Healthy fast food is hot. Urban Salad Bar opened its door last October in commercial zone ‘de Bijlmer’ and, just recently, SLA, an organic salad bar, opened up in De Pijp. Both are a huge success. And they prove that fast food can be healthy. Eating unhealthy foods can put a lot of unnecessary stress on our bodies. And if you work hard, you need all the energy you can get. Food can give you all the energy you need. But trying to negotiate work, family and friends, we often don’t have much time left to spend in the kitchen to cook up healthy foods.
Lunch is one of the most important meals of our day to get us going. But many people simply eat a sandwich behind the computer or grab something quick and unhealthy. When I used to work in an office at the Amstel Business Park, I hated lunch hour. Our cafetaria served really bad food. Interestingly, they promoted most of it as health food. But the salads were appalling. Some dried out salad greens, store-bought dressings with lots of sugar in them and some dry grated carrots and tomatoes that tasted like cardboard. Most of my colleagues ate white bread for lunch topped with deep fried snacks like Dutch ‘kroketten’ or battered fish and a glass of milk. The food was definitely ‘fast’ but everything but healthy.
Most take-out or lunch food in Amsterdam involves bread or fried foods. And if you don’t eat bread, you have a serious problem. It’s one of the most common things my health coaching clients struggle with the most. For health reasons, many of them need to stay away from foods containing gluten or dairy. When they go to work or to a training day, they want to be able to join their colleagues for lunch but there’s nothing they can eat without getting sick. Some have them feel pressured to eat along with their colleagues anyway.
If you have any dietary restrictions, making your own lunch salad and taking it to work is often the best option. However, it can separate you from everyone else. I’ve heard stories from people who were looked at funny for eating differently and of colleagues making nasty remarks. But when it comes to your health and well-being, it’s better to fit out than to fit in.
Sometimes I wish I’d live in a different country, where getting a warm meal or nice salad for lunch is just the normal thing to do. Especially in Southern Europe, lunch hour is such a different experience. Lunch is often the biggest meal of the day and people take their time for it. Not just a half hour in which you have to walk to your cafeteria, get your food, stuff it into your mouth and run right back to your desk.
The business lunches I’ve had in Belgium and France always involved a hot meal, sometimes even three courses. I vividly remember how horrified my Belgian colleagues were when they were invited to a formal lunch in Amsterdam. They were served sandwiches deluxe (with lettuce and tomato), milk or sour milk, and fried snacks like croquettes. Most offices I have worked at in the Netherlands give you ‘a half hour’ lunch break. I am so happy that I get to decide when I have my breaks and how much time I want to spend on them. Lunch is my biggest meal of the day and I enjoy preparing it and taking my time for it.
I don’t think we will have ever that kind of food culture here in The Netherlands. But I am so excited to see that the fast food around me is changing. In an area where most food sold is either fast food or pub food, healthy fast food turns out to be a huge success. SLA on the Ceintuurbaan is such a big hit that it even had to close its doors last weekend to run everything smooth again so they are able to handle the crowds of people coming in. Each time I went to SLA there was a huge queue. I am fascinated and thrilled by SLA’s success. Places like SLA seem to connect to people at a deeper level. They speak to people’s desire to eat healthier and live more consciously. The area I live in, district De Pijp, used to be packed with places selling fast foods, like kebab, roti or pizza. Now more and more places are opening up specialising in healthy fast food. Whether you are at home or at work and you don’t have time to cook, choose healthy fast foods wherever you can. Here are some great options for a quick and healthy meal if you live and work in the city.
Create your own: salads and fresh juices
1072 GB Amsterdam (De Pijp)
Organic, great choice of fresh ingredients. Beautiful fresh juices.
Juice and Salad
1017 HJ AMSTERDAM
Every day 09:00 – 21:00
Simple place where you can create your own salad and juices.
1102 ML Amsterdam Zuidoost (Amsterdamse Poort)
Monday to Friday 8:00-19:00
A great option if you work in district De Bijlmer.
Ready made salads and fresh juices
Mech make & take
Gustav Mahlerlaan 294
1082 ME Amsterdam (WTC)
Every day 07:30 – 17:00
A good option if you work at the WTC.
Binnen Oranjestraat 14
1013 JA Amsterdam (Haarlemmerdijk)
Tuesday to Sunday
I love to create my own plate here. It’s on my way to a place where I teach yoga. I often grab a quick meal and fresh juice or homemade chai before class.
Tweede v/d Helststraat 17w
1073AE Amsterdam (De Pijp)
Monday to Saturday
At foodies you can get delicious fresh meals to eat at home. Create your own plate and enjoy!