Game over, ball burst, ’tis Christmas time no more. Hello January and all your accompanying good intentions. The Monday of months, it can be extremely hard to face into cold and dreary January without the comfort of a mulled wine or a breakfast mince pie. Harder still is the thought of eating rabbit food to get back on track after a very merry yuletide period, the ultimate come down.
We can all whip up a stir-fry or salad begrudgingly, but the joy of eating out shouldn’t be out of reach when we’re tightening our belts post blow out. Let’s flip the narrative and see January as a month full of delicious opportunities and seek out crave-worthy food with health-benefits as an added bonus. There is nothing on this list that will disappoint on the flavour scales, whether it is breakfast, lunch, an afternoon treat or dinner – your cravings can be satisfied without derailing your resolutions at these virtuous venues.
Meet Me in the Morning
This little café on Pleasants Street, just off Camden, has been open less than a year but has steadily gained a cult following. This is the perfect spot for a nourishing breakfast with friends, as the offerings here are simply based on organic wholefoods rather than being hit-you-over-the-head health-focused, meaning everyone will be able to order happily here.
Many dishes on the menu at Meet Me in the Morning make up the stuff of beautifying brekkie dreams, such as mounds of Eggs and Greens, oozing poached eggs with collard greens, kale and all the smug stuff and Rice Bowls with soy pickled mushrooms, wakame and shaved avocado.
One word for Cocu’s new brunch offering on Chatham Street. Obsessed. Candy coloured Acai Bowls topped with homemade granola crunch, Green Pea Pancakes with whipped feta and a ‘Plate of Eight‘ brimming with falafel, hummus and avocado – these are a few of my favourite things. I dare say worth getting out of bed for.
Something that feels a little naughty but is truly a friend with benefits, Protein Pancakes with Cocu Nutella are calling my name as we speak. Sip on a Syner-Chi Kombucha or a gorgeous green juice as you savour more-ish dishes so good its genuinely tough to believe there isn’t a catch. This is one brunch you can indulge in and feel virtuous about, what’s not to love?
Sprout & Co
With branches on Dawson and Mount Street, Sprout & Co have just opened the doors of their third eatery on Sir John Rogerson Quay. Sprout has been a go to lunch stop for the last year, with colourful Guacamole Bowls brimming with veggies and Sataysfied Turkey Bowls keeping hearty appetites at bay.
Pair this with one of their powerful cold-pressed juices, from Supa Green to Mr. Beattie and it is nigh on impossible to leave here without a serious energy kick. The exciting news is that their new Sprout Kitchen is serving up weekend brunch, so you can linger over some brand new dishes with Sprout’s signature healthy twist. Finish off your brunch with a Nutshed brownie and revel in the fact that healthy food needn’t be hellacious.
I almost fell up the stairs when I heard there was an eatery dedicated to healthy fare in the Powerscourt Centre, and the now established Counter Culture has recently moved to a new home on Mercer Street. Counter Culture is a great option for the simple fact that a salad there is actually a filling and delicious experience, not a soggy leaf in sight.
The Olympia Salad with hot smoked salmon, feta and grapes is brimming with flavour and good fats and the Turkey Avocado Salad comes with a side of addictive sweet potato fries, which you can totally pass off as a healthy indulgence! Follow this up with not just a sugar-free dessert option but an entire menu of guilt-free goodies and you’re on to a winner.
Without picking favourites, Alchemy has long been up the top of my go-to list, a safe bet where a seriously delicious and nourishing meal is guaranteed. My Grafton Street haven upstairs in the former BT2 is now sadly gone, but I can still get my Alchemy fix in their petite new Leeson Street premises, particularly good for picking up a takeaway feast.
Beef Kale Crack Salad is one of my all time favourite dishes, blushing slices of steak, steamed kale, sultanas and tahini dressing is a delicious combo beyond all reasonable explanation. The fact that it is brimming with iron, magnesium and protein is really just an added bonus. Add a side of collagen packed Bone Broth and you’ll be laughing all the way to eternal youth…almost! Handily, Alchemy’s sexy salads and stews are also available in Joe’s on Montague Street.
If you are taking your New Year’s resolution to get healthy super seriously why not pop out to Phoenix Park for a brisk walk (I won’t go as far as suggesting running!) followed by a virtuous lunch at Lo Cal Kitchen? The great thing about Lo Cal Kitchen is they have taken hearty comfort food everyone loves, like lasagne or a saucy chicken parmesan sub and made them more nutritious and less punishing on the waistline.
If salad just isn’t going to cut it (or if it is, they have some yummy options!) there’s definitely something to satisfy here. What’s more, Lo Cal Kitchen has just opened another branch on Pembroke Street, so you could skip the Phoenix Park walk, count shopping as cardio instead and pop in for a slice of Raw Snickers Pie…
If you want to be bang on trend, pop to the Cracked Nut on Camden Street to sample one of 2017’s unique arrivals – the “Smurf Latte”. Blue algae, said to be the most nutritious food on earth, gives the latte a bubblegum blue hue. Mixed with almond milk, ginger and lemon juice and agave with a sprinkle of candy pink beetroot powder, this is as saintly as it is stunning.
The Cracked Nut is the first place in Ireland to offer this Instagram-frenzy favourite and you can also enjoy a turmeric, activated charcoal or matcha latte here. Pair your mylk-y treat with one of their signature Raw Nutrition Balls for the perfect afternoon treat.
Dylan McGrath’s Rustic Stone was ahead of the trend offering health-conscious options yet to this day very few come close to competing with the phenomenally flavourful, nutritionally-aware creations served up here. Each and every dish is focused on packing an intense flavour punch brimming with goodness and spiked with super foods. Dylan McGrath is one chef you can trust to design a health-focused menu with no weak links.
Personal favourites for a light but immensely satisfying dinner at Rustic Stone include Seared Tuna with Langoustine Oil and Apple Watercress Salad or a giant bowl of Outrageous Orange Salad. How can a salad be outrageous I hear you sigh? Zesty orange, shaved fennel and caramelised pecan, a trifecta of tastiness puts many salads to shame. As it’s dinner, and you’ve been so good, you could add an Agave Margarita as the agavins in tequila are touted to lower blood sugar and promote weight loss…perfect post festive season tipple, no?
The suggestion of calorie counts on menus has caused quite a stir amongst restaurateurs and chefs in recent times but Bay in Clontarf has long offered their diners these tricky little figures. Their new-ish sister restaurant, Fishbone, has kept this up and honestly, if you’re trying to be good it helps! The dishes on offer here range from the saintly to the luxuriant, so everyone will be happy here.
As the name suggests, their seafood offering is the star attraction, so order yourself Lambay Crab Canneloni, cleverly swapping pasta sheets for wafer thin canteloupe melon or some Korean Style Healthy ‘Tacos’, packed with monkfish and kimchi. Round out dinner with the superfood of the moment, Matcha, in slightly naughty creme brulée form. Ask for two spoons…or not.
For breakfast, Balfe’s team up with Body Byrne to offer an extensive nutritionally sound offering, but their all day menu is also packed with tempting light and healthy options. Josper Grilled Gambas, Harissa Aioli & Lime or Hake with Quinoa & Sautéed Greens and a side of Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini would make the most perfect detox dinner. Perhaps I should leave this vital nugget out but…Balfe’s serves Skinny Prosecco so it would be rude not to have a little glass to toast to your discipline!
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. With that(and greed) as the ultimate motivator, I realised that baked goods make excellent bribes and an obsession was born! With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law I undertook a PhD, but a preference for cookbooks to textbooks persisted. As a (self-confessed!) demon in the kitchen, I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake off, fuelling my desire to focus on food in a serious way. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.