The battle against COVID-19 has highlighted the need for a healthy lifestyle, and while some have turned to fitness or vitamin D for a much needed immunity boost, clean eating is also gaining in popularity.
One brand that has been at the forefront of nutritious food in Abu Dhabi is Basiligo. The main sponsor of the Livehealthy Festival 2021 recently launched two new concepts — BSweet by Basiligo and Lose Weight, which both offer unique ways to enjoy your favourite dishes.
“COVID-19 was our time to incubate new ideas and use that opportunity to pivot and offer the region a healthy food solution,” says Basiligo owner Justine Corrado. “At the start of the pandemic, researchers believed an unhealthy lifestyle could lead to more severe symptoms.”
Basiligo, though, has been making healthy food since long before the coronavirus changed the world. Launched in 2014, it started out as a healthy lunch delivery service operating out of a large kitchen in Musaffah. Next came a small café in Al Reem Island but as popularity grew, Corrado and her team were swamped with requests to offer a meal plan option, which they put into action in 2017.
With a focus on making everything from scratch, with minimal processing and no added preservatives or additives, the team at Basiligo believe food can be medicine They began with keto and weight-loss meal plan programs, which were well-received by people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid issues, who used food as key part of their recovery.
“Some ladies who have had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have been on the plans for six months and have had doctors confirm that the condition has improved or gone. Their hormones are balanced, and they’ve lost weight,” says Corrado. “It gives me goosebumps to know we are helping our community and aiding in transformative changes.”
In October 2020 Basiligo launched two new brands. BSweet is an all-natural alternative for sweet cravings. These guilt-free desserts contain no refined/white sugar or flour and include everything from full cakes and cookies to brownies and muffins. They’re also ideal for kids’ snack boxes. “You don’t have to worry about what they are snacking on — and the sweeteners come from monk fruit, coconut sugar, agave and maple syrup,” says Corrado.
Lose Weight is the UAE’s first healthy meal plan delivering Arabic cuisine and promises to energize and kickstart the metabolism with natural, fresh food. The four Arabic-inspired menus — keto, vegan, athlete and weight loss — pay attention to portion control and maintain the region’s traditions, with a twist. The traditionally carb-heavy fare has been modified, with Lose Weight even offering a keto Arabic bread.
But it’s not just food on offer; nutritional consultations come in Arabic too. “It was critical to have an Arabic speaking nutritionist so that clients can feel comfortable and express their thoughts and goals in way that maybe wouldn’t be captured if it’s not their native language,” says Corrado.
She also looked overseas for inspiration and in particular at China.
“We examined what foods service and restaurants were doing in China, as they were the first ones to be hit,” she adds. “They were offering contactless delivery and I think we were one of the first delivery services to do the same in the UAE. It was important for me as a business owner to ensure it was communicated immediately and that we were completely transparent about our health and safety measures. I didn’t want our clients to have any fears around the food service we were offering.” The idea definitely worked — Basiligo saw its meals plan orders increase by a third during 2020.
Moving forward, Corrado will be adding new menu items to all three of her brands.
“One thing we’ve discovered on our short journey is that many meal plan customers feel that menu items don’t speak to them,” she says. “We want ours to hold a conversation.”
The Livehealthy Festival sponsor is offering the following discounts for the Week of Wellness:
Basiligo is offering 20% off to the livehealthy community. Use the code “LivehealthyFest20OFF” at checkout and get to clean eating!
Lose Weight is offering a 20% off discount to the livehealthy community. Use the code “LivehealthyFest20OFF” at checkout to get a delicious meal plan that will help you reach your health goals!
B Sweet is offering 10% off to the livehealthy community. Use the code “LivehealthyFest10OFF” at checkout to get discounts on your sweets!
Asha Sherwood owns Abu Dhabi Review, an online and social platform that gives you the scoop on everything happening in the capital.