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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
inSeason: Healthy Cocktails, Salads and Desserts in Zamalek
A long line of restaurants and cafes serving healthy food choices have recently took Cairo by storm. While they approach the concept of healthy food differently – some detail the entire calorie intake and nutritional value, others offer less fatty versions of popular dishes – what's for sure is that these ventures are definitely finding customers.
The newest addition is inSeason, having recently opened its doors in Zamalek. We were immediately drawn in by the salad bar, where we found plentiful and healthy choices, including options that aren't usually available at other vendors like asparagus and quinoa. The salads start at 38LE and the eatery also offers baked potatoes for 25LE which you can top with tzatziki sauce, mushrooms or beef bacon.
When you think about healthy drinks, you're probably picturing a fruit cocktail with no added sugar or preservatives – but inSeason takes that a step further.
If you're well versed in healthy eating, you probably understand the process of 'detoxing.' Your diet consists of purely liquids for a period spanning a few days, the purpose of which is to force out all sorts of toxins from the body. inSeason embraces this concept entirely, offering six different cocktails each of which has a specific dietary purpose. We tried the Lean Mean & Green (25LE) which consists of apples, lemons and ginger, plus cucumbers, arugula, celery, turnips and parsley. Unusual but tasty, the cocktail is labelled as a means of detoxing and helps weight loss. You may also notice that it resembles a light salad dressing in flavour.
Our second cocktail was the Metabolism Mega-Drive (25LE) which is rich in vitamin-C, increases your metabolism and strengthens the immune system, consisting of carrots, oranges, pineapples, lemons and ginger. While this is a traditional, or just logically acceptable, drink in terms of contents, the taste of oranges overpowered everything else, though the ginger gave it a bit of kick.
We also decided to try desserts andopted for a Crunch Zone (35LE) which consists of a layer of honey in a cup topped with vanilla flavoured yoghurt, cherries, granola and roasted walnuts. Wonderfully delicious and unusual tasting thanks to the light flavoured yoghurt, the cherries were fresh and the granola created a texture mix to balance it all out.
We also opted for the Original Greek (8LE); a simple concoction of yoghurt with honey. While we were assured it was fresh, it tasted unfortunately stale.
inSeason also offer a range of healthy foods and condiments like virgin olive oil, physalis, kiwi and pumpkin jams, as well as organic fruit and vegetables.
While the prices are a little high for the portions, as most ingredients are imported, inSeason is still a strange and unusual experience that's worth a try. You probably won't be a returning customer if you're not as hardcore about your diet, though.
Lychee originally opened as a juice and smoothie bar in 2012, something rare to find in Cairo. Any health-obsessed foodie would be tremendously excited by the new food options added to the menu recently, since it promises wholesome and quick food to be enjoyed with Lychee’s already well-loved smoothies and juices.
This place is small and has a very “healthy fast food” sort of vibe. We love the urban organic health-nut feeling we had while hanging around the chalk boards which listed the smoothies and their ingredients. The empty jars and bottles stacked on the wooden shelves and the little Polaroid photos on the walls certainly help to add to this aesthetic. It was packed to the brim with young Cairenes sipping smoothies, and although they have a small bench which can seat 5-6 people, this place is certainly more grab-and-go, as one would expect a juice bar to be.
We started out with ’The Kale Way’ salad, which the menu described as including apples, salted peanuts, dried goji berries, dried cranberries, cucumber, golden flax seeds and a kale mix. We were expecting a crunchy, sweet medley of freshness perfect for the summertime, but sadly this salad did not deliver on this at all. The salad did not contain nearly enough of the components that were meant to add the most of the unique flavor (the berries, apples, and peanuts) making it quite bland. Besides lacking in overall flavour, it was also an extremely inconvenient salad. The kale mix and apple chunks were not chopped up enough, making it difficult to even grab a forkful and eat it, while the cucumber was spiralized into one long, thin slice which caused us to have to eat it like a spaghetti noodle. We were disappointed to say the least.
For our next dish we tried something a little more hearty and sweet; the breakfast oatmeal (40LE). It comes with frozen blueberries, banana, chia seeds and your choice of almond milk or skimmed milk. Despite not having the requested almond milk, the oatmeal – made with water – maintained a thickness and creaminess that was made all the better by the fact that it wasn’t sickeningly sweet. The frozen blueberries added a fruitiness once they melted into the warm oats, while the addition of cinnamon to our order really pulled the whole thing together. It was comforting, filling, packed with protein and included wonderful health benefits thanks to the chia seeds and generous servings of fruit.
For a tiny dessert, we tried their new gluten-free cookie (15LE) and while it was not as moist as one would hope a cookie would be, it was quite tasty and resembled a cinnamon bun. It was wrapped up to-go style and stacked up on the shelf with the other cookie flavours, making it easy to pick one out and leave if you’re in a hurry.
When we tried some of their juices and smoothies, it was obvious that these were the real winners. Their kiwi blend (18LE) was sweet and refreshing, and there was definitely no question that they use the ripest of kiwis. From the grab-and-go fridge, we picked out the Calming Greens juice (25LE) and it is certainly called “calming” for a reason; unlike any other green juice we’ve tried before, this one included chamomile (which is well-known for its calming abilities) and blueberries. These two ingredients along with some pineapple and carrot added enough sweetness to mask any bitter taste from the kale and arugula, making it very well balanced. As for a smoothie, we opted for ’I Love Watermelon’ which was a simple blend of watermelon, mint and passion fruit juice. Watermelon and mint is a pretty popular combination along the Mediterranean, but passion fruit? This seemed interesting. In a word, this smoothie was superb. It was incredibly sweet, hydrating and even invigorating, making it the perfect icy-cold treat for the summer. The sweetness of the watermelon was perfectly balanced out by the tanginess of the passion fruit. This smoothie has officially convinced us that passion fruit is the yin to watermelon’s yang, and will definitely leave you craving more.
Altogether, our order came out to 168LE, which wasn’t too bad considering no one really expects a place that sells cold-pressed juices filled with organic ingredients to be too cheap. Even though it was pretty frustrating that they were out of a few things (such as the almond milk) and the waiters seemed a bit lost at times, service was still friendly and accommodating. Since some of the new food options weren’t a total success, there is no doubt that Lychee is first and foremost a juice and smoothie bar and unquestionably excels in this area.