If the thought of a health kick makes your spartan-lunchbox yearn for the excesses of December, then you're in luck. Cardiff has an incredible wealth of eateries offering fresh, healthy and – most importantly – damn-right delicious lunches that you can grab-and-go on your lunch break. Kathryn Lewis recommends.

New Year, new you? Ditch the sweaty salad, sad sandwich and supermarket fruit pot. The New Year health kick just got interesting with this lush line-up of indie eats …

Anna Loka

When a Hare Krishna monk lies behind Cardiff’s first exclusively vegan cafe, you know you’ve got some good karma coming your way. Lunch at Anna Loka on Albany Road means enjoying an Instagram-worthy line up of dishes made using seasonal, local and often organic ingredients. This is your go-to for guilt-free gluttony minus the city centre price tag. For a quick fix, order the mezze with the Arabia, kofta balls and garlic mayo in a soft tortilla, plus a cheeky side of sweet potato fries. If you’re in it for the long run, saddle up with the rodeo burger - the full veggie works slathered in barbecue sauce.

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Little Man Coffee

This speciality joint is your main man for a cracking cup of coffee in the city, but when it comes to cooling the caffeine shakes, you'll find more than just sweet thrills to get stuck into. Kick off your health kick with the soup of the day, or toast topped with sardines, avocado or smoked salmon – before smashing it with one of the super-green smoothies. There’s often lunchtime pop-ups from the likes of Purple Poppadom too, so keep an eye out on Little Man’s social media.

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Cafe Atma

Thought pizza, samosas and cake would be off the cards when you’re eating clean? Well here is your savour, and it comes in the form of Atma Cafe. Having moved its digs on Crwys Road to a roomier venue on Church Street, this conscious-living eatery is your port of call for some seriously good veggie street food. With stacks of options for fully-fledged vegans and gluten dodgers, this place is your chance to get your chops around takeaway favourites such as pakora, dahl and nut burgers. Minus the colossal calories.

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Kemi's

Kemi's in Pontecanna is right on point. Promising to 'lift your nutritional spirits', the team strive to serve up a lesson in eating well, without the preaching. The exotic salads are served as salad 'feasts', rather than salad plates, and they definitely dwarf the size of your usual portion. The vegetarian options outweight the meaty offerings, proving that fresh vegetables plus a heap of extras like brie and goat's cheese can be some of the tastier - and healthier - ingredient combos. Kid-friendly Kemi's also has a little menu dedicated to filling smaller tummies.

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Crumbs Kitchen

Ask any Cardiff-based veggie for their go-to place, and they'll probably mention Crumbs Kitchen. Vegetarian food doesn't always equal health food, but Crumbs pulls the two together in a smorgasboard of gorgeous meat-free goodness. As a relaxed eatery, it's ideal for swinging into during lunch, grabbing a table, and enjoying a reviving juice while awaiting for your food. The salads and wraps are perfectly portable, should you be rushed for time or wanting to munch at your desk, and the build your-own-option will have you piling high your takeaway contents with leftovers for dinner in mind.

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Vegetarian Food Studio

Hurrah! Cardiff's has flip-reversed the typically British notion of an unhealthy curry. Here's to healthier Indian Cuisine for all! Forget an oily Madras fit for your standard Friday night takeaway, Vegetarian Food Studio dishes up fresher, more adventurous and (importantly) healthier plant-based Indian cuisine than you'd find in your average curry. Expect excellent subcontinental cuisine, a combination of exotic vegetables and fragrant spices that combine to create some of the most nourishing comfort food this side of Chennai. Its a cheery venue with a mouth-watering menu of intriguing dishes (most of which you may not have previously come across). Some options are healthier than others so, if you're looking to keep that oil intake to a minimum, we'd recommend the ever-so-ideal Idli Sambar -steamed lentil cakes topped with red lentil soup and yoghurt chutney.

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Falafel Kitchen

Nothing screams "quick and healthy" more than falafel. In fact, falafel is probably one of the best kind of foodstuffs for lunch. It's healthy, it's filling, and completely affordable, meaning you won't feel guilty for going out again for dinner. The falafel at Falafel Kitchen is also pretty special – wholesome bite-sized balls with crunchy shells and soft centres. Plus, the pitta is 100% homemade (so, please, no bread regrets – OK?). The hummus is also homemade and really moreish - a hard-to-earn praise from the Wriggle team. It's the convenience of this place that lunch-hunters will appreciate most. Strictly speaking, it's not a 100% health-food haven. If you're craving something naughty, order the side of chilli chips before you regret not doing so.

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Published -28th December 2016