Happy New Year, bazaarites! If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this bountiful and blessed lifetime is that one always needs a dash of mischief and an element of surprise in their lives. Cue Ashley Montagu’s quip of “The moment of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”- and she’s a scientist at that too (aren’t their lives governed by formulae, routine and quizzical scientific experimentations?)
Hence to kick-start my fit food review for 2015, I decided to visit The Cheesecake Factory’s second establishment at Al Bida’a. To begin with, their location at Arabella has a stunning view of the seafront with an eye-catching view of Al Boom (the big historical pearl-fishing boat by Al Bida’a that’s now a restaurant). Secondly, even though we visited The Cheesecake Factory on a Friday, which is traditionally my cheat-meal day, I ironically didn’t consume any of their luscious cheesecake, and ate healthily instead. (Insert reader’s gasp here!)
If you’re not in the know, The Cheesecake Factory does offer a healthy menu on top of their usual meals served here. Dubbed their ‘Skinnylicious’ menu, the eatery features a cornucopia of salads, small plates and appetizers, healthy pizzas and delicious mains.
While The Cheesecake Factory is known for their generous portions, the meal portions in their healthy menu are just right if you’re looking to maintain and/or even lose weight (yes, I did just say lose weight).
My healthy favorites here were:
The Chicken Pot Stickers: a plate of Oriental dumplings filled with lean chicken mince with their soy-ginger sesame sauce on the side. I loved this dish as they were pan-fried and not deep-fried as per the Middle Eastern versions one might find anywhere else (samboosas). The dish was fragrant with notes of what seemed like Chinese 5-spice powder, ginger and cilantro permeating through. I would definitely recommend having this post-workout, simply because your body would benefit from the carbohydrates of the dumpling shells, the protein from the lean chicken mince and most importantly the fresh ginger in it. Ginger is an amazing rhizome to include in any dish as it been known to aid in blood circulation, reduces pain and inflammation (hence helps with muscle recovery) and strengthens one’s immune system.
Skinnylicious Grilled Turkey Burger: this dish, was the #BombDotCom. One thing I really miss from my London days was being able to consume fresh turkey and not the preserved turkey slices you find here at the local delis. This dish did not disappoint and truth be told, I would return here simply just to have this meal again. My burger patty was marinated with garlic, spices and chopped fresh mushrooms. It was served on a heavenly stack of grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and light mayo (I opted to forgo the sauce and it was still yummy). A 3.5 ounce of turkey breast gives you about 30 grams of lean muscle-building protein, but skinny on the calories at 161kcals and 4 grams of fat. Now most burgers here are served with a side of fries or sweet potato fries if you like, but the ones on the Skinnylicious menu come with a side serving of fresh multi-greens tossed in a bit of olive oil and lemon.
For dessert? A big bowl of fresh juicy strawberries. Perfection.
As for beverages to compliment your food, there are a variety of juices available, however I opted for the iced black tea, forgoing the syrup. In Malaysia I’m quite used to consuming jasmine or oolong teas with my meals so this was no different. Black teas are great to consume as they contain chockfuls of polyphenols, antioxidants that combat free-radicals and some suggest even cancer-prevention.
All in all, I had an amazing time at The Cheesecake Factory. If you’re thinking of checking out the Arabella branch, my recommendation would be to head down there for brunch on a Friday. The staff are friendly and will look after you as you sit al fresco, enjoying the food, the buzzing atmosphere and the pristine views of the sea.
The Cheesecake Factory has two locations, this one in Arabella in Al Bida’a (2208 1259/60) and also in the Grand Avenue – The Avenues (2228 7064/7),
Reshmi Revi is a NZCF Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Enthusiast and an Evolve Supplements Sponsored Athlete who competes in bodybuilding. Follow her on Instagram @Q8MissFit