Jamaica Blue Cafes NEW Plant Based Diets

Nicki Alchin
5th Dec 2016

Sydney Scoop joined Jamaica Blue Cafes for an insightful and interactive morning with nutritionist and passionate foodie, Zoe Bingley-Pullin as she shared insights into the latest food trend shaping the way we eat. 

Plant-based diets:

About time and awesome news, I hear you say! Yes, I agree that Jamaica Blue’s new plant-based, wholefoods, locally sourced menu range Signature Harvest is a concept that is well overdue in the Australian café scene.

The statistics from the 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score have revealed that Australia’s healthy eating habits are slipping – going from a score of 61 out of 100 in 2015 to now 59 out of 100 in 2016. The score for the survey was derived by recording participant’s consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and discretionary foods and beverages. Portion sizes, and bad choices in foods were the two main areas highlighted that need working on. Then add to that the reappearance of scurvy as an ailment for Australians and the results from the Jamaica Blue Heathy Eating Study where 55 per cent of Australian’s confessed to having post meal regret, you can see that it has never been a better time for Jamaica Blue to launch Signature Harvest. The nine items that have been created for Signature Harvest really tackle head on the aim of improving the overall nutrient and kilojoule intake of its patrons by combining fresh, wholesome, tasty plant-based foods. Signature Harvest really makes it easy to pump up the clean living plant-based wholefoods in your diet and cut down on processed and animal based items. The kilojoule count is 2,100 per serve for main meal items, 1,200 for snacks and desserts, 1,200 for milk based beverages and 600 kilojoules for water based ones. In addition, for each main dish, Jamaica Blue is ensuring that there are at least 2-3 servings of vegetables. Also, refined white flour and products made from refined grains are minimised, lean cuts of meats and fresh fish are used (no processed meats are used) and extra virgin olive oil is used, salt and sugar (fruit usually used instead) are minimised. It truly is a health conscious menu with ingredients chosen because they contain minimal additives, are unprocessed and have great  nutrient value and health benefits as well as tasting fantastic. All dishes are prepared on site too.

The team behind the new range is impressive. First we have of course Jamaica Blue – an Australian café company that has been around since 1992 with a combined 170 locations in Australia and internationally. Next on the team is Sharon Natoli, Director of Food and Nutrition Australia, who as a practicing dietician has had a long relationship with Jamaica Blue going back to when they brought her in to work on the Jamaica Light menu. Where the light menu had a focus of decreasing the kilojoule intake for each selection, the Signature Harvest range combines looking after patron’s kilojoule intake as well as nutrition. Last, but not least, Jamaica Blue has welcomed Zoe Bingelly-Pullin, celebrity nutritionist to help launch the Signature Harvest range. Zoe is known for her advocacy of a whole food and plant-based diet and has given the menu the thumbs up saying that it “taps into the latest food trend of plant-based eating” where it is all about having a diet that is at least three quarters based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and legumes and a low consumption of animal-based products. She gives her full support to Jamaica Blue for “leading the change in offering a new healthy range menu full of fruit and vegetables”.

At the launch of November 30th, Zoe started the morning by welcoming us to the Jamaica Blue flagship café at the Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park with a perk you up delicious nutritious dairy free coconut berry smoothie bursting with flavour – coconut water, almond milk and blueberries. This is one of the three breakfast items on the Signature Harvest range. It was a perfect way to begin Zoe’s tour of the weekly farmers’ markets to reinforce to us how important it is to source produce from reputable and local producers. We met with stall holders selling fresh healthy plant-based produce such as fruit and vegetables, olive oils, and even pasture fed meat products. Portion sizes were discussed – basically you need to increase the plant-based foods and cut down on the animal-based and processed items to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

After the market tour we were taken into the kitchen of Jamaica Blue to watch Zoe give a cooking demonstration and then to make our own Enrichment Bowl. It was fun to combine for ourselves all the colourful nutritious ingredients. We had red cabbage, Moroccan chickpeas, corn, coriander, a freekeh lentil and bean mix, roasted pumpkin, pickled red onion, seed mix all topped off with half a boiled egg and some tahini yoghurt mix. Definitely a perfect lunch to carry you all the way through a big day at the office or running errands. On completion of all this activity, it was time to taste our efforts and the rest of the Signature Harvest range with a coffee (I opted for the seasonal Guatemalan single origin coffee – a deep tasting but not overpowering bean with a lovely smooth flavour).

The Super Fruit Bowl and the Vitality Bowl, the other two breakfast items in the range, started off our sit down brunch. The Super Fruit Bowl caters to patrons with a sweet tooth like me. It is a delightful appetising mix of chia seeds, almond milk, maple syrup, strawberries, bananas, Greek yoghurt, dried cranberries, coconut flakes, pepita and sunflower seeds. Honestly, I could not think of a more satisfying way to kick the body and brain into gear for a busy day. The dish made such an impact on my tastebuds that some three days later I found myself having massive cravings for it. I can advise that the Ultimo Jamaica Blue serves up an excellent Super Fruit Bowl. The Vitality Bowl is for those savoury breakfast types. Equally nutritious and enticing as the Super Fruit Bowl but with a different taste direction. Here we see the on trend super ingredient of quinoa mixed with feta, sprouts, tomato and egg with a squeeze of lemon. Another big hit with the breakfast tastebuds.

We then moved onto the lunch/dinner items of Enrichment Bowl, Ocean and Earth Salad, and Zucchini Garden Salad. All fine tasting dishes that deliver the nutrients and energy our bodies require. The Ocean and Earth Salad had fresh pink salmon and baby red beets rubbing shoulders with leafy greens, long strips of zucchini and wholesome grain and nut bites full of roughage with the option of a creamy dressing. The Zucchini Garden Salad saw a mass of leafy greens, feta, chargrilled zucchini, sunflower seeds all sitting comfortably together accompanied by a creamy dressing topped with olive oil on the side (I didn’t bother with the dressing – there was so much flavour already in the salad, and the feta added a nice creamy change in texture). To end the meal, we had another coffee with the yummy dark chocolate and fruit bars – one of the three sweet treats available in the range. We were able to taste the other two with a take home care package – a seed and nut bar (very filling and capable of a slow release of energy to keep you going) and a blueberry honey spelt bar – a treat you can give the kids guilt free.

It was definitely a brunch to remember, and one to recommend to friends. The overall healthiness of the dishes combined with such amazing flavours were the real stand out features. I cannot praise Jamaica Blue enough on doing such a wonderful job in providing its patrons with good guilt free alternatives when dining out. I am hoping Signature Harvest can help to improve the current Australian diet. I strongly suggest you go check out the menu for yourself. Make enquiries with your local Jamaica Blue to see which Signature Harvest items they have on the menu to avoid disappointment, alternatively, head to the flagship café at the Entertainment Quarter.