Paleo, cal, gluten,
New trends guide me to health,
My body is a temple.
There is no questioning the emergence of a global awareness when it comes to health, nutrition and better living - an awareness that has (thankfully or not, depending on your Facebook friend list) erupted into mainstream popularity. New trends in clean eating, diets that call for regimes beyond simple calorie counting, and a continuous stream of research that indicates 'perhaps eating products hosed in pesticides ain't the best idea' have all contributed to this phenomenon, followed (or perhaps matched) by the eateries, takeouts, restaurants and other dining establishments embracing it in their offerings.
While it is by no means the norm, there exist a great many undiscovered oases and well-known locations that either specialise in the healthy eating field, or have a particularly suitable ethos when it comes to making body-wise choices whilst grabbing a bite out. Some may surprise you, some you'll likely never heard of - but we can guarantee all have a delicious selection of things to gorge on that will leave you satisfied, yet lacking in lingering guilt.
And don't just take our word for it - to ensure a scientific and nutritionally sound approach for your A to Z of healthy eating in Auckland, we've teamed up with nutritionist Danijela Unkovich to provide honest advice on the good and the great when it comes to guilt-free eating in the SuperCity - from paleo to raw, from gluten-free to vegan, organic to whole-food and a whole plethora in between.
Summer’s just around the corner and if you're yet to implement a regular weekend expedition down to your local farmers market... you should. A perfect fit with every healthy eating ethos, farmers markets are a treasure trove of fresh quality produce, speciality products, raw juices, freshly made goodies, smoothies and more. No two farmers markets are the same – so bring a wallet full of loose coins and get ready to spend the morning wandering between the stalls being enticed by the different aromas. Luckily for you, Auckland is resplendent (finally got to use that word) when it comes to market locations, so you’re sure to find one nearby.
Suggested delicious healthy dish: Smoothies and fresh juices are a must - but don’t forget to stock up on all your fresh produce for the coming week.
Nutritionist thought: There are so many reasons I’m pro farmers markets - they’re great for sourcing (and supporting) locally grown produce, they're all about seasonally eating, their goods are often fresher and tastier (having not traveled halfway across the world to get your plate), and if you go towards the end of the day chances are you’ll score a nice little bargain.
Auckland-wide - Clevedon, Parnell, Britomart, Grey Lynn, Avondale and more. See our ten best markets feature for Concrete Playground's favourites.
A modern Ponsonby institution with health-fanatics and civilians alike, Bird on a Wire keeps it simple yet delicious serving up a medley of free-range rotisserie chickens, sandwiches and salads in fast-food style minus the nagging conscience. As every Rhythm and Vines shredder knows, chicken is the protein option of choice, and the team at this finger lickin' good store ensure you've got all the taste and serving options - from whole to quarter chickens in a variety of bastes, delicious salad and veggie additions, or a quick and easy filled roll (Korean BBQ or Jamaicans Jerk are a sure fire hit).
Why: Amatuer ornithologist (not really, but it sounded cool) and co-owner Ben Grant said, “We are all about handmade, high quality, real food takeaway. We believe that delicious food comes from quality produce and we want to provide an alternative for people who don’t want to feel guilty about eating out or getting a takeaway.”
Suggested delicious healthy dish: Any of their excellent salads, topped off with a reasonable amount of chicken.
Nutritionist thought: I love Bird on a Wire’s emphasis on nutritionally and ethically sourced products through their commitment to using only free-range chicken, and locally sourced ingredients where possible. Definitely a healthier takeaway alternative - my suggestion is to base your meal around one of their incredible colorful salads and accompany it with chicken for a healthy wholesome meal that's high in protein and nutrient-rich veggies.
234 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby (and a mini-version, Box of Bird, on Elliott St in the CBD)
Nestled away in the heart of Mt Albert; this cosy little cafe is full of personality. Scattered with retro antique furniture, flowers, patterned wall paper, mismatched fine china and a variety knickknacks, the décor immediately makes you feel like curling up on one of their antique armchairs and getting all snug and comfortable (preferably with one of their ridiculously good chai lattes). To only add to this air of cosiness, Cosset serves up home-style vegetarian and vegan dishes, with a wonderful selection of deliciously tempting sweet and savoury from both their cabinet and small kitchen menu (which has plenty of gluten-free options for those with allergies or intolerances). As for the coffee - Fairtrade organic Kokako, of course. Well worth the venture.
Why: Owner Kellie Gray says, “When it comes to our food we’re all about creating tasty fresh treats using the best ingredients. Fair-trade, sustainable, organic, local and seasonal all get the thumbs up from us. We offer the option of vegetarian dairy sides like milk, yoghurt, cream and butter but don’t use any dairy or animal products in our cooking. I’m inspired by my Grandmother who lives a very sustainable lifestyle, she's from an amazing generation of people that knew everything about self sufficient living."
Suggested delicious healthy dish: Garlic mushrooms on toast with baby spinach, pesto, avocado and vegan aioli.
Nutritionist thought: Cosset has a wonderful sustainability aspect to their café, through their aim in serving up fair trade, seasonal and organic food, while supporting and stocking a variety of brands with the same ethics too. A superb little vegan and vegetarian eatery, that will tempt those whether inclined to this way of eating or not.
A standout cafe in a neighborhood awash with options, Dear Jervois deserves to be at the top of your list. A modern fit-out complemented by a garden conservatory and street-side tables provide a great deal of space, but given its popularity you're likely to find it positively pumping - an atmosphere well earned given the quality of dining and ambiance. Whilst you might spy customers dining on exquisite looking waffles or burgers, stay strong myfitnesspalers, for the menu is chocka-block with health-conscious options. The salads are standout, with a bit of Korean flair available, and the addition of vegan cakery 'The Raw Kitchen' items to finish you off in style, and a range of super-food smoothies ensure all avenues of guilt-free delight are covered.
Why: Owner David Lee told us, "We at Dear Jervois want to offer wholesome dishes that please the palate and benefit the body. Using quality local ingredients, our menu boasts a number of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options."
Suggested delicious healthy dish: 'Be Good Vegan' salad with quinoa, brown rice, beetroot, kimchi, pumpkin, coriander sesame seeds, drizzled with cashew aioli.
Nutritionist thought: Dear Jervois offers a not only healthy, but utterly delicious, selection of gourmet cafe style dishes, with an array of gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, free-range, and vegetarian offerings on their menu. Their organic superfood smoothies and salads are a sure-fire win from a health point of view - being such gorgeous (literally, the presentation is incredible) combinations of nourishing ingredients, that have been carefully selected for both optimal taste and health.
An Auckland institution, Euro is fine-dining at its best - offering a quality experience for colleagues, first dates and in-laws (basically anyone in need of impressing). A high caliber of service is matched with an exquisite menu, however healthy eating was never much of a consideration... until recently. Marking their 15th anniversary, Simon Gault prepared a new spring menu that, in a world of Les Mills and vodka-sodas, is healthy while retaining the flavour innovation and deliciousness you know and love. For those of you unaccustomed to the health-kick, rest assured, Simon hasn't abandoned you - trust in him and your senses will thank you.
Why: In an interview with VIVA, Gault gave the following elevator pitch, "We've said goodbye to refined sugar, trans fat, gluten, high carbs, feeling bloated and food hangovers. I've been travelling and researching ingredients and techniques that keep my food full of flavour without the things that make it not so good for you. Your taste buds won't notice the difference, but your body will."
Nutritionist thought: I recently had the pleasure of sampling Euro’s incredible new health conscious menu, and it was the ultimate in healthy foodie fine-dining heaven. They have created a menu of deliciously decadent dishes that are, in their words (but in full agreeance), deceptively healthy. This new menu is devoid of refined sugars, gluten, high carbs, and trans fats, and instead focuses on fresh high quality produce, healthier fats and improved cooking techniques, the addition of both raw and vegan dishes, and even a completely separate vegetarian menu. You couldn’t fault it – delicious, healthy and creative.
Who could forget this classic - formed from a TV show centering on chef Michael Van de Elzen using his 25 years of experience in the kitchen to create healthier versions of our nation’s favourite takeaways - Food Truck Garage is simultaneously fast-food at its best, an incredibly high standard of taste and quality, and an ethos that shouts HEALTHY. Occupying an absolutely bustling area of the City Works Depot (seriously, time your visit well), the team serve up a range of burgers, salads and scandalously appetising side-dishes that are designed and prepared to be as good for you as fast food can be. Don't ask, just go. Go now.
Why: Co-owner Nick Ward riffs on the trucks direction, “Our idea is to make healthier versions of junk food favourites like burgers, fries, sodas and sundaes with less salt, less sugar and less fat, but no compromise on flavour. We use heaps of nutrient-dense vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds in all of our dishes, our buns are a special spelt-grain blend, our chips are seasoned with natural kelp, our drinks are sweetened with agave nectar and you won't find a deep fryer anywhere in sight.”
Suggested delicious healthy dish: Beefroot burger (beef, carrot and beetroot pattie) served BOWL with a Redergize salad.
Nutritionist thought: I love love LOVE healthier takes on classic junk food, and Food Truck Garage have mastered it to a fine art. Not only do their dishes taste incredible (take any health-spectacle friends here and show them the light), but their menu has also been put together in a way that is both nourishing and healthy through the use of nutrient-dense ingredients and carefully considered cooking practices.
90 Wellesley St West, CBD
Venture into the depths of North Shore Auckland and you'll find Grind, whose nutritionally minded menu is bound to attract health dwellers from far and wide. Stocking both a wide range of baked and raw goods in their cabinet, as well as a kitchen menu containing words like “live juices” and “LSA porridge” (the inner health nut within rejoices), this café is a healthy food joint that is indeed worth the trip. Simple and delightful, it's simply delightful.
Why: Grind owner Courtney Tuaa says, "With a passion for healthy living combined with experience in the fitness industry, we work to deliver and educate through nutritious, unrefined food. We create a range of salads, raw baking, nutritious breakfast options, smoothies and so much more. We have the knowledge to nourish everyone from those wanting a healthy option to the serious athlete."
Suggested delicious healthy dish: LSA porridge with banana and almonds, with 'the green grind' smoothie on the side (pineapple, banana, kale, spinach and spirulina).
Nutritionist thought: Grind aims to keep their menu free of refined sugar and gluten, and adopt a low carb and paleo approach to their food, so they'll cater to a wide variety of individual dietary approaches and preferences. Their menu is approachable and appealing, and I love their clear focus around using unrefined foods.
Located in an unobtrusive area of the city inside the Heritage Hotel off Queen Street, Hector's Restaurant deserves strong praise for their health-conscious direction - having a daily Raw breakfast/juice bar and a Friday-only Raw seasonal luncheon menu that is completely plant-based, suitable for vegan and vegetarians, and the best yet - absolutely delicious. Sitting at the base of a seven-story atrium and surrounded by palms, Hector's is literally an undiscovered oasis of health and delight that serves up complex fine-dining dishes that have to be experienced to be believed.
Why: “We have used a number of techniques such as preserving, pickling, compression, dehydration and sprouting to enhance the flavours of the raw ingredient,” says Heritage Auckland’s executive chef Jinu Abraham. “In 2010 we observed the international trend towards conscious cuisine and saw a great fit with our own philosophies so introduced our first plant-based menus.”
Suggested delicious healthy dish: From the Raw Luncheon menu, chilled soup of tomato essence accompanied by an avocado asparagus salad with black garlic on cashew ‘Parmesan’ toast followed by a main of blue agave glazed zucchini blossom with buckwheat cauliflower couscous and red pepper sauce.
Nutritionist thought: Hectors has put together an impressive health conscious menu that emphasises the complete use of nourishing plant-based ingredients, with additional methods and techniques to not only emphasise taste, but further enhance the nutrition and bioavailability of ingredients (sprouting etc). The menu is suitable for vegan and vegetarians, and is dairy and gluten free, so it caters for intolerances, allergies, or personal dietary preference. It's pretty unique to see a hotel restaurant with such a dedicated health focus in their cuisine - well done Hectors!
Inspired by the exotic flavours, tastes and cultural tones of the Near East and Mediterranean, Ima's provides a blend of menu items from across the region. Done in a delightfully classic family-style setting, you'll need to lock yourself into one of two seated dinner times (or do a lunch), embrace a menu that's as uncomplicated as it is divine and prepare yourself for a medley of exciting and spicily piquant aromas and taste-bud sensations. And don't forget to bring a friend or hanger on - with dinner dishes designed for sharing you won't want to experience this alone. A selection of mains bring to mind cooking styles like slow-braised and baked ensuring flavours are maximised, whilst the multi-side platter gives a mixture of tastes to suit every palate.
Why: Owner Yael Shochat tells us, "Our dinner menu at IMA derives from the tradition of Israeli family-style dining where once seated at a restaurant you are served a selection of small Mezze plates to share. We apply the same philosophy to our dinner service; carefully and lovingly crafting a set selection of salads, vegetables and rice designed to perfectly complement the meat or protein dish of your choice. Come share in the culinary experience and culture of the Middle East and Mediterranean with an emphasis on social gathering, celebration, fun and intense love and focus on fresh salads, vegetables, fruit and produce. IMA is the true home of the Mediterranean diet that has been shown to the most healthy way of eating."
Suggested delicious healthy dish: Sabich (an Israeli dish made with chickpeas, potatoes, eggplant, tahini and chilli) and their full dinner-menu side selection platter.
Nutritionist thought: The basis of Ima's dinner menu pairs a selection of high-protein main options (which can cater to vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters alike), with all dishes being completely free of gluten, and almost entirely free of dairy, with a sharing platter of flavoursome and nutrient rich salads. The Mediterranean cooking styles and ingredients used at Ima's is associated with being in low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fat and high in dietary fibre.