I’ve always been fairly ‘difficult’ when it comes to food – not because I’m necessarily picky – but because I like what I like. That means ordering the same chicken dish at every restaurant (grilled breast in a creamy garlicky type of sauce). Or the same salad leaves at the supermarket (do we pick up anything other than iceberg lettuce in Kenya?)
The past couple of years have seen Nairobi emerge from the doldrums of a relatively safe array of restaurant options that offered nothing particularly new in terms of the latest food trends. What instead happened was a surge in the number of fast food chains both local as well as international. And an accompanying surge in the width of my waist.
Artcaffe recently introduced its vegan menu, considered a more nutritious way to feed your body. The health benefits are enormous, say the die-hard adopters – with fresh vegetables and legumes providing you energy, sustenance and a drop in the kilos. But it’s not just the food. It’s a lifestyle. I actually enjoy the Artcaffe menu – who says vegan can’t be delish! In small doses.
“Gluten Free” is another buzz term that is gaining traction in Nairobi. Granted, not for that many people but there is a growing movement. Cutting out gluten from your diet is definitely not what the doctor orders all the time unless you have celiac disease. But there are some funways to incorporate a gluten free regime in your day to day diet. I recently sampled Nutrieats’ yummy choco-peanut munchies: low fat, and absolutely guilt free. The company is actually doing what very few in the city to do: offering complete weight management tools – helping to heal your body through fitness and food. And they deliver!
The internet has been responsible for many of the changes we see – we are more aware of the dangers of certain kinds of food – and not just with regards to weight gain, but also the effects on our skin, energy and mood – so-called “clean eating”.
We are learning that using natural products such as oils, turmeric, avocado and apple cider vinegar can be unbelievably beneficial to us externally.
And we are learning that the choices we make now will have an impact on our quality of life in the future.
The city’s food landscape has dramatically changed over the past few years – and with it a change in attitudes towards consumption. Less may not quite be more in a country in which shoppers still experience the challenges of high food prices, however the growth in options means that health is now a bigger factor than ever. And perhaps my favorite consequence: restaurants are working harder to deliver better quality to more discerning consumers.