17 places to dine (almost) guilt-free this Healthy Eating Week

Sushi is a great alternative to a sandwich at lunch Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sushi is a great alternative to a sandwich at lunch Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Blogger Leah Larwood of Roots & Toots picks her favourite places for guilt-free dining.

For some of us, healthy eating can start with good intentions and sometimes end in the pub. ‘Being good’ when eating out can be the biggest hurdle when trying to stay on track. Luckily, finding lighter options when out isn’t as restricting as it once was. There are some exciting new plant-based eateries that have recently popped up across our region and plenty of surprising alternatives available from the places you’d least expect.

The Walnut Tree, Thwaite

Some absolutely stonking vegetarian and vegan cooking is going on at this spacious pub, where even meat eaters will be satisfied by the menus. Every plate of food makes an impact with bold flavours and textures, from excellent chickpea ‘crab cakes’ with seaweed, shallot, lemon and dill, to a smoked almond tofu laksa, and spiced black bean and carrot burger with sunflower seeds and oats.

Ancestors, Norwich

An oasis of calm offering a wide range of vegan and gluten-free options including the Nourishment Bowl - packed with chickpeas, broccoli, hummus and sweet potatoes, mixed greens, tahini and spices. A virtuous lunch may leave room for some vegan chocolate cake made with unrefined sugar, and a caffeine-free beetroot latte with almond or oat milk.

Cradle, Sudbury

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A plant-based bakery and restaurant that prides itself on using local and sustainable ingredients. As a result, the innovative daily menu is forever evolving with the seasons. Expect to find healthy breakfasts, handmade sourdough breads made from in-house milled flours, roasted organic coffee, lunch, snacks and other spectacular daily specials, perfect for both foodie vegans and non-vegan foodies.

Darsham Nurseries, Darsham

Set amongst a stunning plant nursery, this critically acclaimed restaurant-café grows much of its own fruit, herbs and vegetables, just a stone’s throw from its kitchen. Other produce is provided by local suppliers and the menu changes to reflect seasonal availability. The breakfasts and brunches are best paired with the weekend papers, and the luncheons and suppers are designed for laid-back feasting with friends.

PONO, Norwich

PONO is a Hawaiian word that means living in a state of health, happiness and harmony. Try the Poke Bowl - a traditional Hawaiian dish with a PONO twist. Choose from spicy salmon or traditional tuna, both raw and marinated for extra flavour - served with brown rice, fresh mango salsa, spinach, avocado, corn, pickled ginger, grated carrot and poke sauce. For something sweet, there is raw cold-pressed juice and a selection of smoothies, including the creamy cacao, which is made with cacao, banana, avocado, almond butter, almond milk and date syrup.

The Place to Eat, Bury St Edmunds

Found within independent department store Glasswells, this homely restaurant has one a silver Eat Out Eat Well award for its commitment to making dining healthier, offering more fibre, wholegrains and vegetables in its homemade dishes, which range from pies and cobblers to quiches, salads and jacket potatoes.

Ruth’s Kitchen, Norwich

Everyone’s favourite Israeli lunch-stop on Magdalen St. The falafel mezze includes homemade falafel, which although is deep-fried, comes with a kaleidoscope of small salads, that probably exceed your five a day allowance: hummus, pan-fried aubergine, sauerkraut, shredded red cabbage, baba ganoush, tomato, pepper and cucumber salad, chickpeas and olives.

Lux, Ipswich

This takeaway sushi bar has proven to be surprisingly popular on the local eating scene. Fresh sushi is known for being packed with good oils and vitamins and makes a tasty alternative to sandwiches at lunchtime. Call ahead to order octopus and nori nigiri, spicy salmon gunkan, or veggie tamago rolls –all made a la minute!

Art Café, Glandford

Accredited by the Vegetarian Society and a member of Slow Food UK, this is a place to enjoy delicious, locally roasted coffee and indulge in delicious vegetarian food. The summer menu includes slow-cooked quinoa porridge, and baked eggs with spinach. For lunch there’s a plethora of salads, daily curry specials, soups and coffee-infused homemade baked beans on toast.

Erpingham House, Norwich

Norwich’s newest addition to the plant-based fold. Three floors of mostly organic and gluten-free vegan food, under one roof. This restaurant offers an overwhelming selection of healthy options. Cashew jackfruit korma. Coconut chilli. Puy lentil and roast veg salad. What’s not to love?

Takayama, Ipswich

This is fast becoming one of the best places to eat in Ipswich, offering a delicious blend of Korean and Japanese dishes, including amazing sushi. The restaurant has launched a vegan-friendly menu recently, including vegetable gyoza, grilled tofu with teriyaki sauce, and hot broth with ramen noodles and mixed vegetables.

Byron’s, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich

Whether you’re a voracious veggie, vibrant vegan or simply having a meat-free Monday, Byron has recently launched a new vegan menu. Try the beetroot falafel patty with baby kale, smashed avocado, tomato, pickled red onions, red pepper ketchup and lime dressed rainbow slaw. Alternatively, the flexi burger is a traditional hamburger patty made with a combination of sautéed mushrooms and prime beef.

Wetherspoons, across Norfolk and Suffolk

Wetherspoons does healthy, you say? Try MOMA porridge with fresh blueberries and a soya latte for breakfast. Quinoa salad made with rice, avocado, adzuki beans, grilled red and yellow pepper, red cabbage, chia seeds and kale for lunch, And for dinner, a grilled veggie burger for 546 calories? Are we talking about the same Wetherspoons?

Jive Bar, Norwich

This Mexican restaurant is county-known for its tacos and burritos. As long as you avoid the deep-fried options, and go easy on the sauces, there’s plenty to choose from. Including the char-grilled squid – squid and recado rojo served with bitter leaves - ask for the barbecue pineapple salsa on the side. One of the lighter tacos includes the Vegetarian Taco with refried beans, avocado, roja salsa, tomatillo.

The Waffle House, Norwich

Go for the hummous and avocado on wholemeal waffle, topped with wild rocket, sun blushed tomatoes, olives and poppy seeds. If you’re being extra saintly, hold the drizzle of sweet chilli dressing. Or try the vegetable and cashew stir-fry – a medley of seasonal vegetables with Asian seasonings. Instead of a milkshake order the mixed berry smoothie, made with natural yoghurt.

The Café at Urban Jungle, Beccles

Every dining table here is ensconced in tropical plants – it’s a beautiful place to find yourself for lunch (or dinner and cocktails on Saturday nights). The menu has a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vibe with much of the produce grown onsite. Expect fresh, tasty mezze, hummus, salads and more.

The Vegetarian Red Lion, Offton

A vegetarian pub serving truly tasty homemade fare such as mezze platters, gardener’s pie (packed with wholesome green lentils and green beans) and much more to tickle the tastebuds.