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5 good whole food chains in London

As part of my work I tend to eat out quite a lot in London and I’m conscious of the fact that while delicious, restaurant food can be really bad for you if you eat it regularly.

There are obviously thousands of restaurants in London and there are some amazing independent restaurants, but when I am in a hurry I’m not ashamed to dive into a familiar chain restaurant to refuel.  Finding healthy foods in chain restaurants, especially fast food can be really difficult. Everything seems to be loaded with refined wheat, sugar, white rice, cheese and oil. But there are some good options if you know where to look.

Here are my favourites:

1. Le Pain Quotidien

You might think that this Belgian bakery is the last place that you would find healthy foods, but stop to look at the menu and you’ll be surprised to find some amazing healthy, plant based dishes for any time of the day, including a fantastic whole food avocado and white bean tartine and a vegetable and quinoa hot pot. This week in fact, they have a raw ‘Crunola’ on their breakfast menu with fresh berries, seeds, banana and cashew cream, which despite not liking banana I actually found to be delicious.  What’s more, much of their food is organic, they have agave nectar on the tables if you want some sweetener and they are probably the only restaurant in London (if not the UK) that has grey salt on the tables. Very impressive. Even the home made limeade is unsweetened.

To top it all, the food is all delicious, which you would expect from a Belgian chain of cafe’s. The only downside is that it’s a little pricey (and not fast like some of the alternatives).

Grey Salt Crunola at Le Pain Quotidien

2. Chipotle

There are many Buritto restaurants in London, but the American chain Chipotle is the only one I have found that uses brown rice. If you take the veggie option, you get loads of goodness and really the only bad thing is the wheat tortilla, which you can actually replace with salad to be extra good. Either way, you will never leave Chipotle hungry!

3. Itsu

Created by the founders of Pret, Itsu is an Asian themed “healthy” fast food restaurant. In reality, they serve a lot of white rice, white noodles, meat and fish, but they also have some good salads and my favourite dish – the 7 veg rice pot, which is the name suggests is 7 types of veg with brown rice and a yummy Asian sauce. Quick, cheap and delicious.

4. Leon

Like Itsu, Leon is based on the concept of healthy fast food.  In reality most of it is just “less unhealthy” fast food, but they always have some pretty healthy options and I have never been disappointed by the taste and quality. The menu seems to change regularly but I always find some sort of plant based curry with brown rice on the menu, which is normally served with mayo free coleslaw.

If you have the chance, I highly recommend trying it.

5. Pret

Yes, It’s Pret. The one that shook up the fast food world and proved that some of us want something better than McDonalds, and then got bought by McDonalds. To be honest, it is really just a glorified sandwich shop and most of their food is not in particularly healthy, but I can normally find something good in there, even if it is just a Naked Bloomer sandwich and a fruit salad.

There must be more!

Do you know any good chains serving healthy food in London? If so, please do leave a comment with your tips.

2 thoughts on “5 good whole food chains in London

  1. For breakfast I love Pret because they had a multigrain porridge made with non dairy milk and no added sugar–at least it did not taste at all sweet. Did not see this at any of the other fast food places.

    Crystal Carol

    • Thanks for the tip! I have heard from others that the porridge is good so I’ll have to try it out 🙂

      Tom Greenwood

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