Hula Juice Bar – healthy and delicious! (not words I put together often)

Regular readers will be well aware of my #foodbloggerbelly predicament and with my current low carb & low-fat diet I was really concerned about how I could still eat out and enjoy exciting, innovative food, rather than plain grilled meat or fish with steamed vegetables or salad, and still keep to my diet. After a lot of discussion on Facebook and Twitter it led me to putting a shout out to Edinburgh Restaurants to see if it would be possible.

Susan at Hula Juice Bar was one of the first to raise her hand and say ‘we can do that!’ so I dropped in to have a chat with her about food in general, special dietary requirements and how they already cater for them as well as trying some food that fits within my own self-imposed restrictions and it was a bit of an eye opener!

I’ve never been to a juice bar and it certainly wouldn’t be my first thought when it comes to a lunch venue but I was wrong! Nestled at the bottom of Victoria Street, Hula is a calm and relaxing haven away from the touristy bustle of the Grassmarket just round the corner.

Sit & watch the world go by from the haven that is Hula Juice bar

 Susan opened Hula about four years ago after giving up a job in digital media and travelling extensively in sunnier climes where Juice Bars were much more commonplace and she returned with the dream of creating a bit of island sunshine back over here. Over the years however she has become really interested in seasonality, dietary issues and effects of food on diet/health. Although not following any particular diet herself, and a great believer in a straight forward balanced diet, she is a fountain of knowledge especially when it comes to supplements such as wheatgrass which she has experimented with extensively, spinach powder and ginseng, all of which can be added to your freshly squeezed juices or smoothies to help boost, detox or energise etc

While we talked I had a Ginger Jack, a carrot, apple & orange juice with a touch of ginger to add a wee kick and it was very drinkable, weirdly, I could almost feel myself detoxing as it went down. Looking at the two menus on offer, a breakfast and an all-day lunch menu, they already have most dietary requirements covered off with things marked V (vegetarian), VO (vegetarian option), VE (vegan), VEO (vegan option available), GF (gluten-free) or GFO (gluten-free option). Asking Susan which is the most common thing they cater for she said it was Coeliacs and was the first issue that they fully addressed with options across all food & juices (except porridge at present).

home-made guacamole, hummus & dressing served on the side

With this huge interest in food and drink, Susan ensures that all staff are highly trained to be able to suggest options to their customers if they require it and is constantly looking to see how she can improve her offerings at a reasonable price-point. (Their juices are still at the same price as when she opened!)

When I asked her about people’s awareness of food she said it has improved massively from when she first opened when a regular question would be “what is a smoothie?” Apparently some restaurants in London are already putting calorie content on their menus, which although she wouldn’t envisage for Hula, she does see as a positive thing. She has also heard of a restaurant calculating points for people following the popular weight watchers plan.

I could have stayed & chatted for hours but time was ticking on and they were starting to get busy with lunchtime trade so it was time for me to have something to eat and see if they could indeed provide me with a really tasty and enjoyable dining experience but still in keeping with my low-fat / low carb diet. Impressively Susan had already researched the type of diet I was on and was bursting with options for me so I settled on a spinach & chickpea soup and a ‘wrapless wrap’  (as originally ordered by America Ferreira during the Film festival in 2010) and settled back to soak up the environment.

Lunch – spicy spinach & chickpea dahl and a wrapless-wrap!

She was right, it was like finding a bit of tropical warmth on a gloomy winter’s day! The staff have ready smiles to match and I began to feel like I was on holiday. The soup was AMAZING, right up my street, it was heavily spinach laden and more of a spicy dahl, I could happily eat a bowl of that every day and not get bored with it! The wrapless wrap was a nice idea, roasted veg on a big bed of leafy salad with little pots of homemade hummus, guacamole and dressing on the side so I could add as much or little as I liked, it was tasty but the soup stole the show! To wash it down this time I tried one of their smoothies, a seasonal pear & apple juice given depth by a touch of mango & pineapple, delicious!

To sum it up – if I could have such an enjoyable and tasty eating out experience every week while I’m dieting then I’ll have no trouble getting rid of the #foodbloggerbelly! I actually wish they were just that bit closer to the office so I could go more regularly, I will definitely be going back. I didn’t really have to test them with my dietary requirements as they’re well geared up to cover most requests and I heartily recommend a visit, diet or not!

Many thanks to Susan for her time and sharing some interesting ideas that you may well be seeing on the blog moving forward as part of my quest. If you are a Chef/restaurant or cafe that would like to know more about what I’m up to or to get involved, please just get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!

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5 Responses to “Hula Juice Bar – healthy and delicious! (not words I put together often)”

  1. January 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    I love Hula’s! (I think I’m addicted to their blue Hawaiian smoothies.)

    Speaking as someone with a food intolerance it is never a chore getting something yummy to eat there and they’re willing to make adjustments to accommodate you. Plus it’s healthy!

    • January 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

      I was really impressed Kelly and definitely going back again soon!
      Out of interest, with a food intolerance yourself, is there anywhere else that you find really steps up to the plate (no pun intended) in terms of what they offer?

      • January 16, 2012 at 11:25 am #

        It might be an interesting [but slightly evil] experiment to have a meal en masse one night which includes people who are eating healthly and others like Kelly and myself who suffer from food intolerances – I wonder how most restaurants would cope with a range of requirements all in one order!

  2. January 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    haha, someone’s in a slightly devilish mood today! :o)

  3. January 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Hula’s is a great place for a healthy smoothie (of course) and the lunches are really impressive and 100% accommodating! The soups are particularly good and the juices left the soul!! Looking forward to the next visit!!

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