Eat Like An A-Lister

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / Apr 18 2016 / 17:51 PM

You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, and with today’s hectic lifstyles it’s all too easy to adopt poor nutritional habits. That’s all set to change with a new slew of meal plans that are the equivalent of having your own personal chef and nutritionist on hand round the clock. Bazaar road-tests the best...

Eat Like An A-Lister
Sweet potato waffle with raspberry and coconut yogurt, poached plums, fresh berries, mint and granola from Love Food. Big plate, Dhs325; small plate, Dhs225; napkin ring, Dhs450 for a set of four; glass, Dhs550, MacKenzie-Childs, all at Bloomingdale’s Home

NOURISHING DUBAI: The Precision Nutrition

Louise Nichol, Editor-in-Chief

Jeffrey Zorn, the founder of Nourishing Dubai, is the only man I trust with my nutrition. Why? Because Jeff is incredibly passionate and exceptionally informed about this stuff and Nourishing – the ‘pegan’, a combination of paleo and vegan, meal delivery service he founded a year ago – is the best on the market in my opinion. “If we wouldn’t eat it ourselves, we won’t serve it,” he promises. Gluten-free, dairy-free, organic and locally sourced, nothing goes into a Nourishing Dubai dish that contains more than one ingredient. It is entirely unprocessed. The company even makes its own nut-based cheeses; incredible in its legendary lasagne. 
Nourishing Dubai’s paleo chicken Milanese: pecan-crusted chicken breast served over baby spinach leaves, with cherry tomatoes, beetroot sprouts and hearts of palm. Plate, Dhs375, Lunares at Bloomingdale’s Home
“A few pillars of the UAE diet are wrong,” Jeff explains of his motivation to launch Nourishing. “The reliance on fast food, the sheer expense involved in buying high-quality produce, the popularity of ‘low fat’ (i.e. more processed) foods, the high intake of carbs and sugar.” With people of over 70 different nationalities on the plan, he is aware that sugar addiction blights many cultures’ eating habits and admits, “We have our work cut out for us to help heal these diets.”
The plan offers three tiers of protein servings, adjusted to a client’s activity levels and hunger. “Some people come to us and say, ‘I need to lose 10 kilos ahead of a wedding in three months. We work with them on a smaller portion of protein and more vegetables to get them to their goal,” says Jeff, revealing that Nourishing Dubai has achieved exceptional weight loss success, including a CrossFit athlete who shed 30kgs and a new mother who finally shifted the last stubborn three kilos. “Everyone who has been looking for weight loss has lost weight in the first month,” Jeff says.
“When you cut gluten and dairy out of your diet, you drop weight in inflammation that you’ve been carrying around. Then the real weight begins to come off.”
A typical day begins with a protein-heavy, often meat-based breakfast to set up your hormonal profile for the rest of the day. “Consider breakfast as fuel-up time,” Jeff says, “Want to be full through the morning and afternoon and not face an afternoon slump or sugar craving? Protein will curb that. A mix of good fats and protein are the best combatant to sugar, so get out of the mind-set that you can only have cereal or yoghurt for breakfast.” Twice a week, Nourishing serves a vegan breakfast such as baked banana oats with almond butter, pumpkin waffles served with cashew cream or an acai bowl where berries are whirled together with matcha, maca and lucuma powders to create a nutritional powerhouse. 
Lunch and dinner highlights include classic shepherd’s pie, superfood salads, fish and chips (complete with dairy-free creamy tartar sauce), steak tacos and sesame beef. The beef short ribs glazed in Nourishing’s honey BBQ sauce are, quite frankly, epic. “This dish gets us at least 20 thank you messages a month,” Jeffrey laughs. All meat is grass-fed, “It would make no sense for us to have a certified gluten-free kitchen only to serve grain-fed meat,” Jeff explains.
Spinach and almond tacos with probiotic pickled onions, fresh guacamole and grilled organic chicken. Baking dish, Dhs60, Revol at Bloomingdale’s Home
Nourishing uses no breads, no ready-made ingredients, no rice (other than an organic risotto arborio that is served once a month). It crafts its own pastry flour, made up of rice flours plus some secret superfood ingredients, and makes its own granola. Noodles and rice are substituted with nutritionally superior replacements such as sweet potato noodles and broccoli rice. “Name a vegetable and we have spiralised it,” Jeff declares. Unlike competitors, Nourishing uses no cheap gluten substitutes such as fillers, corn or maize flour. Artificial sweeteners and refined sugars are totally banned, and to boost probiotic consumption the kitchen ferments its own ingredients. No recipes are repeated over a four-week period  and clients have every Friday off to enjoy a cheat day.
With cooking way down the list of my priorities, Nourishing enables me to prioritise nutrition, while making life exceptionally easy – and delicious. My husband, who won’t eat anything that he thinks is ‘healthy’ is also on the plan and loves it. In us, Jeff has customers for life. Literally.
Need to know: A trial week (three meals a day for six days) costs Dhs1,650. A month’s package of 24 days (six days a week for four weeks) costs Dhs5,500. There is a refundable Dhs250 deposit for the cool bag. To pause or resume the servce, 48 hours’ notice is required.

LOVE FOOD: The Paleo Plan 

Maddison Glendinning, Digital & Features Editor

After a series of stomach-related issues, I decided to get a food intolerances test earlier this year. When the results came back, the test suggested I had a high intolerance to nuts, wheat and dairy (being a bread, Nutella and cheese lover, this was somewhat devastating). My doctor suggested I eliminate the offending items to determine whether or not there was a change in my wellbeing. This is where Love Food’s paleo-inspired meal option, Lifestyle 5, came into play.
The plan offers five meals a day (three main meals and two snacks), all of which are already gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free. At sign-up, I communicated my intolerances to the team, who promised that altering the dishes to ensure they wouldn’t contain any nuts, wheat or dairy, wouldn’t be a problem. In total, registration took about 10 minutes, during which I also elected my preferred delivery time and location. 
Tuna niçoise with green beans, sweet potato, capers, semi -dried tomato, olives, dill, white anchovies, baby cos and apple cider aioli. Plate, Dhs80, Jasper Conran at Wedgwood at Bloomingdale's Home
From day one, the food was as much a feast for my stomach, as it was for my eyes. Beautifully presented, the dishes were bursting with flavour and freshness. Each dish comes labelled with instructions on what meal is inside, when and how to enjoy it and heating times (if applicable). There’s also a QR code that allows consumers to retrieve more information about the specific ingredients in the meal. In addition to the meals, Love Food also includes three complimentary flavoured waters each day. 
Over the five days, standout dishes included the lamb with  broccoli raab, green beans, roasted baby carrots and sweet potato mash, the Italian meatballs with a rich, romesco sauce served with roasted onion, celeriac and spinach and the hearty breakfast bowl, which included sausage, tomato and beef bacon, and felt like a cheat meal, without actually being one. 
Beef bibimbap served with pickled carrot, sautéed kale, broccoli raab, bean sprouts, sesame and chilli 
At the end of the week, I had an unmistakable spring in my step, feeling healthier, lighter and, most importantly, well. Despite my tendency to be a picky eater, there wasn’t one meal I didn’t wholeheartedly enjoy, and though the meals were free from certain ingredients, I never felt as though I was missing out on anything. Come day five I was asking, “Nutella, who?”
Need to know: Love Food is a Dubai-based meal delivery service, offering three plans: Vitality, Lifestyle, Power, in either three or five meals-a-day options. The Lifestyle 5 (five meals) package starts from Dhs930 per week, with a one-off, refundable Dhs1,000 security deposit for containers.

ESSENTIALLY: The Mum-To-Be Meal Plan

Emily Baxter, Deputy Editor

When I found out I was expecting, my initial reaction was to eat everything in the sight – three packets of crisps a day? Don’t judge. But when I decided to shape up for 
my offspring’s sake, I wondered how to eat well, and plentifully, when pregnant. 
As a vegetarian who is terrible in the kitchen, the healthy-eating ethos of Essentially appealed to me on multiple levels; firstly, it’s not just your typical ‘salads and smoothies’ approach; it serves fresh, organic, vitamin-packed vegan food that promises to ramp up the daily nutritional intake needed for both me and bump; with a hot-line to both founder Wiebke Katsoudas and chef Kristin Fraser, that allows you to fire away with any questions regarding your meal plan. For example, how many calories should I have? May I have bigger portions? 
Parsnip noodles with lemon sage cream sauce with onion, apple, cider vinegar, sage, thyme, nutmeg and lemon zest, topped with marinated dehydrated mushrooms and coconut flakes on a bed of rocket leaves. Serving board, Dhs120, Sophie Conran for T&G at Bloomingdale's Home
They suggest a five-day Raw Food Meal Plan. “With its mix of cold pressed daily juices, and abundance of leafy greens, alongside treats such as raw vegan brownies or coconut lemon superfood balls, a pregnant woman can expect to feel nourished, energised, revitalised and balanced with minimised cravings and maximised satisfaction,” says Kristin. Rich in folic acid, iron, B12, Omega 3 fatty acids and phytonutrients, Wiebke says that “one day of the food programme contains more nourishment than most people consume in a week’s worth of food consumption.” Crunching the numbers, one bottle of Essentially’s green juice contains over 700 per cent of your recommended vitamin C intake. Impressive. 
Ingredients are all 100 per cent natural and organic, sourced locally from Green Heart Farms, who harvest every day for Essentially to ensure maximum freshness. A daily menu includes a morning juice, plus breakfast of either a smoothie, cranberry walnut scones or chia pudding, followed by pad thai or plant-based falafel mushroom burgers for lunch and dinner. 
Essentially’s scones with cashew cream cheese: almonds, dates, walnuts, apple, carrot, cranberries, almond flakes, flax with cashews, maple syrup and lemon juice. Plate, Dhs350 for a set of four, Michael Aram at Bloomingdale’s Home
For Wiebke, key dishes for a mum-to-be include “the Buddha bowls which have a variety of vegetables, as well as quinoa and chickpeas, topped with B12 nutritional yeast that gives a nice ‘cheesy’ touch.” Perfect for a cheese-lover intent on cutting down on cheddar intake.  
The result of the five-day plan, once Kristin kindly catered to my request for bigger portions, is a rather gratifying satiation, alongside the knowledge that every day I’m doing something good for my body and baby. I won’t say that cravings were gone for good, but the quality and variety of dishes kept my tastebuds on their toes. 
This isn’t dieting, it’s sensible eating of the most appetising order. With a combined belief that “counting calories is outdated and that we should be counting nutrients instead,” as per Wiebke and Kristin’s #FoodThatFeeds approach for Essentially, I am putty in their hands, having experienced first hand that plant-based meal plans for pregnant women do work, especially when they offer optimum and quality nutrition at a time when it really matters.
Essentially juices, from left: Cacao Cashew, Apple Lemonaid and Essential Green. Paddle, Dhs225, LSA at Bloomingdale's Home
Need to know: The Raw Food Meal Plan (three meals a day, plus juices and snacks) costs Dhs299 per day for a five-day programme, and is available in Dubai and close-surrounding areas.

HEALTHYOU: The Lean & Clean Diet

Katie Trotter, Creative Content Director

If life were more straightforward we would all have a primal attitude to food. Hungry equals eat. Full equals stop. It makes an annoying lot of sense. Reality, however, often differs. Enter HealthYou, a meal delivery plan loosely based on the foundations of the paleo diet, aka the caveman diet. I say loosely, as the main focus is on carbohydrate reduction and eliminating unhealthy fats, sugars and salt as a means to weight loss.
Grilled prawn skewers with pearl barley, pumpkin and green beans. Leaf (part of an arrangement) Dhs80, NDI. Plate, Dhs55, Jasper Conran at Wedgwood, all at Bloomingdale's Home
The main goal is to enhance metabolism function through intake of protein and healthy fats, which are included in each of your regular meals throughout the day. On signing up you will be assigned to a nutritionist who will design your HealthYou plan based on your weight loss or performance goals and dietary preferences.
Designed to achieve optimal fat burning, the weight loss plan restricts carbohydrates to between 60-100 grams per day and bases its meals around lean meats, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruit and healthy fats. The plan offers five meals a day (three main meals and two snacks), and although simple in flavour never feel repetitive. Favourites included overnight oats with blueberries, nuts and super seeds and cajun spiced blackened chicken with spiced buckwheat and red cabbage slaw.
Warrior Chia Pudding: Chia, vanilla cashew milk, mango, passion fruit blend, topped with trail mix, including almonds, cashews and sunflower seeds
This is a realistic food plan that stands by the phrase ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
Need to know: HealthYou meal delivery service, offers three plans: Athlete, Weightloss, Maintainance. The Weightloss package starts from Dhs650 for a five day rotation.
Prices approximate. Photography: Efraim Evidor. Styling: Tory Waller and Sima Maalouf. This article appears in the April issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia, on stands now