Food Editor Caitlin Dickinson reviews Natural Healthy Foods in central Birmingham, sampling some of their numerous vegan dishes and herbal teas.
Natural Healthy Foods is the 100% vegan, hidden gem in Birmingham city centre, using fully-organic and natural products within every meal. Situated just off Suffolk Street Queensway, and opposite the Mailbox, it can easily go unnoticed, but not for much longer! The surprisingly busy café, with a small vegan food store attached is styled with neo-industrial low lights and natural polished wooden tables which have recycled clipboards as menus on. What makes the little eatery special is that every element of the rustic café speaks natural, which forces you to wind down and relax just out of the city centre.
The warm and friendly staff, who all had indepth knowledge of the menu and the natural products it uses, explained how the system worked. Instead of ordering off a menu, you grab a plate (of many shapes and sizes) and you are charged according to the weight. It works out that you pay £2.10 per 100g, so an average plate of food would be around £8. The plates of food you fill up comprise of both hot, cold, raw and chilled items.
Once at the counter you order your drink. The massive selection of teas was incredible! Whether you need a relaxing or energising blend, there was definitely one in stock for you! We tried a loose leaf jasmine tea which was recommended by Natural Healthy Food’s manager. This came on a platter with a glass tea cup and see through tea pot. The special jasmine tea smelt divine and was a delicate balance between subtle sweetness and fragrance. We also ordered a ‘Bulletproof Vegan Latte’. This coffee is the best I have ever had in Birmingham and puts all those disposable Starbucks caramel lattes to shame. It was made from coconut milk, cinnamon, locally ground and roasted coffee. I have never tasted a coffee like this as it was surprisingly light for a latte, and the undertones of cinnamon complemented the coffee wonderfully.
The plates of food we created ourselves were comprised of a mixture of hot and cold elements from the buffet. We tried a selection of raw onion bread, rainbow slaw, fermented carrots, kaleslaw, Singapore noodles, hummus and Caponata pasta from the cold buffet. They were all extremely fresh tasting. The raw onion bread, something I have never tried before, was exceptional as it had the texture of toasted sourdough bread, but with onion flavourings which paired well with the hummus. Also, the superfood salad which comprised of avocado, cucumber, broccoli and kale with a light dressing was an amazing accompaniment to the hot and cold foods as a palate cleanser.
From the hot buffet, we tried rosemary roast potatoes, lemon and lime whole grains, tomato wholegrains, cinnamon roasted roots, vegan cauliflower cheese, Sri Lankan dhal curry, and south Indian curry. The range of flavours and spices available in this buffet would suit any eater. The best element of the hot foods for me was either the Sri Lankan dhal or cinnamon roasted roots. Both had a wonderful spice to them which was not over powering, and the dishes were cooked to perfection as the roasted roots were soft and delicious.