Vegetarian Spa Cuisine with Talise Nutrition
More and more nutrition experts are pointing towards a greener diet as a route to a healthier lifestyle. Tapping into this trend and offering a unique service here in Dubai is the Talise Spa at Madinat Jumeirah, which has a special healthy menu made up of mostly vegetarian dishes that spa-goers and hotel guests can avail of.
The menu, designed by executive wellbeing chef Gabrielle Kurz, is truly one of the finest compilations of healthy, light and delicious restaurant-style vegetarian food in the city. With the aim of complementing and boosting the benefits of a spa treatment, the compact yet varied selection of dishes is defined across three categories: Rejuvenate, Relax, and Revitalise. Each category highlights specific foods that help achieve each of these goals.
The Rejuvenate section has foods containing vitamins and minerals that help boost healthy and strong skin and hair, Revitalise showcases detoxification-focused dishes, while Relax dishes are aimed at reducing stress and calming nerves. The dishes leverage different qualities of fruits and vegetables, from the relaxing effect that starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin have, to the cleansing properties of beetroot, ginger and green leafy vegetables that help flush out toxins, to the benefits of lemongrass for the skin.
“There’s something for each of these three ‘aspirations’ on the menu, which are based on what people want when they go to a spa,” chef Gabrielle explains.
Passionate about vegetarian food herself, Gabrielle believes vegetarianism promotes a better quality of life and has always made it her job as a chef to make vegetarian food delicious, appealing, and quite simply, glamorous. As such, taste was one of the most important considerations when devising this menu.
“Taste is one of the main triggers of how you enjoy food. If a dish looks good and smells good, then your digestive juices start to flow. There’s no reason to make healthy food bland,” she says.
Having been crafted by an expert chef who has been specialising in vegetarian cuisine for decades, each dish is a carefully thought out and beautifully executed gourmet creation with plenty of culinary technique, and of course, delicious flavours, on display. For instance, the Tartar, a layered concoction of grated, seasoned beetroot, cauliflower remoulade made with healthier yoghurt instead of mayonnaise, air-dried beets, sweet potato crisps, capers and spring onions, wouldn’t look out of place in a five star restaurant. All of the dishes are served with a leafy green side salad.
Also putting to rest the notion that healthy food is just salads and such, the menu features some surprisingly tasty and nutrient-rich dessert dishes. Examples include truffle-like date, fruit and coconut energy balls served with fresh fruits; and low-fat yoghurt with puffed amaranth, passion fruit and seasonal berries.
With a focus on nutrient-dense, organic (as much as possible), and toxin-free ingredients, which are treated lightly and with knowledge, the menu incorporates influences of various cuisines. You can find a touch of the Middle Eastern in the grilled halloumi cheese sandwiched within pineapple slices; or a hint of Asian in the rice paper wraps served with a sprout salad and soy ginger dressing. Gabrielle has also incorporated a nod to her native Bavarian in the aforementioned Tartar dish.
There’s also a fantastic selection of nutritional drinks, ranging from a cleansing lemon juice with ginger, chilli and maple syrup, to a vitamin boosting mix of watermelon, raspberries, passion fruit and orange juice, plus healthy smoothies.
Served in cute, easily transportable bento-style boxes, the spa menu can be enjoyed poolside, picnic-style in secret spots amidst the leafy gardens of the Talise spa, or through room service for hotel guests. Some of the dishes in this menu also make an appearance in select restaurants across the Jumeirah group. Perfect for a healthy lunch or a post-pampering light bite, about 90 per cent of the menu is vegetarian, with many of the dishes also ticking the raw and vegan boxes.
In the future, Gabrielle plans a few changes on the menu to include some more dishes that have proven popular with guests on other occasions. While the Talise spa menu is largely vegetarian, under the Talise Nutrition umbrella, there is also a Fitness menu, available for members at all the hotels’ health clubs, as well as a selection of healthy dishes on their various restaurant menus. Not all of them are veggie focused however.Sumati Menda
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