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Making healthy eating yummy

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2016-06-21 08:14

Making healthy eating yummy

Dishes on offer in Obentos restaurants meet founder Andrew Stevenson's purpose of healthy eating. [Photo by Guan Xin/China Daily] 

There is plenty of red meat on offer, including a wasabi-edged beef tenderloin with yuzu miso. Omega-3 rich salmon appears in entrees and salad selections. Desserts include a satisfying yogurt panna cotta (48 yuan, or $7.30). There are bowls based on grains, but the menu is exuberant with flavor-not a boring marathon of brown rice and sprouts.

Andrew Stevenson, the founder of Beijing's Obentos restaurants, thinks more and more people are paying attention to healthy eating in China, in part because of food safety. But he doesn't kid himself that the enthusiasm is all about nutrition.

"People want to look good," he says with a grin and a shrug. "For a lot of those people, that means, 'I just want to have a salad.' That's a big driver of the healthy food trend globally-it's not so different from the West." In the West, however, healthy eating has become part of the school curriculum, he says, and that's fairly new in China-partly because unhealthy fast food is fairly new in China, too.

Stevenson says the seed was planted for his health-conscious eateries on a train trip: "I was in Tokyo on a high-speed bullet train tucking into a great healthy bento box that I bought on the platform at the station. It was just so tasty, healthy and easy, and I thought 'Why couldn't Beijing have something even remotely close to this?'"

Now it does. The Obentos menu starts with breakfast bento and an okayu veggie congee-with kale, carrot, shitake, green pepper, avocado, spring onion, ginger sesame seeds, seaweed-and continues with healthy bites all day. Each menu item is labeled with relevant icons-high protein, light, low carbs, low fat, omega-3 and vegetarian-so diners can order based on their nutrition goals.

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