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Updated December 2019, originally written by Izzi Johnson.
The run up to Christmas is always a stressful one. Frantically running around the shops for those last-minute deals, having one too many mulled wines at the office Christmas party and attending every festive market you can squeeze into this season. However, regardless of the chaos, it all seems to come together for the big day (just about).
We’re lucky in Norwich that it’s a place big on wellbeing, health and sustainability. All over the city there are places to go and things to do that will help us look – and feel – better as we approach the new year with confidence and armfuls of exotic vegetables that we’re not sure how to cook yet.
Title Image: Waffle House, credit Hamerska Photography
There is really no shortage of places to visit in Norwich if you’re looking for food that’s tasty as well as healthy. All dietary requirements are catered for city-wide, and Norwich is fast becoming a hub for good, innovative vegan food: Tipsy Vegan on St Benedicts is Norwich’s first vegan cocktail bar and restaurant, Tofueri sells great vegan deli produce, and Ancestors coffee on Magdalen Street sells dairy-free frothy coffees and vegan snacks. For vegetarian food, Wild Thyme is a beautiful cafe found just above wonderous wholefoods retailer Rainbow. The Waffle House pride themselves on using wholesome, free-range and organic produce (on their inventive waffles, no less), while Benedicts Restaurant head chef Richard Bainbridge is a champion of creative, locally sourced food.
The Cosy Club are also getting into the swing of things with Veganuary and Dry January. Having won Best Vegan Menu at the 2018 PETA awards, their vegan dishes are not to be missed. Try their beyond meat burger or roasted turmeric cauliflower, all washed down with a freshly made mocktail.
Norwich Market is a great destination for food too: the largest open-air market in the country is completely charming, and home to some incredible, good-for-the-body-and-soul stalls, such as Indian Feast, Baguettes and Juice, and CJ’s Fruit and Veg for all those seasonal, vitamin-rich ingredients.
If you’re in the mood for something a little fancier, the Ivy Brasserie Norwich (link) are championing the spirit of a healthy New Year with a selection of dishes and drinks to choose from in January. From smoothies packed with all the green goodness to roasted butternut squash with grains, there is something for everyone to enjoy. And you don’t need to worry about the calories. It’s a win-win.
January is classically a good time to agree to things you’re not sure if you are fully committed to, so give yourself an added incentive by signing up to Run Norwich – the city’s annual 10k road race which takes place on 19th July. Having not run since one P.E. lesson in 1999, I don’t have much hope for my own chances of a speedy or elegant finish, but it’s a reason to get off the sofa and burn off all those sneaky prosecco calories. You can register your interest on their website now. Norwich is also home to The Oak Circus Centre, where you can learn skills such as aerial silks, acrobatics and Chinese pole. It’s certainly a change from the gym, and a great way to work on your strength and fitness in a friendly and safe environment. As an added bonus it’s also an interesting hobby to talk about at parties. Other things to try could be Pilates (I started last year and found it’s great for stretching out that stressed-at-a-desk tension that accumulates during the working week) or even join one of The Garage’s many and varied dance classes.
Norwich and beyond is home to many spas and places to relax, if you too feel like you’ve had enough of overheating on the sofa watching bad Christmas specials and listening to your grandparents argue about the best way to dry laundry inside. You’ll find fantastic spas at Park Farm Hotel as well as Barnham Broom and the Norfolk Mead Hotel. Plus don’t miss a trip to the Assembly House for their famous (and exceptional) afternoon tea, and the 4-star city-centre hotel The Maid’s Head also have lots of special offers for overnight stays and packages over the coming month or so.