In our latest conversation with Ingrid Alexender, the co-founder of healthy food restaurant in DIFC- Healthy Little Secrets, we found out what made them start their healthy venture in Dubai, what are their idea of healthy lifestyle, how they have incorporated the same in the menu and healthy lifestyle myths they want to bust.
Find full interview below:
When did you start your restaurant and what made you start one with a healthy food concept?
The Healthy Little Secrets brand was launched in 2018 when my husband, Leon, and I decided to import high quality organic products for retail. We created partnerships with organic farms from different countries and brought to Dubai products such as organic sprouted quinoa, organic loose leaf teas and raw sprouted but butters.
Having these beautiful ingredients on hand inspired us to launch the Healthy Little Secrets chain of cafes to spread awareness on how tasty and filling healthy food can be.
What’s your idea of a healthy lifestyle?
I would summarise it as a blend of balance, gratitude and purpose.
Please comment on the new ongoing trend that says vegan is healthy.
We believe one cannot have too many whole veggies and fruits in their diet. Plant based meals are easy to digest, provide prebiotics for our gut bacteria and are readly available at convenient prices. Highly processed vegan food, however, can be as unhealthy as any other processed foods, it’s expensive, so it should be considered a treat, rather than the foundation of a diet. Just because a product is labelled as vegan, does not automatically make it healthy.
Our menu has a plant based customisation option for almost each dish. Each dish also comes with a complimentary leafy greens salad. Plant mylk is available at no extra charge as an alternative to dairy. We love providing these options for customers and we will continue to do so, hopefully adding even more creative dishes soon.
One healthy food myth that you would like to bust?
Healthy food means bland salads with low fat dressings. It’s as true as “Vegans don’t eat enough protein”.
How Covid has changed your perspective toward health?
Like most of us, I found myself reflecting on aspects of my daily life and reassessing my priorities. I realised I had allowed an exaggerated amount of stress to dominate my mind, I had severely underestimated the privilege of working out outdoors and I postponed way too many gatherings with the people I love. It reminded me that health is not just about food, it’s also about your mind, your freedom and the quality time with your loved ones.
As a restaurant owner, do you feel UAE’s local produce is capable enough of supplying raw ingredients?
We have always aimed for local fresh produce. We value a locally grown capsicum that was picked ripe on the same day that we serve it more than one that was picked unripe in a different country and took a week to get to our kitchen. The UAE has more than 50 organic farms to choose from.If need be, the importation process for ingredients that are not produced here is very straight forward.
Some niche products are difficult to source but overall, we find what we need on the local market.