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Refuelling on the go in London can be an easy and affordable way to experience a wide range of healthy food. Freelance writer and nutritionist Daniela Barbaglia gives us a guide to the London venues with your wellbeing at heart, dishing up pioneering and inventive meals which leave you feeling recharged and raring to go…
Beatroot is a vegetarian café that has been serving up fast food for the healthy minded since 1997. Staples include the bean hotpot, veggie shepherd's pie, quinoa taboulleh and wholesome cakes. The staff will happily cram as much good nosh into your small, medium or large container as possible. Try the crunchy red cabbage coleslaw festooned with dill, basil, carrot, roasted beetroot, pumpkin and seasame seeds and drizzled with cider vinegar – lipsmackingly delicious. If you're up and out early, grab a breakfast smoothie for a protein-packed punch that will keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel: it contains bananas, oats, sweet dates, and strawberries.
92 Berwick St, Soho, W1F 0QD (020 7437 8591) Landmark attractions: Berwick Street Market; Liberty of London; The Photographers' Gallery.
Food Secret (Soho)
For optimum control over your grab-and-go lunch, head into Food Secret where your chosen gourmet salad ingredients are entered onto a computer and given a unique inventory of their own – listing the individual price, ingredients, and nutritional content of your chosen feast. There are zillions of ingredients to choose from here including baby spinach, pearl barley, marinated tofu, salmon, chicken, seared tuna, feta, lentils and legumes, red onion, broad beans, peas…along with fresh and enticing soups and sandwiches.
59 Broadwick St,LondonW1F Landmark attractions: Golden Square, Oxford Circus.
Whitecross Street Market (EC1)
A few minutes walk from Old Street and Barbican tube, the Whitecross Street Market is one of the oldest in London, dating back to the 17th century. It offers delicious bites to grab on the run - for something unusual, try the Three Bean Veggie version of the British classic, the Scotch egg, or venture to the Hoxton Beach stand for an authentic, vegan Lebanese falafel wrap including ingredients like organic Baba Ghanouj (aubergine dip), organic Turshi (Lebanese pickles) or roasted seasonal vegetables with hummus.
Whitecross street, Islington Landmark attractions: The Barbican, Smithfield Market; Penhaligons (famous scent emporium).
Golborne Road and Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road has housed its famous market since the 1800s and this stretch is like a Little Portugal and Mini Morocco rolled into one. The pavements are dotted with makeshift stalls selling bric-a-brac, and a large selection of food stalls selling anything from falafel and kebabs to tagines and fresh grilled seafood – try the Morrocan Fish stall's seabass, perfectly cooked with soft flakey flesh and crisp, smoky skin with a side of salad and a warm tomato and onion sauce. The mini fish tagines looked equally appealing. A steal at just £6.
Portobello Road, 72 Tavistock Road, London, W11 1AN Landmark attractions: Notting Hill, The Trellick Tower; The Electric Cinema
Borough Market (London Bridge)
Beneath the railway viaducts between the Thames and Borough High Street in southeast London, Borough Market is a haven for quality food and exciting produce. If you want something hale and hearty for lunch, try The Veggie Table – they offer veggie and vegan burgers (either in a bun or wrapped in a cabbage leaf, or made from sweet potato for the gluten-free). The organic superveg burger is made with quinoa, nuts, sultanas and vegetables, or try the Heavenly Haloumi burger with caramelised onions for something different.
Borough street or Southwark street Landmark attractions: Southwark Cathedral, Tate Modern, The Globe Theatre.
October Cafe (Islington)
Sometimes only a piece of cake will do but where to go for something vaguely health-conscious or if you can't tolerate dairy or wheat? Step forward London’s first vegan teashop, offering dairy and gluten-free cakes and pastries in a quaint, cosy environment with a shabby-chic feel. Everything is available to take away and cakes can be made to order. Prices range from £1 - £3.50 for various cakes and savouries, while afternoon tea costs £9 per person. If you're up early enough, there's also muesli and granola with intriguing sounding blueberry milk.
38 Old Street, EC1V 9AE Landmark attractions: Almeida and Courtyard Theatres, the Emirates Stadium, Islington Arts Factory, the London Canal Museum
inSpiral Lounge (Camden)
This hip establishment, perched beside Camden Lock, has a palpable sense of pride - and so it should - for a menu that is seasonal, 100% pure vegetarian, and GMO-free. It's a vibrant place with quirky décor that attracts a diverse group of people from locals, tourists and die-hard food purists. Choose from fresh, colourful salads, vegan dishes, smoothies and organic cocktail juices or try the Vegan Bake-up – a plate stacked with scrambled tofu, home-made veggie sausage, tomato, mushrooms hash browns, tempeh bacon, home-made baked mixed beans and wheat or rye toast – all for a snip at just £6.45.
250 Camden High street, London NW1 7PN Landmark attractions: Camden Market, Camden Lock and the Roundhouse Theatre.
Tibits offers vegetarian food to go but prides itself on having the relaxed atmosphere of a superior restaurant. The sister venue to the Hitl restaurant in Switzerland - the oldest vegetarian establishment in Europe - Tibits offers a range of over 40 scrumptious vegetarian and vegan salads plus hot dishes too, so there's always lots of variety with Asian, Indian and Mediterranean influences. All items are labelled accordingly (dairy-free/vegan) and you pay according to the weight of your plate. Prices range from £1.95 per 100g to create your own 'Food Boat', or sandwiches and soups from around £3.00.
12 - 14 Heddon Street, London W1B 4DA Landmark attractions: The heart of Mayfair. Near to The Dorchester and Ritz hotels.
Mrs Marengo's (Soho)
Mrs Marengo's is a bright and cheery vegetarian café and cake shop with a take-away menu that includes haloumi salad, char-grilled wraps, Mexican mezze, burgers, and Sri Lankan curries. Heap your salad bowl with colourful combinations like watermelon, haloumi and mint or carrot, fennel and pumpkin seed, or try one of the hearty soups with a plate of stir-fried vegetables with toasted cashews. There are also a number of vegan options too; including many desserts and mouthwatering veggie cakes.
53 Lexington Street, London W1F 9AS Landmark attractions: Soho – Carnaby Street, Mozart’s house, the Phoenix Theatre.
Health junkies in Kensington swoop into this café and store which sells nurturing food and drink as well as a range of organic and ethical products. If you're on the run in Kensington and need something to give you a lift, you could do worse than opt for a quenching fresh juice – like the alkalising celery, apple and lemon juice, or the Potassium Punch - celery, carrot, lettuce, parsley and cucumber.
240 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6NE Landmark attractions: Kensington Roof Gardens; Holland Park; Royal Albert Hall. Thanks to Flickr photographers Rev Stan, Magnus D, Annie Mole and sirbrillig. Also to October Cafe and Wavelength PR.
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About the author: andrewAndrew Bowman
Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.