Being on a diet can be tough. It’s hard to stick to a healthy nutrition plan when your friends are asking you to go out for dinner and drinks. You don’t want to feel like you’re missing out but then you have to be the awkward, fussy person who won’t just settle for a trip to Pizza Express. I am kicking my 2017 off with a return to my three week shred – a strict nutrition plan designed to detoxify after Christmas and break all those bad habits I got into. When I got invited out by intu Eldon Square to try their new restaurants, I thought I’d have to endure a night of serious FOMO. But luckily for me, the brief was to prove that eating out can still be healthy. So is it possible to stick to your diet when eating out?
Well in a word, yes!
We headed to Giraffe – a restaurant that describes itself as a World Kitchen, with a great balanced menu to satisfy even the fussiest of dieters. Giraffe was the perfect spot for us to grab a healthy dinner. Their menu is varied and there are plenty of options. In the restaurant itself, you can see all the meals being cooked from scratch and many of them are made with fresh, healthy ingredients.
The lovely team at Giraffe gave us a super smoothie making masterclass, which was ideal for me given I’ve just bought myself a Breville Blender. We made and tried a whole range of drinks, including Ginger Blast, Giddy Giraffe and the Hippy Hippy Shake. All absolutely delicious, but all full of sugar from the fruit. I know, I know, I sound like the worst party pooper ever – I can hear your eyes rolling – but hear me out!
Most of the time, eating fruit in a delicious smoothie wouldn’t bother me because it’s not something I eat every day and it’s also a much more nutritious choice than a can of Coke! But given I’m on my three week shred, I opted for the Green Canyon, which is made with kale, spinach, banana, apple juice and ice. I really liked it; even though it tastes of vegetables, it has a nice sweet hit from the apple and banana and is thick and slushy.
I opted for edamame beans (£3.95) and chicken yaki gyoza (£5.95) for a starter while my friend Sarah picked halloumi skewers (£4.50).
The gyoza were delicious – six crispy, hot bites of chicken and vegetables, served with a fruity and spicy sweet chilli sauce. I would definitely recommend these and they make a great sharing dish.
The edamame weren’t quite as big a hit with me. I like my edamame really salty and crisp – soggy beans are the worst. Giraffe’s are served with chilli and garlic in oil. The chilli and garlic tasted good but I just couldn’t get into the oily texture.
There were quite a few main menu options that I liked the look of – the vegetarian aubergine looked great, as did the burrito, katsu curry, the chipotle chicken and ALL of the brunch options (served until 5pm!). Lots of the meals fitted the bill of lean meat, lots of vegetables and a smaller portion of carbs. I particularly liked the look of the San Fran super salad with chicken (£8.95) but I had salad for lunch and wanted something hot.
Sarah and I both went for the blackened salmon (£14.50) – a spice crusted salmon fillet served with corn on the cob, a mango salad and rice with beans.
The salad was fruity and crisp, the corn on the cob was crunchy and sweet and the blackened salmon tasted just perfect with the blend of spices on the skin. Our server had advised us to eat the skin, as apparently a lot of people just leave it, but without it, I think the dish might have been a bit bland.
On my three week shred, I’m not allowed any sugar, so as delicious as the desserts looked, I had to resist. Instead I opted for a mint tea. I was pleased to see it was made with fresh mint leaves as well as a tea bag and it tasted strongly of mint.
If you’ve got dietary issues like me (lactose intolerant), my husband (allergic to nuts) and my friend Sarah (coeliac), then Giraffe has a really handy tool to help you see what exactly you can eat on the menu. We were given this to look at on a tablet and it made it really easy to see at a glance what was safe for us to pick. AND you can also check it out before you go – just click here.
I think Giraffe was the perfect pick for us to prove that you can eat healthy when you eat out.
Have you ever been to Giraffe? Do you fancy a trip now?
intu Eldon Square kindly paid for our meals but all my thoughts about them are my own.
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