Sydney is known for its wide array of healthy restaurant options. With an increasingly health-conscious population, it’s no surprise that more and more healthy restaurants are popping up around the country. In Surry Hills, we are fortunate to have an eclectic mix of cuisines and restaurants. All have delicious food representative of their respective cuisines and head chefs. Even though not all restaurants are health-conscious, Lebanese restaurants like Zahli Modern Middle Eastern, have managed to retain culture, tradition and flavours while still being healthy. Furthermore, cold mezzas, the selection of small cold dishes usually served before and during the main meal, are filled with dishes that are not only extremely beneficial to one’s health but that represent the flavours of Lebanon and the Middle East.
Why do Lebanese restaurants have the best healthy food?
Modern Lebanese cuisine has retained much of its culture and tradition. Historically, ingredients used in traditional Lebanese dishes are extremely nutrient-dense and beneficial to our bodies. Ingredients are also not the only element that makes Lebanese food healthy; the way Lebanese food is cooked and put together also increases its health rating. Here are some of the reasons why Lebanese food is considered very healthy.
- Ample use of fresh and raw vegetables, herbs and fruits
- Vegetable-centred dishes
- Low-starch dishes
- Minimal use of butter, cream and sugar
- Common use of Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil
- Frequent addition of pickled vegetables to the main meal
Those are just some of the reasons that a Lebanese diet is healthy. We’ll be looking at some of our favourite and healthiest cold mezzas on Zahli’s menu. Though all courses are full of healthy dishes, we’re focussing on cold mezzas for this article as they are some of the first dishes you consume at a Lebanese restaurant.
Hommos, one of the most popular dips in Lebanese cuisine, is secretly loaded with nutrients and health benefits. For one, it is high in plant-based protein and fibre and contains a healthy amount of good fat from olive oil used. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants which help to combat chronic inflammation. Tahini, one of hommos’ signature ingredients, contains more proteins than milk and most nuts. It’s a rich source of B vitamins which boost energy and vitamin E which protects against heart disease and stroke. The star ingredient, chickpeas, is high in protein and has a low glycemic index.
It’s hard to believe that the creamy and rich dip, baba ghannouj is actually good for you. It gets its creaminess from meaty eggplant, the main ingredient in this dish. Eggplant is a fabulous source of vitamin B, vitamin E and anti-aging antioxidants. Other antioxidants from eggplant include vitamins A and C which protect cells against damage. In addition to these benefits, baba ghannouj also has the pleasure of retaining benefits from olive oil and tahini, two main ingredients in this dish.
Creamy labneh is a popular rich but also light dip that is loaded with protein, fats and micronutrients. The hearty punch of protein that it packs is important for vegetarians who require protein from non-meat sources. It is also relatively low in lactose, the sugar that many persons cannot break down, and can be consumable for those with lactose intolerance. Protein is also linked to better weight management, metabolic health and blood sugar control. Labneh also benefits from having a high level of protein but low number of calories. Another huge benefit is the probiotics or ‘good bacteria’ that labneh contains. Probiotics are linked to stronger gut health which can improve diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.
Mixed pickles are a common appearance on Lebanese tables, wraps and plates. They add a tart punch and can be paired with almost anything. Fermented mixed pickles are fat-free, low in calories and like labneh, contain healthy good bacteria which promote the body’s gut health. Additionally, because pickles are quite salty, they can aid in restoring the electrolyte balance of a person who may be experiencing dehydration (some athletes even swear by it!). The fruits and vegetables used in pickling like radishes, cucumbers and carrots contain antioxidants which are retained even during the pickling process. These help to fight free radicals and inflammation in the body.
If you are interested in indulging in authentic Middle-Eastern food then Zahli, Modern Middle Eastern restaurant can gladly provide a memorable meal. Zahli is here to provide you with a culinary experience like no other. Call us on (02) 9318 2228 to reserve a table.