’s a super healthy meal all-round and a great reason to while away an hour or two on Yas Island.
Dhs75. Open daily noon-2am. Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 2000).

Steamed sea bass at KOI
Low in calories and high on flavour is a culinary combination that we all strive for – and the team at stylish Saadiyat Island spot KOI have managed to unlock the code.
The steamed sea bass with Japanese rice grape, which contains ginger, leeks, fresh coriander, kombu crisps and a soy broth, is a shining example of the restaurant’s take on traditional Japanese cuisine, served with a Californian twist, and it’s good for you too. Sea bass is low in calories and contains large levels of selenium, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, helping to reduce the chances of cardiovascular conditions, blood pressure and cholesterol. As it is a steamed dish, the cooking process involves zero percent fat. The chances are slim that you won’t be impressed by this meal.
Dhs165. Open Sat-Wed 6.30pm-1am; Thu 6.30pm-2am; Fri 12.30pm-4pm (brunch), 6.30pm-2am. The Collection, The St.Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island (02 678 3334).

Tamba salad at Tamba
Tamba was deservedly crowned as best Indian restaurant in the capital in our recent Restaurant awards thanks to its eclectic menu of tastes putting a fresh twist on Indian cuisine. The venue likes to march to its own beat, so don’t be surprised to find a hearty salad on the menu here. The Tamba salad is crammed with refreshing watermelon, arugula, tomato chutney and cheese snow. The dish is full of fruits and greens packed with antioxidants. Spice up your diet by taking a trip to Tamba.
Dhs48. Open Sun-Thu noon-1am; Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street (02 672 8888).

Tagliata di tonno at Spaccanapoli
The name of this restaurant may be a mouthful but you won’t feel you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. The tagliata di tonno is a seared tuna steak with roasted vegetables cooked up in a balsamic vinegar reduction. There are lots of health perks on your plate as tuna is high in protein and good for the heart, while balsamic vinegar also helps to protect the body from heart diseases and cancer.
Dhs114. Open daily noon-11pm. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohamed Street (02 616 6261).

Tomato and eggplant salad at Zuma
We always like a reason to stop by at one of the capital’s very best restaurants, so the chance of a healthy bite at Japanese big-hitter Zuma is too good to turn down. East meets west in this delicate dish, comprised of high quality Italian tomatoes and aubergine, which is slow cooked by the talented team of chefs on a robata grill. The salad is capped off with ginger and spring onion dressing with a dash of Maldon sea salt and black pepper. Aubergines and tomatoes both contain a wealth of vital vitamins, while the salad as a whole is a low-calorie treat.
Dhs50. Open Sat-Wed noon-3.30pm, 7pm-midnight; Thu noon-3.30pm, 7pm-1am; Fri noon-4.30pm (brunch), 7pm-1am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Traders cobb salad at Afyä
This international eatery serves up great tastes from all over the globe, including this traditional Cobb salad. The trusty favourite is a lovingly crafted blend of grilled chicken, with blue cheese, tomato, spring onion and boiled egg, served with green lettuce. It contains vitamins and carbohydrates and the whole, filling dish comes in at just 420 calories.
Dhs55. Open Sun-Thu 12.30pm-3pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm; Fri noon-4pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm. Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri (02 509 8555).

Trio melon and goat cheese salad at Frangipani
You are likely to feel a lot better about yourself as soon as you settle down in this beachside restaurant on the idyllic Nurai Island. If the chilled-out vibes and beautiful vibes aren’t enough to perk you up, this rejuvenating combination of sweet melon, water melon and rock melon, mixed with goat cheese and black berries topped with water cress will surely do the trick. It’s light, refreshing, full of vitamins and one of many reasons why Frangipani is such a favourite of ours.
Dhs70. Open daily 7.30am-10.30pm. Nurai Island Abu Dhabi (02 506 6222).

Vasco’s salad at Vasco
Okay, so plumping for a salad can get a bit boring when you are on a health kick but, trust us, this isn’t any standard salad. Vasco’s special creation is nice and light, but is still loaded with nutritious goodness. The ‘bowl’ lot of good is filled with mixed lettuce, avocado and tomatoes, which are sprinkled with a shallot vinegar dressing. Not only is it really tasty, but the avocado used is high in potassium, helps with digestion and reduces high cholesterol in the body. Now that’s got to be good for you, right?
Dhs55. Open daily noon-3.30pm; 7pm-11pm. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 692 4247).

Vegan cake at SugerMoo
Let them eat cake. No, really, what is the harm. When we were drawing up our hopes for the New Year we had world peace and flying cars on there, obviously, but a super healthy sweet treat was right at the top. We don’t need to dream any longer, thanks to the good folk at SugarMoo. They have come up with a scrumptious vegan cake – with no dairy, eggs or butter – which tastes just like a chocolate brownie. Filled with chocolate, soy and fresh berries – and missing the extra ingredient of guilt – we might not just have an extra birthday so we can order it again.
Dhs200. Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Yas Mall, Yas Island (800 78427).

Velocity salad at Velocity
Now you might not think a sports bar is the best place to meet your health goals, but you’ll quickly change your mind after tucking into Velocity’s signature salad. The nutritious dish comes complete with mint, coriander, yellow and red watermelon, feta cheese and a refreshing mint dressing. The dairy products are rich in calcium, while the watermelons help to control high blood pressure and can even help your eyesight. Get on target for a healthier future while you catch a match.
Dhs65. Open Sun-Wed 4pm-2am; Thu-Fri noon-3am; Sat noon-2am. Marriott Hotel Downtown, Abu Dhabi (02 304 7777).

Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns at Hoi An
Do you even give a passing thought to your kidneys when you are choosing a meal? What about your lungs or your spleen? Well, even if you don’t, you can look after your self by paying a visit to one of the city’s best Vietnamese restaurants. The Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns are such a body booster as they contain elements of sour, salty, spicy, bitter and sweet flavours which are essential to our main organs. The dish also features fresh organic vegetables along with tasty prawns, chilli, lemon juice, sea salt and chicken.
Dhs48. Open daily 6pm-11.30pm. Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, Khor Al Maqta (02 509 8555).

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