Since Phil’s diagnosis and treatment he’s been mostly dairy/gluten/sugar free and I’ve been trying to follow suit whenever with him. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to go totally tee total on sugar, cheese and pasta but I’m definitely keen to eat a little cleaner and so seeking out good organic healthy alternatives has been good for me.
In London we were spoilt for choice – our favourites were the Wild Food Cafe in Soho, Farmacy in Notting hill and Redemption in Shoreditch. Heading to South and Central America however we were aware this might be a bit trickier…. However our first stop over this side of the world was Rio, and we were pleasantly surprised! These are our experiences at some of the places we tried.
We stumbled across this place by chance when on Rue de Ferrari which is a really nice street in Leblon with lots of restaurants, it’s not cheap though! Celeiro is a kilo restaurant, something we learnt was very common in Brazil. It’s essentially a buffet and then you pay according to the weight of our meal. We were starving and went big! Which is easy at CELEIRO as there’s so much choice and everything looks amazinnng. There were little filo pastry parcels and quiches which may not have been so healthy (Phil avoided but I didn’t 🙈) but the rest of the salad bar is largely organic and vegetable-based. They didn’t speak English and my Portuguese is so checking for gluten/dairy was a little tricky but as most of it seemed fresh and non-processed it was easy enough and the choice was huge. The one catch? The price. Each of our meals came to approx £30 a meal (with watermelon juices and waters etc, and maybe we just eat a lot!) 😬 Despite the price tag, the food was so good we found ourselves going back a few days later for more 🐷 It does close early, around 5pm each day, so it is more of a lunch than dinner place.
VEGETARIAN SOCIAL CUBE LEBLON
This had good reviews online but we were a little underwhelmed. The buffet of salads was relatively small and not that appealing so we went off the menu. Phil went for the quinoa salad with vegetables and I went for the green salad with courgettes and aubergine. Generally they were quite plain and Phil’s one especially was essentially just a load of quinoa with teeny tiny little chopped vegetables, so it didn’t seem that substantial. However the saving grace of the açai smoothie I had which was amazing – so thick it was almost like a yoghurt, it did taste too good to be good for you and I later learnt that they sweeten them with sugar so maybe the meal wasn’t as healthy as hoped! But it was worth it. And you’ve gotta try açai when in Brazil of course 💁🏼♀️Worth stopping by for a drink and perhaps try the buffet rather than ordering off-menu if you go.
We had high hopes for this one as again the reviews were good, and it very much delivered. The salad bar wasn’t as plentiful as Celeiro and it had more hot food (which didn’t appeal so much in the Rio heat!) However, once we chose our food and sat down it was surprisingly nice and we ended up going back for seconds! Which is another great plus of the kilo-pay-by-weight popular Rio-style restaurant. It’s also connected to a little health food shop with lots of gluten free vegan snacks etc so we could stock up on them.
We initially visited the one in Ipanema but there’s also one at Rio airport. Here you can choose up to three components for your meal from the salad bar and hot food. There is a good array of salad choices and the hot food included a chicken casserole and spicy salmon dishes which tasted great. The portions were good and the food tasted fresh and healthy. They also had banana bread which was dairy and gluten free! (Possibly not sugar free though…) It was SO good we had a slice each there and then got another two to go. Don’t judge us – dairy and gluten free treats are hard to find!
This restaurant did gluten free pasta which was something we’d been seeking so that was a treat! It came with grilled vegetables and although simple, tasted great. We also had a starter of aubergine and courgettes and a desert of apple- all of which were great! It came with a slightly hefty price tag but nothing too awful considering it’s smack bang in Rio just off Copacabana Beach. The juices too were 👌🏼