Mumbai Food: Nutritionist Karishma Chawla decodes health cafe in BKC
Nutritionist Karishma Chawla decodes the well-curated menu of a newly opened health cafe in BKC
Mumbai is brimming with health cafes. So, when we heard that Pune's Sante Spa Cuisine is setting up shop in Bandra Kurla Complex, we asked nutrition consultant Karishma Chawla to join us for lunch. Done up in white and moss green, the interiors feature lamps made from cardboard. It has a zen-like ambience, and the menu is extensive with something for vegetarians, vegans and those on a gluten-free diet.
Upma of quinoa and broccoli
"There are two things to consider when you eat out: avoid the breadbasket, unless you are mindfully choosing to eat it," Chawla says scanning the menu. "Look here, you have choices like oat rolls with multigrain, but it could also have whole wheat with bread flour [The difference between bread flour and all-purpose flour is the amount of protein-gluten]. Note, the calories will be similar, but the insulin spike will be different. You will be able to arrest blood glucose level and the damage will be less," she says.
A health cafe offers better options compared to a typical restaurant, but making a choice isn't easy. "Cottage cheese and tofu are intelligent choices. Protein in soya is not as good as cottage cheese but the fat is better, hence opt for tofu. Men should consume this sparingly due to phytoestrogens (female hormones). In a place like this, you can opt for complex carbs like ragi, quinoa and brown rice," she suggests.
The Mumbai professional on-the-go hardly has time to think about food, one could admit. "The ingredients in the menu are fantastic. It helps though, to go with someone who knows about it or ask the chef. Whatever is cooked in the house is more authentic," she says, as we place our order.
The aromatic steam from the upma of quinoa and broccoli (R300) promises a good bite and tastes like a masaledar roadside egg bhurjee — only healthier and cooked in olive oil. It has a side of crunchy lettuce drizzled with a lemony vinaigrette sprinkled with flax and pumpkin seeds, making it power-packed.
But, it is too oily, and greases our lips. Seeds are healthy fats, and the ingredients are all great with a low glycemic level [how they affect blood sugar level]. The upma has a good binding, and on asking our server, we learn it has additional multigrain atta. "This is misleading as it is not mentioned anywhere on the menu and it increases your starch intake," Chawla points out.
We order the farm fresh pizza (R530) which is ragi-based and ask for the cheese to be replaced with paneer. "This has natural flavours. The zucchini and olives contain good carbs," she adds. We ask our server if the base is pure ragi and after insisting learn that it has rice flour, too.
The tofu ratatouille (R560) —which is served with a side of brown rice and a vegetable stew of tangy tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, micro herbs cooked in olive oil, is a stellar dish. We wash the gluten-free and vegan dish with holistic (R210), a light drink of carrot, celery, ginger, and turmeric pepper. Chawla says it works well for the immune system. Naturally sweet, we give it a thumbs up. "This is a well-balanced drink," Chawla smiles.
We end the meal with a jaggery caramel mud cake (R220). "Jaggery is good sugar, but it is still sugar," Chawla warns us, as we order the gooey surprise. The whole-wheat flour cake is dense, and drizzled with a creamy caramel sweeter than jaggery. We learn that it is spiked with khandsari (unprocessed sugar from cane syrup) and we dig in, guilt free.
While you choose
Smoothie bowls: Always opt for greens, almond, walnut or avocado over cream for fat. TIP: the longer the ingredient list, more the culprits.
Activated charcoal: It has therapeutic properties and prevents gas and bloating in isolated form and proper dosage. With other ingredients, its absorption rate in the body varies. Of course, it is still a healthy ingredient.
Quantity: For a balanced meal, pick a veggie and soup, or a veggie and salad. Opt for simpler dishes like a roasted garlic mushroom that has high amount of anti-oxidants. Everything else will have butter, fat or some kind of carb.
Dressing: Always on the side.
Desserts: Follow a three-bite rule, and share!
Chocolate: Check the percentage of dark chocolate. About, 75 to 80 per cent is fine. But the rest is sugar, remember.
At: First International Financial Centre, G Block, BKC, Bandra East.
Time: 11 am to 11 pm
Health meter: 6.5/10
Sante Spa Cuisine didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.
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