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The concept of specialty health food cafés is relatively new in Kolkata, but a few eateries have already made healthy eating fashionable in the city. These eateries are dishing out everything from pizzas and burgers to meat-filled tortilla wraps and sinful chocolate desserts, but it is all guilt-free and crafted with an eye for special dietary needs. The best part - these are great places to go if you are on a diet, but you do not have to be on a diet to eat at these places, because what they serve is delicious.
At Eat Good Food, owner Hena Nafis, one of the best known nutritionists in the city, has morphed healthy eating into a gourmet experience. The café opened its doors a few months ago and has been a rage since. There are three separate menus that cater to specific diet plans – high protein, low calorie and low glycaemic. So, there is grilled Atlantic salmon served with ricotta cheese balls for a protein-packed meal or the low calorie bell pepper rolls stuffed with cottage cheese, served on puddles of marinara sauce. The dessert section has everything from chocolate ganache and strawberry jello to cheesecake with a rich nut crust (and you thought you could not eat desserts on a diet) but the recipes are carefully designed to keep the calorie count in check.
Hop over to Cafe Pranah, pitched as a health and soul food café, where chef and owner Rahul Arora turns out five-flour tortilla wraps with fillings such as herbed roast chicken and bell peppers or chicken seekh kabab topped with salsa and mint and raw mango dressing. There is a selection of wholesome smoothies such as the Moroccan magic which has pomegranate, guava, orange, fresh mint and chilli or the mango basil cheesecake made with cream cheese, basil seeds, mangoes and oat cookies. Plus, a fantastic salad bar – you could create your own salads and top them with dressings such as yogurt pepper, olive, jalapeno or kasundi vinaigrette.
Or, head to the Mystic Yoga Cafe, an extension of the Mystic Yoga Studio on Camac Street that offers some great options. Their breakfast buffet includes everything from cereals served with pro-biotic yogurt, sprouts and mixed fruits and nuts, whole wheat and oatmeal pancakes, fresh fruits, and eggs (or whites) done your way. You could also opt for a protein rich hummus and vegetable wrap or a sandwich filled with eggs and sprouts lace with mustard and black pepper. If you want to settle for a salad, the heirloom tomatoes and smoked Bandel cheese with basil and warm balsamic reduction, is a good pick. They also have a wide selection of smoothies and fresh juices, each one for a specific health benefit.
Again, Protein Cafe in Salt Lake’s Sector 1 is dedicated to people on a high-protein diet. It is a takeaway joint with a protein rich menu. They make tortilla wraps with whey protein which you can stuff with chicken, paneer or vegetables. Plus there is grilled chicken with orange or lemon garlic sauce, brown rice tossed with chicken or vegetables and a hearty chicken stew on the menu. Plus, there are protein smoothies such as banana & oats and pineapple & chocolate that are rather filling.
Just Pressed on Shakespeare Sarani also offers a range of cold pressed fresh fruit juices (orange and pineapple) and interesting concoctions. So, there is soak, which has pineapple, celery, collard ginger, kale, spinach, cucumber and wheat grass, charge made with pineapple, apple, tulsi, turmeric, lemon and chia seeds. Grab a bottle on the go. Plus they have a particularly good fruit and nut trail mix of prunes, figs, cranberry, apricots, peanuts, almonds cashew nuts and raisins – a power packed snack.
Gone are the days when you were forced to chop on a bland salad while your company feasted on your favourite dishes. Go, eat out.
An independent journalist based out of Calcutta and a dedicated food enthusiast, she writes mostly about food and travel, and has worked and written for publications India Today, The Telegraph, Live Mint as also Lonely Planet India’s website. She also loves to experiment in her kitchen and runs a food blog – allthatsdelicious.com. But mostly she eats, frets about how much she eats and then eats some more.