10 places you can eat healthy in Suffolk

Cradle Bakery and Cafe in Sudbury Picture: Richard Marsham

Cradle Bakery and Cafe in Sudbury Picture: Richard Marsham

Watching your weight or your sugar intake? Check out one of these cafes, pubs and restaurants.

Hollow Trees Farm cafe Picture: GREGG BROWN

Hollow Trees Farm cafe Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

It sounds like a proper gimmick doesn’t it? Nutrition and Hydration Week…but this week that’s what the ‘media gods’ say we should be thinking about, alongside the fact it’s National Butchers Week. It would be easy to cast Nutrition and Hydration Week aside as yet another marketing fad, but I often have readers write to me (particularly diabetics) wondering where on earth they can actually get a decent meal.

All of the following businesses are part of Suffolk County Council’s Eat Out Eat Well awards scheme. Not unlike the food hygiene rating we all know so well, these awards (bronze, silver and gold) recognise cafes, pubs, restaurants and even public buildings, which have made a commitment to do the following: increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in dishes, decrease fat, sugar and salt, offer healthy options for children, and increase the amount of healthy starchy carbohydrates on their menus. This is by no means an exhaustive list. A map of all the participating businesses can be found here.

1.Twyfords Café, Beccles

Focus Organic in Halesworth Picture: Simon Parker

Focus Organic in Halesworth Picture: Simon Parker

One of the ultimate places to ‘pig out’ in Suffolk, this café drips with deliciousness. If you’re being good, you won’t be fobbed off with just a few leaves. Breakfast offers bags of nutrition in the Californian option of the café’s own ciabatta roll with smashed avocado, slow-roasted tomatoes and free-range scrambled eggs. Many of the sandwiches, from chicken, avocado and pancetta to poached flaked salmon with dill sauce, can be taken as a salad bowl. And there’s a soda fountain, so you can ask them to reduce the amount of syrup in your soft drink if you are watching your sugar intake. Flavours include cranberry and pomegranate and rhubarb and rosehip.

2. Glasswells, Bury St Edmunds

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An early entrant into the scheme. As department store eateries go, this one is really rather nice, offering a warm, comfortable setting and a menu of in-house made food with plenty of healthier options. Choose oven-baked potatoes with fillings from homemade chilli to cottage cheese and pineapple. There’s a homemade soup of the day. And a light dish of hummus and olives comes with wholemeal pitta bread. Cottage pie is made with lean minced beef for those watching their weight. And there’s even a vegetarian lentil ragu, rammed with vegetables and served with wholegrain rice.

3. Elveden Courtyard Restaurant, Elveden

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Prepared using (where possible) meat, vegetables and foraged herbs from the Eleveden Estate, the restaurant here has a handy ‘heart’ symbol on its menus so diners can identify which dishes have been prepared with health in mind. At breakfast time choose from homemade yoghurt with berry compote, homemade granola and honey, porridge made with skimmed milk, and scrambled eggs cooked without butter. While at lunch you can happily tuck into dishes which have included cured pollock with Elveden blackberries, spring onion cream cheese and mustard cress, beetroot buckwheat and lentil burger, and grilled fish and chips with lemon and herbs, which can be served with mixed salad and new potatoes. Drinks-wise, sugar-free syrups are offered to jazz up the coffees.

4. The Alex, Felixstowe

A bustling place to perch yourself, looking out to the town’s south promenade. Dining is informal in this buzzy café/restaurant which offers an entire ‘gluten light’ menu as well as having numerous healthier dishes throughout the day. Start in the morning with a bowl of porridge topped with peach and blueberry compote and crushed hazelnuts. Brunch offers avocado and cherry tomatoes on toast with basil yoghurt dressing, and a spicy peanut and vegetable burger. And in the brasserie upstairs there’s a vegan menu, which is naturally lower in fat and offers plates such as chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry, and pineapple, coconut and mint granita.

5. Focus Organic, Halesworth

This café/deli/wholefood store is well worth a visit if you’re in the town. It’s packed with loads of really interesting and cool stuff, including bags, belts and jewellery, and even kids’ chocolate eggs filled with handmade artisan toys! The café uses locally sourced, organic and natural ingredients and brings very flavoursome food to the table, be it a pomegranate, chickpea and feta salad, naan bread pizza loaded with veggies, gluten-free Scotch egg or roasted aubergine and broccoli salad with sweet sesame sauce. The menu changes very regularly.

5. Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms, Lavenham

Nothing is too much trouble for the team here, who offer a wonderfully warm welcome (and will top up your teapot for free if you ring the bell). They use the bakers across the way, local greengrocers and award-winning Lavenham Butchers as a basis of their menu. The popular doorstop sandwiches are cut by hand, with customers watching their weight able to ask for bread to be sliced more thinly. Salads range from peppered mackerel to cottage cheese and pineapple. And a lower fat/sugar dessert comes in the form of natural, fat-free yoghurt served with freshly chopped fruit. Hot drinks can be made with skimmed milk, including speciality coffees.

6. Francela, Bury St Edmunds

Mediterranean food is, as standard, usually filled with vegetables and grains, and there’s certainly plenty of choice at this very popular restaurant close to the Abbey Gardens. Start with tzatziki (yoghurt with cucumber, garlic and dill) or choose another meze dish of fresh green beans with tomatoes, shallots and garlic, or kidney beans with tomato, carrots and onions. For your main course stick to one of the grilled meats (lamb or chicken) or fish (sea bream or sea bass), served simply with salad and cracked wheat.

7. Café Clare, Clare

A delightful dog-friendly café with a sunny courtyard for sitting out on brighter days. Everything is homemade on the premises and there are always vegetarian and wholesome options to choose from if you’re trying to be good – be that a butternut, lentil and spinach hotpot, spicy vegetarian chilli, or Scotch broth of lamb, loaded with vegetables and pearl barley.

8. Cradle, Sudbury

Not only do they make their own vegan butter here, but they mill their own flipping flour, right in the cafe! The husband and wife team in charge have a strong ethos that they want to support local, organic growers, and only use the very best of seasonal produce, so the menu changes pretty much daily depending on what they can get their hands on. Sample the health-boosting turmeric latte. And gaze in wonder at the simple beauty of their savoury tarts and tartines (open sandwiches) laden with such goodies as tamari beetroot with broccoli, crispy Jerusalem artichokes, homemade cashew brie and carrot tops.

9. Hollow Trees, Semer

The kitchen team here make use of the plethora of vegetables and meat home-reared on the farm. There are usually multiple healthier options, be that a smaller version of their breakfast, Greek yoghurt with granola and mixed berries, a jacket potato served with a pile of salad, homemade soup, or homemade hummus with a side of roasted peppers, olives and pitta.

10. Kesgrave Hall, Kesgrave

A stylish boutique hotel which usually has a few lighter choices on its inventive menu – take the current starter of yellow fin tuna carpaccio with jalapeno, pink grapefruit and avocado as an example.

All ‘generous’ main courses come with a side of your choice so you can decide to be naughty and indulge in fat chips or skinny fries, or go virtuous with an ample dish of seasonal vegetables, new potatoes, mixed leaf salad or tomato and shallot salad.

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