Thriving in the food court

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I DON’T do food courts in big malls. I don’t eat in them and don’t review them. That’s because most food-court offerings are high in sugar, sodium and ugly fats.

Funnily enough, that’s what makes them so darn tasty. Even the “healthy options” can be a bit suss. Sushi, for example, is a fat trap loaded with kilojoules – mayo, high-GI white rice and a relatively tiny amount of veggies or fish.

So I was intrigued when Thrive opened at the Canberra Centre. More healthy hoopla? I was determined to see.

Thrive’s menu is based on the caveman diet or the Paleo Diet as it’s called today. Diehard fans say it’s the healthiest way to eat because meals are prepared only with foods you can hunt or gather. No processed junk.

No ingredients your grandmother wouldn’t recognise. It’s nutrition to thrive on.

At Thrive there are no grains (hard to digest), legumes (carbohydrate-dense), trans-fats (wreak havoc on your metabolism), or sugar (promotes fat storage and weight gain). Instead, you eat high protein, low carb and always gluten free.

But before you ask: “Why bother?”, hear me out, for I was pleasantly surprised at Thrive. And I walked away realising the menu is for anyone who wants a quick, inexpensive healthy meal that tastes great. That’s anyone.

Not just those who worship their bodies like temples (as we all should), or who are gluten intolerant, coeliac or face other special dietary requirements.

At lunch you can opt for hearty salads ($9.50 each) or the “lunch bowl”. Salads included chicken and quinoa with Moroccan herbs and spices, and kale, bacon and avo, with hazelnuts, hazelnut oil and orange and lemon juice.

For the lunch bowl, you choose entrée ($9.50) or main ($12.50) and add as many sides as you like (such as $1.50 for a boiled egg, $2 for spicy cucumber salad or $3 for roasted broccoli with chilli and almonds). You can upsize with more goodies. I selected the “naked lamb burger” served on a zucchini fritter with lemon and herb yoghurt and beetroot jam. I added smashed avo and salsa. It was good. Damn good.

Meals come in plastic bowls with lids and are served quick sharp. You can take away or sit in the small, attractive eating area that belongs to Thrive.

Thrive, as you would expect, has fresh juices, amazing smoothies, and drinks you can custom order, with a base liquid, two fruits and a superfood such as Acai (high in antioxidants) or bee pollen (aphrodisiac, anyone?).

So the next time you’re in “food-court land” at the Canberra Centre, say hello to Thrive. You’ll feel much better for it.


Thrive, Canberra Centre (opposite Supabarn), Bunda Street. Open seven days. 6247 5555.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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