Mike Williams, Owner and Personal Trainer at MW Fitness of Wickham Hall, samples Bishop’s Stortford’s restaurant scene to offer a guilt-free guide to eating out.
This week: Ananta Thai Food Pub in Wicken Bonhunt.
We recently went for a post-GCSE celebration with a client, who persuaded us to venture just outside of Bishops’ Stortford to eat at Ananta in Wicken Bonhunt. I’d been told we were going for Thai, so I was surprised to find myself in an authentic, cosy British pub, complete with a thatched roof and fireplace.
The menu came and the food looked authentic too – Thai that is, produced, I’m reliably told, by Ananta herself and her team in the kitchen. Completely unprompted by us, the waiter who seated us mentioned that we could alter the ingredients and spiciness of any dish to suit our own tastes. This is always a great sign as it means that every dish is being freshly prepared from scratch, making it much easier for the chef to make healthy substitutions as requested.
Always eagle-eyed for healthy menu choices, we spotted a logo we’d never seen before. Ananta is part of the TuckIN campaign across Essex which works to lower the amount of sugar, salt, and saturated fat in restaurant and takeaway food. Ananta’s ingredient choice and dish preparation has been monitored and certified as part of the campaign.
Top Tip: Look out for the TuckIN logo displayed in Essex restaurant windows and on their menus for a guaranteed healthy meal. The TuckIN campaign pledges to “make food better” with reduced salt, reduced sugar, better oils and frying techniques, and smaller portion sizes with reduced calories.
Visit www.tuckin-uk.co.uk for a list of local restaurants that take part.
So what did we order?
Mike: Starter – King Prawn Satay – marinated and chargrilled with coconut, served with peanut sauce.
The satay comes with either chicken or king prawn. Lean grilled meat or fish is always a healthy choice, and the peanut dipping sauce is also high in protein making this a delicious, satisfying but low-fat starter.
Charlotte: Starter – Prawn Tom Yum – house special with spicy lemongrass, mushroom and fresh chilli.
A complete taste sensation, this clear hot and sour Thai soup is filling but at the same time contains very few calories. Carefully and cleverly spiced, you can taste the freshness of every singe ingredient.
Mike: Main – TuckIN Meal of the Week: Low salt and low sugar Thai Green Chicken Curry – with steamed rice.
Choosing Thai curries can be tricky – although they may seem a healthier option than noodles, they often contain a large amount of coconut milk which is high in saturated fat. To be safe, go for green or red curries. It was such a treat to see the TuckIN logo and know we didn’t have to worry about the ingredients. The curry was fresh, aromatic and light, and the steamed rice on the side was fluffy, filling and oil-free, adding texture to the dish (and if you’re worried about calories, you don’t have to eat it all!). A great guilt-free choice.
Charlotte: Main – Vegetable Cashew Nut Stir Fry – with bell peppers, onions and carrots.
Cooked in minimal amounts of oil, quickly stir frying the vegetables preserves their nutrients whilst enhancing the flavour, and the variety of ingredients makes it a well-balanced meal. This dish was colourful and packed with just the right amount of crunch.
Top Tip: Fats from natural sources such as avocado, fish and eggs are known as unsaturated fats. These are the good guys and can help maintain a healthy heart. Trans fats on the other hand are made in an industrial process. Companies add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature. Why do this? Trans fat helps food last longer. You may find trans fats in fried foods, cakes, pies, biscuits, donuts etc. It might taste good, but it’s not good for you. This unhealthy type of fat raises your LDL cholesterol level and increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
It was definitely worth the short journey out of Bishop’s Stortford. Discovering the TuckIN scheme was great – any restaurant that has committed to serving healthier options will always get our vote! The food at Ananta was mouth-wateringly delicious as well as healthy, the menu was very flexible to dietary needs and the staff were eager to make sure we had a fabulous evening (which we did).
- Healthy Options and Variety ★★★★
- Flexibility (open to menu changes) ★★★★★
- Service ★★★★
- Value for Money ★★★★★
- Overall 4.5/5.00
If you have any health and fitness questions or would like me to review your restaurant please email [email protected]