Keep it Under 500 in Dubai

Keep it Under 500 in Dubai
Fadi Ghaly

Dubai - Restaurateur Fadi Ghaly on blending great taste with less calories for his new healthy eating concept in Dubai

By Maán Jalal

Published: Tue 21 Jun 2016, 3:31 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Jun 2016, 8:31 PM

Healthy eating is something that most of us know we should be doing. But living in Dubai, having an active social life and working late hours doesn't always give us the time or the motivation to go home and cook something that we know is good for us. Dubai is definitely a city of foodies, food lovers and restaurants so one would assume that there should be an onslaught of healthy food options. Apparently not as much as we'd like.

There is a lack of  healthy food concepts in the city. And although there are some out there that manage to strike a balance between healthy food that also tastes great, we've come a across the newest restaurant that's getting our taste buds excited without feeling guilty.

Under 500 is a home-style café concept by Fadi Ghaly and Mahmoud Bartawi that offers a wide selection of delicious, wholesome and healthy meal and dessert options under 500 calories. Great idea right? They have a selection of gourmet meals which include Chicken Lettuce Tacos, Grilled Salmon and Avocado, Lean Steak and Kale, that are all made fresh daily and designed to incorporate nutrient dense ingredients.

"Our menu at Under 500 serves people that want to start eating healthy regular meals but don't want to compromise on taste," says co-founder Fadi Ghaly.

We know what you're thinking. What about the taste? It's often that compromise we feel we have to make when we switch to a healthier diet. How can something healthy still taste good? Well, we sat with Fadi to find out about healthy eating in Dubai.

The Healthy Food Concept
While there are many healthy food concepts around Dubai, I felt they focused on the nutritional value, but really lacked the taste. We saw an opportunity in the market and wanted to create a food concept that offered healthy, tasty dishes, which are low calorie and taste delicious all prepared freshly, daily on site. I also, personally struggled with finding dining options which had healthy menu options and tasted really good, to maintain my weight and healthy lifestyle.

Healthy Experimenting
We designed and created the menu along with world renowned Italian chef, Giovanni De Ambrosis, who has launched a number of fine dining concepts in Dubai and Monica Neri, who is not only a nutritionist but also holds a degree in food science and technology. We use only the healthiest ingredients by the gram and nutritional values of each ingredient are then added to calculate the final nutritional value of every meal. If the total comes above 500 calories, we evaluate the high calorie ingredients and replace them with lower calorie substitutes whilst maintaining superior taste.

Healthy Trends
Dubai has such a huge mix of so many different cuisines, however when it comes to healthy eating, I believe there is still room for improvement. As the younger generation become more aware, healthy meal choices are becoming the preferred choice.

Healthy Dubai
Dubai being a city that strives for excellence, requires one to excel in every aspect; whether it comes to looking good, feeling good or just being healthy. Healthy eating is becoming a lifestyle that one cannot just simply choose to ignore. We want to see and facilitate that change and this is our initiative.

People assume healthy food lacks flavour . . .
I wouldn't blame them for feeling that way and I used to feel the exact same way that is why we decided to create a menu that not only gives you healthy food choices but is also filled with flavour. I will leave the judgement up to you, however you will never know unless you try.

Fadi Recommends . . .
My favourite would have to be the Salmon Quinoa. It provides the perfect combination of protein, while the organic quinoa boosts your fibre intake coupled with vegetables to keep you going all day.

Co-founders of Under 500, Mahmoud Bartawi and Fadi Ghaly
Co-founders of Under 500, Mahmoud Bartawi and Fadi Ghaly

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