Health food purveyors sprouting up in Singapore

A new generation of health food purveyors is sprouting up, from restaurant-quality salad bars to the latest in superfoods.

Skinny Salads

100AM, #01-03. 100 Tras Street

Open 8am to 8pm daily

PIZZA chain Skinny Pizza is best known for its super thin crust which won't leave diners feeling stuffed, unlike the conventional bready crusts. Now it wants to get diners to eat even healthier with its new brand, Skinny Salads.

For now, there is only one outlet at 100AM at Tanjong Pagar, but there are definitely plans to open more.

"Skinny Salads' concept aims to offer top quality salads and if all pans out, we aim to launch more outlets in the next couple of years," says its spokesman.

Skinny Salads worked with celebrity chef Philip Davenport of TV show Toque 12 fame for its initial launch of eight salads. "Philip is one of a series of chefs across the globe we will be working with to create exciting new dishes at Skinny Salads. We look for creative chefs who dish up interesting and high quality, bistro/restaurant-standard salads that are big on taste and great for you. We want to get different influences from different chefs of different cities to keep things unexpected and fresh," says its spokesman.

Chef Davenport has drawn inspiration from around the world for his salads. Options on the menu include fermented cabbage and yuzu, which comes with snow peas, enoki mushrooms and mung bean sprouts with a spicy yuzu dressing; cabbage and nouc cham, which has red and white cabbage with a Vietnamese dressing; and kale and quinoa, which comes with kale, watercress and beetroot quinoa.

Skinny Salads prides itself on offering restaurant-standard salads using quality ingredients. For example, there will be no boring, limp salad greens on the menu. Instead, some of the greens that are available are kale, watercress and baby spinach. "And we do not use canned items either," says the spokesman. "Instead we cook our own chickpeas, sweetcorn, roasted chicken, and use fresh, seared tuna." Each salad comes with its own dressing that is made from scratch.

Those who prefer a hot meal can opt for the wraps. Options include roasted pumpkin and goat cheese, slow-cooked lamb shoulder, and coconut and turmeric chicken.

Salads start from S$9, while wraps are priced from S$8.50.

By Tay Suan Chiang



SO you've done your hour at the gym, and are looking to fill your tummy. Chances are, you're hard put to find some healthy grub. Enter FitThree, which will deliver meals to your gym.

The name FitThree is a mix of Fit and Three. "Fit is easy to understand as we are delivering healthy meals," says Vincent Felicite, one of its three founders. "Three was chosen because there are three macronutrients that people usually look for when they start eating healthy: protein, carbohydrates and fat."

Mr Felicite says: "While Singapore sees many sport events, such as marathons and obstacle races, happening every month, it is somehow really frustrating to find healthy food. And it is simply impossible if you are outside the CBD. So after a few years complaining about it everyday, we decided to find a solution."

Clients select a three or five-day plan, with each meal priced at S$12.90, inclusive of delivery. Meals are cooked and then chilled very quickly to between zero and 5 degrees Celsius. The chilled meals are delivered on Monday and Thursday mornings to the gyms, where they are kept in fridges. Clients pick the meals up and have to keep them refrigerated. Each meal can keep up to three days.

"When they want to eat a meal, they simply need to heat it up. This reduces the inconvenience of having to be at home or in the office to wait for delivery," says Mr Felicite. A list of ingredients and heating instructions are included on each pack.

FitThree works with freelance chefs to come up with healthy recipes. On the menu, you can find, for example, a chicken Basquaise, lamb kebabs or chicken tikka masala. "While chicken tikka masala may not sound healthy, we work with a dietitian to ensure that the meals we serve are healthy," says Mr Felicite.

He adds: "I don't like to say that our recipes are low in fat because fat is important for the body to function properly. All our recipes for the 'Omnitarian' diet have between 20 to 30 per cent of their calories coming from fat, which is usually recommended by dietitians. We only use low-GI carbs to keep you full all day long and green vegetables to add some fibres to your diet."

FitThree currently delivers its meals to Elevate gym at North Canal Road, UFit gym at Amoy Street, and Breathe Pilates studios at Novena and One North. Clients don't have to be a member of those gyms to pick up their meals.

There are plans to deliver to more gyms, as well as to add more meal options to the menu. "In time, we will introduce a low-carb option with higher fibre content, vegetarian meals and Paleo diet meals," says Mr Felicite.

By Tay Suan Chiang

A balanced lunchbox


18 Cross Street, #01-02, China Square Central |

Open Mon to Fri, 10.30am to 6pm

A SALAD, minus the excessive dressing, is a healthy option, but often leaves diners feeling peckish after an hour or so.

Edward Chia, founder of Do.Si.Rak believes that eating healthy is all about balance. "You'll still need some carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins," he says. Do.Si.Rak, which means lunchbox in Korean, is all that.

Each meal at Do.Si.Rak is much like eating bibimbap, but in a container, shaped like a pint of ice cream. Instead of stirring all the ingredients together, diners shake the container to get the food properly mixed. "I want to add an element of fun in healthy eating," says Mr Chia, who is half-Korean, and whose family owns a Korean restaurant in Novena. "The shape of the container makes it easy to hold, and convenient to bring around as well."

A meal, which starts from S$7.90, comes with a serving of white rice topped with five types of vegetables, such as cabbage, mushrooms and carrots, and either chicken or kimchi tofu. It costs S$8.90 to have beef instead of chicken or tofu, and S$9.90 for salmon.

Mr Chia worked with a nutritionist to ensure that the meals are all below 500 calories. Those who want a healthier option can choose to have whole-grain rice or Korean buckwheat noodles for S$1 more. Extra meat toppings cost from S$2. Naturally, the more toppings you add, the higher the calorie count.

To retain nutrients, the vegetables are either served raw or lightly blanched. "Our meats are all sous vide," adds Mr Chia. Marinades are made from recipes that have been passed down from his Korean grandparents, and all sauces are made in house too.

Each Do.Si.Rak meal is meant to be eaten slightly cold, and can keep for three hours. For those who want to keep their meals for longer, all toppings and ingredients can be vacuum packed separately. The more popular options are the beef bulgogi, salmon and spicy chicken.

Do.Si.Rak has proven popular with the office crowd, who like it as it is healthy, and "yet still lasts them till dinner", says Mr Chia.

By Tay Suan Chiang

Berry healthy

Project Acai

27 Lorong Liput, Holland Village

FROM 328 Katong Laksa to 2am:dessertbar, Lorong Liput in Holland Village isn't quite known for healthy fare. Nestled along the cul-de-sac, however, is Project Acai, the first cafe here dedicated to the Amazonian superfood.

After studying in Australia, cafe owner Deborah Ng returned home craving lighter alternatives to carb- and lard-laden local dishes. In February, the professional communications graduate from RMIT University decided to set up an eatery with her sister Melissa, who graduated in law and media communications from University of Melbourne, and mum Maureen, serving up acai bowls.

The relatively guilt-free dessert is a staple for Brazilians, a hipster treat for Koreans and a diet essential for LA A-listers, including the Beckhams. Using a thick smoothie formed from the frozen puree of organic acai berries as a base, each acai bowl is artfully adorned with cut fruit and a sprinkling of granola, coconut, goji berries, chia seeds and bee pollen.

"Everything we use here is natural," explains Ms Ng, pointing to the open kitchen where fresh fruits are sliced and smoothies are blended daily.

"There is no preservatives or artificial sweeteners, and all the sugars come from the fruits in the bowl."

Prices start from S$6.80 for a small acai bowl and S$8.50 for a smoothie.

The 24-year-old has known about the acai bowl trend for a while now but only decided to open the cafe last year, using acai puree from Sambazon, a California-based purveyor of organic, fair trade acai berry products from the Brazilian rainforest.

With Singapore being home to gym-obsessed, sophisticated urbanites, Ms Ng believes there is a market for the latest health food trend. Hailed as the king of superfoods, the acai berry is packed with omegas 3, 6, and 9, antioxidants and mono-saturated fats. Those who think that brown rice is about as appetising as shredded cardboard would be glad to know that the items on Project Acai's menu are truly toothsome - the berry even has an aftertaste reminiscent of dark chocolate.

Easy on the eye and a party in the mouth, the refreshing treat is a perfect alternative to ice cream or fro-yo. The cafe also concocts smoothies with catchy names like Beach Body To-Go - a blend of acai with coconut water, coconut milk, fresh pineapples, strawberries; topped with coconut shavings.

"We have customers who come in to have an acai bowl before their meal, instead of having it as a meal itself," adds Ms Ng, who has plans for a second outlet later this year. "This way, they eat less of the unhealthy foods for dinner, enabling them to lose weight as well."

This article was first published on April 4, 2015.
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